As much as it’s held up as a classic, the structure of this is all over the place. Up until the last few minutes, most of this middle episode is exposition, putting some pseudo-scientific Von Danikenesque explanations around all of the weirdness that has been going on so far.
This is most obvious when the Doctor actually puts on a slide show to explain the history of horned creatures, from Ancient Egypt to the present, passing off the occult rituals and apparent magic as remnants of the Dæmons’ advanced technology. This just about works, although the leap of logic required for the Doctor to declare Earth as a failed and doomed experiment is a bit harder to swallow. Interestingly, as the Doctor holds his lecture at the pub, the Master is running his own at the squire’s house, promising strength and power to all who obey him and when that doesn’t meet with unqualified support, summoning Bok to zap the dissenters. It’s a nice scene that implies a lot of dirty secrets about the villagers (what did Mr Grenville do to his wife?), and the script has a light, witty touch to it that almost makes up for the slightly messy structure.
The last few minutes up the action, with another impressive sequence (Yates on a motorbike, the Doctor and Jo in Bessie, all being menaced by a stolen helicopter) that counterbalances the earlier parts of the episode that have largely featured people sitting or standing around. It’s undeniably fun, but when the cliffhanger is the Master in danger you have to wonder what on earth is going on.
Next episode: The Dæmons – Episode Four