Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / Doctor Who S14 E3 "The Deadly Assassin"

Go To

  • Best Known for the Fanservice: The story is an Out-of-Genre Experience, World Building of Time Lord culture, a Noir Episode, a horrible zombie Master, as much Surreal Horror as the BBC budget could allow, so shockingly violent it nearly got the show canned. It is remembered for all of that, but you'll still be hard-pressed to find a member of the Classic Who Estrogen Brigade that isn't going to mention the fact that Tom Baker spends most of the story wearing a see-through white shirt and there's a bit where he gets wet and strikes a pose.
  • Advertisement:
  • Broken Base: This story has been divisive at times for giving us a good look at Gallifrey and finally stripping the Time Lords of much of their mystery. Instead of an awe-inspiring race of god-like beings, they're a bunch of petty, pompous, hypocritical, lying, self-serving bureaucrats with no idea how most of their fantastic technology works anymore. Robert Holmes felt this was important for the Doctor as a character - seeing his people aren't the utopian authority figures and Defenders of Time he thought they were is what justifies his original decision to run away and his efforts to help people in the first place, as well as the end of their attempts to control his life. Needless to say, this has divided people between those that prefer the earlier mystery to the later revelation.
  • Narm: The Master is depicted as a decaying husk, as he is on his thirteenth and final life. This being the 1970's BBC, that meant that Peter Pratt had to wear a cumbersome rubber mask, which sometimes muffled his lines. During the climatic scene where the Doctor and the Master face off, he utters this jewel:
    ''You can do better than that Doctor! Even in extremis, I WEAH TEH TASH TEHTOGOO!"
  • Advertisement:
  • Values Resonance: The story follows all the major post-Brexit satire tropes: A tired old political establishment that does no good for anyone, and a slick politician whose only intention is personal career advancement handing the capacity to break it to a racist zombie obsessed with returning to a long-gone golden age that exists only in its imagination. The Doctor observes that to follow the Zombie's (The Master) plan would ultimately just destroy him and his world, but he's accused of lying. There's no way this was intentional considering the episode's release in 1976; the actual Who Brexit allegory story (the Monks trilogy) is somewhat less on-the-nose.
  • Vindicated by History: The serial was viewed at the time as a failed experiment at best (the absence of The Watson made the plot much harder to follow than normal, and the execs said it was never to happen again no matter how much Tom Baker insisted that it worked) and tasteless and audience-inappropriate at worst (notoriously attracting so many complaints that the show was Re Tooled into a much less violent, more comedy-based series for most of the rest of his run). Fans nowadays tend to appreciate the attempt at trying something other than Monster of the Week, the more impressionistic and political tone, the especially brutal and exciting action, and in particular the Alternate Character Interpretation that the Doctor gets in the story; due to not having an ally to talk to, he comes off as a brooding, quiet and much more mysterious character with a pinch of Spaghetti Western hero about him, a sharp contrast to his usual funniness and Obfuscating Stupidity. It's not a usual candidate for Baker's best serial (those would be "Genesis of the Daleks", "The Talons of Weng-Chiang", or "City of Death") but is often listed as a standout, must-see episode and a bit of a hipster favourite. Its reputation may go up further now that it's had a Spiritual Successor in the wildly-acclaimed modern-Who episode "Heaven Sent" (no companion aside from a mental construct the Doctor's using as a coping mechanism, extremely dark story involving a deadly adversary in an Eldritch Location, Family-Unfriendly Violence, the Doctor at his broodiest, etc.).


Example of: