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15 December 2016 @ 06:21 pm
The Randomizer: The King's Demons  
The King's Demons is an odd little story. It's always felt like something of an afterthought to me, though I've never been able to pin down why. I think it may be that, even at only two parts, it feels somewhat padded as if there isn't really enough material to fill even 50 minutes.

One of the most interesting things about what story we have is that this is one where the Doctor never really does succeed in convincing the nominal good guys (in the form of the Fitzwilliam family) that he is on their side. Everyso often he appears to have the situation under control only for them to spiral back into suspicion and belief in the Master's lies.

Speaking of the Master, I knew he was in the story and thought Sir Gilles Estram was fairly recognisable as Anthony Ainley. However, Tame Layman was genuinely surprised by his appearance which, I suppose, just goes to show the power of a fake beard and wig.

It's not a good companion story. Poor old Turlough is side-lined for most of it and locked up in a dungeon, while Tegan just follows the Doctor around while whining about the whole situation. This did not improve Tame Layman's low opinion of her.

I think ultimately this feels like a tale that is just not really that interested in the Doctor's companions or in its supporting characters. It is really only interested in delivering a little bit of, I would say fairly heavily interpreted history about King John (while I'm aware that there is considerable historical debate about the extent to which John was incompetent and/or evil, I think it is stretching it to claim he was "enthusiastic" about Magna Carta), and introducing Kamelion the shape-shifting robot. Everything else pretty much just blurs into people running around a castle being confused about things.

This is he least successful of the Davison "historical" two-parters (using the term loosely enough to cover The Awakening as well as Black Orchid). It doesn't have the BBC's normal lavish delight in creating a period setting, and feels underwritten. It's not bad exactly, there's nothing particularly cringe-worthy going on and it keeps moving, but it's mostly very forgettable.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/225701.html.
 
 
 
parrot_knight: Davison Clockparrot_knight on December 15th, 2016 07:49 pm (UTC)
I found reviewing the audio book of the novelization an ordeal - all the faults are magnified and new ones added. Nevertheless, I loved the setting of this story when I was twelve and even voted it top in the DWM season poll as a boost for the pseudohistorical. However, you're right about the companions who too often in Davison stories have little to do and are sidelined by the guest cast.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 16th, 2016 03:46 pm (UTC)
The funny thing is even the guest cast are rather side-lined here. With the exception of the Master and Kamelion/King John no one gets much development.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on December 15th, 2016 07:54 pm (UTC)
One of the most interesting things about what story we have is that this is one where the Doctor never really does succeed in convincing the nominal good guys (in the form of the Fitzwilliam family) that he is on their side

They obviously made a feature of it that season, as Snakedance is much the same.

I'd agree it's an odd and forgetable story. It also just seems to stop rather than actually reach a conclusion. The first half is quite fun, though, IIRC.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 16th, 2016 03:48 pm (UTC)
I'd say it's less obvious in Snakedance, Chela is onside from the start and the other characters aren't really framed as good guys, more as obstacles to be overcome in the mould of those endless civil servants from the Pertwee era.
philmophlegm: Victoria Waterfieldphilmophlegm on December 15th, 2016 11:01 pm (UTC)
The only Doctor Who story where the most memorable aspect is a song!

That said, I always thought that Kamelion was a good idea, well executed, but tragically under-used.
philmophlegm: Victoria Waterfieldphilmophlegm on December 15th, 2016 11:01 pm (UTC)
...actually that song thing might also apply to The Gunfighters come to think of it.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 16th, 2016 03:50 pm (UTC)
I'm quite looking forward to The Gunfighters when it comes around. I recall being rather charmed by it when Doc Soc showed it, but the only thing I recall is the song so it's possible it is just the song I liked.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 16th, 2016 03:49 pm (UTC)
IIRC the Kamelion robot turned out to be horribly un-reliable - hence the way he vanished immediately after this only to reappear and be killed off. I think the plan was to do more with him, just ambition had outrun production capability.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on December 17th, 2016 10:36 pm (UTC)
just ambition had outrun production capability

As I recall the software designer died in a tragic accident after the robot had been sold to the BBC, but before filming started and no one else knew how to get the thing to work properly.

That said, I do find it weird that JNT got rid of K9 because he was a convenient plot device and then wanted to introduce a shape-shifting companion, which would be even worse.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 19th, 2016 03:27 pm (UTC)
It also seems slightly odd to pick a robot prop that actually looks like a man in a suit...