Doctor Who #628: Planet of Fire Part 3

"Journey's end, Doctor. I'm sorry. Your cremation will deprive me of our periodic encounters. Quickly, my time is short."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Mar.1 1984.

IN THIS ONE... The Kamelion Master makes his way to the healing blue flame of Sarn and Peri finds the real Master in a box.

REVIEW: I have to say I'm surprised at how well Peter Grimwade's script is coming together given his earlier efforts. Yes, volcanic flames with healing properties takes us rather deep into the realm of science fantasy, but Doctor Who has always had at least one foot squarely on that side of the SF genre. Thematically, the episode is about the struggle for control. The Master and the Doctor fight over Kamelion's mind just as much as over control over Sarn's society. When the Doctor seems to win, it turns Kamelion into silver Howard, which ironically is closer to what Logar the Sarn God looks like, so to win is to lose, as they say. (But to lose is to win, so getting thrown into the volcanic vent actually gives the Doctor the key to solving his various dilemmas.) The Master even "steals" the Doctor's newest companion, brings her aboard his "infinitely superior" TARDIS (in color scheme, at least) and makes her do his chores. Timanov's traditions are under fire from the Unbelievers' more secular ideas, and there are even two Chosen Ones on hand to give commands. This society is as unstable as the planet it lives on.

While the plot moves fairly well, with each revelation building upon the last, I can't always commend the dialog. The Doctor's clipped phrases to try and break the Master's hold on Kamelion is pretty awful, for example, though they might be the equivalent of passwords, a sort of telepathic hacking of the robot's systems. And you have to wonder how dense Timanov is for following the Master when the Time Lord's dialog is so obviously "evil". By the time the Master calls him a "gullible idiot", Timanov has changed allegiances a few times, most notably when a Chosen One get shot on the "Outsider"'s orders, but there he is, still doing the Master's bidding. Kids, the lesson is that you shouldn't sniff the volcanic dust. A much better leader, aside from the Doctor of course, is Turlough, who though he jeopardizes his friendship with the Time Lord by keeping too many secrets (the Doctor is still VERY patient with his treacherous companion, wouldn't you say?), manages to take charge of the situation and act heroically. He's finally becoming a character you want to watch week in and week out, so OF COURSE that means he's leaving at the end of this story.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how well they composited the healing flame into the set or model (it's less successful coming out of a mountain), and the reveal of the small Doctor in a box is a great WTF cliffhanger moment. So THAT'S why the Kamelion Master felt the need to shrink some costumes to doll size! ;-)

- Timanov's volatility, like Kamelion's, can be irritating at times, but Part 3 is a well-constructed series of revelations that build the world and situation, setting them up for the finale.



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