Saturday, April 15, 2023

#AtoZChallenge2023: Doctor Who The Master

#AtoZChallenge2023: Doctor Who The Master
Chantho : Chan-Professor, please!
The Professor : THAT IS NOT MY NAME! "The Professor" was an invention. So perfect a disguise that I forgot who I am.
Chantho : Chan-Then who are you-tho?
The Master : I am... the Master.

- Professor Yana/The Master, Utopia 

The Master. Moriarty to the Doctor's Holmes. Lex Luthor to the Doctor's Superman. He is possibly the deadliest enemy the Doctor has ever known, next to the Daleks, and they began as friends.  Not just friends but old, good friends.

Like the Doctor, the Master is a Time Lord. Like the Doctor he is a renegade. We know from various sources they were both good friends and were shown the Untempered Schism together. The Doctor ran, the Master went mad. They went to the academy together, along with another brilliant Time Lord, The Rani

Also, like the Doctor, the Master has been played by many actors.  The role was originated by Roger Delgado in the Pertwee (3rd Doctor) years and was introduced in the serial "Seeds of Death" which also gave us Jo Grant. At first they Doctor and the Master knew each other but did not act like they had a history.   Delgado died in car crash a few years later and it was one of the reasons Jon Pertwee left the show, they two were very good friends. Next we had a couple of actors play a "decayed" version of the Master, having gone through all of his regenerations and was now in regeneration crisis.

The Master

We next see him at the end of the Tom Baker (4th Doctor) years. He steals the body of a Trakenite named Tremas (more on that) and is played with over-the-top gusto by Anothny Ainely. Now a LOT of people didn't like Ainely's portrayal of the Master compared to the more suave and sophisticated evil of Delgado. And I waiver back and forth a lot myself. 

We last see the Master in the old series in the serial "Survival" with the Seventh Doctor and Ace. Though we know he escapes that doomed world. 

Ace : Last time I saw you, you were half cat.
The Master : A man's allowed to experiment.

- The Power of the Doctor (2022)

He is the major antagonist of the US Fox/BBC-produced Doctor Who movie with Paul McGann as the Doctor. Here is played with gleeful scenery chewing by Eric Roberts as only Eric Roberts can. Making this the only time a Time Lord was played by an American actor. Eric Roberts real-life wife Eliza (who should be familiar to anyone that frequents this site) appears as his wife in this movie as well. In this the remains of the Master find a way to possess poor paramedic Bruce (Roberts) and use him as he did Tremas.  He is seemingly destroyed here as well...but I am sure you know what is next.

Just like "Bad Wolf" was an Easter Egg for the first season of the new Doctor Who, and "Torchwood" was for the second season, "Mister Saxon" was for the third season. We heard a lot about Mr. Saxon, but the payoff was not until the end.

The 10th Doctor, Martha and Jack Harkness end up at the very end of the Universe, 100 trillion years in the future. The stars have all burned out and the last of the humans are living on a dark planet ("Malcassairo") with hopes of finding the last surviving home for humanity, Utopia. Hoping to get them all there is Professor Yana, a strange and sort of bumbling scientist (of the type the British do so well) played by Derek Jacobi (THE Derek Jacobi).  Yet not all as it appears. The Professor carries a watch, like what the Doctor had used when he was disguised as a human for a while. Opening the watch (a Chameleon Arch) returns his memories and Yana is revealed to be the newest incarnation of the Master. Sadly we only get a few moments of Jacobi playing the Master before he is killed and then he surprisingly regenerates! To the new Master played by John Simms. Who, if anything, is more akin to the Joker than Lex Luthor. 

We learn that Mister Saxon is really the Master in the form of John Simms who came back to Earth in the Doctor's stolen TARDIS six months prior.  John Simms gives us some of the best performances as the Master up to that point. Yes, even better than Delgado and Jacobi. We learn a lot more history about the Master here from the 10th Doctor.  The Master is killed, again, and this time to spite the Doctor he refuses to regenerate. Of course, he has a backup plan.

We next see the Master when Rassilon (from the Five Doctors) comes out of Death/Retirement to win the Time War (more on that) tries to pull Gallifrey out of the War and into orbit near Earth. The Master sacrifices himself to save the Doctor and Earth (crazy right?).

No Master at all for the 11th Doctor. But when we get the 12th Doctor a new character keeps poping up in his wake, someone called "Missy" and refers to the 12th Doctor as her "boyfriend."

Missy is played by the absolutely delightful Michelle Gomez.

"Please try to keep up. Short for Mistress. Well, I couldn't very well keep calling myself the Master, now could I?"

- Missy/The Master, Death in Heaven

Missy seemed more like she was trying to impress the Doctor rather than defeat him. Indeed it seemed like maybe the old friendship they had would rekindle and Missy could be something new.  That is until she ran into the John Simms (now with a goatee) version of herself. The old master re-corrupts the new Master/Missy, but they still ended up killing each other.

The Master

Finally, we have the most recent Master during the time of the 13th Doctor, played again with over-the-top glees by Sacha Dhawan.  This Master is back to being evil. Very, very evil. This Master seemingly dies in the same episode that he, once again, kills the Doctor. 

Honestly, I could go on and on here about the Master, they are just as colorful and interesting as the Doctor.  A couple of things though. While both the Doctor and the Master have hypnotic and psionic powers, the Master's seems to be much greater. The Delgado Master would routinely hypnotize people and the Simms Master even took the power to take over the Earth using a series of interlinked satellites. 

Another thing about the Master is his seeming compulsion to use anagrams or alternates of his own name. The Delgado Master was often known as Mr. Masters or Magister. Even Tremas of Traken (who the Master could have been grooming to be his new body) is an anagram of Master. Speaking of anagrams, "Mister Saxon" is an anagram of "Master no. six" to indicate John Simms as the sixth person to play the Master at that time. Even Professor Yana came as a warning from the Face of Boe to the Doctor of "You Are Not Alone." 

Will we see a new Master now after the Doctor has regenerated? Oh yes, just like the Daleks and the Cybermen the Master keeps coming back for more.

A to Z of Doctor Who

All images are used with permission from the BBC and are copyrighted 2023 by the BBC.


PT Dilloway said...

Every classic hero needs a classic villain.

Dick McGee said...

I couldn't hate Sacha Dhawan more if he came over and kicked my dog. Worst interpretation of the Master in the history of the show bar none. Really ruined 13's run for me even with his relatively brief appearance in the role.

John Holton said...

I didn't see Roger Delgado as The Master until I had gotten used to Ainley as him, and I thought they were both good. Delgado looked and sounded more sinister, but it would figure that The Master's personality would change after the regeneration. Just my 0.02 cents...

TWW said...

my fave is missy.

Happy halfway point day.