The 3rd Doctor – Season 8, Episode 5 – “The Dæmons” – A Great and Ancient Power

      “The Dæmons” is an amazing 3rd Doctor story. This a story that goes into the lore that makes up the show, gives us a great standoff against a classic foe and has something important to say about the nature of power. This is a story that has five 24 minute parts but it feels like much less. The flow and tension of the story is beautifully handled and there are fantastic rising action with great antagonists and some wonderful exploration of our heroes. This story is quality “Classic Doctor Who,” and one I definitely recommend.

“The Dæmons” was directed by Christopher Barry and written by “Guy Leopold” the pseudonym for Barry Letts and Robert Sloman.

The story involves the Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Jo (Katy Manning) attempting to stop a cult that seeks to awaken an ancient power beneath an English Church, while attempting to connect with U.N.I.T. for aid as the Doctor comes to face an old foe.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

Tension and Story Structure – “The Dæmons” is a 5 part story that does a great job at establishing the threat, building up the standoff and having stakes and growth throughout the entire episode. This episode is great. The Doctor needs to be saved early on by Jo and U.N.I.T. The Brigadier needs to arrive with reinforcements to help against the Cult and get past the heat wall and the Cult’s actions and infiltration have to be dealt with by our local heroes, Jo and the Doctor. The action builds beautifully and the payoff is fantastic and fits with the theme of power that is weaved through the episode.

The Master and his Cult – The Master and his Cult are such fun villains. The Cult controls the local village and has people in all levels of power. The Master for example is the local leader of the church and we see cult members pop up in local government and around U.N.I.T. This keeps the tension high as the Master is winning through most of the episodes and it isn’t until Brigadier with the full force of U.N.I.T. and Jo’s sacrifice against Azal that he finally finds all his plans turn to ash and himself captured by U.N.I.T.

Azal – Azal is a powerful alien and last of species the Dæmons a powerful alien species who have been experimenting on humanity through history. It is from this that we get a force that doesn’t even care about the Time Lords beyond how he can use them to control or use Earth. He doesn’t show up that often but when he does you get why he is the big bad of the episode.

Brigadier and U.N.I.T. – Brigadier is fantastic and him coming to help against the Cult is a major plot point. For much of the episode we follow soldiers under his control as they seek to get him to the scene of the action. When he finally arrives it is a great show as we see U.N.I.T. in action against a gargoyle and and the Master’s cult. I love how Brigadier hates being under the Doctor’s control but listens anyway. It gives a great dynamic as he is the only one who understands he needs to follow what the Doctor is doing, but doesn’t have to like it.

Jo Grant – Jo is very much the Watson to the Doctor’s Sherlock. He even references this point at one point. This is a relationship where she is learning through the entire episode and her pure goodness is what saves the day in the end. Because she isn’t detached like the Doctor she is able to care about others on a way the Doctor won’t let himself do. We never see the Doctor sacrifice himself through the series in the way Jo does here. Unthinking she jumps against a killing blow that Azal sets against the Doctor, which in turn saves the day.

The Third Doctor – Jon Pertwee is such a great actor, and one of my favorite Doctors. This gave him a story worthy of his talents as we got to see him investigate, be vulnerable and own his role as the protagonist facing an old foe and forces more powerful than him. At one point he references Sherlock Holmes and he is perfect in that role as his Doctor has many aspects of his character. Pertwee’s Doctor is detached from people even as he desires to help them. This episode is powerful because it is an episode where he comes to better understand empathy and love and it is quite beautiful.

True Power – The main drive for many this episode is power. The Master wants it destroy the world, the Doctor doesn’t want it and Azal wants to bestow it to destroy his enemies. In the end the one who saves the day is Jo. She willingly sacrifices herself which reverses the power and saves all of their lives, causing Azal’s destruction and the capture of the Master by U.N.I.T. It is cliche but I still appreciate how love was the true power all along. It was Jo’s love of the Doctor that defeated the last of a powerful alien species set upon destruction.

Okay:

The Witch – The witch is an okay character. She’s introduced early and she does save a U.N.I.T. Captain from a cultist, but she also doesn’t do much beyond that. She along for the Doctor’s story once she shows up and I wish we’d had more of her facing off against the cult and the church. This was a character full of potential, who was still acted well but got forgotten by the end.

This is a great episode and an episode that shows why Jon Perwee is one of my favorite Doctors. In this we get his detachment, investigative skills, his fighting ability and all his caring. In the end this episode has him grow in his caring and shows just how wonderful Jo is as a companion. She is his Watson to his Sherlock. Seeing Brigadier and the Master using their minds and forces to the fullest also makes for a intriguing face-off that payoffs in a well earned victory for our heroes. For any fan of “Classic Doctor Who,” this is one that I highly recommend.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10. A great episode of the Pertwee Era.

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The 3rd Doctor – Season 7, Episode 2 – “Doctor Who and the Silurians” – The Vices of Conflict

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         “Doctor Who and the Silurians” is a great episode of “Classic Doctor Who” and one I’d recommend. It is good at exploring the different factions that are at play and each of the characters gets exploration in their slow descent to become the worst of themselves. This is something the current version of “Doctor Who” has never been able to do as well, partially because it doesn’t have the 7 Part format of this era that the new era lacks.

     The episode was directed by Timothy Combe, written by Malcolm Hulke and produced by Barry Letts.

     The story involves the awakening of the Silurians from their hibernation from the energy that is being used by the Wenly Moor Nuclear Research Facility. It is up to the Doctor and Liz to discover what is going on as they work with UNIT and the Brig and soon find themselves pulled into a conflict where Silurians and Humans work to destroy one another as the Doctor strives for peace and the survival of both species.

The Pros: Building Tension – This is a 7 Part story and it does a great job at building tension. We don’t see the Silurian for sometime but we do see the world through it’s eyes and the fear it feels and fear it makes other feel as it is running away wounded, this perspective lends the story power and shows the fear and confusion on both sides of the conflict while also presenting some good B Grade Horror tricks.

The Research Facility – The Wenley Moor Nuclear Research Facility is a place of drama, mysterious things keep pulling the power and making the reactor unstable which leads to the government and leader of the facility always at odds. Eventually his paranoia gets the better of him and we see just how much fear has destroyed everyone. The facility is also used to trick the Silurians who are attempting to destroy the humans after a Warmonger Silurian takes over after killing the Peaceful leader. The Doctor uses the facility to force them into hibernation and ends up preventing it from exploding.

UNIT – UNIT is on top of things this episode, for better and for worse. We see them dealing with the Silurian threat, stopping the Silurian bacteria that is infecting the population with the help of Liz and the Doctor and later they mount a counterattack and commit genocide on the Silurian population, fearing another attack after having being held hostage at the research facility.

The Brig – The Brigadier is a great character! We see him dealing with government politics and ethics as the Doctor does things like talk to the Silurians that put him in a compromised position. He trusts the Doctor up until he sees how humanity is turning on itself from Silurian threat so the Silurians must be destroyed…also after nearly being killed by the Warmonger Silurian he had had enough and decided to wipe out the population. He isn’t a good guy as we know all Silurians were not bad but all he had was his experience to go off and that was witnessing two attempts by the Silurians to wipe out the Species of humanity. Nicholas Courtney is great as always.

The Silurians – The Silurians are complicated and we see a rich culture in the times we meet them. We also see that there are those with superiority comlexes ruled by fear who want the Earth back and not to coexist. This political dilemma leads to a coup and the disposal of the peaceful Leader, which spells the end of the Silurians as the attack by Morka and K’to leads to a UNIT counterattack which leads to the wiping out of their species and any chance for peace. We know they aren’t all bad as shown by their leader it was simply the few awake were ruled by fear because every interaction with humans had been hostile…showing the tragedy of the Silurian experience after their awakening.

Liz – Liz is a great companion and Caroline John is fantastic as her! She is an active companion who doesn’t take crap from the Doctor. We see her in scientist mode and she discovers that the Silurians are reptiles and large and from their helps the Doctor discover their possible origin. She is the only one not to die of fright when she sees a Silurian and we see her on the side of peace the entire time and against the actions of fear by UNIT and the government.

The Doctor – Jon Pertwee is wonderful as the 3rd Incarnation of the Doctor! In this we see him fixing his car Bessie and later using it to get around in investigating the attacks in the mine and around the countryside. He is the only one who truly understands the Silurian experience and wants peace and coexistence. He is willing to go to any lengths to do so, showing just how alien he is…where humans react with fear he reacts with understanding and asking questions and it is at the end where the sadness of humanity wiping out an entire species is only felt by him and the failures of all his attempts to reach a peaceful solution as his last regard of reasoning with the Silurians one at at time after awakening them from hibernation was ignored as UNIT destroyed the Silurians instead. Pertwee is the gruff and gentlemenly Doctor who defines himself in how he is not like humanity, even if at times he helps them.

The Vices of War and Destruction – The reason humans die from the Silurian bacteria and the Silurian species is destroyed is because of the vices of fear, anger and greed. It is greed that makes the members of the facility want nothing to do with the Silurians or the conflict only running the machine, it is fear that leads to the peaceful Silurian leader being killed in a coup and anger and fear that lead to the bombs being placed that destroy the Silurians. In this way peace was a lost cause the moment the cycle started with the Silurian injuring the miners and being injured in turn (unknown who started it though, both were in self defense most likely)..and this fed the conflict that could only have one resolution since no one wanted to listen or understand except the Doctor and Liz. The desire for control of land by the humans and Silurians is another major problem that fed the conflict. There was no sharing involved, it was all or nothing for the war parties.

The Ending – The ending is sad and powerful. It is true to reality as well as many cultures are no longer around today because of conflict and war that was started from the need for land and the people who do work for peace in conflict today are usually on the losing side since war breeds war and hate breeds hate, resolution only happens after enough people have died to get one faction to surrender. This ending illustrated that the Doctor isn’t a superhero either. He won’t always save the day because the choices of humans and Silurians are not his to make.

Okay: The Human and Silurian Antagonists – The antagonists are alright, I would have liked more on why they felt so strongly on things though. The men at the research station wanted money and knowledge and losing that drove them mad and the Silurians wanted their old home back (a good drive) but they also never experienced harm from humans first hand. If K’to or Morka had I would have put them as a pro since their fear would have greater reason behind it and not simply look cruel or for political ends.

    This was an episode that showed that there isn’t always a happy ending and the Doctor can’t always save everyone…sometimes people will act whether he wants them to or not and they may or may not be right depending on the situation. This is something the New Series of “Doctor Who” lacks. It is still a favorite show but I think the longer format of the episodes of the past allowed for great exploration of the different factions and worlds and provided great rising tension rather than having everything at a break neck pace. Sometimes a story wants you to get to know the characters first before they are put in mortal danger. This is a huge reason this episode works and why it would not have worked if it had only had an hour to tell the story. This is also a story that is true to reality and just how difficult it is to make peace as well as showing us the Doctor is not a Superhero and he cannot always save the day since it is the choices of everyone that affect a conflict and it’s resolution, not just one person.

Final Score: 9.2 / 10

12 Days of Doctors – The 3rd Doctor – Season 7, Episode 1 – “The Spearhead From Space” – The Beginning of an Exile

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We continue 12 Days of Doctors with the count up to 12th’s first Adventure with the 3rd Doctor. This was the first time Doctor Who appeared in color and also the first episode that had UNIT helping the Doctor against the current threat, as well as the introduction as well as the introduction of Jon Pertwee at the Third Doctor.

“The Spearhead From Space,” was written by Robert Holmes and directed by Derek Martinus. Producer Derrick Sherman oversaw the change between Troughton to Pertwee and the new direction the show would take.

The story begins with strange meteors crashing into the Earth, one of which is the Doctor in the TARDIS. He is taken in by UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Task Force) as UNIT tries to figure out what happened as only a piece of one of the strange alien cylinders that fell is found by them and it is broken. Liz is brought onto the scene by the Brigadier to help solve things and after the Doctor is attacked by assassins from the life-form that landed he begins working with The Brig and Liz  to find out what it is…at least until Liz gets him his key to the TARDIS and he finds that the Time Lords have permanently exiled him on Earth in the time period it takes place in forcing him to help solve the crisis and accept his exile. From here the story unfolds.

Dr Who: Spearhead From Space

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Brig – Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is the most famous leaders of UNIT and the only person who had met the Doctor prior in this episode since he met him during the 2nd Doctor’s run. He is the prime factor helping and hindering the Doctor, as he knows he needs the Doctor but also respects the Doctor. He is the one who listens when the Doctor gives advice and acts on it. He is definitely a companion, though not in the fly around in the TARDIS way companion. In this episode we see him help focus the Doctor on the threat at hand and protect him from the threat. He makes a deal with the Doctor at an end to give him a lab and supplies to help fix the TARDIS as well as clothes and a car.

Liz – Liz is one of the famous companions during the 3rd Doctor’s run. We see her as indepdent and a skeptic when we first meet her, not wanting to be used by UNIT until her curiousity is made strong enough and we see her complex relationship with the Doctor too. She is the one who helps him fight the Nestene Consciousness (that later appears to face the 9th Doctor in his first adventure with a companion) and save the people who have been paralyzed so their Auton (plastic people) forms can reek havok. She is one of the companions I have a lot of respect for as she holds her own and her identity isn’t dependent on the Doctor.

UNIT – It is great seeing UNIT mostly competent and in action. The Brig is the leader we see be the most effective, as his superior gets captured by the Nestene’s human speaker Channing and turned into one of the first Autons to infiltrate society. They have a big battle at the end which helps limit the damage the Nestene Cons. causes.

The Nestene Consciousness – Is a great threat and an interesting looking alien. It is an alien made of pure energy that separates itself into different parts and once combined together is able to form a tentacle monster that nearly kills the Doctor. My one issue with it is we don’t know why it wants to conquer Earth. It is a great threat in the episode though.

The Use of Color – The use of color is used really well, from the Doctor’s black gentelmenlike outfit he steals from a doctor…too the dark coats with the pale faces of the Autons. You can see everything happen and it makes the story beautiful to watch.

The Third Doctor / The 3rd Doctor – Jon Pertwee is fantastic. While the First Doctor was the Professor, and the Second Doctor was the buffoon manipulator…the Third Doctor is the gentlemen. We see this in the clothes he chooses and how apologetic he is about every time he messes up. We see him try to run we when he gets the key, and that is when he discovers his punishment for getting involved with humanity and time was more than a forced regeneration…it was exile on the world he was so active in. You can see the sadness in his eyes when he realizes this and this informs his performance too. He is here on Earth because he has to be and also he is still the Doctor a protector. We see his scientific mind at work in helping defeat the Nestene Cons. and that Liz and he have great chemistry when they team up.

Okay: The Supporting Cast – The Factory owner and former factory owner who eventually turn against the Nestene Cons. are pretty one note. They aren’t bad but their roles are predictable and their performances aren’t elevated in anyway. Same goes for the poacher who finds and keeps part of the Nestene’s Cons.

Okay/Con: Channing – He isn’t all that unique as a villain. He takes control of a doll making faculty and the Nestene Cons. promises him power, but other than that he has no motivation. He has power over the Autons I guess, but what was he promised beyond survival. He does alright in the role and he’s not a bad villain, there just isn’t much there.

The 3rd Doctor’s run had a fair amount of episodes saved thankfully, and Jon Pertwee is a pleasure to watch. This episode is a good episode and a good introduction to him as the Third Doctor. It definitely gets a recommendation from me, even though the story and baddies aren’t as good as those from “The Power of the Daleks.” Jon Pertwee is one of the best, you can never go wrong with the Brigadier and Liz is a great companion.

Final score for this episode is 8.5 / 10

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