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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Time Travel > British TV > Doctor Who – The King’s Demons (BBC DVD)

Doctor Who – The King’s Demons (BBC DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Episodes: B-



The back story for The King’s Demons, originally scheduled to be the next-to-last episode of Season 20, at times seems as fantastical as the tale itself: the famed 20th season electricians’ strike (which resulted in The King’s Demons being the season finale), the addition of a working robot companion (Kamelion), the untimely death via boating accident of the technician that invented the robot, the postponing of a number of episodes including the projected season ending return of the Daleks episode, and more.


Fortunately, in the end, none of this confusion matters as The King’s Demons turns out to be a fine two part adventure for the 5th Doctor, Peter Davison.  Playing to the strengths of the BBC costume and design department by being set in medieval England, this episode finds the Doctor, Turlough, and Tegan mistakenly arriving in mid-joust during the reign of King John, just prior to the signing of the Magna Carta.  The King appears to recognize them, addressing them as “our demons,” and invites them to court.


A series of strange events leads the Doctor to surmise that all is not as it should be; the King himself may not be who he seems.  In fact, the King turns out to be an android known as Kamelion, a shapeshifting robot under the influence of the Doctor’s old nemesis, the Master, who acquired Kamelion on the Planet Xeriphas, where the Master had been exiled.    The Master is using Kamelion to impersonate the King so he can scuttle the Magna Carta, creating political disarray in the future to come.


The look, tone, and believability of this story are all good, if the Magna Carta bit is something of a stretch.  Tegan and Turlough are in fine form and the Master is his usual Grand Guignol self. For all the limitations of the robot Kamelion, who at episode’s end is taken on as a companion (signaling the coming departure of Tegan), the story plays out fine as the Doctor once again foils the nefarious Master at his own game.   All-in-all, a bit of a light weight two-parter, but satisfactory in and of itself for all that.


The extras, including “Kamelion – Metal Man” and “Magna Carta” fill in the details, particularly of the difficulty encountered in trying to get the robot to work, after the untimely death of his co-creator, Mike Power.  Otherwise, the pickins are slim, as perhaps might be expected with a brief two-part adventure.



-  Don Wentworth


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