6 November 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 310: The Dæmons, Episode Five

Dear diary,

I think that my dislike of The Dæmons is possibly more the fault of Season Eight than simply this story. It's the same problem that Fury From the Deep had coming towards the end of Season Five - I've simply had enough. Barry Letts has commented over the years (indeed, he does so on the DVD for this story) that having the master show up in every single story simply didn't work, and I think that's where my issue lies - I'm bored of the Master, so I'm spending a chunk of this story counting down to his eventual capture.

It's not helped by the fact that - on the whole - Season Eight has been a real let down. I spent so long heading towards the Pertwee era and simply dreading it, but then the stories from Spearhead through Inferno really gave me hope. Well, with the possible exception of Ambassadors. Since then, though, I seem to be giving out a lot more middle-of-the-road scores, and I'm just not enjoying the series in the way I'd become accustomed to.

As I say, it's not really the fault of The Dæmons. I'm sure that the story is actually quite good. It's got a reputation as being the Pertwee story, so it must be doing something right. Indeed, today has got several great special effects going for it. The shots of Azal growing to full size look brilliant (one shot in particular, of his head against the cavern ceiling is probably the best use of CSO we've ever had), and I'm even rather fond of the heat barrier being opened up. It's not the greatest effect in the world, but it's exactly what I was expecting, and they pull it off well.

The crowing moment has to be the church blowing up, though. Supposedly, there were complaints at the time when people thought the BBC had blown up a real church just to provide the conclusion to a Doctor Who story. I've always thought that the idea was ridiculous, but looking at it here, I can see why some people might have believed it! The effect is brilliant, and the explosion couldn't be better (truth be told, this production team are very good at explosions. They're almost always gorgeous!)

It's very nice to see the season ending on our regulars having fun, too. I loved the ending of Inferno leaving the Doctor and the Brigadier on slightly awkward terms, but it's good to see that changing a little more as time goes by. It's a lovely note to end on, and the final shot of the camera pulling back out to show the village as a whole is beautiful.

And yet… it still hasn't struck a chord with me. There came a time about half-way through today's episode where I suddenly realised that I didn't really have the first clue what was going on. I was watching it, and I was paying attention, but it was going in one ear and out the other as the images flashed about a bit on the screen. Throw in a conclusion where this all-powerful creature is destroyed by Jo taking a step to the left and I was completely out of the loop.

I think - as with Fury From the Deep - this is one of those stories that I'll need to watch again, once I've finished the marathon. Watched away from all these other Third Doctor stories, and with (hopefully) fond memories of this team, I may find a lot more to like in here.

There's no stopping, though, and tomorrow I set out onto Season Nine! It's the first story in a while to not feature the Master turning up (hooray! I've grown to like the man, but I need a break!), and it's the first time I've had a Dalek story since June, which feels like ages ago. Here's hoping that it can get me back on track again, and that the ninth season can help move the Pertwee years back up in my estimations again…

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