In "THE DEADLY ASSASSIN", there's a prolonged sequence (which actually got the producer KICKED OFF the show) where the hero is laying on a table while his mind enters a dream-scape and does battle with someone who's laying on another table, somewhere else in the building. And a few months back, while reading MISTER MIRACLE, it hit me the scene of Scott Free battling that big slug was quite similar.  Do you suppose someone on the show read the comic and was inspired by it-- or could both scnearios have an earlier, common source?

I've lost track of which issue it was in, but way back in the early days of the Hal Jordan GREEN LANTERN series, there's a story about a planet where an entire city of people are laying on tables, SLEEPING, while they lead full, "active" lives within an electronic computer bank.  Until something goes WRONG.  That's also somewhat similar... but it's even MORE similar to THE MATRIX movies, which came out decades later.

Seems to me someone said the guys who did THE MATRIX were Kirby fans, but as I just pointed out, that particular major point of those films appears in GREEN LANTERN about a decade before that MISTER MIRACLE comic.

Any earlier examples?  Anybody know?

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I think the Green Lantern story is "The World of Living Phantoms!" from Green Lantern #6,(1) but you've misremembered it slightly: the people live their lives through images of themselves on the surface while sleeping in vaults hooked up to a machine.


Some have compared The Matrix to works by Philip K. Dick, including Ubik, but I'm not personally very familiar with his writing.


(1) Incidentally, this was the first story in which GL met another Green Lantern other than Abin Sur, namely Tomar-Re, the bird-faced one. It was also where he learned of the existence of the Guardians of the Universe: they'd been introduced earlier, in a story in Green Lantern #1, but he didn't remember having met them.

"The Mind Robbers" was an earlier Dr Who story involving a dreamworld, but that was set in a dream dimension. Kirby had earlier drawn a story with a psychic fight in Thor #172, but there the two psyches just slug it out; they don't have a fight in a dreamworld. The Dr Strange vs Nightmare story in Marvel Premiere #3 is like The Matrix in that the hero initially doesn't know he's dealing with an unreal world, but that element doesn't appear in "The Deadly Assassin". More like the latter is the Iron Man story in Tales of Suspense #67, where the dreams are mechanically caused and the idea that if the hero dies in the dream he'll die in reality is emphasised.


Robert Holmes had script-edited the previous season's "The Brain of Morbius", in which Baker's doctor had a psychic dual with Morbius (involving no dreamscape). That element reportedly comes from Terrance Dicks's Dr Who stage play The Seven Keys to Doomsday.

Re-watched this recently, a few thoughts:


1)"The Deadly Assassin" - as opposed to those assassins who just leave their victims with kind of a tired feeling?


2)After Lis Sladen left, Tom Baker pushed Holmes and Hinchcliffe to let him do the show without a companion. They gave him a story without one to show him why he needed one, and so we get the Doctor Who version of The Manchurian Candidate by way of The Phantom of the Opera, with bits of North by Northwest and The Most Dangerous Game thrown in.


3)This story is the only time they did the opening "scrolling" introduction. Obviously, George Lucas saw this and nicked it for Star Wars.  ;)


4)Much noise was apparently made in fandom at the time about the depiction of Time Lord society, which was somewhat at odd with the way it had been depicted in previous stories. The Time Lords are certainly a good deal less "godlike" here.  No wonder the Daleks felt safe in taking them on!


5)I liked George Pravda as Castellan Spandrell, who proves that not only does Gallifrey have a North, it apparently also has a Czechoslovakia.  He made a good "double-act" with Erik Chitty as Coordinator Engin.


6)We get a bit more on the Doctor's background, here, getting a sense of what he was like in school. "Weren't you expelled or sonmething?"


7)Bernard Horsfall does well as Goth, although he was pretty obviously the only suspect. And the Doctor beats him fairly easily, all things considered.  Still, "The Doctor is never more dangerous than when the odds are against him.:"


8)"Runcible the Fatuous".  Odd that a race as advanced as the Time Lords still has idiotic TV presenters.


9)Odd government the Time Lords have. The President gets to nam ehis successor, and they only have elections if he does in office? And you can run for office just by announcing your intention to do so, even if you're under arrest for assassinating the previous president?


10)The great Angus Mackay plays Borusa - very "elite" and superior.  You get the sense that he does sor tof like the Doctor in his way, even if he doesn't want him on Gallifrey.


11)Peter Pratt does OK as the Master, considering he has to work under all that make-up. "Only hate keeps me alive."


12)Alot of Time Lords get killed in this, but none of them are seen to regenerate. 


13)I've never seen any of the Matrix movies so I can't discuss how they compare to this.  I'd just like to point out that going into the Matrix give the Doctor a scarf!


14)You see some blood in this, which you didn't often see in Doctor Who in those days.


15)All while they were in the Matrix, I kept thinking tha tit would be funny if Kirk and the Gorn played through.


16)The Great Key looks alot different here than it would in"The Invasion of Time".


17)The Eye of Harmony - that's not how they described it in the TV movie!


18)Some fun quotes:

  • "Celestial Intervention Agency, they get their fingers into everything."
  • "Predictable as ever,. Doctor."  They didn't really even try to hide that the person behind it all was the Master. The credits for Part One gave it away!
  • "Prydonians are notoriously..." "Devious? Not true, Castellan.  We simply see a little further ahead than most."
  • "Some names here that will surprise them."  I gather that the bit about the Resignation Honors List was a gag on whoever was British PM at the time.
  • "Have you had a facelift?" "Several, so far."
  • "Extraordinary. The roof's still on. I could've sworn it fell on me."
  • "I confess you're a bigger idiot than I thought you were."
  • "Vaporization without representiation is against the constitution."
  • "Precognitive vision is impossible."  For a race of time travlers? Also:  Then why did you say a scene later that the Matrix was used for just that?
  • "There are worlds out there where this kind of equipment would be considered prehistoric junk."
  • "You wistful, you craven-hearted, you spineless poltroon!:
  • "No answer to a straight question. Typical politician."
  • "If heroes don't exist, it is necessay to invent them."
  • "After the twelfth regeneration, there is no plan that wil postpone death."  There's a line that would come back to haunt them.
  • "I chose you for this special mission because he's already dead. You are unlikely to miss him."  Sad thing is, he still messed it up.
  • "You'd delay an execution to pull the wings off a fly."
  • "What about subsidence owing to a plague of mice?"
  • "Nine out of ten."



  • Part One: The President is shot!
  • Part Two: A train races towards the Doctor!
  • Part Three:  Goth tries to drown the Doctor!  And thus the most infamous cliffhanger in the show's history - or at least the most controversial.
  • Part Four: The Doctor and the Master leave Gallifrey!



An enjoyable "experiment" of a story.  Fun to watch by itself, but it was good to see him get back to "normal" after this.


The concept of the collective stored minds of past Timelords might derive from the Cyclan central intelligence in E.C. Tubb's Dumarest Saga books, but it could easily have other precedents.

I very much prefer Geoffrey Beevers' Master makeup to what Pratt had to wear here.

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