So after The TV Movie didn't go down too well, I moved onto what is generally considered a classic. This is me and Mum - watching The Deadly Assassin.
Some stats before we begin. This came 20th in the Mighty 200 Doctor Who Magazine poll, and was generally liked at the time of release. Unless you're the president of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, or Mary Whitehouse. Being the first 'non-companion' story, and giving mum plenty of opportunities for questions (not to mention her first experience of Holmes/Hinchliffe horror), it seems like a good choice. She's very much used to Season 12 or 18 stories - and this is something very different.
And I gave it a 5/10 overall from the first time I saw it. This is probably the second time I've watched it all the way through, so should be good.
She dances to the theme tune.
Mum: That's an interesting TARDIS. Is he in the TARDIS there?
Me: It's the secondary console room.
Mum: Did he choose to fly there?
Me: [I explain the ending of the Hand of Fear]
Mum: Ahh I was gonna ask where the companion was.
They talk on watches.
Mum: That's quite good CGI that. Year? 1980..
Mum: Ooh. I clearly wasn't watching it by this stage.
Mum: Why's he in the secondary console room?
Me: Cos he fancied a change.
The Doctor leaves a pile of clothes.
Mum: He's clearly not there.
She's quite enjoying this I think. The guard is killed.
Mum: I hope they don't think he's done it now.
They talk about the exile to Sol 3.
Mum: Sol 3!
Me: Yep. They're talking about The War Games.
Mum: When the Master comes back in the modern one they have it going Sol 3 is..
Mum: Nice classic reference.
Mum: What's the difference between President and Castellan?
Damn, a good question.
Me: I think the Castellan's head of the guards.
Mum: Cos The Five Doctors had one. Are they different in that?
Me: Yeah, there's Borusa then the Black Scrolls guy.
Hooded Man: Predictable as ever, Doctor.
Mum: Ok so is that the Master?
I'd like to remind you that this isn't the Wife in Space..
The Time Lords walk around.
Mum: Ooh Time Lords. Yay. A proper Doctor Who.
Me: The last one [The TV Movie] was proper too.
Mum: (quietly) Mhm.
Runcible: I hope to speak to Cardinal Borusa.
I nod. She's very good at this.
Me: How many Gallifrey stories do you think there have been by this point?
Mum: I wouldn't say very many.
Me: This is the first ever all Gallifrey one.
Mum: So how much have they seen of Gallifrey?
Me: Only a bit of The War Games and The Three Doctors.
Mum: So when did Gallifrey first appear?
The Doctor finds some costumes.
Mum: Oh go on, dress up as a Time Lord!
Other Cloaked Figure: Master.
Mum: Master! Told you. He looks like the one in the um, Keeper of Traken.
Mum: Are you impressed by my knowledge?
Me: I am very.
Mum: So he was who before this?
Me: Roger Delgado.
They search for the Doctor.
Mum: Not very bright are they, the Time Lords?
More of the Master's plan is discussed.
Mum: Why does the Master want to kill the President and make it look like the Doctor?
Me: That's a good question.
Mum: So he can take over the Doctor's body? No - because he'd get excuted. Confused.
She did pick up something from the TV Movie then.
Mum: So the Master's going to kill the President.. But make it seem like the Doctor...
Runcible (to the Doctor): Weren't you expelled or something?
That gets a laugh. As does "Have you had a facelift?"
The Doctor runs to the gun.
Mum: Well that's discreet.
The Doctor pulls the trigger.
Mum: Uh oh. Why?! Sorry - confused.
Me: Me too.
Mum: But you've seen it.
Me: A long time ago... That's weird.
Mum: He goes up their to stop it then you see him doing it like he dreamt he was going to do. Was this
shown once a week?
Mum: So they'd have to wait a whole week to find out what happened?
Me: They would - it's a good cliffhanger.
Mum: It's very watchable. Good, proper, classic Doctor Who.
Mum: Robert Holmes is the best Doctor Who writer ever - that's what you used to tell me.
Me: He's one of them yes.
Mum: Perhaps he's [the President] an imposter.
She watches the reprise closely.
Mum: The Doctor's noticed something. That wasn't him! He didn't fire the gun, because just before Doctor
Who fired there was another plasticy gun.
Aww she called him Doctor Who.
Mum: It wasn't him, there was another gun which was the Master killing him. See he's got the gun but...
Goth: The assassin must be tried and executed before the election.
Mum: That's hardly very fair.
Mum temporarily becomes the President of the DWAS.
Mum: Ok so the Time Lords are all about peace and justice. Why are they torturing him? And executing him
in 48 hours. Isn't peace and justice. They're a bad lots the Time Lords under that veneer aren't they.
Mum: So he's being fair then - this Castellan. So the man in the orange [Goth] is the baddie.
Me: I should explain about evil Time Lords - it's stories like this that made them turn all bad in The End of Time.
Mum: But they're not all bad? Just bad ones within it.
Goth appears again - and Mum begins to work out the plot.
Mum: They said that a Chancellor needs to access the key thing - and he [Goth] is a Chancellor so he must have done it. Because he wasn't going to be President and he wants it so he framed the Doctor with the
Master. Cos he promised him a body. That's the story sorted.
Actually - I think she's right.
The "trial" begins.
Mum: This is the trial?
Goth: Could he have said "Let him go, I'll kill him".
Mum: No he's putting words into his mouth. He said "they'll".
Article 17 is announced.
Mum: For someone who's a regengade Time Lord he don't half know the rules well.
Me: Well he was a Time Lord first.
Castellan: Convince me.
Mum: See he's nice.
Mum's struggling to watch the Master talk.
Mum: That's quite gory isn't it, considering it was going out early in the evening.
The Doctor works out one of the High Council must have stasered the President, proving Mum slightly right.
Goth: Apart from myself he's the only person up for election.
Mum: See - he's a renegade.
The chalk drawing of the dead Time Lord gets a laugh.
Mum thinks Runcible goes to his death but instead... The technician is found.
Mum: Ah that's the Master's trick in Logopolis.
Castellan: Who is the Master?
Mum: Hang on they don't know who he is?
Me: That's a good point actually.
Mum: They should really know who he is. This is a big fat hole in the classic Doctor Who story arc.
Me: Well it's not that big..
Mum: It is!
Wait til they have the 12 regenerations talk..
This story is making much more sense for me second time around. Mum's gone very quiet while she takes it in.
The Doctor arrives in a quarry.
Me: D'you understand where he is?
Mum: That's a really rubbish crocodile! Um - he was linking himself to the Memory Banks.
Me: Basically this is the Matrix. You know the expression before.
Mum: Yes - it's the Mind Bank. So he just happened to have the scarf - that's useful.
Me: Yeah that really shouldn't be there.
Mum: Ok that's weird... [The Samauri]
Me: Yeah this next Part is just weird. Very good though.
Mum: Why would there be explosions?
Me: Because the Matrix is attacking him - and it's being controlled, I think.
Mum: Right, so the Master's somehow connected to it. So it's their memories?
Mum laughs as the train heads towards the Doctor... That's not quite having the right effect.
Mum: Oh my God. I'd give that 3/10.
Mum: I understood him joining himself up but that has no logic..
Me: Yeah it does.
Mum: Robert Holmes is really the best writer ever? This is surreal.
Me: That's why it's good. [This is the best bit of the episode, for me.]
Mum: Kiddies who are like 9 and 10 don't want surreal - they wouldn't have a clue what's going on. It's not
exactly behind the sofa stuff.
Doctor: It's an illusion. Dreams.
Mum: Now it makes a bit more sense.
She thought it was real?
Doctor: I deny this reality.
The clown appears. We agree that it's scary.
Mum: So the Doctor's gone in there to find out who it is.
Me: I think so.
Mum: But if it's not real why is he running away?
Me: Because if he dies there it kills the real version of him. I think.
Mum: But why didn't the Train kill him?
Me: It wasn't a real train.
Mum: But they're not real bullets.
Me: But the train disappeared before it him - those didn't.
Master: You are trapped in my reality. My reality rules.
Me: Does that explain it?
We learn there's another mind in the Matrix - which at least proves me right.
Mum: So technically he's not fighting the Master's brain - he's fighting whoever's under that. Which is the Chancellor probably.
She's very good at this. She's more scared of the spider when the Doctor hides though than anything else. But it's less scary when it moves...
Mum: Is the spider gonna get him?
Me: Yeah it causes him to regenerate.
Mum: Who to regenerate?
Mum: It's quite clever how he's in some ordinary wood but they've stuck a soundtrack over it to make it
seem like somewhere tropical.
Mum: Is the whole episode set in this alternative reality?
The Doctor and Goth confront each other in the Matrix.
Mum: That's clearly the Chancellor chap.
Mum: I was right.
Goth catches fire.
Mum: Now he can come back. Can he? Uh oh. Comes down to fisticuffs.
The episode ends.
Me: They had to cut that last shot on repeat.
Mum: It's quite violent, in today's standards.
Me: It was for then too. I'll explain it after this Part. Do we have a score?
Mum: 7/10. Much better than the first bit, that was just silly.
Goth: No more regeneration possible.
Mum: Well that's not the same now!
Engin: There is no plan that can postpone death.
Me: That was made up entirely for this story - then Doctor Who was stuck with it.
Mum: Until they rewrote it.
Me: They haven't! Why do you keep thinking they have?
Mum: Because Russell or Steven said that they'd just rewritten that and are gonna discreetly forget about it.
Me: But has it been in canon? Is it in an episode?
Mum: I'm sure it has.
Me: It hasn't been and until it's in there it isn't canon... though I'm sure they will change it.
SJA does not count, by the way.
Mum: So he's after this Sash? What would that do?
Me: You'll find out.
The Master stasers the Castellan.
Mum: Oh no they killed him! But oh he clearly hasn't killed the Doctor, maybe he's just stunned them.
Master: They're not dead. Stunned.
The dramatic bit with the Eye of Harmony passes with no comment. Which is good I think.
Lots of shots of the clock.
Mum: He's in the clock.
Mum: That was very good. Apart from the few big massive holes [well, "one"] like they'd never heard of the
Master... Like Borusa taught the Doctor but should've known who the Master is...
Overall she gives it an 8/10.
I explain the objection to the violence and the series of gothic stories by Holmes/Hinchliffe. Mum says she didn't feel the companion was missing - and prefers it without one.
My opinion of the episode has definitely improved but it's still a bit too political and slow in places for my liking - so I'm going with a 7/10. Or maybe a 6. I don't know, it's very Robert Holmes - but that kinda just means it feels the same as The Sun Makers, only less Blake's 7-y.
Next time we will be watching something which is yet to be watched! You can keep track of what we've seen so far here.