5 December 2018: It Takes You Away review added.
26 November 2018: The Witchfinders review added.
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' "Magic!" "Science!" "Magic!" "Science, Miss Hawthorne!" '
Buy this Dr Who DVD: US
An interesting one, Daemons: a slam-bang season ender that's a fascinating combination of the very good and the very bad.
Its chief draw is its incredible atmosphere, which exploits the theme of black magic to the hilt while still, in a very Who way, debunking it. As in the Auton stories, it shows us that the familiar can be just as terrifying as an angry pepperpot in a quarry: the Morris dancers, the maypole ritual and the claustrophobia of a small English village are all turned fabulously sinister. The device of the "BBC3" programme (little did they realise how prophetic that was) is a brilliant wheeze which injects a striking realism. And bored as we are with the omnipresent Master, we have to admit that Roger Delgado does a cracking job here, having it large in every direction.
On the other hand, though... well, first and most obvious is the awful furry-trousered CSO disaster area that is Azal. It's a shame they gave him quite so much buildup, as it makes him even more cringeful when he finally appears. And we're assuming that Bok wasn't intentionally hilarious, although the Brig's "Five rounds rapid" line does make you wonder.
And then there's the ending. Needless to say, the device of having Azal explode as a result of Jo's self-sacrifice is utter crap, but more than that, it's fascinating to realise just how incompetent practically everybody in this is. Despite all the self-important walkie-talkieing and the race against time to get the Doctor's machine through the barrier, UNIT end up contributing precisely zero, unless you count weakening Bok for about a millisecond. (Why, by the way, do they always continue shooting at things even when it's blindingly obvious that it's having no effect? A scintillating example, as the Doctor would no doubt remark, of the military mind.)
And the Doctor's complete rubbish. His machine blows up, and his refusal to accept Azal's power, were it not for Jo, would have led to mass destruction. Did he really think that was a better plan than taking the power? Very principled, Doctor, but thanks for nothing. Only the Master, hamming it up gloriously with his fondue pot, actually gets it right.
Despite its faults, though, The Daemons has an undeniable charm. We like it.
MORAL: Love conquers everything. Even monsters with fluffy legs.
The Brigadier gets to ring the changes a bit, looking drop dead gorgeous in his dress uniform and adorable in his jim-jams.
Mr Magister! Groan!
I SAY, I SAY, I SAY
The Master's fake glasses look like they should have a false nose and moustache attached.
Jo's clothes are usually good for a laugh, but Yates and Benton's civvies outshine her totally. Yates's polyester slacks, in particular, are a fashion crime crying out for capital punishment.
HOW DOES THIS THING WORK? OVER
Basic training in UNIT obviously doesn't extend to instruction in the use of walkie-talkies. They say "over" on a hilariously hit and miss basis.
LETTING IT SLIDE
Is it just us, or is there something faintly ludicrous about the Doctor's slide show?
I KNEW IT
Yates says to the Doctor in front of Miss Hawthorne "You mean like the Axons or the Cybermen?" You'd think Miss Hawthorne would be gasping and spluttering at the confirmation of aliens, but she doesn't bat an eyelid.
DONíT TRY THIS AT HOME
And the old back-of-the-shoulder trick appears yet again, with Yates being the victim this time.
In that very North By Northwest scene where the helicopter is chasing the Doctor and Jo, how, exactly, is it planning to kill them? It doesn't appear to be shooting at them, and it can hardly crash into Bessie, can it?
OH DEAR. HOW VERY WORRYING
Having the Master menaced is a pretty gobsmacking cliffhanger, isn't it? Surely we're not supposed to care whether or not he gets it in the neck?
Jo escapes from her room using what's got to be The Most Convenient Ladder of All Time.
TURN DOWN YOUR HEARING AID
Why on Earth is Azal SHOUTING?
UH HUH, YEAH, ABSOLUTELY
We take our hats off to Roger Delgado for that scene where the camera's fixed on his face while Azal's giving a long speech. Reacting like that is a taxing task for any actor, and he does a brilliant job of looking like he's listening without slipping into gurning.
THE DIRTY BITS
When the Doctor kicks away the motorbike stand, you can see that there's mud splashed all up his trouser leg.
Granted, the villagers seem collectively a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic, but they must be remarkably stupid, when the Doctor's doing his magic tricks, not to notice the gunshots.
They whisk Jo off to "prepare her for sacrifice", and she duly reappears in a perfectly-fitting, suitably virgin-sacrificy dress. Where did that come from?
ITíS THE RULES
Azal says heíll only come back three times. Why, exactly?
Buy this Dr Who DVD: US