Tom Baker as Doctor Who

Tom Baker as Doctor Who

Sunday, 30 October 2016

436 The Deadly Assassin: Part One

EPISODE: The Deadly Assassin: Part One
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 436
STORY NUMBER: 088
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 30 October 1976
WRITER: Robert Holmes
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
RATINGS: 11.8 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Deadly Assassin

"Predictable as ever, Doctor!"

The Doctor returns to Galifrey, plagued by visions of himself assassinating the President of the High Council of the Time Lords. His Tardis is impounded when he arrives but he evades the guards, finding his way to the gallery of the Panoptican, the grand hall of the Time Lords. The Doctor finds the gun hidden in the public video camera & pointing at the President which then fires in his hands killing the President.

That ain't a bad episode. Yes, essentially it's a lot of running around, but it's given urgency by the Doctor's vision at the start of the episode which comes to pass at the end. OK that element is basically a "homage" to The Manchurian Candidate but ....

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The scrolling text & narration at the start are a nice touch, unique in Doctor Who so far as is the absence of any companion. Tom had been saying to the production team that he didn't think he needed one so they decided to try the idea here. And right through there's a shadowy black figure in the background....

The implementation of the text leaves a little to be desired though: instead of being run straight up the screen, like early Doctor Who end credits, it's mounted on a roller which makes the top and bottom of the text a little difficult to read.

Through the millennia,
the Time Lords of Galifrey
led a life of peace and ordered
calm, protected from all
threats from lesser civilisations
by their great power.

But this was to change. Suddenly
and terribly, the Time Lords
faced the most dangerous
crisis in their long history ...

The transduction effect also caught my eye, as it's quite different from what we've usually seen. BBC taken delivery of some new effects/vision mixing equipment perhaps?

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Tiny bit of Chekov's gun in that shot of The Tardis materialising. An object in view will become important later in the story.

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Now we know from his first comment "Predictable as ever Doctor" that the hooded figure knows the Doctor. To further confuse things it appears he has an accomplice.... who inadvertently drops a rather large hint as to the identity of the evil mastermind here:

FIGURE: So, he is within the Capitol.
MAN: All his actions are exactly as you predicted, Master.
FIGURE: I know him.
MAN: He is resourceful. He will gain the Panopticon without further help.
FIGURE: Of course, he knows he is entering a trap.
(The shadowy figure looks like a corpse, dug up after several weeks in the soil. Yuk, basically.)
FIGURE: But how can he resist such a bait?
MAN: The hope of preventing an assassination.
FIGURE: Quixotic fool. He will die quickly. Make certain he dies very quickly.
vlcsnap-2015-09-19-07h50m02s36There's a certain word there I'd have been tempted to change!

The make up used there is superb, if grotesque, and almost certainly caused a few letters at the time. More were to come later in the serial....

The episode sees a huge amount of information dumped on us: The Doctor's Tardis is a type 40 tt capsule (TT = Time Travel), there's a Galifreyan CIA (the Celestial Intervention Agency) which would seem to be the body that's used the Doctor before (Terror of the Autons, Colony in Space, Curse of Peladon, The Mutants, Genesis of the Daleks & The Brain of Morbius). Galifreyan society is governed by a President of the High Council & a Chancellor, both roles which we've seen before in the Three Doctors, with a Castelan responsible for security & policing. There's at least three Time Lord clans - the broadcaster Runcible interrupts his commentary after listing three. Each clan wears a different colour of robe: scarlet & orange for the Prydonians, green for Arcalians and heliotrope for the Atraxes. In addition the President wears white and a ceremonial figure called Gold Usher wears gold. We get to meet for the first time Cardinal Borusa, one of the Doctor's teachers at the academy and he'll be a central figure in future Time Lord tales.

The main Time Lord sets and clothing feature the seal of the High Council, a design element that designer Roger Murray-Leach reuses from the Vogans in Revenge of the Cybermen.

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This is our first visit to Galifrey in some while. It first appeared in the final episode of The War Games, then briefly at the start of the Colony in Space before appearing throughout the Three Doctors. It's Galifrey's first appearance since it was named in The Time Warrior and the Doctor's first visit to his home planet since his trial in the aforementioned War Games.

Michael Bilton, playing one of the Time Lords in the dressing room was previously Charles de Teligny in The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve and recently Collins in Pyramids of Mars. Bilton's most famous fantasy appearance is probably in The Prisoner as the M.C. Councillor in It's Your Funeral. He'll be familiar to sitcom viewers as Old Ned in To The Manor Born and as Basil in Waiting for God, a part he played till his death in 1993.

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His Time Lord friend is played by John Dawson who was Fred Mumford's father in the first few series of Rentaghost. Going a little further back he's got an Out of the Unknown appearance to his name as Digby in The Fosters, one of the missing series 3 episodes, and before that two appearances in the telefantasy classic Quatermass and the Pit as a Man in Crowd in the 4th episode, The Enchanted, and as a Sightseer in the fith episode, Hob.

Maurice Quick plays the Gold Usher, the man seen assisting the President. He'd previously appeared in Spearhead from Space: Episode 4 as an Auton VIP and recently in The Masque of Mandragora: Part One as a Priest.

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Hugh Walters, Commentator Runcible, was William Shakespeare in The Chase and will return as Vogel in Revelation of the Daleks. He's got a couple of appearances in Survivors on his CV as Vic Thatcher in the first season episodes Revenge & A Beginning.

Unseen but heard in this episode is Helen Blatch, the computer Voice, who will return as Fabian in The Twin Dilemma. She'll appear in Blake's 7 as the Receptionist in Powerplay.

Yes that does look like it's TWO of our favourite supporting artists in the guards: Pat Gorman is the guard that gets shot and his mate Harry 'Aitch Fielder is playing one of the others! See blog entries passim for lists of their credits.

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Playing one of the other guards is Aitch's mate Steve Ismay. He'd previously been a BBC3 TV Crewmember in The Dæmons episode two, a Guerilla in Day of the Daleks episode three, a Stills Cameraman in Day of the Daleks episode four, a Presidential Guard in Frontier in Space episode two, a UNIT Soldier in The Time Warrior part one, an Exxilon in Death to the Daleks parts one to three, a Zombie in Death to the Daleks part four and a Guard in The Monster of Peladon part one. This is his last Doctor Who appearance but he goes onto appear in Blake's 7 as a Scavenger in Deliverance, a Guard in Dawn of the Gods, a Convict in Moloch and a Hommik in Power. He's got two Porridge appearances to his name in A Night In as a Prison Warden and Happy Release as a Gardener.

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The TV Cameraman is Brian Nolan. He was previously an IE Guard in The Invasion episode 1, a Resistance Man in The War Games episodes six to eight, a UNIT Soldier in Spearhead from Space episode 1 then again in Doctor Who and the Silurians episodes 2 & 6, a Sea Devil in The Sea Devils episodes four to six, an Earth Guard in Frontier in Space episodes two & three, a UNIT Soldier in Invasion of the Dinosaurs part one and a Guard in The Seeds of Doom parts three to five. I spot two appearances in the Grange Hill spin-off Tucker's Luck, in one of which he played Tucker Jenkins' Dad!

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