Having entered the Matrix to try and track the Master, the Doctor tries to deny its reality but eventually decides to take on the Master’s plans within the reality of the Matrix.
All sorts of weird things happen in the somewhat hallucinatory Matrix – evil traindrivers, masked hunters – and a biplane chase that takes its cues from ‘North by Northwest’ (or, perhaps, its earlier incarnation, ‘The 39 Steps’).
This epsiode has one of the most complained about cliff-hangers ever. Often praised, it was also heavily criticised, and Mary Whitehouse (a self-styled moral crusader) thought it one of the most frightening scenes in Doctor Who because children would have to wait a week to find out what would happen next. In response it was actually cut from the master tape, but has subsequently been restored.
This episode lets this story down. It screams “low budget” to me. The use of Hollywood tropes for me at least is too earth. I know the master has spent a lot of time in Earth but if the Matrix was generated by Goth the very earth like nature of the images contained within the Matrix make little sense unless Gallifrey has a Hollywood too. I don’t think too much thought had gone into giving Gallifreyan exteriors a unique look at this stage, something that was admittedly far harder to achieve without CGI I always felt that too little thought went into the concept of Gallifrey as a world in BG Who. There was even a marked lack of character consistency between Gallifrey based stories.
I was amused by how casually Borusa shoots the guard at the end. Justice appears to be of little concern where the lessor orders are involved.
The ending is certainly disturbing but then, most episodes endings were, despite being comfortably assured that all will be well within two minutes of the next episode. The question is always, “how will he survive this time?”
Only just now getting around to watching this (I know – slack!).
I kinda agree with Janette – its amazing how many of the menaces in this Matrix are based around WW1 or Boer War(?) imagery (gas-masked horses, biplanes, rifles etc).
But I guess its a change from an episode running up and down corridors (running around a quarry is harsher on the knees and hands though).
I probably watched this episode at the time and – as Mary Whitehouse so accurately predicted – I was traumatised.
Luckily I must have taken the Doctor’s advice, said “I deny this reality!” and then played with some Lego.
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