Number : Season 20, episode 6 of 6.
Which One : Shapeshifting robot – impersonates the King Of England.
Cast : The Doctor : Peter Davison
Tegan : Janet Fielding
Turlough : Mark Strickson
Sir Giles Estram / Master : Anthony Ainley
King John / Voice Of Kamelion : Gerald Flood
Ranulf : Frank Windsor
Isabella : Isla Blair
Hugh : Christopher Villiers
Sir Geoffrey de Lacey : Michael J. Jackson
Jester : Peter Burroughs
Lutenist : Jakob Lindberg
Written By : Terrence Dudley
Produced By : JNT
First Broadcast : 15 – 16 March 1983.
Length : 2 x 25 minute parts.
Plot : The Doctor visits a pivotal moment in Earth history, when King John is about to sign the Magna Carta. However, King John is not himself and he is accompanied by a mysterious French knight called ‘Gilles De Estram’.
Whats good : Punchy 2 part period piece. Kamelion. Sword fight.
Whats bad : Another obvious “Master In Disguise” turn.
Review With Spoilers : This is the Master’s first reappearance since he was forcibly sent to planet Xeriphas by the Doctor, following the events in Time Flight.
Whilst escaping his predicament, the Master found a long abandoned invader’s weapon – a shape changing robot called “Kamelion”. Which he shipped back to 12th Century England in his Tardis, to unleash his dastardly plan to foil the signing of Magna Carta.
Kamelion is made to impersonate King John, whilst the Master takes the form of his bodyguard – a French knight called Giles Estram (anagram of Master).
We’re not to know this at the beginning though but it’s so obviously the Master under layers of makeup, that it hurts. Mercifully, this is the last “Master In Disguise” episode following Castrovalva and Time Flight.
After this, he just appeared as himself. When they wanted a shock Master unveiling in Delgado’s time, they used a different actor with a quick cut rubber mask reveal and switch to Delgado, so that the viewer was none-the-wiser.
In the The Kings Demons, the Doctor and the Master have a really well choreographed swordfight. It’s an entertaining piece of well executed swordplay with shades of Errol Flynn. All the more impressive, as it is performed entirely by the actors – with no stunt help.
The Doctor also steals and tampers with the Master’s tissue compactor which he hides in the Master’s Tardis. This might be a lead in to the Master’s diminutive stature in Planet Of Fire – but it is not mentioned again. If this is the reason the Master is shrank.
The Kings Demons is not the best Who story but it is always nice to see the shorter 2-part Davison episodes, which cut to the chase and abandon the long drawn out scenes, of some of the 4-part equivalents.
“You’re mistaken [Doctor]. With Kamelion’s unique ability at my command, it’s only a matter of time before I undermine the key civilisations of the universe. Chaos will reign, and I shall be its emperor!”
Kameleon is an interesting (if eventually underused) new addition to the Tardis crew – and bar K9, was the only ever truly non-human companion in the Tardis. His lack of regular appearances came down to the untimely death of his operator and programmer.
The Kings Demons can easily be considered a good historical period-piece and solid Davison episode. Not the best Davison 2-parter – but a reasonable one.
It ends with the Doctor promising Turlough and a homesick Tegan, that he will take them to the tranquil Orion’s – Eye Of Harmony; for a well earned break.
In many ways, The Kings Demons can be considered a scene setter (or ‘bottle’ epsiode) for the next Who; the 20th Anniversary special – The Five Doctors.
An entertaining solid short period piece.
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