I promised that the reviews would be less negative very quickly – and behold I keep my promise! When I finally watched the King’s Demons I was very pleasantly surprised by the story, having read dire warnings against it on fan sites. The story is a semi-historical adventure – the Doctor appears to land in the court of King John – only it turns out that the man presenting himself as the King is not even a man, much less the King! He is in fact Kamelion – a shape shifting robot (hence the name – ingenious eh?)
Of course the problem that everyone highlights with the story is that the plot is incredibly silly. Kamelion’s controller is none other than the Master, who indulges his usual penchant for pointless disguises and names by parading as French nobleman Gilles Estram – rather like vampires, the Master seems incapable of donning an alias that doesn’t reference his own name. His aim is to prevent King John signing the Magna Carta and to return England to the Dark Ages … which even allowing for the dubious historiography, is a plot so lamentably lame that even Davison’s Doctor feels compelled to observe: “a bit meagre by your standards surely?”
Let us lay that to one side however and embrace the positive – I genuinely enjoyed the story. I grant you that Tegan and Turlough scarcely get a look in, but Gerald Flood is excellent as King John – not least for the lute playing scene in episode one. As a historical piece it is on a par with some of the scenes shot for The Day of the Doctor or The Time Warrior – it bears up reasonably well. It is a pity in that regard that the story is so silly – as a four parter with a better disguised Master and a threat of genuine peril, I think The Kings Demons could have been quite entertaining.
At this point you may well be wondering why it is rated so far down my list if I enjoyed it? Aside of the obvious point that enjoyment is relative, and referring to how I have rated the stories, there is one important thing to consider. I enjoyed this story mostly because I did not have high expectations of it – I was able to appreciate it basically by disengaging my brain and accepting it at face value. When calmly considered in the light of the full list of episodes, I had to admit “actually, it’s not that great to be honest!” So while I enjoyed the DVD – and in actual fact will probably rewatch it in the near future inspired by this blog – it only just escapes the bottom ten on my list!