Doctor Who #304: The Daemons Part 4

"How on earth did you do that, Doctor?" "Elemental, my dear Benton!"
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jun.12 1971.

IN THIS ONE... The Master has a chat with Azal, Jo escapes her bed and finds her way to the church basement, and Miss Hawthorne leads everyone to believe the Doctor is a magician.

REVIEW: I can't decide if there's a recurring joke in this story about UNIT being "out of touch" or not, but here they are again, having communication trouble. The Doctor also has to explain once more how the UNIT tech is supposed to construct his heat barrier solving machine, and the camera goes "aw, let's just cut away". UNIT seems as out of touch with the Doctor's high science as it is with the Master's magic, and of course, they're really one and the same. In fact, the Master has trouble getting in touch with Azal as well, leading to the Pan-like figure's return again and again in each successive cliffhanger. The fact that Azal wants to speak with the Doctor instead is something the Master sees as a slight in his ongoing rivalry with the Doctor, but his motivation otherwise remains muddy.

The story still can't decide if it believes in magic or not, and it can be annoying. We're told again and again that it's all hogwash, but there's this very magical thing about Azal returning three times, and Yates speaks about spells and elementals as if he believes it. There's also a bizarre sequence in which the subjugated populace are made to believe rather too easily that the Doctor is a great magician. Just how superstitious are they? Or have their resistance to suggestion been worn way down by the Master? I know they've seen devils, but that doesn't mean the guy in the cape is some kind of sorcerer just because Miss Hawthorne says so. Still, some cleverness on her part having Benton shoot various things and people with a silencer, simulating telekinetic effects. And of course, Bessie's remote driving comes in handy. The dialog has a number of clever lines as well, and Miss Hawthorne knocking someone upside the head with a crystal ball, ending a frenzied, violent (read: exciting) fight. In other ways, it's not clever at all. Jo wakes up from a concussion and immediately runs out the window to follow her feeling, a handy ladder waiting for her.

At the center of the episode is a strange sequence with a Maypole and Morris dancers, which to non-Brits, is the most alien thing on the show since, well, Axos, but maybe the Krotons before that. I'm sure it's all a quaint tradition in the UK, but it's just bizarre to me. These odd revelers are somehow more effective than Azal himself, who turns out to be a major disappointment. His skinny chicken legs not withstanding, he just doesn't have a rich enough voice to go with his very concept. It comes off as shouty and forced. You destroyed Atlantis with that voice? Get in line, there are plenty of potential culprits for that one. With only one episode to go, I now fear that we won't get satisfying answers to all our questions.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Some clever turns of phrase, and Benton still being used at his most effective, but Azal is a bit rubbish and we're no closer to understanding the Master's plan.

4 comments:

LiamKav said...

The National Association of
Men's Morris & Sword Dance Clubs compained about a lack of representation at the Olympic opening ceremonry, stating that an important part of British tradition wasn't being shown to the world.

90% of Brits were pretty pleased at this, since we've had as much exposure to morris dancing as Canadians have had to the sasquatch.

Siskoid said...

A bit like I've never actually seen a Mountie dressed in red.

LiamKav said...

Mounties are cool, though. Between Due South and "The Mountie always gets his man" from old-school WWF, they are several leagues above men dancing around a pole waving handkerchiefs.

Siskoid said...

You won't hear me disagree with that sentiment.

 

Blog Archive

Category

5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zine