The Deadly Assassin: Doctor Who: Season 14
The Deadly Assassin SYNOPSIS:
An assassin guns down the president of Gallifrey, planet of the Time lords or so the Doctor believes when he has a vision of this in the Tardis.
The Doctor's Tardis is seen to be approaching Gallifrey and the Castellan wants the occupants of the unregistered time machine to be arrested. Chancellor Goth insists on security being tightened on Gallifrey on Presidential Resignation day once a guard is killed and the Doctor is blamed. The Doctor gets in the Panoptican to warn the president of this deadly assassin.
Despite his effort the president is killed by the unseen assassin and the Doctor is accused of the assassination as happened in the vision. Goth finds him guilty and he is to executed. The Doctor uses a legal loop hole to delay the execution for two days and has that amount of time to prove to the Castellan he didn't do it. A clue is uncovered that implicates his old arch enemy the Master is involved.
The Doctor believes the Master has a connection into the Time Lord mind Matrix and gets plugged into a virtual reality world where he has to fight for mental survival against the Master's assassin and trace the Master to his stronghold. He succeeds and his opponent Goth, the real assassin dies. However the Master is presumed dead when finally found but he isn't, he is now armed with the knowledge he needs to replenish his regeneration cycle and destroy the Time Lords.
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The Deadly Assassin SERIAL DETAILS:
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The Deadly Assassin CAST & CREW
Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor)
Peter Pratt — The Master
Angus MacKay — Borusa
Bernard Horsfall — Chancellor Goth
George Pravda — Castellan Spandrell
Erik Chitty — Co-Ordinator Engin
Derek Seaton — Commander Hildred
Hugh Walters — Runcible
Llewellyn Rees — The President
Maurice Quick — Gold Usher
Peter Mayock — Solis
Helen Blatch — Voice
John Dawson, Michael Bilton — Time Lords
Production Staff for Serial 4P:
Writer - Robert Holmes
Director - David Maloney
Script editor - Robert Holmes
Producer - Philip Hinchcliffe
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The Deadly Assassin REVIEWS
Here's to the Deadly Assassin...A lot of things happening in this one. Yep we find out ALLLL about the Doctor's Time Lord buddies on Gallifrey, myths are shattered about the planet and how they got time travel, how they got their powers, how the society works but new ones are created, e.g. Rassilon is mentioned for the first time. Apparently the production team wanted to prove to Tom Baker why he couldn't just go solo on the show and be companion-less. They did a miserable job thanks to Robert Holmes' slick script. Tom could never be companion-less again!
The Master's return in Deadly Assassin marks three years since he was last seen but he's now completely insane thanks to his condition, which by the way looks completely horrific and is played to perfection by Peter Pratt. Good idea not to directly replace the by now deceased Delgado. Still the imagery in this one is instantly memorable from James Acherson's cold, sleek and bare designs of the Gallifreyan citadel to the nightmare landscape of the matrix itself each providing a good contrast to the other. The Matrix sequences are great and it's nice to see the Dr. mentally stretched to his limit being shot and stabbed and nearly exhausted. His battle to the finish with the nameless hunter is well staged and shows his inventiveness without relying on some bunch of wires being strung together to save himself. Love the change of landscape throughout the chase and his various masked opponents give it an eerie atmosphere.
Directing and acting are again all top notch, especially the stiff, superior and best version of Borusa and reliable old Horsfall as the power hungry but seemingly heroic Goth. The Master's plan really has merit as here he's shown ready to destroy a galaxy or two merely to save his own life and he's never been more realistically malicious. Full marks to all involved. 10/10
Apparently Deadly Assassin IS the episode where the Wachowski brothers got the idea for the Matrix movies.
The Deadly Assassin...as opposed to............what type of Assassin exactly????
Very different way to start a story with the scrolling text and opening narration by Tom's booming voice. The Deadly Assassin is one of those "defining moment" Doctor Who stories that come along every so often. Like the other "defining moment" story - The War Games - its all about the Time Lords and their world of Gallifrey. We get to see how they go about the political lives, their hierarchy, their government and their beliefs. In some ways its a bit like eavesdropping on the House of Lords with all the pomp and ceremony and old men pottering about - speaking of which; where are the women???? But they are also a bunch of backstabbing, nasty, two faced, political arse holes as well. So how does the Doctor fare when he's amongst his own? Or more importantly how does Tom Baker fare when HE is on his own? Pretty damn good actually and if a companion WAS present there would be next to f*** all for them to do as it is simply the Doctor's story.
Tom owns the show now but the production team do a great job in pitting him with a number of very talented and versatile actors to work with (or against). Firstly Peter Pratt is just stunning as the Master. You can't really compare him to Delgado but the Master still retains his silky smoothness and slyness that was Delgado at his best. Peter Pratt has a great voice which is certainly needed cos that is all he has to work with under the mask. Just the look of him would give the kiddies nightmares. Angus Mackay is also great as the original and definitely the best incarnation of Borusa. He's wise, cunning, charming and suss all at the same time. Good ol' reliable Bernard Horsefall is back - this time as bad ol' Goth and even Runcible the Flatulent does a nice turn as the softy spoken television presenter.
However, its episode three with the run through the Matrix that everyone likes to yap about. And yes it is quite an innovative episode for what is essentially 25 minutes of runaround. There are some startling images on offer such as the gasmaked horseman and horse coming out through the smoke, and the surgeon with the over sized hypodermic needle. Then there is THAT cliffhanger - the one of the Doctor's head being forced under water that got Mary Whitehouse on the phone to try and shut it down for the rest of us. Dunno whether it actually crosses the line here in terms of graphic imagery but it certainly comes pretty damn close.
In all, a very different type of story but one that needed to be told to kick the premise along a bit. So now we know a little more about the Doctor and his Time Lord buddies. It certainly closed a few doors on some mysteries but opened up a lot more in the process. 7/10
Who would've thought? A Deadly Assassin on Gallifrey but this is where we learn about Rassilon, 12 regenerations, the Seal of Rassilon (or is it a Vogon seal?), The Matrix, The Eye of Harmony... this is almost like a whole new beginning of the Time Lord myth. A dangerous thing to attempt considering Who was at the peak of it's popularity... maybe this was the turning point? And then to make it without having a sidekick makes it all the more dangerous. But this one still works very very well.
So we finally get to see more of the Time Lords - they're not just a group of blokes who sit around telling the Doctor what to do. They are in fact a society of boring, bureaucratic fuddy duddys... but this makes sense. Why else would the Doctor want to be on the run from them? After we get the full run down of the "public service" that is the daily grind of Gallifrey (btw - what's the deal with Article 17? You can shoot the President, and then not get punished if you successfully run to be his successor???), we get the thing that really makes this story - the Matrix.
I don't know if similar ideas had been used in other films before (I guess it's a little similar to The Mind Robber), but the idea that everything is stored there and anything can happen in there is a brilliant one - and is realised extremely well. It's frighteningly surreal, and it makes for some of the best fight scenes we've seen in the series ever. Finally we end up back on Gallifrey where the power and "uniqueness" (even amongst other timelords) of the Doctor (and also of the Master I guess) comes through.
The Eye of Harmony plays a massive part in the finale, and it really answers a lot of questions of Timelords power. And such is it's power, only Rassilon and Omega have been able to control it (and perhaps the "other"... is that cannon?). Interwoven into all of these discoveries is another interesting power play story with The Master... his plans now no longer are to just get the Doctor or control Earth... it's now to save himself from running out of regenerations. The masked Peter Pratt plays this perfectly (now there's a tongue twister), as does his henchman, Goth (is he the un-named Timelord character from The War Games?).
All in all, The Deadly Assassin works well, both as a story, and as revelation. But probably better as the latter. 8.45/10
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