We conclude season eight with a beloved classic. But you try telling the wife that.
We begin with a man walking his dog in a raging thunderstorm.
Sue: Is this going to be Doctor Who meets An American Werewolf in London?
The dog runs off into a graveyard, only to be killed off-screen by some unseen, malevolent force.
Sue: Right! That’s a mark off for killing a dog. There was no need for that.
She doesn’t give a toss about the poor owner who subsequently meets the same fate, of course.
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 for her silly, superstitious ways, exclaiming that he’ll never make a scientist out of her.
Sue: How is making Jo answer the phones all day going to turn her into a scientist? The Doctor can be so patronising sometimes. He has definitely got out on the wrong side of the bed again this week.
The Doctor proves that magic doesn’t really 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, come on, let’s face it, it’s not even Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo.
Meanwhile, a reporter for BBC3 is recording a piece to camera. He is standing in the Devil’s Hump, a Bronze Age burial mound that is said to contain the tomb of a great warrior. The tomb is due to be opened later that night.
Sue: It’s Most Haunted meets Time Team meets Nationwide.
Sue enjoys the programme within the programme, and she praises the way the media is used to provide the background to the story. She hopes that Alistair Fergus and his crew will form an integral part of the plot.
Sue: This is great. It feels really fresh. I love it.
And then Master turns up.
Sue: Oh no! Not again! Seriously, this is getting very silly now. Is the Master in every Jon Pertwee story from this point on?
Sue: Good, I don’t think I could carry on 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.
As the Master engages Miss Hawthorne, a local white witch, in an animated discussion about the human soul, Sue can’t believe her eyes and ears.
Sue: Is this the first children’s television programme to feature a psychopathic vicar using the word “existentialism”? I just want to be sure.
Meanwhile, Jo and the Doctor are racing to Devil’s End in Bessie, but an ill wind sends them in the wrong direction. The Doctor will eventually blame Jo’s map reading skills for this unwanted detour.
Sue: I hate it when the Doctor isn’t pleasant to Jo. There’s just no need for it. And I had a purple hat just like Jo’s when I was growing up; I called it my Donny Osmond hat. I loved that hat.
Meanwhile, deep in some catacombs, the Master prepares to unleash hell.
Sue: Why is that gargoyle smoking a cigarette?
Me: That’s his tongue.
Sue: **** off, that’s a Woodbine!
The episode concludes with the Master summoning a great force just as the tomb is opened. The Doctor is knocked unconscious by an icy blast, although this detail is completely lost on Sue.
Sue: It’s a shame this story hasn’t been VidFired. The quality of this print is horrendous.
Me: I’m sorry but this is the only copy I have. It’s a digital rip of a VHS copy. It’s the best that I could do.
Sue: It looks like we’re watching a snuff film.top
Benton and Yates finish watching the Rugby and then they tune into BBC3, just in time to see Jo cooing over a prostrate Doctor before the channel suddenly interrupts its 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 an episode of 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 is eerily similar.
Me: I know.
Sue: How long has the Master been living in this village? Weeks? Months? Did he have to give weekly sermons, just so he could blend in with the community? Did he open many fetes? Christen many 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 pretty niche, even for Doctor Who fans.
When Yates claims that they can’t reach the Brigadier because he left the opera and went on somewhere else without leaving a contact number, I 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.
Me: Now there’s some fan-fiction for you to get your teeth into.
Benton and Yates decide to fly to the village by helicopter. Probably because it looks cooler than driving there in a battered Austin Maxi.
Sue: There’s quite 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 do like their helicopters.
Upon reaching their destination, Mike decides to change into something a little 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 is woken up.
Sue: Is he in bed with his fancy woman?
Me: No, he’s sneaked back to his poor wife.
Sue: You are just winding me up. The Brig is a good man. He’d never cheat on his wife like that. He’s the Brig!
When the Master learns that the Doctor has poked his infernal nose into his affairs, he throws a dicky fit.
Sue: Why does the Master look so surprised? The Doctor always stumbles across his stupid plans. Don’t tell me, the Devil will eventually turn on the Master and he’ll have to join forces with the Doctor, just so he can get out of the sorry mess alive. And then he’ll run away. I could write this, you know.
The episode concludes with a living gargoyle threatening the Doctor and Jo.
Sue: There’s something very Weeping Angel about this monster. Although the Weeping Angels looked great. This looks stupid.top
As Bok advances on Jo and the Doctor, there’s only one thing on Sue’s mind.
Sue: You can’t go wrong with an Eveready torch.
The Doctor manages to keep the gargoyle at bay by reciting a Venusian lullaby.
Sue: Look at the Master’s face when the gargoyle -
Sue: Whatever. Anyway, when the gargoyle runs away – because it’s scared of a trowel, I might add – the Master gives this priceless look of a man who is used to disappointment.
The Doctor gets his slide projector out and he begins lecturing everyone about the plot.
Sue: How does Jo know where the planet Dæmos is? Does the Doctor give her private lectures every evening, 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 reiterates just how stupid the Brig’s idea was to call in an airstrike. The Doctor bites his companion’s head off.
Sue: What a hypocrite! He’s called the Brigadier a lot worse than that, and now he humiliates Jo when she’s defending him! What a pompous, unlikable ****! Pertwee makes William Hartnell look like Patrick Troughton.
The Doctor explains that the Dæmon is currently 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 where he proceeds to scare the living crap out of them. The net result is that he suddenly has an army of obedient followers under his thrall.
Sue: It’s a rare meeting where something actually got done!
As the Doctor races to the heat barrier in Bessie (just so he can be rude to a technician in person), the helicopter, which has been commandeered by one of the Master’s followers, attempts to, erm, drive the Doctor towards the heat barrier.
Sue: This is unnecessary. Exciting but unnecessary. And badly directed. What was the helicopter trying to do, exactly? Besides annoying the hell out of the Doctor? And Yates was effing useless!
The helicopter flies into the barrier and explodes.
Sue: Just listen to that wind! And yet Pertwee’s bouffant isn’t moving 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.top
Sue: I bet it must have been a pain in the arse to put the ‘a’ and the ‘e’ together like that on a 1970s character generator.
We then we get our first look at Azal’s feet.
Sue: Oh, look, the devil wears stockings. And Jimmy Choo shoes, too.
Azal starts bossing the Master around.
Sue: This has turned into Monty Python now. The devil will be asking the Master to bring him a shrubbery next.
When the Dæmon shrinks back to a size where he could he could easily be stamped upon, the heat exchange causes the screen to become so bleached and over-exposed, all I can hear for the next several minutes is:
Sue: Who’s that? Who’s that? Who’s that?
When Mike discovers that Jo has sneaked out of her room, he calls her a “little idiot”.
Sue: Is it ‘Be A Total Bastard to Jo Day’, today?
But at least the village of Aldbourne looks nice.
Sue: It really is a beautiful village. I’d love to live there. Well, once they get things back to normal again. Do they still run Doctor Who tours around the place? I’d have to reconsider if they did.
Once the Doctor has finished patronising the poor UNIT technician, he gets on a motorcycle and races back to the village.
Sue: Meanwhile, on Top Gear… Look, it’s no good. I just 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 playing him looks bored. It’s as if he isn’t taking it entirely seriously anymore. And the story doesn’t know what it wants to be. 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 a troupe of Morris dancers.
Sue: Why haven’t you got any Morris dancers in your Doctor Who doll collection? They’re scarier than the Ice Warriors.
Jo and Yates infiltrate the catacombs just as the Master is about to summon Azal once again. The Master reaches for a ritual sacrifice – in this case is a big fat hen – but Jo runs from cover to stop him.
Sue: Jo must really love chickens. Bless her.
And then Azal is revealed in all his majesty.
Sue: Does this mean the Master killed the chicken anyway? Marks off!
As Azal’s features fill the frame, 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.top
The copy we have of this particular episode is atrocious. The first few minutes are practically unwatchable – it’s pixelated, smeared with artefacts and the lip sync is way out. I’ve scoured torrent sites, newsgroups and other reliable sources, but it’s always the same damn story. Even Dailymotion replicates the problem. I have an original VHS copy sitting in my attic, but I don’t have a player to watch it on.
Sue battles bravely on.
The Master sends Bok outside to keep anyone from entering the church. The gargoyle blocks the entrance by standing still and 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 that the time has come to declare who her Man of the Match is.
Sue: That poor technician is the best character in this story. He has been very brave and resourceful and he has put up with a lot of shit. I hope he becomes a regular. What’s his name?
Me: I have no idea.
Sue: Well, I guess that answers that question, then.
Meanwhile, the villagers are getting restless.
Sue: Is that Bruce Forsyth’s brother?
When the Brigadier finally makes it to the village, just in time deliver one of his most famous lines – “Chap with the wings, there. Five rounds rapid” – Sue doesn’t react at all.
Sue: Benton and Yates should have been given their own spin-off series. It could have been like The Professionals, but with more sexual tension. Actually, that’s a point – where is Torchwood when all this is going on? You’d have thought this would have been right up their street.
As the Master pleads with Azal, the Doctor decides to fight back with sarcasm.
Sue: The Doctor just referred to Hitler as a bounder. That’s almost as bad as calling the 911 terrorists “folks”.
Azal isn’t having any of it.
Sue: Could somebody please give Azal a tissue – he’s dribbling all over himself.
UNIT try – and fail – to take on Bok (“Just imagine how rubbish they’d be against a Weeping Angel”), so Benton brings out the heavy artillery.
Sue: Look at Benton smirking because he has the biggest gun. Yates looks on longingly.
Azal attacks 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 by Jo’s irrationality, Sue decides to ignore the sexist connotations and she focuses on the positive instead.
Sue: So Jo saved the entire world, then? If the Doctor is nasty to her 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 then the story – and the season – concludes with Yates asking the Brigadier for a dance.
Sue: See! I told you!
The Brigadier says he’d rather go for a pint.
Sue: I bet that’s code.top
The Final Score
Sue: That was definitely the worst 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 getting beyond a joke now. Although he did come quite close to pulling off his evil plan this week. 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?
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?
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.
The experiment continues…top
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