Doctor Who Reactions: "The Masque of Mandragora" (SPOILERS)

1)Another old favorite, this one featuring an all-male cult as counterpoint to the Sisterhood from "The Brain of Morbius". This one also featured the debut of the "wooden" console room, which was my favorite of the sets they used in the old series.  My favorite console room ever was the one they used in the McGann film.

 

2)The Mandragora Helix is one enemy that I wouldn't mind seieng them bring back for the new show - if only to see it done with better effects. As it is, when we first see it here it looks like nothing so much as speckled paint swirling down a drain.

 

3)John Laurimore (Count Federico) looks like nothing so much as someone's cranky old maiden aunt. Come to that, Gareth Armstrong (Giuliano) and Tim Pigott-Smith (Marco) both look damn near as girly as Elisabeth Sladen.  An unconscious British opinion of Italians, perhaps?

 

4)Norman Jones was quite good as Hieronymous, however!

 

5)This was apparently filmed in the same place that The Prisoner was filmed in. As long as those balloon things don't show up - those things freaked me out when I was a kid.

 

6)And we get to see Sladen's "possessed" performance. Always a favorite.

 

7)The Jester was Stuart Fell, who was something of an acrobat in real life.

 

8)And we get what I'm pretty sure was the old series' only address to the "language" question:  "It's a Time Lord's gift that I let you share."

 

9)Some fun quotes:

  • "The finest swordsman I ever saw was a captain in Cleopatra's bodyguard."
  • "Fail me, and you will breakfast on burning coals."
  • "Only the dead fail to stand in my presence."
  • "Let's say Hieronymous gave him a blank look."
  • "You know, the worse the situation, the worse your jokes get."
  • "You. Profane. The sacred stone."  Always liked that line-reading.
  • "Just be your natural, horrid self."
  • "I wouldn't even say no to a salami sandwich."  Mmm...salami...

 

10)Cliffhangers:

  • Part One: The Doctor is about to be beheaded!
  • Part Two: The Brethren capture Sarah!
  • Part Three: Hieronymous kills Federico!
  • Part Four: As Giuliano watches, the TARDIS fades away!

 

Overall:

Another old favorite whose only major flaw was some dodgy effects. Considering Davros, Sutekh, Morbius and Mandragora, Sarah seems to have encountered a real litany of epic horrors.

 

[Part of list of Doctor Who episodes here.]

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I don't know exactly what was going on back  in 1979, but I walked in on the middle of quite a few of these things, including this one.  If memory serves, my first view of this was Part 3, when The Doctor runs out of the catacombs to help Guiliano fight off Federico's assassins in a sword-fight. Needless to say, I had to see this again, from the beginning, to really develop an appreciation for it.

Tom Baker's Doctor could be absolutely MADDENNING at times, and this story is a prime example. Yes, Federico is a power-mad, paranoid, murder-crazed despot. But, you know, MAYBE he could have been, I dunno, "reasoned" with, if The Doctor's "glib tongue" hadn't kept getting in the way.  (I felt the same way about Peter Davison and Sharez Jek the last time I watched THE CAVES OF ANDROZANI. considering the guy saved his and Peri's life, they definitely had a common enemny in Morgus-- but The Doctor did NOTHING to promote a possible alliance, which could have-- you know-- SAVED his own damned life!!!)

One thing that amazed me about this story was, I must have seen it 3 or 4 times, and never realized WHERE the location work was done.  I mean, the story was so compelling, it's like, it never evevn occured to me wonder.  I just fell into the story taking place in 15th Century Italy, and it never crossed my mind that the BBC would NOT have actually GONE to Italy to film.  It was reading an issue of DWMagazine that I ran across a mention of Portmerion in Wales, when it just hit like a brick wall. OH, OF COURSE!!! How could I have missed that, given the number of times I've seen the show over the years?

One of my favorite lines is, "Hello, Heironymous. Tough days in the catacombs, hmm?" (The Doctor's "glib tongue" was far more useful in Part 4, after Federico was not around anymore.)

Isn't it amazing (and not a little ironic) that for a girl who started out with such a strong, independant "women's lib" chip on her shoulder, that Sarah kept getting drugged, hypnotized and possesed so often? I mean, Jo never had it this bad, and she even managed to fight off The Master's hypnotism (after the first time). I have a feeling Sarah would have been easy prey for The Master if he'd been around then.

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