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     Home »  The Tom Baker Era »  DEADLY ASSASSIN 2-3
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    DEADLY ASSASSIN 2-3 Views: 559
     Saturday, March 28 2009 @ 09:27 AM EDT
    These two episodes are just about the best Doctor Who episodes ever up to this point and a great deal beyond as well. In any case, OH MY GOD, that villain is the Master!!! THE BLOODY MASTER! Yeah, well, when I first saw this, I had almost no knowledge of the Master based on the show. Some readings told me more about him/it but this was the first real Master story for me. Of course, there are no rules in the Matrix…and at first, the Doctor seems beset by the Master inside the Matrix…as well as many quickly occurring nightmare images…a Samurai, falling down a cliff, a mad doctor (the Master?) about to inject him, a clown, what looks like either a WW1 army man with a gas mask on with a horse or a scene from GENESIS OF THE DALEKS, a giant vulture, a bi plane attacking him…with Goth in it (and this sequence is so well filmed it’s amazing), Goth…a set of trains looming at him as he’s trapped on the tracks, a giant spider, and my personal horrific moment: him accidentally stepping in and destroying a life form/egg. Gross. Lots of violence and brutality on display…not just implied but on display. In ep2, the Doctor is tortured and no one does pain like Tom Baker. He makes you feel his pain…really. I wonder if this story and this scene more than any other single handedly started the fan fiction “get” offshoot ---as in “get” the Doctor or “get” Avon from BLAKE’S 7. of course either STAR TREK before this or BLAKE’S 7 after this might have done that.

    The Time Lords do not seem like a race of “old men” as various New Writers and fans claim…yeah, some of them are old men, some are middle aged…and Spandrell just had to push a guard and he goes flying to the floor. He’s strong. It’s not clear if the guards are Time Lords or not, it seems like they are not most of the time. Then the Matrix shifts to have the Doctor battling or actually running from, then plotting the death of…Goth. The actor playing Goth also played Gulliver in THE MIND ROBBER, leading fans to speculate that the Second Doctor had the whole of MIND ROBBER as a dream. The actor also played one of the “Doctor’s people”, a Time Lord in WAR GAMES. Is he the same character? It appears not as the first one in WAR GAMES was very, very strong powerwise. What’s changed in Gallifrey to make the Time Lords less knowledgeable (in TERROR OF THE AUTONS, the bowler hat wearing Time Lord that floats over the tower knows about the Master…has the Master done something to ALL the Time Lords’ minds?) because here, no Time Lord seems to know of the Master save Goth. They are also less powerful than in WARGAMES. Anyway the filmed bits and the action in the Matrix are all quite well done. The game of death between the Doctor and Goth seems like a movie with Darren McGavin (of KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER) I once saw. He was on an island in the future fighting an Asian man to resolve a war, war being fought just one against one. In any event, the images are creepy if not scary.

    Engin and Spandrell cement their dedication to the Doctor; the Master cements his hatred and his use of Goth and a guard. The Master here is at his most vengeful and hateful, murderous to an extent not seen in the show before. The mask/makeup and the hand glove of his decaying flesh is most disturbing but I can see that some viewers might find it silly and not disturbing. The Doctor’s “I deny this reality” is similar to Will Robinson’s “It’s not real, I don’t believe it, it’s an illusion” in LOST IN SPACE’s episode FLIGHT INTO THE FUTURE. Of course, nothing in the Matrix makes much sense…are they illusions that can’t hurt him? Is the Master in there? His eyes float about the place in one scene. His voice is in there. Is it the Master or Goth attacking him? Or both? If Goth controls the setting, what prevents him from just scrambling things around to make the Doctor in his sights…in which case he’d miss as he can’t shoot to save his life, literally. Goth is shot by a dart from the Doctor, the Doctor is shot in the arm and hurt in his leg somehow; Goth gets blown up somewhat, and set on fire; the Doctor is drowned…anyway, all nitpicking aside, this is a great pair of episodes and once in the Matrix the action never slows down. It’s interesting to watch Tom Baker’s Doctor on his own without any companions and I the Matrix that is most evident as he’s separated from his two pseudo companions Spandrell and Engin. On his own he’s so much more interesting than all the other Doctor’s but he’s always been anyway. I find his Doctor alone much more intriguing than Tennant’s Doctor (with the Fourth doing a lot less whining and moaning about his being alone, the wimpy Tenth Doctor). There is something about the Doctor being protected by his own Artron Energy but unless I’m not paying attention, this is hardly explained. I’m guessing he has more of that because he travels around time more.

    Really good stuff. DEADLY ASSASSIN will spawn future sequels, the only one being any good INVASION OF TIME (thanks to Tom Baker and some really weird stuff involving Vardans, Sontarans, and the interior of the TARDIS and a female Time Lord, I THINK she’s a time lady). Unfortunately, it also spawns future messes like ARC OF INFINITY and TRIAL OF A TIME LORD which can’t even get the continuity correct about the Matrix. Okay I will get into this later but if you are going to do a story about the Matrix and the Time Lords and Gallifrey, what’s the point if you can’t get the history straight? You might as well set it on an alien matrix or something. Here, in DEADLY, the Doctor has to go to sleep and his mind enters the Matrix via what looks like the Vortex from the opening theme song and opening visuals. In ARC, Tegan’s body floats in it, literally wires and stuff all around her (I can almost accept that) but in TRIAL, people walk into the Matrix via a door! WTF? Fans can explain away the Tegan thing (the Matrix in DEADLY was just part of it and was constructed by the Master and Goth so in ARC it is just a blank slate again) but in TRIAL? That is supposed to be something the Valeyard set up but he, Mel, the Doctor, Glitz, and the Master all walk into it. Ah well more on those awfulness of JNT and Eric Saward later…

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