Sunday, 20 November 2016

439 The Deadly Assassin: Part Four

EPISODE: The Deadly Assassin: Part Four
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 20 November 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

"They'll live long enough to see the end of this accursed planet, and for the Doctor to taste the full bitterness of his defeat!"

The Doctor overcomes his injured foe forcing him from the Matrix before escaping himself. They trace the Master's connection to the Matrix finding Master's corpse and dying Goth. Borusa, unhappy with events, concocts a cover-story making Goth out to be the hero. The Master revives and attempts to seize control of the Eye of Harmony, the Time Lord's energy supply created by Rassilon many years before, to revive his regeneration cycle and destroy the Time Lords. As quakes rock the capital the Doctor struggles with the Master who falls to his doom. The Doctor leaves Galifrey, but as his Tardis departs from the museum where it has been kept Elgin & Spandrell see the Master sneak inside a Grandfather clock, his disguised Tardis, which dematerialises.

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This late the story suddenly turns into a disaster movie with the Master unleashing the power of the Eye of Harmony and nearly destroying the Time Lords capital all so he can live. It's a decent enough episode, in fact the entire story has been pretty good.

What we're introduced to here for the first time is Rassilon, the founder of Time Lord society who gave them Time Travel and harnessed the Eye of Harmony.

ENGIN: And today we tend to think of Rassilon as the founder of our modern civilisation. But in his own time he was regarded mainly as an engineer and an architect. And, of course, it was long before we turned aside from the barren road of technology.
DOCTOR: Yes, that's all very interesting. Could we hear the transgram?
ENGIN: Early history is something of a pet subject.
COMPUTER: And Rassilon journeyed into the black void with a great fleet. Within the void, no light would shine and nothing of that outer nature continue in being, except that which existed within the Sash of Rassilon.
DOCTOR: Must be a black hole.
ENGIN: What?
DOCTOR: Shush.
COMPUTER: Now Rassilon found the Eye of Harmony, which balances all things, that they may neither flux nor wither nor change their state in any measure. And he caused the Eye to be brought to the world of Galifrey wherein he sealed this beneficence with the Great Key.
DOCTOR: What's the Great Key?
COMPUTER: Then the people rejoiced
ENGIN: It's an ebonite rod carried by the President on ceremonial occasions. But it's actual function, if it ever had one, is a complete mystery.
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DOCTOR: The Sash. Where's the Sash?
ENGIN: It's gone.
ENGIN: Well, what could I do? It's only of symbolic value anyway.
DOCTOR: Engin, that Sash is a technological masterpiece. It protects its wearer from being sucked into a parallel universe. All he needs now is the Great Key and he can regenerate himself and release a force that'll obliterate this entire stellar system.
ENGIN: You really mean it?
DOCTOR: Well of course I mean it. Don't you realise what Rassilon did? What the Eye of Harmony is? Remember? That which balances all things. It can only be the nucleus of a black hole.
SPANDRELL: But the Eye of Harmony is a myth. It no longer exists.
DOCTOR: A myth? Spandrell, all the power of the Time Lords devolves from it. Neither flux nor wither nor change their state. Rassilon stabilised all the elements of a black hole and set them in an eternally dynamic equation against the mass of the planet. If the Master interferes, it'll be the end not only of this world, but of a hundred other worlds too.
Later stories, in particular the 1996 Movie, get a little confused about what and where the Eye of Harmony is but it's quite clear here that it's the monolith hidden beneath the Panoptican that's revealed using the great key.

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I am perfectly willing to accept that each Tardis has it's own tap into the Eye of Harmony from which it draws it's power though and that is in itself called the Eye of Harmony for that Tardis.

What's said above about Rassilon seems to go against what we heard in the Three Doctors about Omega detonating the star to give them time travel:

OMEGA: In the legends of your people I am called Omega.
DOCTOR: Omega? But that's impossible. Omega was destroyed.
OMEGA: No, brother Time Lord, I was not destroyed, as you can see. Take the man and the girl.
DOCTOR: Where are you taking them?
OMEGA: They will not be harmed, Doctor. They have no part in my revenge.
(Gels take Jo and Tyler out.)
OMEGA: I have been grievously wronged, Doctor, and now it is time for my vengeance!

OMEGA: Without me, there would be no time travel. You and our fellow Time Lords would still be locked in your own time, as puny as those creatures you now so graciously protect.
DOCTOR: You knew your mission was dangerous.
OMEGA: Dangerous, yes, but I completed it, and I did not expect to be abandoned. Many thousands of years ago, when I left our planet, all this was then a star until I arranged its detonation.
DOCTOR: You were the solar engineer. It was your duty.
OMEGA: It was an honour, or so I thought then. I was to be the one to find and create the power source that would give us mastery over time itself.
DOCTOR: Well, you succeeded, and are revered for it.
OMEGA: Revered? Here? I was abandoned.
DOCTOR: The histories say that you were lost in the supernova.
OMEGA: I was sacrificed to that supernova. I generated those forces, and for what? To be blown out of existence into this black hole of antimatter? My brothers became Time Lords, but I was abandoned and forgotten!
DOCTOR: No, not forgotten. All my life I've known of you and honoured you as our greatest hero.
OMEGA: A hero? I should have been a god!

It/'s possible to reconcile these two accounts though: Omega & Rassilon work together on the project. Omega is consumed by the star's explosion and transported into the anti matter universe while Rassilon is the one that stays behind and gets all the glory. Later writers will add a third member to this pairing, a mysterious Other.... but sadly this idea never reached the screen and was merely developed in the books.

Of course the Master has got away. He'll be back, but not for a few years. So keep an eye out for a Grandfather clock! The clock itself was sitting there in plain site in episode 1 when the Tardis was transducted into the capital!

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Hildred becomes the Master's third shrunken victim after Goodge in Terror of the Autons and the cameraman in episode 1 of this story. Three more victims follow in Logopolis: a policeman, Tegan's Auntie Vanessa and a Logopolitan.

I like Deadly Assassin. It rolls along nicely, even part three which I'm not convinced is necessary and takes screen time away from a long awaited visit to the Doctor's home planet. However at the time the then President of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society (and future TV Zone editor) Jan Vincent-Rudzki wrote a scathing review of the story feeling it went against everything shown on screen about the Time Lords so far. I've never read the scathing review but I can imagine that the blustering University Academic Time Lords of the first episode and the seeming continuity problems in this episode might have caused him problems! I however see it as a triumphant return for the Master and sets up a story that's picked up four years later in The Keeper of Traken.

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I have to query the stupid title though: Which assassin *isn't Deadly?

After this episode was transmitted Doctor Who took a break through December and over the Christmas period. During this time 60 minute compilation repeats of Pyramids of Mars and Brain of Morbius were shown. Deadly Assassin was itself repeated in August 1977, the Deadly Assassin was novelised by Terrance Dicks. It was first released on video in the USA in 1989 in a compilation version, the only story released in this format not to be sold in the UK. An episodic version was released in the UK in October 1991 on the same day as The Sontaran Experiment & Genesis of the Daleks double pack. The Deadly Assassin DVD was released in March 2009.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

438 The Deadly Assassin: Part Three

EPISODE: The Deadly Assassin: Part Three
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 13 November 1976
WRITER: Robert Holmes
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
RATINGS: 13 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Deadly Assassin

"I deny this reality. The reality is a computation matrix."

The Doctor fights his masked foe, who is in control of the Matrix, in different guises across varied landscapes inside the Matrix while in the real world Castelan Spandrell & Coordinator Elgin become increasingly concerned about the stresses this is putting on the Doctor's physical body. The Master sends a hypnotised chancellery guard to kill the Doctor's physical form, but he is killed by the Castelan during the attempt. The Doctor unmasks his foe, revealing him to be Chancellor Goth, who then tries to drown the Doctor.

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That's a very odd episode, with the Doctor running around in the Matrix dreamscape. It's also a trifle repetitive with the same theme being played right the way through as the Doctor is pursued by various masked figures.

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You could almost have lost this episode: The Doctor appears in the Matrix towards the end of episode two and unmasks his foe then. We wait thirteen years to get to a story on the Doctor's home planet and then spend 1/4 of it in a dream world! It's a very well done dream world, yes, no quibbles about that with location sequences filmed in Surrey & Buckinghamshire. In particular the episode features Betchworth Quarry, which director David Maloney had previously used in Genesis of the Daleks. It's obviously a favourite location of his as it repeatedly turns up in the Maloney produced Blake's 7 where it appears in Time Squad as Saurian Major, Deliverance as Cephlon, Hostage as Exbar surface and Moloch as Sardos. After Maloney departs the producer's chair Blake's 7 keeps on using it when it appears in the fourth season in Power as Xenon and Warlord as Betafal. It therefore has a reasonable claim to be THE BBC Sci Fi quarry! It's closest rival that I can think of off the top of my head is Winspit Quarry which is in two Doctor Whos, Underwater Menace and Destiny of the Daleks, but just one Blake's 7. The railway sequence was shot at the nearby Brockham Lime Works, the plane at Wycombe Air Park and finally the lake at Royal Alexander and Albert School.

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The hypnotised guard in this episode, Solis, is played by Peter Mayock who was Namin in Pyramids of Mars.

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The ending to this episode got the show in a lot of trouble with the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association and it's chairwoman Mary Whitehouse who objected to the prolonged freeze frame of the Doctor's head being held under the water by Goth. Their objections were so strong that the master videotape for this episode was edited to remove the freeze frame and it was in this state that the episode was repeated on 18th August 1977. The footage has since been recovered from a home video recording.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

437 The Deadly Assassin: Part Two

EPISODE: The Deadly Assassin: Part Two
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 06 November 1976
WRITER: Robert Holmes
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
RATINGS: 12.1 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Deadly Assassin

"Vaporisation without representation is against the constitution!"

The Doctor is put on trial but puts himself forward as a Presidential Candidate protecting himself from Chancellor Goth who wants to have him killed. The trial as adjourned allowing the Doctor & Castellan to gather evidence. The shadowy decayed figure is upset by this and swears he will see the Doctor die & destroy the Time Lords. After demonstrating the gun he was found with was faulty he claims a member of the high council shot the President. They find the shrunken body of the technician hidden in the camera, which the Doctor identifies as the work of the Master. The Doctor works out that the Time Lord's Matrix was used to project the image of the assassination into his mind. He mentally journeys into the Matrix finding himself in a barren dream like landscape where he is taunted & attacked by a series of masked foes.

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The Doctor stumbles onto a railway line where his foot is trapped in a set of points as a train roars towards him!

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As the episode starts the Doctor is quickly apprehended for a crime that not even we are sure he didn't commit given the visions he'd had and that the gun was in his hands when the shot rang out and the President fell!

Look carefully in the background as the Doctor is captured: it's the return of the triangular & hexagonal wall pattern created for The Mutants.

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The scene of the Doctor in a call, with a long shot of the cell showing it hanging in the air is one of the nicer effects done on the show: it's simple but it works.

At this point it looks like curtains for the Doctor but he enacts a nice little dodge to postpone his imminent execution:

GOTH: Thank you. Has the accused anything to say before sentence is pronounced?
DOCTOR: Yes. Article Seventeen.
GOTH: Article Seventeen?
DOCTOR: I offer myself as a candidate for the Presidency.
GOTH: The application is frivolous.
DOCTOR: No, sir. I invoke Article Seventeen of the Constitution which is a guarantee of liberty and says, in part, that no candidate for office shall in anyway be debarred or restrained from presenting his claim.
GOTH: The guarantee of liberty does not extend to murderers.
BORUSA: As a jurist, Chancellor, I must point out that until the accused is pronounced guilty, he is protected by Article Seventeen.
GOTH: He is abusing a legal technicality.
DOCTOR: No, sir, I am claiming a legal right.
This episode then turns into a Poirot style investigation trying to prove the Doctor's innocence before the finding of the technician's body makes it obvious to the Doctor & us who's responsible for the killings:
SPANDRELL: Good grief. What's happened to him?
DOCTOR: Matter condensation. A particularly nasty sort of death.
HILDRED: No wonder we couldn't find him.
SPANDRELL: I've never seen anything like it.
DOCTOR: I have, I'm afraid.
SPANDRELL: You have?
DOCTOR: Yes. It's a technique the Master picked up somewhere on his travels.
SPANDRELL: Who's the Master?
DOCTOR: Who is the Master? He's my sworn arch-enemy. A fiend who glories in chaos and destruction.
DOCTOR: Yes, a long time ago. You know, a lot of things are becoming clearer.
SPANDRELL: Not to me.
DOCTOR: If the Master is here on Gallifrey, then this represents the final challenge. It explains why I was brought here. There are old scores to settle. And that's just a sort of greetings card.
SPANDRELL: Shut that thing up. Runcible, we are still waiting for you to find the last sequence.
RUNCIBLE: It's here, Castellan. You can tell by the numbers.
SPANDRELL: I can tell when I see it. Take it to Records. I'll have a look at it there. I want to know all you can tell me about this Master. And I warn you know, if there is some private feud between you, do not try to settle it on Gallifrey.
DOCTOR: It cannot be avoided. Like it or not, Gallifrey is involved, and I'm afraid things will never be quite the same again. Shall we go down?
Judging that enough time had passed since the death of Roger Delgado in 1973, the actor that played the original Master, Robert Holmes was keen to bring the character of the Master back for a one off appearance.

Oddly this is only the second time the Master's killed someone by shrinking them! The first occasion it happened, and the Master's very first on screen victim, was in Terror of the Autons where Goodge is shrunk and placed in his lunch box. That story, which introduces the character, was the only previous occasion Holmes had written the Master. The only authors to have written the character more than once were Robert Sloman and Barry Letts (two stories: The Daemons & The Time Monster) and Malcolm Hulke (three stories: The Colony in Space, The Sea Devils & The Frontier in Space).

Playing The Master is Peter Pratt, an actor hired for his vocal skills. He was previously a principle singer with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.

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Bernard Horsfall, as Chancellor Goth, is a regular performer for director David Maloney appearing in The Mind Robber as Lemuel Gulliver, The War Games as a Time Lord (who is possibly the same character as the one he plays here) and Planet of the Daleks as Taron, all of which were directed by Maloney. He's got an Out of the Unknown appearing as John Stewart in the missing third season episode 1+1=1.5 and also appears in Doomwatch: Sex and Violence as Steven Granger and three appearances in The Avengers in The Cybernauts, The Fear Merchants and They Keep Killing Steed.

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Castellan Spandrell is played by George Pravda who was previously Alexander Denes in The Enemy of the World and Professor Jaeger in The Mutants. It's worth looking at his IMDB entry for the shear number of productions he's been in that you'd remember him from but I can see a whole load of thing I've seen on his CV: the Bond film Thunderball in which he plays Kutze, The Prisoner, where he's the Doctor in A Change of Mind, Doomwatch, as Prof. Miklos Egri in the missing first season episode Spectre at the Feast, Moonbase 3, in which he plays Gen. Alexis Trenkin in Castor and Pollux, I, Claudius, he's in Some Justice as Gershom, The Professionals: First Night as Hirschfield and Firefox where he's General Borov!

The actor playing Co-ordinator Engin, Erik Chitty, was Charles Preslin in the first Doctor story The Massacre. He's got THREE Out of the Unknowns on his CV: from the first season he was in Andover and the Android as Bernard, from the second The World in Silence as Dr. Hammond and from the 3rd The Naked Sun as Thool. All three are missing from the archives. As well as a starring role in Please Sir! as Mr Smith he too has a Doomwatch to his name as the Old Man in Project Sahara and an appearance as a Museum Guard in One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing which every older Doctor Who fan has seen to spot Jon Pertwee in!

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Angus MacKay, playing Cardinal Borusa, will return as the Headmaster in Mawdryn Undead. He's got a Doomwatch on his CV as Professor Lewin in No Room for Error. He appears in the first episode of first series of The Sweeney, Ringer, as Alec Prosser and is also in the first broadcast episode of The Professionals, the Douglas Camfield directed Private Madness, Public Danger, as Gerald Harvey.