Doctor Who: Revisiting THE DAEMONS

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Get yourself down to The Cloven Hoof, order a pint of Old Peculier and relax in front of the open fire whilst Christopher Morley recounts the strange tale of the Third Doctor's encounter with The Daemons. First broadcast on this day, May 22nd 1971.

The Master as a vicar? Clean up the tea you've just spat out- yes, he did actually have a spell as a man of God! Moving into the vicarage at Devil's End after the intended candidate mysteriously disappears- under the alias of ' Reverend Magister' ( which the clever-clogs among you with at least a working knowledge of Latin will know means ' master')- he sets about making a few changes to the Sunday services.

Has he really given up on evil & settled down, content to deliver sermons with the occasional appearance on Songs Of Praise to boot? Has he heck. The bearded badman's only been taken in as he's got nearly the whole village under hypnosis! Presumably he had to weave his despicable web in the General Synod as well. And before you scoff at that, it worked for several prominent religious officials..lure them in with a few choice words, lower your glasses & boom. The entire Church of England is yours to command. Or if you're Catholic, perhaps the papacy appeals?

Unfortunately for the parishioners of Devil's End, Richard Curtis was nowhere near old enough to turn all this into a Vicar Of Dibley-esque comedic romp. So the Master is nothing like Geraldine Granger, with the Squire no dimwitted Hugo-ish type. Which means only one thing. The Master is just as charmingly evil as he has been throughout his introductory season! He's got a plan, too. With May Day approaching he's got better things to do than open the village fĂȘte....

Against the backdrop of an archaeological dig taking place at local landmark the Devil's Hump, a Bronze Age burial mound, the Master sets about summoning Azal, last of the Daemons. With the Third Doctor & Jo Grant watching events unfold at the dig on BBC Three ( a good few years before it actually existed) something big just might be about to go down! The Doctor is of course sceptical of any mention of magic & the supernatural- the dig taking place at midnight on April 30. Perhaps better known as Beltane, a sort of pagan answer to May Day.

Three's attitude to the whole business is perhaps best summed up in this clip...

But of course he does end up setting off with Jo in tow after hearing of the protests of Olive Hawthorne, the local white witch. She's convinced something bad is moments away, sentiments with which the Doctor agrees. What he makes of her assertion that great evil is beginning & a 'horned one' will come isn't recorded. But there just has to be a scientific explanation, right? Meanwhile Hawthorne's off to see the vicar for a nice chat & a bit of hypnosis.

Luckily for her the Master's attempts to win her round fall flat, and someone does actually believe what the rest of the village dismisses as tall tales. He's on his way, but having stopped to ask for directions he unknowingly gives 'Magister' a chance to prepare for his arrival. Giving away his current location to an agent of his biggest foe isn't Three's smartest move! But the new vicar & his coven have more urgent matters to attend to- the summoning of Azal! Now dressed in some fetching red robes, with thirteen faithful acolytes, the ritual can begin. Could it be too late to stop him?

It looks that way for sure when Ms Grant goes to see how the Doctor's getting on in stopping the dig- he & Professor Horner ( the man doing the digging) are found frozen inside the Hump. This is but the first stage of the plan...

Azal & Bok ( the Daemon's gargoyle servant) wreak havoc in the village, a heat barrier preventing anyone getting in or out. That includes UNIT forces, so this could be a bit of a stand-off! After saving Hawthorne & retiring to the Cloven Hoof pub as you might on such a tour of the place, & hearing her story of a 30-foot high Devil and this mysterious Magister fellow who'd had her kidnapped until Sergeant Benton saved her, Three begins to piece the puzzle together. Magister is the Master!

A lively debate on whether it's pure science or the supernatural causing all these strange events ensues, with the Doctor quick to put together a nicely done short presentation proving that the various Satan-like figures feared by humanity down the years are all depictions of Daemons, the inhabitants of Daemos not entirely coincidentally resembling the chap who keeps an abode down in Hell. They're able to use their technology to change their size, which explains how Olive was able to see Azal as a massive bringer of darkness. They're not evil, though, merely amoral- seeing humanity as an ongoing experiment of theirs.

The Master's also been taken in, though, & wants some Daemonic power for himself. Demanding that Azal give him what is his by right after summoning him for a second time, he's surprised to learn that the Doctor is also under consideration as a worthy candidate for the powers of Daemonkind! Before departing, we learn that his third summoning will be a sort of judgement day- he will decide whether the human race deserves to carry on living, and to whom he will give his powers.

The Doctor is soon captured & tied to a maypole by a group of possessed villagers as May Day has dawned. Just what are these harbingers of doom playing at? They're Morris dancers, no less...

So after taking in that clip, surely there will begin a flood of tweets to Steven Moffat demanding the Morris Men's return to Doctor Who - #MorrisMoffat - with or without the Master in tow. Peter Capaldi will be no match for the hanky-waving evildoers. No doubt he'll be overcome by terrible bouts of fear the minute he hears their jaunty tunes.

Arguably there's something to be said for resurrecting the Daemons, too. Any fans of cult horror The Wicker Man might notice more than a few similarities. Christopher Lee as a future Master, anyone? Of course, the Tenth Doctor encountered another claimant to Beelzebub’s demonic mantle in The Satan Pit. Recognise the Beastly voice? That's because Gabriel Woolf - the man behind it - was also behind Sutekh's mask in The Pyramids Of Mars.

But back to The Daemons, and Azal finally decides to grant his power to the Master, perhaps amused by the fact that the phrases used to summon him are just Mary Had A Little Lamb spoken backwards. Which means the Doctor must surely die- until Jo steps forward to offer herself as a willing sacrifice in his place. This show of compassion baffles the Daemon, to the extent that he basically self-destructs! Leaving the Master to be captured by UNIT & Benton to be invited to join in more dancing in perhaps the oddest attempt at pulling by a lady ever...

What next for the Master? Well having appeared in every Season 8 story, he'd skip the opening two of Season 9, eventually reappearing in a maximum security prison & watching The Clangers!

Oh, it's a hard life for a megalomaniac! 

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