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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If heroes don't exist it is necessary to invent them...
It's good to see The Deadly Assassin out on dvd as my VHS tape had deteriorated to near-unwatchability. Viewing it again I was struck by how well-paced, gripping and witty it is, dragging only a little in the final episode, which has rather a lot of backstory shoe-horned into it. I was also struck by something I haven't seen anyone else comment on: there are no women in...
Published on 22 May 2009 by John

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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull
I don't like this story, I found it boring, anything with The Matrix in is I have found. Plus there's no companion, a dynamic I don't like.
Published 22 months ago by R. Adams


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If heroes don't exist it is necessary to invent them..., 22 May 2009
By 
John (London, London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - The Deadly Assassin [DVD] [1976] (DVD)
It's good to see The Deadly Assassin out on dvd as my VHS tape had deteriorated to near-unwatchability. Viewing it again I was struck by how well-paced, gripping and witty it is, dragging only a little in the final episode, which has rather a lot of backstory shoe-horned into it. I was also struck by something I haven't seen anyone else comment on: there are no women in it whatsoever, not even as extras - & this single-sex exclusivity contributes to the Oxbridge College/House of Lords feel of the story.

The extras are a mixed bag; a mildly interesting piece on the feud between Mary Whitehouse and the BBC over the horror content of the show being followed by a somehow rather slight piece about how children perceive fictional representations of frightening situations and things. The 'making of' is okay - and reminds the viewer of how unusual the story - a political paranoia thriller - was in terms of Doctor Who; and there's a decently-done documentary on parallels between The Deadly Assassin and The Manchurian Candidate.

Rather more interesting to me was an interview with a long-time fan, who reminded us that, at the time it was broadcast, the story was most controversial for up-ending the previously-presented image of the Time Lords as elevated, aloof, almost god-like beings. In showing them as duplicitous, corrupt and self-serving, and possessed of technology that the wider universe would see as dated and anything but elevated, it was scandalously revisionist. As a youngster I remember being offended at the time by the elements I now find witty, sophisticated and wholly enjoyable. And looking down the longer lens of history I see a shift from the utopian idealism of the late Sixties (see the original Star Trek for any number of God-like beings) to the dystopian, cynical grimness of the mid-Seventies.

One can pick small holes: why is the Time Lord Goth's world in the Matrix so filled with references to World War I? Did Rassilon's Star have to look quite so much like a petrol pump? Couldn't they have made the shrunken dead look just a little less like Action Men? But overall it's full of great performances - especially from Tom Baker; great set and costume design; all in service of one of Robert Holmes's sharpest scripts.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply a work of art. With LOTS of BLACK paint!, 17 Mar 2009
This review is from: Doctor Who - The Deadly Assassin [DVD] [1976] (DVD)
Two little words: Bob Holmes! So get it! Not convinced? Well Read on.

If you're not a fan, trampling over people to grab their own copy first then delve in with an open mind!

This is not your average Dr Who & had Mary Whitehouse raging at the BBC. This is a time where everyone just agreed to disregard every rule of children's Science Fiction & created a one off vision of Dr Who at it's most horrifying.

It's virtually impossible for me to write this review without saying the words: Dark, Gothic or Horror. Because it represents all those words perfectly!

Dark: Because of the lack of over lit sets, the Masters clobber & the fact that the theme of story is "The death of many, to save one life"

Gothic: Because of the casts robe costumes, Catheaderal like sets, Church Organ Music & a certain characters name!

And..

Horror: Because the Doctor gets Tortured, shot, drowned, framed, almost poisoned, he falls off a cliff, smacked over the head with a Gun handle.. it goes on! Also, the Master looks like he has had all the skin on his face ripped off & gave every kid who's parents complained; Nightmares!

This is one of my favourites because of it's uniqueness. We see Galifrey at it's best, the companion is dropped & Dr Who has to use cunning, violence & guile in order to defeat his arch enemy.

There is so much more about this story I could say but I'll leave that to the countless number of fans who praise this story!

So if you haven't seen it, then do so before you die because everything about this story apart from the fake spider in the bush is simply commendable & gives a very apt representation of how Dr Who could have been a perfect show if it was aimed at adults & not children.

When ever I accidentally see a clip from, or have the patience to watch an episode of the New series, & begin to cringe from over acting, weep from lack of a characteristic music score.. I just remember this little number!

Ladies & Gentlemen: Behold.. at long last.. "THE DEADLY ASSASSIN!"

"Predictable as a Hare Doctor.." - The Master
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gothic Gallifrey, 12 July 2014
This review is from: Doctor Who - The Deadly Assassin [DVD] [1976] (DVD)
'The Deadly Assassin' is one of Doctor Who's landmark stories as it is the first story to be properly set on the Doctor's home planet of Gallifrey.

Robert Holmes rises to the challenge of writing such an ambitious story magnificently, the script is packed with intriguing details about Gallifreyan society. Director David Maloney maintains his strong Doctor Who record. Great use is made of lighting and fog to make Gallifrey look moody and atmospheric. The costumes, especially the Time Lords' impractical ceremonial headdresses, look fabulous. The sight of the impressive Panopticon set full of Time Lords is a great visual.

Over the years some have objected to this story's portrayal of the Time Lords as pompous, flawed old men, these people would have preferred the Time Lords to remain god like and all powerful, trouble is such a story would have been as dull as ditchwater.

This is the only Doctor Who story not to feature a companion and Tom Baker copes remarkably well without one, although he does talk to himself rather a lot. Baker displays little of his usual humour and eccentricity, he appropriately portrays the Doctor as downbeat and miserable. As always, Bernard Horsfall is a strong presence in the role of Chancellor Goth. Angus MacKay gives memorable performance as Cardinal Borusa, although his role is fairly small.

The Master makes his first appearance since the tragic death of Roger Delgado. He is now played by Peter Pratt and he has reached the end of his regeneration cycle and is now a decaying husk. He is more jaded and far less charming than the Delgado version.

The Doctor's lengthy mental battle with Goth, with its various traumatising images and dangers, could be the most horrific Doctor Who has ever been. The images used include a clown, a surgeon, a samurai, a train and a gas masked soldier. These scenes are executed perfectly.

'The Deadly Assassin' is one of the very best Doctor Who stories and watching it you can see why this era is considered by many to be the golden age of Doctor Who.

The main extra on the DVD is 'Matrix revisited' the making of documentary. They discuss some of the fan criticism of the story and Mary Whitehouse's objection to the level of violence. The documentary is dedicated to David Maloney who died in 2006.

'The Gallifreyan Candidate' is about 'The Manchurian Candidate' and its influence on 'The Deadly Assassin'. 'The Frighten Factor' is about the various aspects of Doctor Who that scare people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Doctor Who Story I Never Tire Of, 29 Aug 2009
By 
Gregory Shanley (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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Even though this story has now gone on to DVD,when my vhs tape finally wore out from overplay,I replaced it with another vhs tape from Amazon.
I remember as a nine year old,mourning the loss of companion Sarah-Jane Smith(Elisabeth Sladen)thinking "Oh there's no companion,boring",it was only when seeing the story,a few years later,I appreciated how ahead of its time it was,all the scenes of the Doctor(Tom Baker in great form here,clearly loving being at the centre of all the action)in The Matrix(wonder if this is why the film ideas,came from?)facing the nightmare world conjured by Chancellor Goth(Bernard Horsefall)for the benefit of his Master(Peter Pratt)
The return of the Doctor's arch enemy,The Master(following the tragic death of the orginal Master,Roger Delgado)is a welcome one,The Master now a hideously deformed skeleton,clinging to life through bitterness,the only downside is that the actor is wearing a face mask,that sometimes makes his dialogue hard to understand.
The Doctor's two friends in this story Castellan(George Pravda)and Co-Ordinator Elgin(Erik Chitty)serves as elderly companions and you almost wish the Doctor invited them into the TARDIS at the end of the story.
So many things to say about this story,the wondeful script by Robert Holmes,one of the best writers on the orginal Who,gripping,atmospheric direction by David Maloney,great touches like the scenes of the Doctor drawing the various winesses at his trial,the Hypocrisy of Gallifrey,you can see why The Doctor fleed Gallifrey at the first chance he got.
We also meet the character of Borusa,here played by Angus MacKay,the Borusa returning a few timees in "Dr Who",both as a friend and foe.
A great classic story,that deserves the label of a classic.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark and gritty iconic classic, 4 Mar 2009
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This review is from: Doctor Who - The Deadly Assassin [DVD] [1976] (DVD)
Finally, this superb classic comes to DVD - and it's about time too. 'The Deadly Assassin' is a high-concept dark gritty tale that's one of Tom Baker's finest. This is the first time ever that we get to see the Time Lord featured on his own, plus the first time we properly get to see his home planet of Gallifrey. It's written by Robert Holmes, directed by David Maloney and produced by Philip Hinchcliffe (so how could it fail!), plus it's one of the most violent episodes-ever!

This is a 'story based' review only, but hopefully the extras should be pretty decent for such an important release. Plus for obvious reasons, it's essential that we get a Tom Baker commentary.

The Gallifrey set may look a bit low-tech, but this is because they were going for an operatic/theatrical look back in 1976, and for this reason it's still an effective and impressive set today that's very well lit. However, what really impresses the most, is the brilliant plot plus the Time Lord going through the Matrix. And once unconscious, he enters into an horrific virtual reality world where he faces imaginery threats. Later on, he's involved in a deadly game of survival with Chancellor/Hunter Goth (sorry about the spoiler - but hey! it's over 30 yrs old).

The threat scenarios from Goth (monitored by the Master) are very imaginative, for example: the Doctor stumbling down, hanging onto and then falling off the edge of a cliff caused by a samurai warrior cutting his scarf, getting his foot caught on a railway track as a train races towards him, being shot at by a biplane, the pond water getting poisoned, plus being almost drowned in a gas-filled marsh etc.

This is not only one of Baker's best (as mentioned), but also one of his finest ever performances. He literally fires on all cylinders here, ranging from the deadly serious to the comical, plus the physical but wounded man of action.

Overall, this is a real gem that's action packed, with great use of that iconic quarry again (Betchworth Quarry, near Reigate, Surrey - the same one they used for 'Genesis of the Daleks'). The tropical jungle landscape is also very effective (Royal Alexander and Albert School, Surrey). This is an absolute must!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, 20 April 2009
Yes, we've all heard the joke: What's the point of an assassin if he's not deadly...but that blunder aside this is one of the best ever Doctor Who stories; made in the show's mid-70s prime. The Doctor returns to Gallifrey as president and encounters his old adversary, The Master. Decaying and rotten after regenerating once too often, the renegade Time Lord is back on his old turf and intent on destroying both The Doctor and Gallifrey.
An atmospheric and highly-charged adventure, the story contains the awesome Matrix scene, a fan favourite and a superbly realised sequence. This story is just about to be released on DVD though, so I'd recommend you get that rather than this hoary old VHS.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars return to gallifrey, 29 May 2009
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - The Deadly Assassin [DVD] [1976] (DVD)
a four part doctor who story from tom baker's third year in the role comes to dvd. at the time when he was so into the part and on top of his game that he could ask the producers if the doctor could travel without a companion. That wasn't a suggestion they were going to go with long term, but they do try this one companionless adventure in the meantime.

summoned back to his homeworld gallifrey at the time of a change in leadership, the doctor arrives just in time to try and stop someone killing the outgoing president. only there's more going on here than meets the eye. framed for murder the doctor has to race against time to save his homeworld from an old enemy.

studio bound in the first second and fourth episodes but this doesnt seem to matter. all thanks to some good set design and some excellent costumes. the supporting cast all play it dead straight and turn in good work as a result. particularly appealing are george pravda as castellan spandrell - old and jaded but no fool - and erik chitty as his somewhat befuddled assistant engin.

the third episode is set almost entirely in a virtual reality setting with the doctor battling a villain there. it conjures up some pretty nightmarish imagery. and even though it was made in 1977 it's so well done that no cgi would enhance the effect at all.

the first cliffhanger resolution is perhaps a little bit of a cheat, adopting the old republic serials technique of getting out of things via judicious re-editing, and the third is rather violent and graphic and got the show into a lot of hot water. but those are minor complaints. this is classic who and it's great to have it on dvd at last.

the extras are as follows:

as usual: production information subtitles that will give informaiton about the production whilst you watch the story.

a photo gallery of stills from the story and it's production.

radio times listings for the broadcast of the story that can be viewed as pdf files when watching the disc on a computer.

english language subtitles.

english language language tracks.

english audio descriptive.

a trailer for the next release in the range, the seventh doctor story delta and the bannermen. like some of these it tries for drama via lots of fast cutting and thus epileptics and those who have a problem with such things might find it not easy to watch.

for an easter egg watch the disc on a computer, move the pointer over the left hand side of the screen when on the first page of special features, and when a hidden doctor who logo lights up click on it see a short trailer for the story shown on the bbc at the end of the preceding one back in 1976.

there's a commentary from tom baker, producer philip hinchcliffe, and actor bernard horsfall who plays a time lord in the story.

other extras are documentaries:

the matrix revisited is a thirty minute long look at the making of the story. a very in depth and high quality production it's well worth a look. in tom baker admits the suggestion of no companion wasn't wise. the designer gives some very interesting information about how some crowd scenes were done. and there's a discussion of the third cliffhanger and how people responded to it. which is all food for thought.
Although this is regarded as a classic story now, back when it was broadcast some elements of doctor who fandom didn't like it all. because among other things it gave a wildly different portrayal of the timelords to what had been seen in the show before. In this documentary they interview a fan who wrote criticism of the story at the time. the points he makes are worth a listen, even if you don't agree with them.

the gallifreyan candidate is an eleven minute look at the manchurian candidate, the book and later film that gave some of the inspiration for this story. what looks as if it is going to be a rather spurious documentary full of hot air does get interesting as it goes along and is worth watching if you've never read the book or seen the film. but any doctor who connections in the documentary are soon forgotten about it and it becomes solely about the manchurian candidate.

the frighten factor is a seventeen minute long documentary about what makes the programme frightening. it uses clips from both the old and the new series, and although what it says is all rather obvious it is all quite interesting. but what shocks is the sight of early 70's barry letts producer, when interviewed in this, without any hair and not looking very well. we can but hope he gets better soon.

not a bad batch of extras, but a dvd worth getting for the story alone
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The one famously criticised by Mary Whitehouse and in my ..., 28 July 2014
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This review is from: Doctor Who - The Deadly Assassin [DVD] [1976] (DVD)
The one famously criticised by Mary Whitehouse and in my view one of the last of the 'high watermarks' of the 'classic series', once you get passed the ropey start. Sadly no Sarah Jane, and the scantily clad Leela (next episode) always struck me as a bit of a lewd male middle aged BBC exec fantasy (and I was 13 at the time..)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story, 8 Jan 2014
This review is from: Doctor Who - The Deadly Assassin [DVD] [1976] (DVD)
I loved this story, even if it did go on a bit. Tom Baker at his best. My only gripe is the title: The Deadly Assassin! Even when I was young this seemed a poorly thought out title. I mean, aren't assassins meant to be deadly?
A small point perhaps, for an otherwise excellent adventure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Deadly Classic That Upset Mary Whitehouse, 2 Oct 2013
By 
Timelord-007 (The Eccentric Wanderer) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Doctor Who - The Deadly Assassin [DVD] [1976] (DVD)
Doctor Who The Deadly Assassin (DVD).

DVD Info.
Region 2.
Certificate PG.
Running time 100 minutes.

Special Features:
* Commentary by Tom Baker [The Doctor], Bernard Horsfall [Goth] & Philip Hinchcliffe [Producer]
* The Matrix Revisited Cast, crew & critics look back at the making of this story, featuring director David Maloney, designer Roger Murray-Leach & the founder of the National Viewers and Listeners Association, Mary Whitehouse
* The Gallifreyan Candidate A look at Richard Condon's novel The Manchurian Candidate, a major influence on the plot of The Deadly Assassin
* The Frighten Factor What exactly is Doctor Who's `Frighten Factor'? A diverse panel of experts try to answer the question
* Radio Times Billings Listings for this story presented in a PDF file [DVD-ROM - PC/Mac]
* Photo Gallery
* Coming Soon Trailer
* Production Information Subtitles
* Easter Egg
* Digitally remastered picture & sound quality

This story was originally broadcast on BBC1 between 30th October - 20th November 1976.

Positive
1)A superbly written story by legendary Doctor Who writer the late great Robert Holmes.
2)Tom Baker giving a truly dramatic performance as The Doctor.
3)One of the scariest storys Doctor Who ever made.
4)It's uncut for the first time since transmission.
5)It upset Mary Whitehouse (Yippee).

Negative.
1)Apart from the Timelord race coming over as pompous fool's, This is flawless Doctor Who.

What's The Story.
Gallifrey. Planet of the Time Lords. The Doctor has finally come home, but not by choice. Summoned by a vision from The Matrix, he is drawn into web of political intrigue & assassination. Nothing is quite what it seems & in the shadows lurks his oldest and deadliest enemy, The Master.

Review.
This is a classic Doctor Who adventure Featuring the Fourth Doctor going solo & returning home to Gallifrey as seen at the end of The Hand Of Fear.

Here the story focuses on a plot to assassinate the Timelord President, Who could be behind this plot? & could the Doctor be the actual assassin?

The president is assassinated & the Doctor is deemed responsible of his murder, Having just a limited time to prove his innocence, The Doctor sets about clearing his name, But who is the cloaked figure lurking in the shadows?

The Doctor enters the Matrix hoping to find answers to the mystery as inside the Matrix the Timelords brain becomes one in a virtual type landscape but the Doctor isn't the only one inside the Matrix.

The decayed figure is revealed as The Master, Disfigured due to a recent accident & he has created a trap for the Doctor so the Master can claim the Doctors remaining Regenerations as the Master has already used up his 13 lives.

Tom Baker gives an outstanding magnetic performance as the Fourth Doctor especially in the Matrix scenes which involves some very disturbing images were he fights for his survival.

Some of the images involve a Samurai Warrior attacking the Doctor, A clowns face laughing in the sand, An airplane attack shooting at the Doctor, The Doctors foot getting trapped in between the points of a railway track as a train is heading towards him & all the time is being hunted by the mysterious assassin in a game of cat & mouse to the death.

The Master is stripped of his ability to regenerate & shows none of the charm here that was played superbly by Roger Delgado, Instead we see a more sinister evil twisted angry version of The Master who's decaying appearance is quite disturbing.

The main complaint was the levels of violence in this storys content & as usual by frosty knickers the late Mary Whitehouse & her band of so called do-gooders, the scene in question is at the end of the cliffhanger to episode 3 were the Doctor is being killed by drowning the final freeze frame supposedly having a upsetting effect on childrens minds for a whole week.

The episode edited the part of the drowning scene when it was repeated due to Frosty Knickers constant complaining of it, (you did need to get a life you sad woman).

The commentaries on the dvd are excellent as is the making of documentary which discusses the production & debates did Holmes & Hinchcliffe go to far in this story?.

Tom Baker apparently went to a random house to view the episode with a family, Can you imagine the looks on the kiddies faces as Doctor Who walks through your door & into your home.

My final thoughts of this story is it's a one off classic that tried pushing the boundaries of the show & had the guts to try something unique & a little bit different.

A classic story released uncut at last & a classic Fourth Doctor adventure that I highly recommend for purchasing.

Timelord Rating.
9/10
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