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  1. #1
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    Default Was it a mistake to use the Master in every story?

    Season 8 is famed for its use of the Master in every story. While this is great to establish the UNIT family and to establish The Master as a foe equal and opposite to the Doctor, did it affect the storytelling in this season?

    So was it a good thing or bad thing? What do you think?

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  2. #2
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    He was possibly over used I think, but for me that didn't matter as Roger Delgado brought the character to life so beautifully
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    Like Thasc, I agree that he was probably overused...after the first few stories there probably wouldn't have been any mystery about who the villain would be, as no doubt it would be expected that he would appear. But it doesn't really seem to matter really, does it? Given the performances he gave and how well he fitted into the series as it was at the time I think we should be grateful that they gave into the temptation to overuse him.

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    I don't think he was overused. Maybe it seemed like that at the time - I don't know because I wasn't there - but the stories are so varied and his appearances have different effects on the stories so it doesn't feel like the same thing done five times over. That said, he was the answer to the Dicks/Letts dilemma of only having two stories - alien invasion or mad scientist - because he was both a bit of each and involved both in his machinations. Thus they had three stories to play with.
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  5. #5
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    I don't think so. It enabled the audience to establish a fondness for the character, and Roger Delgado was so good that no story is ever going to be better without him.

    Take "The Claws of Axos" for example. Undoubtedly the story would work without him, but can anyone stand up and say it would be BETTER without him?

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  6. #6
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    On the other hand, nobody has claimed that UNIT were overused in Seasons 7-9, have they? Viewers weren't likely to be sitting at home thinking 'Oh no, not Sergeant bloody Benton again, he's been in it three times this year already! Where's the element of surprise?'

    The best thing about having the Master in every story is that it means we now have a whole raft of stories involving Roger Delgado. If an actor can light up the screen like that, why not use him as much as possible?
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  7. #7
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    I think it was a mistake, personally. Yes, Roger Delgado is fabulous and raises every scene he is in, but when I watched the whole of Doctor Who in order, season 8 began to seem very repetetive wth him popping up every time. The stories are all great (I even quite like Colony in Space), but could have been spread out more.

    It's one thing to have the UNIT lot appearing every story. The Doctor is exiled to earth and has set himself up with UNIT, so it fits the storytelling requirements of that season quite nicely. The Master is free to come and go as he pleases, but keeps coming back. At the end of Terror of the Autons the tantalising promise of a rematch certainly leaves you thinking 'oh good, he'll be back', but it's almost disappointing to have him come back in the very next episode (and narratively confusing since The Mind of Evil requires him to have been on Earth for some time longer than seems to have passed since the end of Terror of the Autons). At the end he obtains his freedom but then ends up caught by Axos and comes back. Then he goes off to do something else in a different time and place altogether, but the Time Lords send the Doctor after him anyway so again there he is. To be honest I found his absence in the first half of Colony in Space quite refreshing. And then he's back again.

    It's like having too much of a good thing, I think. Having a break before he comes back makes his return far more interesting and exciting than having him turn out to be behind every plot of a whole season.

    I can't imagine a whole season of Dalek or Cybermen stories, somehow, and I just feel that having the Master in every story for a year was perhaps not such a good idea, however good the stories might be on their own merits.

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    I wonder though (and I'm just too young to remember this), if when watched on a weekly basis (rather than back-to-back, as you presumably more or less did), that having the Master in every story might not have seemed so much like overkill. After all, those episodes he was missing for at the start of Colony would have been nearer a month than the hour or two it takes to sit down and watch them on video, and The Mind of Evil would have started a week after the Autons were done, which to an 8-year-old is a long time - long enough for those months that must have passed after Terror not to seem such a leap.

    I like the fact that the Master's in every story; it gives Season Eight a distinctiveness that it shares only really with Sixteen and Twenty-Three. He's a strong enough actor and character (and arguably, villain) to carry it off, too. It makes the Doctor Who of 1971 seem like it has a purpose, rather than just being the interstellar (and intertemporal) ramblings of a do-gooding wanderer - which I suppose is how you could describe what had gone before!

  9. #9
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    It makes the Doctor Who of 1971 seem like it has a purpose
    Yes - it's often been said that they introduced the Master to avoid the 'alien invasion' and 'mad professor' style stories, or at least make them more believable. So if there's a Yeti on the loo in Tooting Bec, it's not a coincidence that it's there, it'll be because the Master put him there.

    Good point too about the gaps between the appearances of the Master. He wasn't quite in it every week, so there was some respite!
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob McCow View Post
    Good point too about the gaps between the appearances of the Master. He wasn't quite in it every week, so there was some respite!
    A three week, mid-season break, and that's all. He's in every other episode.

    I take JR Southall's point about a week being a long time to an 8 year old, but Doctor Who has always been a show for everyone. It was well-known by 1970 that whole familes would sit and watch Doctor Who, and the viewership covered all ages. Whilst it is fine for the artristic decisions to be based on 'well an 8 year old will love it', if it might also have a chunk of your audience going 'oh no not him again', doesn't it still qualify as a bad decision?

    It's all subjective, of course, but to me it still seems excessive to have him there every single time. Would it have really been so bad to stick a couple of Master-free tales between his appearances? Letts and Dicks have both said that in hindsight it might have been overkill. As good as the stories are, and as brilliant as Delgado is, I still have to agree with them.

    And regarding the point about a non-coincidental Yeti on the loo, episode 1 of Spearhead from Space covered that angle: humanity is drawing atention to itself with space programs and radio transmissions into space. It's not a coincidence there's a Yeti on the loo, it's a result of aliens suddenly becoming aware of us.

  11. #11
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    I think the key word is "establish" - by the end of 'The Daemons' he's part of the furniture, and I have a feeling that Roger Delgado was a good enough foil to keep Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning on top of their game. For a single season it's not necessarily a bad thing, and over the last ten years Joss Whedon and Russell T Davies have shown how the idea of having a "big bad" built up over a season can give a series focus.

  12. #12
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    but perhaps the bigger mistake was to have the first 3 seasons of Perwee's era stuck on earth as it dose limit you in what type of story you can do. Having said that and this is in no way a critisism of Terrence and Barry,but in some ways it dose show a lack of imagination to have the same villain appear in every story of a season. This ilack of immagination is never more highlighted than in Colony in Space, that even when we do get to another planet The Master, still turns up. So yes I think it was a mistake to have The Master, in every story as plots and story lines just became all to predictable and in truth a little boring.you only have to look at season 7, where we had 4 Earth bound stories all brilliantly written and different from one another to see that with a little bit more imagination they could of done at least one story during season 8 that did not feature the Master.

  13. #13

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    I wasn't there so I don't know (well, I may have been there but not paying attention as my first recollection of watching Dr Who was Planet of the Spiders) but I would imagine that it may have felt like overkill. If there had been a season arc involving the Master then possibily but just having him team up with another baddie each story probably got a bit repetitive.
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