Friday 27 January 2012

431 The Masque of Mandragora Part Four

EPISODE: The Masque of Mandragora Part Four
TRANSMITTED: 25 September 1976
WRITER: Louis Marks
DIRECTOR: Rodney Bennett
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Masque Of Mandragora

The Doctor escapes from the cavern and averts the execution of Sarah, Guiliano & Marco by bringing news of the Count's death. He has the Palace barricaded to stop the Mandragora controlled brotherhood from attacking. The Doctor calculates the timing of a lunar eclipse that will signal the brotherhood's attack. He approves of Guiliano's decision to continue holding the Masque to celebrate his accession to the Dukedom. The Doctor prepares by mounting an armoured breast plate under his coat and obtaining a length of wire. The Brotherhood gather round the palace as the Masque takes place. Returning to the temple the Doctor uses the wire to ground the chestplate and confronts Heironymous. The wire & chestplate protect the Doctor from the energy bolts that Heironymous fires at him and he starts to be drained from the confrontation. The Doctor's lion costume enters the ball but it removes it's mask revealing itself to be Mandragora energy. Heironymous enters and has everyone taken to the temple as the eclipse starts. There the cult is consumed by Mandragora leaving just "Heironymous" who is revealed to be the Doctor. The Doctor thinks that Mandragora's constellation will be in a position to try again towards the end of the 20th Century.

Um..... did the ending to that make any sense at all? It doesn't explain how the Doctor repelled Mandragora. It's not clear who it was in the Doctor's costume - I think it's meant to be the Doctor in disguise as Heironymous but in which case how does he do the trick with the face? Some explanation of what and why things are happening would be nice! A big, big mess.

It this episode (briefly) is Stuart Fell as the Entertainer, Previous Doctor Who credits include The Curse of Peladon and The Monster of Peladon as Alpha Centauri, Planet of the Spiders as a tramp, The Ark in Space as a Wirrn, The Android Invasion as a Kraal and The Brain of Morbius as the Morbius Monster. He'll be back in The Invasion of Time as a Sontaran and the State of Decay as Roga. Not returning is writer Louis Marks. He'd first written for the show at the end of it's first recording block, penning Planet of the Giants bringing an idea to screen that had been knocking around since day 1. Years later he returned to write Day of the Daleks for the third Doctor, then Planet of Evil & Masque of Mandragora for the fourth Doctor. He died 17th September 2010 aged 82. And since it's his final appearance, I'll remind you that he's not to be confused with Louis Marx, the toy company that made the 1960s Dalek toys!

Masque of Mandragora is one of the Doctor Who novels that I can remember reading from the library quite early on.... but I also owned a paperback copy quite early having bought it in a local news agent. It was the only Doctor Who book I ever saw in there. It's one of three stories adapted by Philip Hinchcliffe, the other two being the previous story The Seeds of Doom and the fifth Doctor Who the Keys of Marinus. It was released in December 1977. A video was released in August 1991 alongside the Three Doctors. The DVD was released on 8th February 2010.

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