Doctor Who #301: The Daemons Part 1

"Always in such a hurry, you towns folk. All be the same in a hundred years time, sir!" "I can assure you, sir, it will be no such thing!"TECHNICAL SPECS: This story is available on DVD. First aired May 22 1971.

IN THIS ONE... The Master summons the devil in a church basement.

REVIEW: After the experimental comic book of The Claws of Axos and the gray moralizing SF of Colony in Space, The Daemons looks properly Gothic and thus, awesome! Thunder, wind and rain. A village called Devil's End. A pub with a cloven hoof on its sign. A church sitting on an ancient Pagan site with gargoyles in the cellar. An ancient tomb about to be opened at midnight. A modern witch warning of a curse. A vicar who leads a Satanist cult (inevitably, the Master). A lot of it on atmospheric film. Finally an episode in the color era that isn't afraid of shadows and darkness! And perhaps scariest of all, how the Doctor insists that something is wrong, even if it seems to mean he believes in the occult when he starts the episode denying its existence.

My favorite thing about the episode is how it shows and contrasts how much stock in these supernatural stories. Obviously, you need the Master to tap into these dark forces (so they MUST have a scientific explanation, right?) and at least one believer in town warning everyone of the danger. Similarly, there's an archaeologist who denies the existence of magic. But we also have gullible Jo Grant, who's into the trendiest New Age stuff. The TV journalist who uses the occult cynically, to get ratings. The people down at the pub who have lived with these legends all their lives and can laugh at them or choose to believe them, depending on the situation. Benton and Yates, showing more interest in the football - doomsday is just another news segment on the telly. (The Brig is squeezed out of the equation, he's off to somewhere official in his fancy uniform.) Somehow, the Doctor knows something that puts him in an odd "extremist believer" position, which isn't where you'd imagine him to be. Especially not after that scene where he drives Bessie with a remote control to make a point about the unexplained. So whoever this Azal devil is (or should I say daemon to satisfy the censors?), he's got to be explainable.

- Nicely atmospheric, the episode also explores the characters' relationship to faith. A very effective introduction.


LiamKav said...

Chickening out of having to copy and paste "Dæmons" every single time, are you? :)

Siskoid said...

I also don't use the combined "oe" thingamagig in many French words.

If it's on the keyboard, it can kiss my ass. ;-)


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