Monday, November 2, 2009

4M1 - The Masque of Mandragora 1

The Masque of Mandragora is an odd beast. My first experience with this story was with the novelization of this story by US distributor Pinnacle Books in the early 1980s, so, in fact, it is one of my first experiences with Doctor Who, in general. Oddly, though, it was one of the last Tom Baker stories I saw.

It's also never really caught on with me. I try every time I watch it to really dig in and get to grips with the story, but it never works, and my failure as a fan is that I can never determine why this so story registers so low in my memory. I am a fan, though, of the new TARDIS set, seen only in Season 14, apart from the actual console itself, which I find is too small and static to make any real sort of impact.

But a troubling development starts to occur in this episode, which was the first of this particular production block. The edgy and grumpy Doctor that Tom Baker excelled at in Season 13 is now gone. In his place is a calmer, gentler Doctor, and one who is prone to carry football rattles in his pocket to scare horses at precisely the right times in a sequence in Episode One. As innocent as this scene seems at the time, it's the start of a gradual slide for The Doctor in the way he treats supposedly terrifying situations, and how those around him are content to let him get away with it.


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