Doctor Who #303: The Daemons Part 3

"You’ve got the mind of an accountant, Lethbridge Stewart!"TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jun.5 1971.

IN THIS ONE... The Master uses Bok the Gargoyle to take control of the town, and sends a goon out to steal UNIT's helicopter, which slams into the heat barrier.

REVIEW: With daylight comes the loss of atmosphere, exposing some of the era's clichés. If the monsters turn on the Master, drink. If Pertwee finds an excuse to drive a different vehicle, drink. If Jo somehow gets hurt and put out of action, drink. If Benton doesn't get it, drink. And if there's a protracted chase involving a helicopter, drink continuously. Take an extra tequila shot if that helicopter explodes.

In all seriousness though, this is the first big example of von Danikenism in the series (the idea that aliens came to Earth long ago to influence our progress, being responsible for many myths and religions). The Daemons are revealed to be super-powerful beings from Daemos (in other words, responsible for the root of THAT word) that, according to the Doctor, were responsible for the end of the Neanderthals, the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution. Yeah, they helped, but it's just an experiment to them, and "Azal" is apparently ready to chuck the whole thing in the bin (just how the Doctor makes that leap...). From the Doctor's slideshow, we also discover the Daemons appear in human culture as everything horned, from Egyptian gods (does Sutekh know?) to the Beast itself (is the creature from The Satan Pit then a Daemon?). For some reason, the Daemons believe in magic and respond even to nonsense incantations and the presence of iron. Explanation forthcoming as to why they do even if the Time Lords think it's bogus? We know from later stories that some ancient species can manipulate the universe "magically" through numbers (Logopolis) or words (The Shakespeare Code), and the Master is obviously able to make magic manifest (calling demons and poltergeist), so... The story's at that point where it should decide just what is actually possible in the Whoniverse.

Unfortunately, the whole episode says one thing and does another. In addition to the working yet unworkable magic, we have the Master promising the townsfolk the chance to rule, then changing his tack to requiring submission. We have a goon trying to steer Bessie into the heat shield before foolishly ramming into it himself. We have a giant demon-god who spends half its time in microscopic form (what?). And we have a repeat of the cliffhanger from Part 1, with the Master summoning Azal once again... but isn't the monster already on Earth? That ceremony's just to call him to the church basement, isn't it?

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Though the revelations here deepen the Doctor Who universe, logic problems and clichés crop up all over the place.



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