Reviewed By: Timelord63
Review Date: 10/14/12 11:36 pm
3 out of 4 found this review helpful.
The Masters of Luxor is something of a gem, a story that would have fitted in so well into that first season but couldn't easily co-exist with The Daleks because they seem linked to the same initial ideas. Although both feel like different stories in their own rights and often go in different directions, they nevertheless appear to tick a lot of the same basic plot ideas.
As with The Daleks, Masters Of Luxor starts off with one of those classic unfolding mysteries where the TARDIS crew slowly explore and make sense of their deserted surroundings alongside us for the first episode or so, and through all of that - and indeed, the rest of the story - there's a solid logical chain of cause and effect to the way the plot develops.
Unlike many reviews elsewhere, I loved the initial cliffhanger and the build up to it. It's a great culmination of the growing suspicion and danger and the lack of alternative courses of action other than to indulge in what their unknown hosts expect of them, plus it's also nicely reversed later on in the story. Equally impressive was the episode 4 cliffhanger, which I'd swear I was watching via a camera pan from Ian's panicked gaze, up to a close-up of the liquid hitting the danger mark...
This is an all-round superb production that, thanks to the brilliant direction, acting, music and smart adaptation, I could believe I've just watched this on the telly :) I've read the script book years ago but this clicked for me in a way the script alone didn't. It's a treat to hear the original TARDIS travellers again, expecially when they have such superb stories as this and Farewell, Great Macedon, and it was so lovely to hear Carole Ann Ford and William Russell perfectly bring this to life together alongside a great third supporting voice from Joe Kloska.
I'm split on the idea of moving this to later in the season, but on balance I think it was probably better to do what BF have done rather than to try and shoehorn this back into the story slot that it originally lost (and which narratively it can't really fit into alongside The Daleks). I much prefer the idea of the Lost Stories being extra adventures that can comfortably fit around the TV stories rather than alternate 'what-ifs?', even if it requires bending the original script slightly to accomplish that.
It really is intriguing that there are so many stand-out parallels to The Daleks running the whole way through this. Maybe in the same way that the miniscules plots eventually became Planet of Giants after several writer's attempts at the same broad idea, perhaps this is another writer's take on the desired first sci-fi story that became The Daleks. Certainly there's enough that's different and it doesn't feel at all like a copy or rewrite, but it's fair to say that some sections of The Daleks are like an alternative take of notable plot strands from Luxor, a similar basic idea taken to new places by a different writer. I'd guess there's no paperwork or evidence to confirm either way as I suspect it'd have long since been discussed if so, but it's an interesting point to speculate on.
If it was down to an either/ or situation, I think I can guess why they chose The Daleks. There are a few things here that don't quite fit into the direction the show chose, most notably some religious overtones. The extras on the disc explain these have been toned down, and I have to admit I found the similar moments at the very start of Farewell, Great Macedon jarred more than anything in Luxor did, although there are still one or two. There's also talk of accepting death from Susan and Barbara that feels odd from those characters as we know them, and perhaps a slightly more ambitious scope than the Lime Grove studio could have easily managed with large sets often required in the same episode. And perhaps most crucially, the Daleks are a slightly more exciting idea than here - the Perfect One himself is a great character, but his Mark 1s and Derivatrons are ultimately simple robots, whereas the Daleks offer something more appealing and menacing than that.
Ultimately, it's a very strong 9/10 from me - I think it's maybe slightly stretched to six parts and perhaps would have made a perfect five parter (although I'm not suggesting BF should have done this, I'm glad it rightfully stays at six eps as it was scripted! :). But then it also strikes me that when you look at how in Luxor it takes a simple few short scenes for the Doctor, Ian and Tabon to return to the city via underground caves, that's remarkably streamlined compared to the two episode equivalent trek at the end of The Daleks.
As a side note, I've the exact same feeling towards it's replacement tale - a minor criticism that it's maybe slightly too long towards the end of the story, but otherwise a strong 9/10.