Number : Season 8, serial 5 of 5.
Which One : Demons – and Morris Dancers.
Cast : The Doctor : Jon Pertwee
Jo : Katy Manning
Brigadier : Nicholas Courtney
Captain Mike Yates : Richard Franklin
Sergeant Benton : John Levene
The Master : Roger Delgado
Azal : Stephen Thorne
Bok : Stanley Mason
Miss Hawthorne : Damaris Hayman
Prof. Horner : Robin Wentworth
Alastair Fergus : David Simeon
Sgt Osgood : Alec Linstead
Winstanley : Rollo Gamble
Bert the Landlord : Don McKillop
Garvin : John Joyce
Tom Girton : Jon Croft
Jones : Matthew Corbett
Harry : James Snell
PC Groom : Christopher Wray
Dr Reeves : Eric Hillyard
Thorpe : John Owens
Baker’s Man : Gerald Taylor
Morris Dancers : The Headington Quarry Men
Written By : Barry Letts & Robert Sloman
Produced By : Barry Letts
First UK Broadcast : 22 May – 19 June 1971.
Length : 5 x 25 minute episodes.
Plot : The Master, masquerading as the local clergy – in Devils End village, attempts to summon a powerful alien-being, called Azal – a “Daemon”.
Whats good : Weird village setting. The Master. Hammer horror overtones.
Whats bad : the defeat of Azal is a bit uninspired – and weak.
Review With Spoilers : The Daemons is the fifth episode of season 8 – and the season finale. Written by producer Barry Letts.
With a potentially controversial devil worshipping theme, The Daemons boldly and skillfully blends; olde English folklore and science fiction, into one story.
It’s also the only serial of Doctor Who – to weigh in at 5 episodes. Rather than the usual format of even numbered parts; 2, 4, 6 & 8 etc.
The Daemon’s introduces the concept of demons and devils – in superstition, actually being related to images of Daemon aliens. Which visited Earth during different time periods; in the past, influencing folklore – through the ages
It also sets down a new Doctor Who template – of the “something is weird and evil in the village”. Akin to the wierdness The Wickerman, whilst throwing every Hammer Horror cliche into the mix; lightening, thunder, high winds, etc.
Many Doctor Who’s have since tried to recapture this scenario. Episodes like The Android Invasion, Stones Of Blood, The Awakening and Mark Of The Rani – to name a few.
None have quite captured the atmosphere, as successfully as The Daemons did. Due to a well-written background to proceedings.
Added to this mix, is a stone gargoyle – which come to life – and creepy Morris Dancing henchmen – under evil influence. It all adds to a quintessentially dose of British weirdness, which only Doctor Who firing on all cylinders – could replicate.
“There is something strange about Devil’s End. Is Professor Horner being as foolish as his critics would suggest? I must admit, standing here in this unquiet place, I’m beginning to wonder myself!” Fergus
The BBC even parodies itself -with a BBC “Three” special within the episode (yes – BBC Three – the recently created and now defunct real TV channel!) recording from Devils End – about the ongoing archeology of a local mound; which is blamed for all of the events – in Devils End.
After a so-so turn in Colony In Space, The Master is back in his element; playing the High Priest of Devil worshipping weirdness, as he attempts to revive the Daemons.
The only weak point in The Daemons is the defeat of Azal, which seems to easy – for such a powerful being. Whilst attempting to kill the Doctor, with electricity bolts, Jo accidentally strays in the way – and the resulting rebound; mortally wounds Azal. No explanation is given, as to why this is – other than that Jo is probably somehow pure of heart;
Damaris Hayman – is also rather good in this, playing local village busybody – Miss Hawthorne. Hilariously, she seems immune to The Master’s attempts to hypnotise her, for poking around at the local church.
Being that the SFX in old Doctor Who is usually derided – as cheap (or dated) looking. It is perhaps more surprising that the model SFX of the church exploding; at the end sequence, generated a number of complaints from viewers. Who were angry that a real church – had been blown up for the programme!
The stonr Gargoyle – ‘Bok’ is an effective secondary monster – in this, much more effective than Azal. Spends it’s time stalking (and attacking) people quietly.
If The Daemons point, is to lay on a huge slab of English folklore-themed weirdness, then it succeeds in spades, throwing every hammer horror cliche into the mix.
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