Number : Season 18, serial 6 of 7

Which One : The Master returns.

Cast : The Doctor : Tom Baker
Adric : Matthew Waterhouse
Tremas/Master : Anthony Ainley
Nyssa : Sarah Sutton
The Keeper : Denis Carey
Kassia : Sheila Ruskin
Melkur/Master : Geoffrey Beevers
Seron : John Woodnutt
Katura : Margot Van der Burgh
Luvic : Robin Soans
Neman : Roland Oliver

Written By : Johnny Byrne

Produced By : JNT

First UK Broadcast : 31 January – 21 February 1981.

Length : 4 x 25 minute episodes.

Plot : Back in N-Space, the Doctor travels to Traken, at the Trakenites request – to help them, protect the “source” from a mysterious and evil rock-creature; known as ‘Melkur’.

Whats good : Well written return for the Master. Melkur.

Whats bad : The Master’s decomposing make-up – teeth painted on lips?

Review With Spoilers : Keeper Of Traken marks the first of a 3-story arc, involving the Fourth Doctor’s transition into the Fifth – and the beginning of a regular-run for the returning – Master.

It also introduces Nyssa to the series, although she will not become – a regular companion until Logopolis.

Keeper of Traken introduces the Trakenites, who have a power-source, called the “source”, which is not too dis-similar to the Time Lord’s; ‘Eye Of Harmony’.

Some time ago, a mysterious creature appeared in an outdoor clearing nearby and turned to rock, it was named “Melkur”. Some think it evil and others worship it. Including Tremas, whose family tend to Melkur’s upkeep.

The Melkur is infact, the Master’s Tardis in disguise and the Master – is still on his final regeneration and still horribly decomposed; from the last appearance – in The Deadly Assassin.

The Master attempts to use Melkur’s form to bond with the source and receive a new run of regenerations. In the process killing of attempting this, the Master kills (Tremas’ wife & Nyssa’s mother) Kassia; who was recently chosen, to replace the previous Keeper.

“Through the resources of the Keepership, and through you, Doctor. The knowledge will be taken from you atom-by-atom, and what is left of you, the husk of your body, that will also have its uses!” Melkur/Master

The Doctor manages to turn off the Source, before the Master can complete this plan. Instead, the Master resorts to ‘Plan B’ by possessing and stealing Tremas’ body.

Keeper Of Traken is really a story written around the Master’s return, now played by Anthony Ainley – who initally plays another character, called Tremas (anagram of Master!).

The idea of Melkur, is an interesting early sub-plot in the story; prior to the unveiling that the Melkur, is infact the Master’s Tardis. Prior to the reveal, Melkur casts an ominous un-quantified threat over proceedings. It’s a creepy moss covered statue – with glowing red eyes, which stands in a grove, near the Trakenite city.

Keeper Of Traken has some interesting strands to it, including the Trakenite – source and the Melkur, all woven together – into a decent structure for the Master’s return.

It begins proceedings, on an unofficial trilogy of stories; to mark Tom Baker’s departure – from the role. Taking into account the other two stories – Logopolis and Castrovalva,Keeper Of Traken – is the best of the three.

Thankfully, Keeper Of Traken suffers the least, from head-scripter Chris Bidmead’s baffling real-life sounding science-waffle. No “charged vacuum eboitments”, or “recursive loop” sci-fi waffling, dropped in here; thankfully.

🔵🔵🔵🔵⚪ (4/5)

Old Doctor Who

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