Saturday, 3 September 2016

Doctor Who: The Masters of Luxor Review

Released in 2012, The Masters of Luxor is
 another audio adventure from Big Finish's
third series of The Lost Stories
This legendary script was penned by 
Anthony Coburn in 1963 (adapted here 
by Nigel Robinson) and features the vocal
 talents of contemporary TV companions,
William Russell and Carole Ann Ford.
The full, and unedited scripts were first 
presented in 1992, by John McElroy, the 
editor of Doctor Who: The Scripts. Coburn's original documents were only uncovered
when the publishers, Titan Books, were researching his only televised serial, The 
Tribe of Gum (published in 1988).

"THE WAIT IS OVER... A dark and silent
planet. A magnificent crystal edifice,
perched on a mountainside. A legion of
dormant robots, waiting for the signal to
bring them back to life. The Doctor and his granddaughter Susan, and their reluctant companions, Ian and Barbara, are about
to unleash forces which will threaten their very survival. Read for the first time
the complete script of this magnificent, but regrettably never produced Doctor 
Who story."

The back-cover blurb of this paperback script book previews one of the earliest "lost" Doctor Who stories, and like the majority of the William Hartnell episodes, each installment had an individual title, namely: The Cannibal FlowerThe Mockery of a ManA Light on the Dead PlanetTabon of LuxorAn Infinity of Surprises, and
The Flower Blooms

The embryonic series was to open with The Giants (latterly Planet of Giants, 1964) by C E Webber, followed by the six-part The Masters of Luxor (initially titled The Robots), but ultimately both of these scripts were abandoned in favour of 100,000 BC (aka The Tribe of Gum, then An Unearthly Child) and Terry Nation's The Daleks (aka The Mutants) respectively. The rest, they say, is history.


SYNOPSIS

The crystal-city in which the TARDIS crew become trapped is in fact an automated prison on one of Luxor's 700 satelites, in the Primiddion galaxy.
The decadent Luxorite society was strictly ordered (effectively enslaved by their 
own robots), and anyone who revolted against the titular Masters was exiled to 
the prison-moon. The Masters deemed the women of Luxor to be inferior, and 
any "imperfect" female children were killed.
The rebels were then subjected to experimentation from Lord Tabon, one of the Scientific Masters, in his quest to create the 'Perfect One' in man's image (shades of Frankenstein). So both Tabon and his creation seem to have developed a God-complex, and this religious issue is touched upon in the scripts.
The Perfect One now seeks to drain the "flesh and blood" life-force from the time-travellers too, particularly the elusive "women". This idea is further explored in 
The Savages (1966).
Tabon's One has a liquid-metal cerebrum. When this Azzintium cortex is solidified 
by making One immobile, an atomic device linked to it's brain explodes and 
destroys the moon.

NOTES
  • This story immediately follows events in The Tribe of Gum (Coal Hill Comprehensive, Kal and Za are all mentioned here)
  • The TARDIS can "free float" (ie. be manoeuvred "like a helicopter"); possesses a kind of intuitive power; has a Fault Locator (also seen in The Daleks, The Edge of Destruction and Planet of Giants); holds an "emergency" energy supply; is continually referred to as "she"; and is actually solar-powered
  • The moon is described as a "dead planet" (but this one is not radioactive like Skaro), and the prison is a very similar setting to the Dalek city, with it's surveillance cameras and mountain-side "back-door"
  • Barbara compares the city to the carnivorous cannibal flower, sucking the TARDIS' power away
  • The Doctor has a photographic memory, quotes Karl Marx, and embraces Tabon's religion
  • Susan is called Sue or Suzanne throughout the original scripts
  • The Doctor and Susan are not human (Ian and Barbara are "you Earth people") which ties in more with the pilot epiosde
  • Cliffhanger recaps are absent from the scripts, and part six would have led directly into The Edge of Destruction
  • Coburn's scripts feature a hierarchy of robots: the "primitive" Mark One machines (which bow at commands, and seem incapable of speech); the more humanoid Mark Two's; the more advanced Derivitrons (one is even named, Proto); and their overall master, the human-like 'Perfect One' (programmed by Tabon)
  • These automata have a remarkable parallel to those central to the future story The Robots of Death (1977) - here, the black 'Dums' servants are the lowest ranked robots in their caste-system (they cannot speak), the green 'Vocs' are superior to the Dums, whilst the silver 'Super Vocs' control all other robots - the roboticist Dask (unmasked as Taren Capel, who was raised by robots and hates mankind) has reprogrammed all of the Sandminer's automata to obey his will

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