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Daniel J. Hamlow
- Published on Amazon.com
In The King's Demons, the Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough, interrupt a jousting match between Hugh Fitzwilliam and Sir Giles Estram, King John's champion. The onlookers are astonished but King John seems unfazed, and welcomes them as his demons. But why is he at
Fitzwilliam Castle and not in London to take the Crusader's oath, and what of Sir Geoffrey de Lacey's confusion that he left the king four hours ago in London?
The interior of the castle is superior and I was reminded of Robin Hood movies, and the Doctor shows his usual compassion on Hugh, "Clearly there is a victor and a vanquished. Must blood be shed?" Turlough has a super line, when he, Hugh, and Isabella are chained in the dungeon. Hugh: "Can you not call on Hell [to free us]?" Turlough: "I could, but then so could you, and with a better chance of success, I fancy." Ouch!
While I rate the two-episode King's Demons as good, I must say this. 25-minute two-parters (to distinguish between the 45 minute Colin Baker ones) were limited by their length, which is why I question their necessity. I sometimes wondered what was wrong with deleting a story to make two five parters or make two three-parters. They did that in the Sylvester McCoy years but that's another story.
Speaking of another story, how about that classic, the Five Doctors, and the special edition, to boot? Some scenes have a few seconds added to them, and changing the time scoop to an "Abyss-creature" watery effect instead of a mere black pyramid was a great move. The special effects are a vast improvement over the original.
After a wonderful bit of scenery at the Eye of Orion, where the Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough are resting, the suspense begins with the appearance of a black-gloved figure manipulating controls. Cut to a scene of the First Doctor, played with great William Hartnell-ness by Richard Hurndall, being kidnapped by the Time Scoop. A miniature of the Doctor appears. Hmmm, who around here likes shrinking people? Familiar?
This happens to the Second and Third Doctor, as well as other companions, but a glitch occurs with the Fourth Doctor and Romana II, who are trapped in a time eddy.
The High Council of Time Lords, still led by Borusa, summon the Master to rescue the Doctor from Gallifrey's Death Zone, "the black secret at the heart of your Time Lord paradise" which is "not the most hospitable of environments."
The Cybermen play a major role here, as three squads of them come out. However, they prove no match to the "most perfect killing machine ever devised," the Raston Warrior Robot, who steals the show. It's like killing mosquitoes with Raid.
There's plenty of fabulous dialogue here. The Master tells us why the Doctor is so endeared to fans: "A cosmos without the Doctor scarcely bears thinking about." Something the Beeb should have remembered in 1989.
My favorite Doctor, Jon Pertwee, comes off the best here, "ever so resourceful," as the Master says. He's still the charming, improvising guy with ideas; it's as if he never left the series, and he's a calm counterpart to the strung out Sarah Jane.
An interesting double-entendre is when the First Doctor sees traces of two other Doctors. "Well, well, well, so two of them made it. I wonder what happened to the other." This last sentence spoken in such an acidic tone, might be a reference to Tom Baker's refusal to participate in the story.
And the Second Doctor's solo presence implies that he came here inbetween the verdict and sentencing at his trial--there is a hint of that when he encounters two of his companions.
One goof is the First Doctor's approximation of pi--3.14287. How about 3.14159265, which if I recall, was spoken in the original version of the Five Doctors--I'll have to check on that later. Another is the Cybermen led by the Master--how could they note fail to spot the Doctor and Tegan in the chessboard room upon entering?
A welcome reunion of sorts from some Who alumni, past and present, (they even included some William Hartnell and Tom Baker footage) with old pairings up (Doctor Two and the Brigadier, Doctor Three and Sarah) bringing back fond memories of the past, as well as new pairings (Turlough and Susan). It figures--we see writer Terrance Dicks utilizing his tool of pairing off figures and thus splitting up the story. Is this guy great or what?
King's Demons gets 3, Five Doctors gets 5--overall rating is 4.