C059 The Daemons



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The Master summons homicidal Morris Dancers, a Daemon and a gargoyle with a spring in his step to grant him godlike powers, and obviously everything goes wrong.



On a day of some celestial significance, curmudgeon Professor Bumbletron IV decides, against the urges of the local witch, to crack open some cataclysmic catacomb that has been buried under a hill for ages, and unwittingly unleashes dark powers beyond man’s control.

The Third Doctor and his (less than capable) companion, Jo Grant, naturally attempt to intervene, but find that a different Gallifreyan has come to Devil’s End before them. The Master, now in vicar cosplay, is summoning demons and leading satanic chants in an attempt to gain godlike powers.

Delago as The Master delivers a rock'n'roll hail satan salute in Classic Who serial The Daemons

Here's what we think

Ponken

@ponken

2.5

Nikulele

@nikulele

3.4

Here's what you think

5 Responses to “C059 The Daemons”

  1. Paul Fauber @wordsmithpaul

    “The Daemons” opened atmospherically on a dark. stormy night as a man walking his dog through the church graveyard was frightened to death. An archaeologist’s intention to open a cursed barrow on television at midnight on the occult holiday, Beltane, together with white witch Miss Hawthorne’s warning and her stories of Satanic visions drew the Doctor’s interest. He and Jo raced to the dig, despite wind spinning a sign to divert them and a tree falling to block them. As the barrow opened, the Doctor was frozen without becoming a stiff like the archaeologist. Jo worried and summoned Benton and Captain Yates, who arrived by helicopter after spotting enormous, cloven tracks between the dig and the church above a cavern in which black magic was practiced. Oddly, a door and staircase connected both places.

    After a night off duty, the Brigadier followed and found a heat barrier surrounding the nearby town of Devil’s End at a ten mile radius. He later learned this barrier was the edge of a mile high dome. A freak heat wave brought back the Doctor, who revealed the last Daemon, Azal, had come to Earth long ago to perform an experiment which might end badly for humanity. Miss Hawthorne asked questions at the church and found the disguised Master, wearing glasses and acting as the vicar. He captured her, but Benton came to her rescue and was pummeled in a trap while they explored the cavern. The red eyed gargoyle first seen eyeing a policeman’s sandwich had been animated and sent to the opened barrow to attack the Doctor and Jo as they investigated.

    The Doctor used the gargoyle’s belief in magic to escape before he, Captain Yates, and Jo survived another attack. Captain Yates returned to town with Jo while the Doctor hurried to the heat barrier and described how to build an incomprehensible machine which would enable both UNIT’s arrival in town and Azal’s defeat. The Master summoned the alien daemon a second time and explained he wanted to rule the Earth. Azal recognized the Master was neither human, nor the only Time Lord on Earth and demanded to speak to the Doctor. In town, Jo recovered and returned to the cavern, followed by Captain Yates. He beat her there due to Azal’s second appearance. Both were caught and the Master ordered Jo prepared for sacrifice. He also decided to have his entire coven present for Azal’s final appearance and targeted the Doctor for another attack.

    At the Maypole festival, dancers captured the Doctor, preparing to burn him as a witch. With help from Benton and Miss Hawthorn, armed with a crystal ball in her purse, he persuaded them he was not helpless, but a powerful wizard. Yates escaped to report Jo’s peril as UNIT arrived after penetrating the heat barrier, which had held them up since the second episode. The machine they’d built blew up in transit and a firefight between UNIT and the deadly gargoyle enabled the Doctor to enter the cavern. There, the Master tried to persuade Azal to turn over his knowledge and power. Azal elected to give the Doctor power, instead of leaving Earth alone. The Doctor refused and Azal attacked. Jo shielded him, though, inviting death and her irrational behavior confused the alien. He sent everyone away before he and his ship, still buried and shrunken in the barrow, blew up.

    DOCTOR WHO began telling stories about mad scientists and alien invasions when the Doctor was exiled to 20th century Earth. This serial featured both and did more. Azal was the last member of the dangerous, alien race that destroyed Atlantis. The Master acted as a black magician, serving as a mad scientist since the Doctor insisted the magical trappings of sorcery were remnants of forgotten science. His assertion enabled the story to flirt with the supernatural, another direction UNIT tales of paramilitary investigation might have gone. Producer Barry Letts, though, never allowed DOCTOR WHO to become a precursor to THE X-FILES. His script for this serial bent over backwards to avoid preternatural explanations for anything, having the Doctor constantly insist black magic channeled human emotions into psychic energy. The remote control for his car, Bessie, was a powerful metaphor used to illustrate that point.
    “The Daemons” was also a UNIT story in which each its three main soldier characters had moments to shine. Jo’s relationship with the Brigadier’s right hand man, Captain Yates, her intended love interest, developed while he took her back to town after an attack and later tried to rescue her from the Master in the cavern. Benton also served as Miss Hawthorne’s white knight, after which she lamented being “long in the tooth.” The fact he caught the Master might have consoled him. Perhaps. The Brigadier had the most success with women, though ironically we never saw his companion, whom the BBC couldn’t afford to cast. He spent most of his time shouting at the hapless technician trying to build the the impatient Doctor’s machine and listening to both men spout technobabble. Unhelpfully and comically, the Doctor explained to build the machine, the technician just needed to comprehend a theory, “as simple as Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity.” Once they penetrated the heat barrier, UNIT got “down to some practical soldiering.” Unfortunately, the gargoyle they destroyed reassembled itself and continued fighting, symbolizing the utter futility of most of their efforts, to say nothing of our other heroes’ and the Master’s actions. What really saved the world, in the end, was Jo’s humanity.

    I salute this enjoyable fan favorite with five rounds rapid fired metaphorically into cyberspace. Good show!

    Reply
  2. Peter Zunitch

    This one has problems. It’s ripe with continuity issues, dropped plots, leaps of faith, unexplained shots of people closing their windows to a fun May Day festival, and characters having premonition nightmares simply because they hit their head on a rock. I shouldn’t like it. I really shouldn’t like it. But still…I REALLY like this story.

    There’s a note pointed out in the documentary, “Return to Devils End” (find it and watch it people!), that perhaps sums it up best: The location, the use of the villagers, the way it was shot, the natural interaction of the actors, it all adds up to create such a genuine and realistic feel. You’re not watching a story on the television, you’re witnessing it as you yourself are wandering through the town. Things took place when you weren’t around, and you missed it, and it should be wrong, but it’s fine, because you’re there and in the moment and you can figure it all out in the end.

    Benton and Yates are just so naturally in tune here, as are the Master and the Doctor. There’s that feeling here that we get more with Sylvester McCoy’s stories that the Dr. knows more than he’s letting anyone to believe. The Dr and Joe are the perfect pair, and the Brigadier plays to each scene with as if he’s in on every moment, even though he’s mostly relegated[ZP1] to the sidelines. Azal and Bok are played with such enthusiasm, from the drool coming out as the beast spits his commands to the stuttered hopping and bouncing of the statue come to life. It’s borderline pantomime, and yet the acting pulls it back to something so immersive that you forget that these characters aren’t real beings. And let me just point out that I’m so annoyed that we didn’t get to see the rest of the documentary, I was really enjoying that too.

    We could retro-rewrite so much here and the story would make so much more sense, but to do so would upset the imbalance that makes it such a truly personal experience. I really wouldn’t dare touch this script, or the production. Leave it, it’s just fine as it is. It’s not perfect, but really that’s what makes it such a beautiful thing.

    So we’ll leave this imperfect episode alone, because we enjoy it for all its imperfections. I didn’t watch this episode, I went to Devil’s End and experienced it. I didn’t get the entire thing, but I was there, I was involved, and it was fun. In the end this story gets a, “you can’t shoot it, it’s made of stone” 4.3

    Reply
  3. Tracey | @yecartniatnuof

    Hey guys, Tracey here.

    Today we are reviewing The Shakespeare Code, in which Doc explains that the supernatural is just a different form of science that utilizes the power of words and symbolism instead of numbers. Um. I meant to say, today we are reviewing The Shakespeare Code, in which incantations are used to bring forth evil creatures from the dawn of time who will wreak destruction on mankind! Wait. Today we are reviewing The Daemons. Yup.

    I liked this one, but the last few episodes have been getting awfully cartoonish. The characters are becoming caricatured and losing depth. Doc is just a snarky know-it-all, getting a pass from fans by coasting off accumulated past awesomeness. The Master is a completely unexplained villain bent on such hasty world domination that his ill-thought-out plans keep failing. (After which you would think he’d consider enrolling in evil night school or something.) BAGeLS and company are just there to crack jokes. And I can’t freakin figure out Jo. Is she really in a mental place that she’s willing to sacrifice herself for the Doctor? I don’t feel like we’ve seen their friendship develop to that point. I mean there’s Doc berating Jo for not being familiar with the implications of E=MC2 or knowing Latin (though I notice he doesn’t say a word when she easily remembers how far away Daemos is). And now she’s gonna die for him? Maybe I’m expecting too much from Old Who.

    Rating: Cue the evil Morris Dancers!

    Reply
  4. Matthew

    Hello!

    Long time listener (love the show!), first time Listener-Mini-Writer (so apologies if this is too late / to the wrong email etc.). And what a great episode to pop my Who Back When cherry with. I love The Daemons, probably the best of the “trapped on Earth” era.

    The Master again has a brilliantly convoluted plan involving an easily rumbled assumed identity (is this the start of the “Of course! ‘XXX’ is Latin/Greek/Old Norse for ‘Master'” trope?), and again bites off more than he can chew when cozying up to an alien race. The UNIT team is great as always, with the Brigadier hitting the sweet spot between the cool, competent soldier of early Pertwee and the bumbling comic relief he would later become.

    The guest cast are also excellent, particularly Miss Hawthorne and Sgt Osgood, who as UNIT’s backup scientist will presumably have to fight monthly alien invasions once the Doctor can use his TARDIS again. As for the baddies, Azal and Bok are both truly scary, seemingly indestructible and right till the end it isn’t clear how they can be defeated.

    A few minor complaints: While not the worst companion of all time, Jo doesn’t bring much to the story, and I can’t help but think how much better this would be with the sceptical Liz Shaw in it. And a personal bugbear of mine: why does a trained soldier like Benton not wipe the floor with a church caretaker, magic tiles or not?

    Still, nothing that can stop me enjoying this immensely.

    4.7 out of 5

    Thanks guys,

    Matthew

    Reply
  5. Kyle Rath | @sinistersprspy

    100,000 years ago, Azal, the last of the hairy-legged Daemons, came to Earth to help Homo Sapiens kick out Neanderthal Man.

    Instead, he got stuck in a hill somewhere in England until the 1970’s or 80’s, depending on the dating protocol. A local witch harps on about the archaeological dig at Devils Hump, which threatens to awaken the ancient evil, while at the same time that wayward rapscallion The Master, having engendered himself to the local townsfolk of Devils End as the new Vicar, attempts to unleash Azal in order to secure dominance over Humanity.

    The Doctor, Jo Grant and the UNIT gang Boo-Boo on over there to put a stop to all the shenanigans in this last of the five part episodes.

    The entire charade is captured live on tape by the BBC3s action magazine program host Alistair Fergus, possibly played by a time travelling Mark Gatiss, who is showcasing the Spring Collection by Dwight Shrute Fashions.

    Stepping back into the comfy chair of Who Back When reviews, I quickly rewatched this episode, remembering it instantly from times past. I have always enjoyed Pertwee’s Doctor, and this episode is a shining example of his tenure.

    The episode begins “on a dark and stormy night”, and we are treated to a very pragmatic Third Doctor, as he makes fun of Jo and her more mystical leanings, while showing off Bessie, the Tin Dog in this period.

    Despite the high school drama club set pieces and “ACTING!” by Roger Delgado (who I can easily watch, always, all the time, as The Master), the story is actually quite tight, lets say, by modern standards. Except for how Azal got stuck in a hill, or where he went when he exploded.

    In the true spirit of my return, I’m going to list, in point form, the things that stuck out for me in this episode:

    1) What the hell happened at Sutton Who (or is it Satan Hall, like on the road sign)
    2) Yates & Benton featuring G-UNIT is an album I would buy (G-UNIT is the copter Callsign)
    3) Pertwee’s Go To reaction: Are you fucking kidding me?
    4) “Look, when you lose mass, the energy has to go some where” – SCIENCE BITCH!
    5) Kris Marshall is the Grocer (13th & 3rd Doctor Story inbound)
    6) Random Randy can fly a helicopter
    7) Conveniently placed ladder is convenient
    8) MOTHER FUCKING SGT TOM OSGOOD
    9) Dr. Who and The Morris Dancers: Not as interesting as you might think
    10) Chekhovs Edwardian Roadster
    11) Dem Blue Screen Effects doe

    So a couple things I’d like to touch on briefly.

    IN MY OPINION, having just recently revisited the relationship between The Doctor and The Master, it is interesting to go back and see its earlier incarnations. I am struck by the consistency of The Masters plight.

    He is a person who abhors the decadent. This gives insight to his early life as a miscreant and trouble maker on Gallifrey, pushing back against the “Time Lords”. In every iteration, he/she seeks to show just how capable his/her leadership skills are, yet the impetuous nature and fear of acceptance and lack of adoration undercuts every time. He also gets in over his head. EVERY TIME.

    And every time, The Doctor has accepted him/her for who they are. Even going so far as to offer a hand in friendship at their lowest point.

    Secondly, the obvious and blunt preference of Science over belief is telling of the time. We are accustomed, nowadays, to be obliging of ourselves, for the most part. When this show was made, the script allowed no court to the notion of superstition or ritual. Science ruled, critical thinking of a rational mind was the only solution amid the chaos of a zombified unity.

    I seriously enjoyed this episode. It was clunky in parts, sure, but each of the characters were vital to the story. The Masters intentions were true to his path, manipulating and controlling people to his own ends and casting them aside when he needed to. The Doctor, even going so far as to admonish Jo for disparaging the Brigadier despite his own bristly relationship, was in top form. The unwavering male support from Capt Mike Yates and Sgt John Benton is profoundly missing in modern Who. The Brigadier – no words need to be said. I miss this crew. They played off each other so well.

    9/10 for me on this one. It’s a standout during Pertwee’s time, and it still shines when stacked against the whole list.

    Hello Gang. It’s nice to be back.

    Reply

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