Monday, 2 May 2011

Voodoo Child?

I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be wicked, tenfold more wicked, sold a slave to original evil - The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

I joined Doctor Who quite late in its timeline: 1982 to be exact. It was a year after Botham's Ashes that I discovered a time traveller who dressed as an Edwardian cricketer and travelled in a blue Police Box.

But from the start, I was different from the other children I went to school with. While some wanted to be Daleks and others either the Doctor or one of his companions, I never did.

In that one aspect I was unique at my school...I always wanted to be The Master!

The Master was an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum. Always revealing a little about himself "spoilers" (as River Song would put it), but never giving you the whole picture.

The Third Doctor said they were "at school together" and the Tenth Doctor dismisses the notion that they were "brothers", but it was clear from the outset that they were very much Brothers In Arms.

Whichever one of them did the other always seemed to anticipate the others actions. From the Master's first attempt on the Third Doctor's life in Terror of the Autons, up to the Tenth Doctor's explanation to Rassilon of the Master's plan to change all the Time Lords, they always seem to know what the other is thinking.

But why would someone like the Master and how has the character managed to survive for forty years?

The answer is simple...what's not to like?

From King John's champion in The King's Demons to smartly dressed Prime Minister in The Sound of Drums, the Master "always dresses for the occasion" as he informs the Eighth Doctor, and like all the great villains, he always gets the best lines.

The Master also gets the best weapons. From his Tissue Compression Eliminator to his Laser Screwdriver, the Master has always been familiar with the tools of his trade and how to best use them.

Once his character had been established in the early 1970's, the Master was used less frequently, and though may seem strange to say, Roger Delgado's untimely death was probably the making of the Master's legacy.

The Master wasn't to return to the series until The Deadly Assassin as a deformed, revenge driven being on his last regeneration, whose soul purpose was survival.

His next appearance in The Keeper of Traken gave him a new body of sorts when he used The Source to take over Tremas' body. And once established in his new self, his soul aims were universal domination and the death of the Doctor (Logopolis/Castrovalva).

The Master then returned in Time-Flight and Planet of Fire, on both occasions trying to extend his own borrowed life. And that was where he seemed destined to be, forever seeking an extension on his life and trying to kill the Doctor.

Then came The Trial of a Time Lord. From this point on the Master seems to crave revenge as if it's the Doctor's fault he is what he is, and survival is now a secondary consideration. Indeed, in Survival he blames the Doctor for becoming part of the Cheetah Planet and in the Eighth Doctor adventure actually admits, "I wasted all my lives!"

And so to the new series. When Sir Derek Jacobi declared, "I am the Master", I am not ashamed to admit I punched the air and yelled "Yes!" The apple offered by Eve to Adam was their and with John Simm taking over the role, the Doctor Who universe collectively took a bite of this insane apple!

The Master had always been charismatic, but in Harold Saxon form we now had a psychotic charisma. "Liked" by McFly and Anne Widdicombe, this was a Master we were both repulsed and fascinated by.

With the drumbeat in his head, this was a Master driven to madness, and this madness was also to be his weakness and his downfall.

And so he "died!" Shot by his faithful companion...Lucy. And indeed, Lucy was to be the cause of the Master being as he is now in The End of Time.

The End of Time sees the Master perhaps for the first time ever, awakening from his petty vengeance and starting to grasp the big picture. His realisation that his never-ending drumbeat is part of the Time Lords survival plan and his manipulation by them, not only shatters his ego but forces him to join the Doctor's side.

The Master's most recent act was to drive the Time Lords back into the hell that was the Time War.

Is this The Master's salvation? Is he now trapped on Gallifrey during the Time War? Or did he somehow escape just as the Time Lords were banished back to their own horrors?

Only one thing is certain when it comes to the Master, and perhaps that's the reason I am a fan of his..., nothing can ever be taken for granted.

Article by @BIGGLES27

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