fredag den 27. marts 2009

Who Review #60 - the Dæmons

A man leaves his local with his dog; the night is stormy. Suddenly, the dog yelps. The man looks in the graveyard and collapses in fear at some unseen menace. The local witch Ms. Hawthorne discusses the man's death with the local GP - he died of a heart attack. Hathorne is convinced something evil is at work. Nearby, an archaeological dig is taking place at the Devil's Hump. Jo talks to the Doctor back at UNIT and says it is the dawning of the age of Aquarius. She says some things could be magic; Bessie suddenly drives off and beeps when told off by the Doctor. The Doctor pulls out a remote control. The Doctor is suddenly interested in the dig when he learns it is taking place at Devil's End. The TV broadcast (on BBC 3!) shows the Professor talking about the dig and Hawthorne comes on and protests as there is great danger. The Doctor absolutely agrees with her and he and Jo set off for Devil's End to stop the dig. Hawthorne is nearly killed by a policeman who is taken over by an evil spirit; he comes to because Hawthorne uses her magic to ward off the evil. A unnatural wind turns the signpost, so the Doctor takes a wrong turn. Hawthorne wants to see the new Vicar, Mr. Magistar - the Master! He fails to hypnotise her. The Doctor arrives in the evening and asks for directions to the digs. One of the locals informs the Master of the Doctor's arrival; then moves off to join others for a satanic rite led by the Master. The Professor gets ready to open the Devil's Hump. The Doctor rushes up, but is too late. A strong gust of wind blows everyone over. The Master laughs as he summons Azal, whilst a stone gargoyle in the church comes alive. Jo examines the Doctor; it looks like he is dead.

Yates and Benton see Jo and the Doctor on TV. The Doctor has been frozen. The Master concludes his sabbat. Yates and Benton plan to head off to Devil's End in the morning. The Doctor slowly recovers in an inn bed. A policeman sees a huge figure and is trod on; Yates and Benton see giant hoof marks from the air. They arrive at the inn; Benton goes to look at the hooves. On his way, he hears Hawthorne calling for help. He gets her out of a chest and see the chamber where the sabbats are held. The Verger holds them at gunpoint; Benton nearly disarms him but is knocked out when is accosted by elementals. There is a heatwave and something kills the Verger. The Doctor regains consciousness. A milkman drives into a heat barrier; he gets out before his van explodes. Hawthorne gets Benton back to the inn. There she says she has seen the Devil and tells the Doctor that the vicar is called Magister. The Doctor says what she saw is not the Devil and realises the vicar is the Master. The Brig makes his way down to Devil's End where he sees the milkman. The Brig tries a different road but the heat barrier is there too. The Doctor and Jo go up to the dig; inside they find a spaceship which has reduced its size. As they talk the gargoyle from the Church enters.

The Doctor holds up some iron and sings a Venusian lullaby ("Close your eyes my darling, well three of them at least"), which frightens the gargoyle; the Master calls off the creature. The Master talks to the squire and orders him to call a village meeting. Hawthorne brings over her collection of occult material for study; the Doctor discusses what they are up against; it is a race of alien creatures called the Dæmons who have helped human society progress in the past; but there is a danger that humanity will be destroyed. The Brig reports that the entire village is covered by a heat barrier. At the village meeting, the Master goes through the villagers' skeletons and says they should obey him. The Dæmon will be summoned three times, explains the Doctor. The Doctor has an idea how the Brig can get through; he drives to the barrier to explain. The inn keeper warns the Master of the Doctor's plan. The squire plans to leave but is vapourised by the gargoyle, forcing the villagers to follow the Master. Somebody takes the UNIT helicopter and sets off after the Doctor and Jo (who are in Bessie). The pilot tries to force Bessie into the heat barrier but crashes into it itself and explodes. Jo is knocked out after falling from the car. Yates, who followed on motorbike, takes Jo back to the inn in Bessie, whilst the Doctor takes the bike to the barrier. He gives instuctions on how to build a machine to make a hole in the barrier. The Master prepares another sabbat; Azal appears and the Master is in grave danger.

Jo comes to and makes her way to the cavern in the Church. The Master talks with the Dæmon, Azal; he wants Azal's power but the Dæmon knows of the Doctor and would speak with him too. Azal says he will appear once more and will destroy humans if he thinks them a failure. Yates follows Jo to the Church. The Doctor is shot at returning from the barrier. The villagers begin to celebrate May Day, with a pole and Morris Dancers, on the green. The Doctor is tied to the pole and be burnt as a witch. Hawthorne tries to talk with the villagers; she says the Doctor is a great wizard and asks him to shatter a lamp and move the weather cock on the Church, which he does with the help of fine shots by Benton, who is using a silencer. The Doctor then summons Bessie, using his remote control. (Benton: "How on earth did you do that?"; Doctor: "Elemental, my dear Benton!") The Master summons Azal.

Jo and Yates are taken captive and she is prepared as a sacrifice. The Doctor explains what is happening to the villagers, amongst which is the use of emotions to create psionic forces, the Dæmon science. The Doctor says the UNIT forces must get through the barrier at once, as Yates warns Jo is to be sacrificed. They head for the Church, but are stopped by the gargoyle, which vapourises the inn keeper. The machien disorientates Azal and the gargoyle, opens up a hole in the barrier but explodes. The Doctor takes the opportunity to enter the Church. The UNIT forces make their way through to the village. The UNIT forces are held at bay by the gargoyle in a fire fight (with the usual UNIT casualties). The Master wants Azal to destroy the Doctor, but he refuses. The Doctor and Azal talk; he wants the Dæmon to spare humanity. Azal offers his powers to the Doctor but he refuses to accept. Azal then offers his powers to the Master and will destroy the Doctor. Jo steps in front of the Doctor, preparing to sacrifice herself for his life. Azal cannot comprehend Jo's actions and begins to consume himself; the gargoyle falls lifeless and the Church explodes. The Master tries to take Bessie but the Doctor uses his remote again; the Master is arrested. The Doctor and all celebrate May Day, well- except Yates and the Brig who nip off to the pub for pint.

Guy Leopold's story is an absolute joy. There is very little to criticise; the scenes with the gargoyle and Azal are a bit weak. The location shooting at "Devil's End" (the village of Aldbourne in Wiltshire) was a nice change to extensive studio work and the (by now) infamous quarry used for alien worlds. The story itself has lots of familiar elements: what makes science science?; Erich von Danekin and godlike aliens; a dose of satanism.

The Dæmons was also one of the cast's favourites. There is a lovely documentary called "Return to Devil's End", presented by Nicholas Courtney, which is also worth a watch.

The Brig is largely absent from the action in this story which is a good thing because it allows Yates and Benton to be developed. Benton is, without a doubt, far smarter than the Brigadier. He catches on to what the Doctor is saying, even though he doesn't fully understand, in a way the Brig doesn't. And Benton smiles, until given a look by his COs, at something humerous.

In a way, the Brigadier becomes more of a comedy character from this story onwards. Take this classic line, when faced with the gargoyle: "Jenkins! Chap with wings, there . Five rounds rapid!"

There is something Monty Pythonesque about episode one, in the scenes with a BBC 3 reporter (sci-fi becoming reality!). It really has the feel of a skit where Michael Palin could be the reporter. You half expect Terry Jones to appear in drag, as one of the pepper pots, and say: "He's not Mr.Magister! He's the Master and he's been a very naughty boy!" Whereupon the Brigadier walks into shot and says: "Right, stop that! This story is getting silly. Let's cut to some precision UNIT drilling."

There is a sprinkling of humour in the story. Such as Miss Hawthorne (slightly dotty, but sweet, played well by Damaris Hayman): [knocking out the inn keeper] "I hit him with my reticule. On these occasions, the outcome is a certainty!"

A classic Pertwee story, ending season 8 on a high note.

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