Doctor Who: Daemons, The
The Doctor and Jo travel to Devil's End village to probe the centuries-old secret of the Devil's Hump, a mysterious burial mound.
Only the Doctor can get away with dismissing magic while rattling off ridiculous sci-fi technobabble. When a quiet English village seems to be visited by the Devil himself, the time-traveling alien known as the Doctor (in the form of Jon Pertwee, the third Doctor of the series) steps in to save the world. Along the way, he's attacked by a helicopter, a stone gargoyle come to life, his great nemesis the Master (Roger Delgado), and a crew of mummers and morris dancers. This five-episode story chugs along with vigor, packed with action and more than a few chills, though it's not particularly concerned with wrapping up the details (it's never explained why someone died of fright in the very beginning, among other loose threads). Pertwee's version of the Doctor is high-handed and imperious, but he lacks the manic unpredictability that's made so many other versions charming--Pertwee just comes across a bit stuck-up. Still, he rattles off "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow!" with aplomb while Delgado chews scenery with megalomaniacal relish. The special effects are classically rubbish and the supporting cast is staunch, if a bit bland, including Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), who's there to demonstrate the futility of brute force. The Daemons
may have been an influence on the movie The Wicker Man
, which has some striking similarities--primarily the atmosphere of evil lurking under the ordinary surfaces of life. The DVD extras include two extensive and engaging featurettes, one about the making of The Daemons
and one about writer-producer Barry Letts, along with an eerie silent film of location footage. All in all, an enjoyable contribution to the long-running series. --Bret Fetzer