Customer Review

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
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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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John
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Location: London, London United Kingdom

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