The Masters of Luxor

Posted in Audio by - July 26, 2017
The Masters of Luxor

Released August 2012

The Lost Stories turns back the clock once more to the First Doctor era, a time when the rules and conventions of Doctor Who were anything but set. Originally set to be the second serial in place of ‘The Daleks’ which rocketed Doctor Who to its status as a cultural phenomenon and thus becoming the holy grail of lost stories, Anthony Coburn’s ‘The Masters of Luxor’ offers a far more cerebral and contemplative tale than its replacement and features surprisingly religious undertones, hinting at a wholly different trajectory the burgeoning adventures of the Doctor may have taken.

Within Doctor Who’s long history, the First Doctor era unquestionably challenged its viewers with resonant moral dilemmas and thoughtful insights the most, and ‘The Masters of Luxor’ seamlessly follows that trend as both the meaning of life and what life entails come to the forefront. Joe Kloska is superb as, among his many roles here, the Perfect One, a machine with dreams of becoming human, and this is perhaps the most thought-provoking and poignantly mature of any storyline the franchise has ever offered. This personal plight is brought to life wonderfully as this machine attempts to find his place in the world and come to terms with the shifting information around him, but it’s hard not to imagine what the original production may have become with the full complement of religious themes present as the creator’s image and intentions clash without the audio adaptation’s alterations to better allow it to fit in with established continuity.

Coming from a time before the characterization of the leads was firmly defined, it’s perhaps unsurprising that there are hints of unfamiliarity in these beloved characters, especially regarding how harshly they react to the Perfect One’s desire to become human. This reaction is understandable to some extent given the action the Perfect One has taken to achieve his ultimate aim, but the intention of achieving the best perceived version of oneself is nonetheless an admirable one that would normally have garnered support from the early trio of TARDIS companions- if not the Doctor- at the very least. Nonetheless, William Russell does magnificent work as both Ian and the Doctor, and Carole Ann Ford complements him perfectly as both Susan and Barbara. Each actor is easily able to distinguish between voices to carry a fairly dialogue-driven tale, and the gusto with which each tackles the emotive narration is impressive and easily links the many scenes as the narrative progresses.

Whether the structure of the intended original or not, the story starts off quite slowly while gradually increasing its pace until the very end. This does give a slight sense of disconnect as the action-oriented final two episodes at times seem like an altogether different story from their more methodical preceding episodes despite the same themes and logical progression of events. Nonetheless, the internal struggle of the Perfect One and the predicaments he creates for both himself and his visitors are more than capable of overcoming a tale that sometimes meanders as it finds its way. Bolstered by strong production, sound design, and atmosphere, ‘The Masters of Luxor’ is a strong and thoughtful piece of drama in its own right that is overshadowed only by what may have been had it been produced as originally written and intended with its religious themes fully present.

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