The Masque of Mandragora

The Masque of Mandragora
The Masque of Mandragora.jpg
Season: 14
Episode: 1
Vital statistics
Air date 4 September - 25 September 1976
Written by Louis Marks
Directed by Rodney Bennett
Episode guide
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The Seeds of Doom The Hand of Fear
Bakers gonna bake.
A younger Tywin Lannister (left) and Davos Seaworth (right) plot to seize the Iron Throne.

The Muck of Mandragon is the pretty fucking solid first story of Season 14 of the programme Doctor Disco Who, first broadcast when Mars came into conjunction with Saturn in the seventh lair in the House Of The Ram, and the moon was full grown in September 1976.  

Christ that's some old shit, huh? I wonder if you realize how fucking long ago 1976 was. Star Wars was a year away, computers were still the size of your bathroom and like only 3% of those who saw this original broadcast are even alive today, much less capable of getting erections anymore.  


Like the best Classic Who, this fucker makes good use of it’s one-pound-five-pence effects budget, simple stagecraft, Tom Baker's staggering amounts of charisma and the BBC's deep wardrobe department.


The Fourth Doctor and Sirhan-Sirhan Smith are exploring the TARDIS and end up dusting the nice new "old wooden console" set with the SPLINK Doctor’s shirt while she blows The Second Doctor’s flute. The show begins to circle the drain as they get sucked in the “Mandragora Helix”, then accidentally take part of it - a little sparkly ball of finely-crafted BBC special effects - to Renaissance Italy, where some bad guys burn some straw. I bet you can’t spell “Renaissance” without spell-check, can you? Pleb. The Helix Energy kills people there by turning them into blue cheese and then possesses the evil court astrologer to bring about the destruction of Earth, while the naive son of some dead duke (poisoned by his brother who's after the throne), is also threatened by his treasonous uncle. By the end of the first episode, The Doctor ends up just like actor Sean Beans in Game of Thrones.

The treasonous Duke's brother calls his captain of the guard a dung-head and says the astrologer can “no more tell the stars than my chamber pot,” which is all funny shit. The Doctor disguises himself as a lion, kicks a knife out of someone’s hand, Venusian-Judo-chops a cultist, steals two horses, swords fights and makes three daring escapes while Sarah gets roofied twice and hypnotized once to kill the Doctor, so it all feels like a Third Doctor script. There’s an unintentional “sad trombone” wah-waaah during the first sacrifice scene too. The Doctor solves it all with some wire and gets a salami in the end.


It gets fucking tiring to keep reading that “just about any 70's Who is goddamn comfy” right? but this story is no exception to that rule.

They say there are places where the bat dropping are twice the height of a man,” but “it is not nonsense!” If you like Game of Thrones, Shakespeare's Hamlet (or his more popular Gay Boys In Bondage) but with fewer tits (and dwarves, dragons and poetry) then this bastard is the story for you!

It’s also pro-science, which is likely to annoy many Americlap viewers and most of NuWho’s writers.


Some outdoor scenes were shot at Portmeirion, Wales and if that means nothing to you, you are hereby commanded to surrender your Anglophile membership card and shall only be allowed to post in the /Transformers General/ threads on 4chan.