Sunday 22 July 2012

607 The King's Demons Part Two

EPISODE: The King's Demons Part Two
TRANSMITTED: Wednesday 16 March 1983
WRITER: Terence Dudley
DIRECTOR: Tony Virgo
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 7.2 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Kamelion Tales Box Set: The King's Demons / Planet of Fire

The Master is taken away and put in the Iron Maiden but it dematerialises: it was his Tardis in disguise. The Doctor is knighted as the King's Champion. He sabotages the Master's Tardis. The Master release Sir Ranulf's wife & son, gaining his confidence and control of the soldiers. The Doctor secretly sends Sir Geofrey to London but he is shot with a crossbow from the castle ramparts. The Doctor finds his way to the King's chamber where he finds a silver robot, Kamelion, and the Master. Kamelion is capable of changing shape but is dominated by other stronger minds. The Master intends to use it to stop Magna Carta being signed. The Master & Doctor mentally battle for control of Kamelion. The Doctor wins disguising Kamelion as Tegan allowing them & Turlough to escape to the Tardis where the real Tegan waits. The Master flees the scene in his Tardis, with the Doctor's trap waiting for him. The Doctor welcomes Kamelion aboard the Tardis and suggests a trip to the Eye of Orion.....

The Master attempts to subvert Earth's history by preventing King John from signing Magna Carta. Yes, it's the Time Meddler but with a different Time Lord and a different historical event. Magna Carta is one the more important events in British History (in fact I had to check if it was the other date in 1066 and All That) I'm sorry this didn't really do that much for me, and just came off as a bad impersonation of the earlier story.

As we mentioned at the top of the season I missed almost all the evenly numbered episodes this season, so the first I knew about Kamelion was when I read the Radio Times Doctor Who 20th Anniversary Special (available as a PDF on the Terminus discs of the Doctor Who - The Black Guardian Trilogy Boxset). Kamelion looks good here but, given the problems K-9 caused, who thought a mechanical companion would be a good idea? Apparently the prop was causing difficulties even at this stage and when people connected with the machine started dying at an early age it effectively rendered Kamelion useless. So in the next story he's not mentioned at all. Or the next. Then he gets his one scene between his first and last story cut..... he might as well not be there at all! Actor Gerald Flood provides the voice of Kamelion as well as appearing as King John.

As we said at the top of the season (Arc of Infinity 1) there's a running theme behind the stories this season of a returning element from the show's past. Here's what we got:

Arc of Infinity: Time Lords, Gallifrey, Tegan & Omega
Snakedance: The Mara
Mawdryn Undead: Black Guardian & The Brigadier
Terminus: Black Guardian
Enlightenment: Black & White Guardians
The King's Demons: The Master

See something missing that really should be there? Yup, Daleks. (Well Cybermen too, but they'd just been in the show and I think were always lined up to be major heavies in the Five Doctors due the amount of location filming)

The Daleks had been absent from the show since 1979's Destiny of the Daleks and the closing story of the season, known either as Warhead or The Return, was designed to return them to the screen in a manner similar to the previous year's Earthshock. The same writer, script editor Eric Saward, and director Peter Grimwade were assigned to the story. Unfortunately during late 1982 production work at the BBC was halted by the electricians union. Enlightenment, the third & closing chapter of the story of Turlough & the Black Guardian, was due in the studio at that time and had to be rescheduled. The only slots that producer John Nathan-Turner could use were those allocated to Warhead/Return so that production was reluctantly cancelled. Peter Grimwade took the crew out for a commiseratory lunch but didn't invite John Nathan-Turner. Some versions of the story say Grimwade forgot to invite the producer, others that he planned to take him for supper later. Either way round, Nathan Turner felt snubbed by what happened and as a result Grimwade never directed for the series again (he would write one story for the following year) and is probably a contributing factor towards souring relations between producer and script editor.

Actually now I come to think of it Resurrection of the Daleks is a story which relies on the Daleks making duplicates of people. King's Demons features a robot which can turn into duplicates of people. Yeah that would have worked with consecutive stories......

I think at the close of this story the convention held at Longleat House over the 1983 Easter Weekend was advertised. A celebration of 20 years of Doctor Who, attended by all four surviving Doctors this proved to be massively popular with far more people turning up for it than expected and many being turned away at the gates. What most Doctor Who fans remember it for is the queues.

In the gap between this season and the next the third Star Wars film, Return of the Jedi was released at the end of May. The in October that year Gerry Anderson's final puppet series, Terrahawks began airing.

Three stories were repeated during the summer of 1983: Kinda, The Visitation & Black Orchid from the previous season. King's Demons is the only Season 20 story to be repeated, when it was broadcast during the following summer. Why? Well Season 19's stories were seen as stronger than season 20s by many, including the lead actor who took the decision to leave the series at the end of the next year partially on the basis of the quality of scripts for this season. But while Season 19's stories had rated between 8 to just over 10 million, Season 20's were between 8 to just bellow 6 million people.

King's Demons was novelised by it's author in 1986 and was the Peter Davison story to be adpated into book form, leaving the aforementioned Resurrection of the Daleks as the only Fifth Doctor story not to get turned into a Target Book. It was released on video with the Five Doctors Special Edition in 1995 and on DVD on 15th June 2010 as part of the Doctor Who - Kamelion Tales Box Set with Planet of Fire, Kamelion's only other broadcast appearance.

An odd statistic presents itself about the DVD releases of the stories in this season: they're all only available in boxsets:

Doctor Who - Time-Flight/ Arc of Infinity
Doctor Who - Mara Tales (Kinda / Snakedance)
Doctor Who - The Black Guardian Trilogy: Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment
Doctor Who - Kamelion Tales Box Set: The King's Demons / Planet of Fire

But 1983 wasn't done with Doctor Who yet. Oh no. Join us tomorrow for something a bit special.

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