Doctor Who – The Daemons

11 Aug

Seeing as I was forced by illness to spend yesterday inside, I figured it was a good time to get stuck into the massive pile of dvds that I have accumulated.  I decided to watch the 1971 Dr Who serial “The Daemons”.  This has been one of my favourites ever since I first saw it, and I hadn’t seen it for at least 20 years.

I had forgotten just how damn good the story line of this one was. At Devil’s End the local white witch protests the opening of an apparent Bronze Age barrow claiming it will release the devil, all hell breaks loose and, as usual, the Master is behind it.

One thing that struck me was just how much research had gone into the story.  The story borrows much from English pagan tradition, Gardinerarian Wicca, and Aleister Crowley’s particular practices.  It is married well together and makes for very smooth, very polished, utterly delightful viewing.

Jon Pertwee’s Doctor has always been my favourite.  An elegant, sarcastic dandy whose relationship with Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart was one of the cornerstones of that era.  Nicholas Courtney’s Brigadier was the perfect military man, and how Nicholas Courtney could deliver some of his lines with a straight face was beyond me.  Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart: Chap with the wings there, five rounds rapid.

Roger Delgado excelled as the Master in the episode.  The Master is probably the pivotal role in The Daemons.  Everything hinges on him.  Roger Delgado did not disappoint.  His Master will always be THE Master as far as I am concerned.  No-one quite did controlled menace like Roger Delgado, and his laugh was second only to the great Vincent Price in the creepy chill factor department.

I had forgotten just how damn good the script for The Daemons was.  Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart: Do you know what you are doing?  The Doctor: My dear chap, I can’t wait to find out.

My two favourite exchanges take place at the end.

The first one is when the Master has tried to escape in the Doctor’s car, Bessie, that has been fitted, unbeknownst to the Master and Sgt Benton, with a remote control device, so when the Master tries to drive off, Bessie brings him back.  Benton (open mouthed): How on earth did you do that? The Doctor: Elemental, my dear Benton.

The second one is the closing exchange of the series.  Miss Hawthorne, the white witch, has dragged Benton off to dance around the maypole, and Jo Grant has dragged the Doctor.  Captain Yates: Fancy a dance, Brigadier? Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart: That’s kind of you, Yates.  Rather have a pint.

The only thing I felt let The Daemons down was the alien, Azal, that people believed was the devil imploding when it couldn’t comprehend Jo Grant trying to sacrifice her life to save the Doctor.  Anything that old and that intelligent would surely understand the concept of self-sacrifice.

However, that small niggle really didn’t detract from the fun time I had rewatching it.  If you can get the Daemons on dvd or find it online, then I suggest watching it.  If you only know the recent doctors, going back and discovering the early ones will be a pleasure for you.

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2 Responses to “Doctor Who – The Daemons”

  1. Frivolous Monsters August 29, 2013 at 11:11 pm #

    Over here we’ve just got the Stephen King/Spielberg American TV series – Under the Dome – which is about a town that gets cut off when an invisible dome appears. The Daemons beat this and The Simpsons movie to it. And I think the special effects were quite good too, although I’ve not seen it in a while.

    If you’re interested there was a video Return to Devil’s End made in 1993 where the cast, Pertwee and all, return to that village to reminisce about the making of The Daemons. I have seen it, but can’t remember anything about it.

    Also there’s some fan made (?) DVD coming soon “White Witch of Devil’s End” where Damaris Hayman (84) reprises her role.

    Like

    • margysmusings August 29, 2013 at 11:29 pm #

      Return to Devil’s End is included as a special on the double dvd I have. Haven’t had a chance to watch it yet. Will keep an eye out for “White Witch of Devil’s End”. I loved Damaris Hayman, she was brilliant as Miss Hawthorne.

      Like

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