Doctor Who – The Master Returns (Part Two)

Previously we looked at the first incarnation of The Master, Doctor Who’s arch-nemesis, and this week we continue the analysis of this deadly foe.

TheDeadlyAssassin“You craven-hearted, spineless poltroon!”

How do you replace a wildly popular character when the actor that portrayed him no longer lives? Well, if you’re the writers of Doctor Who, a program that isn’t a stranger to cast changes, you simply recast the part. Such was the solution when then-script editor Robert Holmes and producer Phillip Hinchcliffe brought the Master back in the 1976 story, “The Deadly Assassin.” Instead of the handsome and suave psychopath that we grew to love during the Jon Pertwe era, the Master is now a decaying husk of a man, having ran through his allotted number of regenerations, and consumed with the need for a new body. With the loss of charm comes a distinct coldness and calculated hatred of the Doctor.

Set on the planet Gallifrey, “The Deadly Assassin” is known for its many firsts: the first visit to the Doctor’s home planet, the first solo Doctor adventure, the first mention of the number of regenerations a Time Lord can have. And it was the first time that the Master appeared on TV screens since 1973’s “Frontier In Space,” being played by Peter Pratt. Attempting to tap into the energy from the Eye of Harmony, a move that would’ve spelled the end of Gallifrey, the Master is thwarted by the Doctor. Although he is seemingly killed, the Master escapes in his TARDIS, surely to encounter the Doctor again.

Traken MasterIt was almost five years later when the Doctor and Master were to cross timelines again, this time in the story, “The Keeper of Traken.” Set on the planet Traken, the Master, this time played by Geoffrey Beevers, is still in search of a new lease on life. Attempting to tap into the bioelectronic Source that keeps the Union of Traken a place of, as the Doctor says, “people being terribly nice to each other.” Again the Master is thwarted by the Doctor but manages to trap Tremas, a Trakenite scientist to gain “a new body, at last.” And it wouldn’t be long before we saw the Master again.


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