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     Home »  The Tom Baker Era »  Masque of Mandragora 2-3
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    Masque of Mandragora 2-3 Views: 402
     Sunday, March 22 2009 @ 03:05 PM EDT
    For some reason the cliffhanger/near beheading reminds me of an old Roger Corman cheapie movie THE UNDEAD. Even though they are very dissimilar, there’s something about this that reminds me of that! Anyway there are other influences from Roger Corman and Poe, obviously. We learn some more about the Count and Guiliano and Marco and Hieronymous and their reasonings for why they do what they do. The one thing that is pretty vague is the Helix itself. What does it want? Why does it do what it does? We never really learn and from that stand point, things seem to fall apart. By Ep4 they really do fall apart but for now, we learn a great deal about all the others, even the Doctor (that guff about a Time Lord gift he allows Sarah to share starts in Ep2 or 3 and is fully explained (?or it is?) in Ep4. Anyway, Tom is in good form here, Lis Sladen just shines as Sarah. Even though not given much to do, she just shines here. Her delivery, even when possessed just shows how much this actress throws into her role. She’s pretty much just a victim though to be honest without the smarts of Adric, Susan, or Liz Shaw and without the punch/kick/fight of Leela or Ace so it’s hard to see why she’s….so well loved. Then again, it could just be the personality she drives into the character. Still, her leaving in the next story…was shocking when it happened and the way it happened…but more on that another time…but it was also somewhat welcome in a way as it made the show force itself to rethink the companion(s). Glad to see Sarah and the Doctor have allies almost all the way through and glad for the cliffhanger at the end of ep2--a triple threat to the Doctor and his friends Sarah and Guiliano and this most reminds me of the cliffhanger at the end of ALIENS OF LONDON when Jackie, the Doctor and Rose with Harriet are all in three separate dangers: so too are Guiliano, the Doctor and Sarah. The swordplay is okay and the action good. Glad to see the Doctor and all his friends captured. One more thing: the locale is just amazing compared to all the other stories this season and indeed all the other seasons (with maybe the exception of the Daemons). And one cannot tell it looks like the PRISONER’S village. If one can, too bad: it looks great here. The language thing: the guards really don’t speak Italian but they do speak a kind of slang British. It really doesn’t jar for me but I can understand if it throws some people off. The cliffhanger to ep3 is kind of lame and the blank face not scary.

    One thing about the start of ep4: when the leader Hieronymous shoots his laser finger bolt at the Count and kills him, he then turns to fire more bolts at…who we don’t see. The guards probably. The Doctor somehow gets among the brethren and pretends to be one of them and the guards of the Count’s are gone….probably shot by Hieronymous but…we don’t see that? Bad editing or just a violent part taken out.

    The stories are a bit more complex than usual. There is a way of looking at it that all sides want what they want: we have had Scorby, Chase, Keeler, the men at the base, Thackery, Ducat all in SEEDS OF DOOM; we had the Sisterhood of Karn, Morbius, Solon, and Condo not to mention the Time Lords; we had the anti matter monster, Sorenson, Salamar, and the mad captain. Here we have all sides…attacking the Doctor and Sarah again but Guiliano and Marco quickly become allies. This era of DW does this so well…REIGN OF TERROR might have done that as well as the other more serious historicals such as the MASSACRE, with the Doc and companions threatened by various factions and parties on both sides. It does it better than say, the McCoy era tried to do with CURSE OF FENRIC (everything but the kitchen sink thrown at the Doc and Ace including Viking curses, vampires, Fenric, the computer, possessed people, Ace as a baby, Nazis, Americans or British pretending to be Nazis or Russians to think like them, Russians I think, the thing holding Fenric in place frm the dawn of time). Here, it all fits together more comfortably than in the McCoy seasons but perhaps in the McCoy seasons it wasn’t supposed to fit together comfortably.

    Another thing: this Doctor seems least of the first four (or five even or six or seven if you look ahead) to fit into the past so easily. By ep4 he seems to be but makes a big mistake there. In the first three eps he doesn’t seem quite comfortable yet in the past as the others had. This might be because this is really his first “historical” story. One can imagine GENESIS OF THE DALEKS being in the past but the Thal past not “our” past so that doesn’t really count despite the WW2 imagery. Here it is our past and while the Doctor seems to do okay, he seems a bit out of step for historicals.

    The torture scene, the crap talk, etc, all do not jar as they come from the sniveling villainous uncle. For me, while this story goes off the rails, the first three parts can do no wrong and are most enjoyable.

    Oh and Marco and Guliano are so shagging! He even says, "THis is my companion, Marco," who seems to stay in Guiliano's room overnigt and who polishes his own sword while talking to Guiliano!

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