Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day 105: Golden Death (The Daleks' Master Plan, Episode Nine)
It's tricky, this one. On the one hand, I love the idea of a Doctor Who story set in ancient Egypt, and especially in this era of the programme. On the other… it feels a shame to see it thrown in to this part of this story, where they just seem to be filling time before getting back to the main plot. I've been championing the idea of this being more than one story for a while now, and I wonder if I'd have preferred a 'straight' Egypt story for an episode or two before the Daleks et al turn up on the sand.
That said, there is a lot in this episode that I like, and that I think really works. The idea that the TARDIS is taken into the pyramid as one of the pharaoh's treasures for the afterlife is very much the kind of thing that would have happened back in Season One. Indeed, lots of elements away from the Dalek-based story are the kind of things I'd expect to see in what I'm starting to consider as a 'traditional' Doctor Who story.
There's a scene in which Steven and Barbara are interrogated by a sinister marshall of the soldiers, and they protest their innocence strongly, claiming that they have no interest whatsoever in the treasure being gathered for the tomb. 'Even the old man?' they're asked, being told that he was examining the 'blue box' very carefully. The entire exchange might as well have been Ian and Barbara being put in the spotlight.
I could even go as far as to say that I'd be interested to see this story spread across a few episodes in ancient Egypt, in which the Monk turns up at the end of the first part! The idea of a showdown between the Doctor and the Monk certainly appeals to me, and after I felt yesterday's confrontation was wasted, today's seems to be back on form. The Monk works as a really interesting adversary to the Doctor - the first time that we've seen an equal to him, and the Monk is painted as such.
It's great to watch how bumbling he can be, but then he's filled with a truly sinister streak, where I'm not quite sure what he's going to do next or why. He seems intent on bringing revenge on the Doctor - and he's determined to make sure it happens. There's a school of thought that says the Monk ends up becoming the Master, and, (though it's not an idea I subscribe to)I can see where it may come from. If you take this desire for revenge and keep twisting the dial up, up, up… yeah, I can see the link.
And yet for all that I protest that I'd love to see a pure, Egyptian, historical, or a rematch of The Time Meddler set on the plains and around the Great Pyramids, the Daleks turning up is just wonderful. It's terribly Doctor Who - an extremely surreal juxtaposition as the Daleks massacre the Egyptian slaves. It's so bizarre, I almost wondered if I might be dreaming it. Done right (and directed by Camfield, I'd imagine it is!), that could be a really spectacular moment for the Daleks.
Elsewhere, we've got the Monk being recruited to the Dalek's cause as he tries to save his own skin, and there's some great fun to be had watching him squirm and apologise before Mavic Chen, who has a semblance of his former dignified imposing self back the second the Monk arrives before him. We've seen him just as writing and apologetic toward the Daleks in recent episodes, so it's nice to see the tables turned back for him - albeit briefly.
I won't even go into much detail on the Doctor breaking into the Monk's TARDIS (again) and messing around with the settings. It's really become his signature move when dealing with the man, and you think after the last time he'd have thought to lock the door one he'd hidden his TARDIS away!
Next Episode: Escape Switch