A man is walking his dog in a raging thunderstorm when his pet is suddenly killed off-screen by some unseen, malevolent force.
Sue: Right! That’s a mark off straightaway. There was no need for that.
She doesn’t care about the dog’s owner of course, even when he meets the same horrible fate.
And then the action shifts to the Doctor tinkering with Bessie in his garage. As Jo starts bleating on about the Age of Aquarius, the Doctor berates her silly, superstitious ways, exclaiming that he’ll never make a real scientist out of her.
Sue: How is getting her to answer the phones all day supposed to turn her into a scientist? The Doctor can be so patronising, sometimes. He’s definitely got out on the wrong side of the bed again this week.
The Doctor proves that magic doesn’t exist by having Bessie drive around all by itself. It even honks its horn via remote control.
Sue: It’s not exactly KITT, is it? I mean, it isn’t even Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo.
Meanwhile a reporter for BBC3 is recording a piece to camera from Devil’s Hump, a Bronze Age burial mound that’s about to be excavated later that night.
Sue: It’s Most Haunted meets Time Team meets Nationwide.
Sue likes the way the media are on hand to deliver the story’s background exposition, and she hopes Alistair Fergus and his crew become integral to the plot.
Sue: This is great. It feels really fresh. I love it.
And then the Master turns up.
Sue: Oh no! Not again! Seriously, this is getting silly now. Is the Master in every Jon Pertwee story?
Sue: Good, I don’t think I could carry on with this if he was. Don’t get me wrong, I like the character, I just can’t buy into the idea that he’s responsible for absolutely everything. It’s just a contractual thing, isn’t it? Does he actually play an important role in this story? He better bloody had.
The Master is embroiled in an animated discussion about the human soul with the local White Witch, Miss Hawthorne.
Sue: Is this the first children’s television programme to feature a psychopathic vicar using the word “existentialism”? I want to be sure.
The Doctor and Jo race to Devil’s End in Bessie, but when an ill wind sends them in the wrong direction, the Doctor blames Jo’s map reading skills for the unwanted detour.
Sue: I hate it when the Doctor isn’t pleasant to Jo. There’s no need for it. Incidentally, I had a purple hat like Jo’s when I was growing up. I called it my Donny Osmond hat. I bloody loved that hat.
Deep in some catacombs, the Master prepares to unleash hell.
Sue: Why is that gargoyle smoking a cigarette?
Me: That’s his tongue, Sue.
Sue: **** off, Neil, that’s a Woodbine!
When the tomb is opened, the Doctor is knocked unconscious by an icy blast, although this detail is completely wasted on Sue.
Sue: The quality of this print is horrendous, Neil.
Me: I’m sorry but this is the only copy I have. It’s a digital rip of a VHS. It’s the best I can do.
Sue: It looks like we’re watching a snuff film.
Benton and Yates tune into BBC3 just in time to see Jo cooing over a prostrate Doctor. And then the channel cuts the live transmission.
Me: “In place of our advertised programme, here’s an episode of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps.”
Sue: Or My Fat Dog Smells Like Cheese.
The Doctor has been frozen solid.
Sue: It’s not exactly Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back, but it’s close.
Me: I know.
Sue: How long has the Master been living in this village? Weeks? Months? Did he have to give weekly sermons in order to blend in with the local community? Did he open many fetes? Christen any children? Did he marry anyone? Would it still count if he did? Is there any fan-fiction written about this period in the Master’s life?
Me: That’s niche, even for Doctor Who fans.
Yates can’t reach the Brigadier because he left the opera and went on somewhere else without leaving a contact number. I casually suggest that Alistair is conducting an extramarital affair.
Sue: He had better not be!
Me: He is. With a nice woman named Doris.
Sue: I don’t believe you.
Benton and Yates decide to fly to the village by helicopter. Probably because it’s cooler than driving there in a battered Austin Maxi.
Sue: There’s a lot of padding in this story.
Me: Yes, and that’s just Mike’s jacket.
Sue: It’s got a decent enough budget, though. UNIT really like their helicopters, don’t they?
When they reach their destination, Mike decides to change into something more comfortable.
Sue: One minute he looks like Action Man, the next minute he looks like an Open University lecturer.
Things are so bad, the Brigadier has to be woken up.
Sue: Is he in bed with his fancy woman?
Me: No, he’s sneaked back to his poor wife.
Sue: You’re winding me up. The Brig is a good man. He’d never cheat on his wife like that. He’s the Brig!
The Master learns that the Doctor has been poking his enormous nose into his affairs.
Sue: Why is the Master so surprised? The Doctor always stumbles across his stupid plans. Wait, don’t tell me: the Devil will betray the Master and he’ll have to ask the Doctor for help, just so he can get out of this stupid mess he’s made. And then he’ll run away. I could write this, you know.
The episode concludes with a gargoyle threatening the Doctor and Jo.
Sue: There’s something very Weeping Angel about this monster. Although the Weeping Angels looked great, and this looks stupid.
The Doctor keeps Bok at bay with a Venusian lullaby.
Sue: Look at the Master’s face when the gargoyle runs away – because it’s scared of a trowel, I might add. It’s the look of a man who’s used to disappointment.
The Doctor gets his slide projector out and begins lecturing everybody about the plot.
Sue: How does Jo know where the planet Dæmos is? Does the Doctor give her private lectures in the evenings, after she’s finished answering the phones all day?
The Brigadier threatens to call in an airstrike; the Doctor calls the Brigadier an idiot; the Brigadier relents; Jo says the Brig was stupid to call in an airstrike; the Doctor bites Jo’s head off.
Sue: What a hypocrite! He’s called the Brigadier a lot worse than that, and now he decides to humiliate Jo while she’s defending him! What a pompous, unlikable ****! Pertwee makes William Hartnell look like Patrick Troughton!
The Doctor explains that the Dæmon is small enough to be practically invisible.
Sue: If this Dæmon is so tiny, why don’t they just stamp on it? Just jump up and down on the floor – you might get lucky.
The Master calls a meeting of the villagers so he can scare the living crap out of them.
Me: It’s one of those rare meetings where something actually got done.
As the Doctor races to the heat barrier in Bessie (so he can be rude to a technician in person), the helicopter, which has been commandeered by one of the Master’s followers, swoops in to pester him.
Sue: This is completely unnecessary. Exciting but unnecessary. And badly directed, too. What is the helicopter trying to do, exactly? Besides annoy the hell out of the Doctor? And Yates is effing useless!
The helicopter flies into the heat barrier and explodes.
Sue: Listen to that wind! And yet Pertwee’s bouffant hasn’t moved an inch. Now that’s what I call magic.
Me: That sound isn’t the wind – it’s the heat barrier.
Sue: They should have used a nice low hum instead. This is bloody torture.
The episode ends with the Master cowering in fear before the mighty Azal.
Sue: He definitely hasn’t thought this through. Again.
Sue: I bet it was a pain in the arse to put the ‘a’ and the ‘e’ together on a 1970s title generator…
We get our first good look at Azal’s feet.
Sue: Oh look, the devil wears stockings. And Jimmy Choo shoes, too!
Azal bosses the Master around.
Sue: This has turned into Monty Python, now. The devil will ask the Master to bring him a shrubbery, next.
When Mike realises that Jo has sneaked away, he calls her a “little idiot”.
Sue: Is it ‘Be A Total Bastard to Jo Day’, today, or what?
But at least the village of Aldbourne looks nice.
Sue: It’s beautiful. I’d love to live there. Well, once they get things back to normal again. Do they run Doctor Who tours around the village? I’d probably reconsider if they do.
When the Doctor finishes patronising the UNIT technician, he gets on a motorcycle and races back to the village.
Sue: Meanwhile on Top Gear… Look, it’s no good. I can’t get into this story. There’s something about it that just isn’t working for me.
Me: Is it anything in particular?
Sue: I’m bored of the Master. Even the actor who plays him is bored. It’s as if he isn’t taking it seriously any more. And the story doesn’t know what it wants to be, either. Is it a comedy? Is it supposed to be scary? Is it James Bond? What the hell is it? Oh, and now it’s turned into The Wicker Man.
The Doctor is assaulted by Morris dancers.
Sue: Why haven’t you got any Morris dancers in your Doctor Who doll collection? They’re a lot scarier than the Ice Warriors.
The Master prepares to summon Azal once again, but when the Time Lord reaches for a ritual sacrifice – in this case a big fat hen –Jo breaks cover to stop him.
Sue: Jo must really love those chickens. Bless her.
Azal is revealed in all his majesty.
Sue: Does that mean the Master killed that chicken? Marks off!
As Azal’s features fill the screen, Sue sighs.
Sue: That’s a bit clichéd.
Me: I know! That’s the whole bloody point!
Sue: Shouting at me won’t make it any better, love.
My copy of this episode is so atrocious, the first few minutes are practically unwatchable. It’s pixelated, it’s smeared with artefacts, and the bloody sound sync is miles out. I’ve scoured torrent sites, newsgroups and other reliable sources for an alternative, but it’s always the same problem. Annoyingly, the original VHS tape is sitting in my attic, but I don’t have a VCR to play it on.
Despite this, Sue battles bravely on as Bok blocks the entrance to the church by defiantly folding his arms.
Sue: If your name isn’t on the list, you’re not coming in.
As UNIT prepare to punch a hole in the heat barrier, Sue decides it’s time to name her Man of the Match.
Sue: That poor technician with the glasses is the best character in this story. He’s brave and resourceful, and he’s put up with loads of shit. Does he become a regular character? What’s his name?
Me: I have no idea.
Sue: Well, I guess that answers that question, then.
The Brigadier delivers one of his most famous lines – “Chap with the wings, there. Five rounds rapid!” – but Sue couldn’t care less.
Sue: Benton and Yates should have been given their own spin-off series. It would have been like The Professionals, but with more sexual tension. Actually, that reminds me: where are Torchwood when all this is going on? You’d have thought this would have been right up their street.
The Doctor fights back with sarcasm.
Sue: The Doctor just referred to Hitler as a bounder. That’s almost as bad as calling the 911 terrorists “folks”.
But Azal isn’t having any of it.
Sue: Could someone please give Azal a tissue? He’s dribbling all over himself.
UNIT try – and fail – to take out Bok (“Just imagine how rubbish they’d be against a Weeping Angel…”), so Benton brings out the heavy artillery.
Sue: Benton’s smirking at Yates because he’s got the bigger gun.
Azal assaults the Doctor, but Jo throws herself in front of the psychic bullet. Azal takes this very badly indeed.
Sue: I’m sorry, but I can’t understand a word he’s saying.
When the Doctor explains that Azal was killed thanks to Jo’s irrational behaviour, Sue ignores the sexist undercurrent and decides to focus on the positive instead.
Sue: So Jo saved the entire world yet again, then? If the Doctor is nasty to her ever again, I’m going to stop watching this rubbish.
Benton apprehends the Master on the village green.
Sue: Just shoot him in the head! No, wait, don’t! Lock him up and don’t let him out for several episodes. Oh wait, he’s going to escape! Benton, you are pathetic!
Thankfully, the Master is stopped by Bessie (“Does Bessie count as a companion?”) and the story – and the season – concludes with Yates asking the Brigadier for a dance.
Sue: See! I told you!
Although the Brigadier would rather go for a pint.
Sue: I bet that’s code.
Sue: That was definitely the worst Jon Pertwee story so far. It just didn’t do anything for me. It didn’t know what it wanted to be. And the Master is beyond a joke now. Although he did come quite close to pulling off his evil plan this week, so he’s getting better, I suppose. Just give him a rest. And is it just me or is the music actually getting worse?
While we were watching The Dæmons, something rather remarkable happened.
Me: They’ve found two episodes of Doctor Who! In somebody’s shed!
Sue: I told you we should have kept looking but “No,” you said, “there’s no point,” you said. I knew I should never have listened to you. Is one of them The Tenth Planet Episode 4?
Me: No, they’ve found the third episode of Galaxy 4 and Episode 2 of The Underwater Menace.
Sue: I suppose those names should mean sometime to me but –
Me: You gave both stories 2/10. One is a William Hartnell story that featured a giant poo and some vacuum cleaners, the other is the Patrick Troughton story that featured Fish People and a really mad East European scientist. Remember?
Sue: So, not very good episodes, then?
Me: It could have been a lot worse, they could have found The Celestial Toymaker or more episodes of The Space Pirates. You should count yourself lucky.
Sue: As exciting as this may be – be still my beating heart – I don’t see what this has to do with me. Hang on, we don’t have to watch them, do we?
Me: Well, that all depends on whether they are released on DVD (or someone sends them to me in a plain brown envelope) before we finish this experiment. If they do, we will have to go back and watch them. So mote it be.
Sue: Are you telling me that I’ll have to watch more black and white episodes?! And shit ones at that?
A cushion is thrown.
Sue: Let’s hurry up and get this bloody thing over with before the bastards find any more.