Doctor Who: The King’s Demons

Directors - Tony Virgo

Cast - Peter Davison, Anthony Ainley, Mark Strickson

Country of Origin - U.K.

Discs -1

MSRP - $14.98

Distributor - BBC Home Video

Reviewer - Scott MacDonald

The Serial (4/5)

     Doctor Who has long been a favorite show of mine. I started watching  it as a young teenager on PBS, but could never keep up with it at the  time, since it was played at all different time slots. When the DVD's  began to be release, I started ravenously collecting them. The only  Doctor Who I was able to see on TV at that point in time was the new  Doctor Who episodes featuring the Ninth (Christopher Eccleston) and  tenth (David Tennant) Doctor.

     A few years ago I moved to Seattle, WA.  from Tampa, FL., a week or so after I move here I am channel surfing  when I see a familiar logo on my screen. It was classic Doctor Who, on  the Tacoma based PBS station, and the serial they were showing was the  King's Demons, so I feel a certain connection to this episode.

     The King Demon's is one of three 2 part serials from the Peter  Davision (Fifth Doctor) era of the show. Like most Doctor Who 2 parters  this one is a pretty light fun story, without much substance. It's  primary purpose is to introduce the Doctor’s new potential robot  companion Kamelion. Kamelion was meant to take over the void left by  K-9, who was removed from the show during the Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor)  era. The problem with Kamelion is that he was only able to be properly  controlled by one invididual, who sadly died before the production of  this episode, leaving Kamelion to only appear in one other serial  (Planet of Fire), before being removed from the Doctor Who Universe.

     Doctor Who started out as an educational program with the time and  space travel premise meant to help with teaching children history, and  science. This concept was pretty much thrown out the window after the  third Doctor Who serial entitled the Daleks, got rave ratings with a  science fiction style monster story. Thus, not many historical episodes  were produced after the first Doctor's era. During the Peter Davision  era more historicals were made then any other era since the First Doctor (William Hartnell). Coincidentally, all three 2 part serials from the  Davison era were historical, these included Black Orchid which took  place in 1920's England, and The Awakening which took place in the 1643  during the English Civil War.

     The King's Demons takes place in Medieval England in the year 1215.  In this serial the TARDIS materializes at the castle of Sir Ranulf  Fitzwilliam, during a visit by King John (Gerald Flood). King John has  come to this castle in order to receive another tax payment from  Fitzwilliam, but having no money left refuses to pay. The King, of  course, takes this as a personal insult and organizes a joust to defend  his honor. The joust is between the King's champion, and Hugh, the son  of Fitzwilliam. The King's representative wins, which is where the story is when the Doctor arrives on the scene.

     The Doctor is convinced by his knowledge of history, that the King  seen here is an imposter, as the real King John would be in London at  the moment. This is confirmed by a member of Fitzwilliam's family who  just left the King's side in London a few hours before. This accusation  forces the King's Champion to reveal his true identity, as the Master  (Anthony Ainley). Who then flees to the Dungeon, and escapes in his  TARDIS (with working Chamelion Circuit) which appears as an iron maiden. This event brings the Doctor in the King's good graces (until that  point the King referred to the Doctor and TARDIS crew as Demons), and he is bestowed the title of King's Champion. Unfortunately , this King is  not the true King but Kamelion a shape shifting robot under the control  of the master, who is trying to create a rebellion to take down King  John before he can sign the Magna Carta, and create what would become  known as democracy. ]


Audio/Video (4/5)

     The Doctor Who restoration team have done another wondeful A/V job  with the King's Demons which is presented here in it's original 1:33:1  exhibition ratio. The image is sharp and clear, very few instances of  print damage are apparent in the transfer, and the colors pop. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Mono, while not overly special gets the  job done. The dialogue is loud and clear, and the music and special  effects are blended well into the mix. Optional English subtitles are  also included which are fairly accurate, and easy to read.


Extras (4/5)

    The extras kick off with an interesting commentary on the first  episode by Fifth Doctor Peter Davision, Eric Saward, and Isla Blair.  Like all Davision commentary tracks this one is a good mix of  entertaining and informative as he is not afraid to poke fun at his own  episodes. It is definitely worth a listen if you're a fan, and have the  time. This is followed by a commentary by King's Demons director Tony  Virgo, where he discusses the serials production. It is interesting, but if you only have time to listen to one commentary, make it the Davison.

    This is followed by 2 featurettes one a historical documentary on the Magna Carta, this short piece will be of interest to anyone with an  interest in the history of democracy. It also helps to give this  historial 2 parter a little more depth if you weren't previously aware  of the era in which it was set. We then have a documentary called  Kamelion - Metal Man, a short piece on the history of Kamelion, who the  character was designed, and developed. The problems that the production  team encountered trying to bring Kamelion to life, etc. The disc is  rounded off with an isolated music score, still/promo gallery, and info  text track that plays like a subtitle track, only with information  regarding the production.

     It also features a trailer Doctor Who Series 5 featuring Matt Smith  is set to appear on DVD/BD next month (November 2010). The opening of  every Doctor Who DVD for some time has featured the trailer for Series  4, which has been on DVD for some time, and has been separated from this release by an entire season, and a series of 4 specials that concluded  the Tennant era. It's a minor complaint, but I would really like to see a Series 5 or at least a trailer for the final David Tennant specials.


    A really fun and entertaining 2 part serial from the Peter Davision  era. If you're a fan of Doctor Who, and the Fifth Doctor this is well worth picking up. The Audio/Video work courtesy of the Doctor Who  Restoration Team is excellent, and the extras are a good mix of  entertaining and informative, with some extras dealing with the  production, and even one that deals with the historical backdrop of the  episode. This Doctor Who release is highly recommended.