Doctor Who: 2020 Vision - Back To The Seventies? - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: 2020 Vision - Back To The Seventies?

Chris Morley looks forward... And back...

As we welcome in a new decade, anyone watching Spyfall would perhaps be forgiven for wondering if Chris Chibnall is intent on taking things back to an earlier such time - namely the Seventies! For amongst the nods to modern day Bond so obvious Adele might as well have been called in to sing the theme tune, was plenty to give fans of Doctor Who's nearest equivalent pause for thought....

 Consider what the woman now charged with succeeding Jon Pertwee was doing when M16 pitched up- fixing the TARDIS. Something her third male incarnation also spent quite some time trying to do, to varying degrees of success ( )!

Moving beyond tinkering with the old girl, there's also the matter of acquaintance with the secret service, something in a sense first trialed in a sort of dry run for the early Earthbound Third Doctor in a few final adventures for the man he had been - for these purposes we can look to The Invasion, and investigation into International Electromagnetics, its shady head Tobias Vaughan & ties to an alien race.

DOCTOR: This company, what do they do?
MAN: International Electromatics. Now surely you've heard of them?
DOCTOR: Well, no, we've been a little out of touch.
MAN: You must have been. They're the worlds biggest electronics manufacturers. You can hardly buy a piece of equipment that isn't theirs. Quick, get down!
ZOE: Well, what is this place, this compound?
MAN: They set up a whole community of their own. Factories. Houses. A vast network of industrial complexes. All of the local people have been bought out. Most of them join the company. The others...
ZOE: What about them?
MAN: My people haven't been able to trace them.
And where the Man With The Golden Recorder had a bit of snooping to do, so must the Thirteenth Doctor in getting to the bottom of the enigmatic Daniel Barton, head of VOR & apparent beneficiary of some alien help in getting things off the ground. Having got onto his private plane with help from a former M16 agent, O, it soon becomes apparent that the creatures helping Barton aren't the only ones not of this world on board with him!

The real surprise is perhaps that Danny-boy isn't as powerful as first presented, he & his mysterious glowing helpers mere pawns in the latest game played by a foe thought long dead. Say hello to Sacha Dhawan as the potential spy Master, hidden in plain sight just as Sir Derek Jacobi's Professor Yana had been throughout Utopia before revealing his true nature.

Little wonder then that O was so keen to take another trip in the TARDIS, perhaps having fond memories of the time he pinched his best enemy's police box - though we can now add “hut in the Australian Outback” to the list of disguises for his own temporal transport, complete with clearly working chameleon circuit!

While that may be some concession to modernity, though, clearly he couldn't let go of at least a small part of his past in using the Tissue Compression Eliminator to shrink its latest victim & steal his identity in what could be a nod to the second of his predecessors in effect doing the same to poor old Tremas & rounding off a sort of bodysnatching arc as began in The Deadly Assassin with Peter Pratt & Geoffrey Beevers portraying the toastiest Master of the lot.

Within moments of his introduction it's clear the newest & indeed most ethnically diverse of them will do as the best of his predecessors did - act as an exact counterpoint to the Doctor they serve as intellectual equal to while mirroring them. Of course many would point to Roger Delgado & his sparring with Pertwee as the best example of such. But an honourable mention must surely go to John Simm & his similar tangles with David Tennant as well as Michelle Gomez going toe to toe across time & space with Peter Capaldi - though Dhawan's portrayal suggests the whole redemption thing is out of the window & it's back to basics. Right down to alliance with alien races, which brings us neatly to our next point. A glimpse at the outlines of the creatures he's seemingly in control of suggests they could be Sea Devils.

Has he learnt his lesson? After all their last meeting didn't end too well for those he summoned from the briny deep. He, though, managed to escape solitary confinement & indeed a swift return to prison in Delgado's second season of taking on the Masterly mantle, now passed down once more in a definite case of live & let regenerate a good few times!

Speaking of such, there remains the possibility that Chibnall could, having introduced the first Master of his casting, then kill him off & hand the reins to somebody else as Russell T Davies did in offing Jacobi in order for Simm to step in.
“Destroy him! And you will give your power to me!”
As spoken to the Daemon Azal by the first & for many greatest of the Masters, here replayed as a means for the then-latest to rediscover his true nature before that fatal shot.
“Killed by an insect. A girl. How inappropriate.”
Entirely appropriately we can also look to when the Master first broke new ground & became a lady! “ Time Lady, please, I'm old-fashioned.”. And now having been presumed dead not for the first time she's now back to being a he. A he who, in a further twist, may not actually be the he he says he is!

A shot in the dark maybe, but consider his use of others for his own ends right from that first appearance in Terror Of The Autons, his skill as a hypnotist proving handy having turned up in a TARDIS disguised as a horsebox.

It, alongside a talent for disguise, also gets him out of trouble in the final moments of his first day on Earth, allowing him to make a speedy getaway. A similar surprise makes itself apparent, of course, at the end of The Sea Devils into the bargain.
JO: He's dead.
MEDIC: We were too late. The doctor in the hovercraft said so.
DOCTOR: Doctor? What doctor?
SAILOR: I must obey. I must obey. I must obey. I must obey. I must obey. I must obey.
And then, just to make it a double of possible hoodwinks, could the true Master simply have conditioned an M16 spy in a similar manner to fool everyone by having brainwashed the agent into believing himself to be the Master & training him to wield the TCE, with the real one watching events unfold from afar as in The Deadly Assassin?

Such is surely classified information at least until Spyfall Part Two!

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