Hello and welcome to In Too Deep Into Doctor Who, where I over-analyse a certain section of my favourite TV show.

Well considering that last year I took an in-depth look at the Doctors, it’s only fair that I take an in-depth look at his arch nemesis. Now I’ll only be sticking to the TV versions, and some won’t be in depth as the others. But without further ado, here are my ranking at the Masters who have graced our screens.

Note for this list I’ll be referring to the Masters seen in the eighties and nineties: The first, played by Geoffrey Beevers, as seen in The Keeper of Traken, who took the body of Tremas to become; the second, played by Anthony Ainley, who spent most of the run messing with the fifth to seventh doctors; and the third, Eric Roberts, who played the Master in the TV movie.

The Character

Geoffrey Beevers: There’s not a lot to be said about this Master, since it’s a re-tread of the same character seen in The Deadly Assassin. However, thanks to the make-up being sub-par, and the character not being as interesting, there’s not a lot to be said about him. Once again he’s trying to survive, so it’s just a retread of what we saw earlier. 5/10.

Anthony Ainley: Hoo boy, talk about camp. Anthony Ainley really did relish the role, chewing the scenery whenever he could. He tended to be the most over-the-top version of the Master, prone to made laughing and even madder schemes. He probably couldn’t walk in a straight line without getting dizzy. Sure he’s a bit mad, but that’s the point of the character. A far departure from the original character, he’s still a lot of fun to watch. Sure his schemes make no sense, but would you expect otherwise. 7/10.

Eric Roberts: Hoo boy, is Eric Roberts a bit miscast. He’s an interesting kettle of fish to say the least. The first thing we see this Master do after possessing a man is killing that man’s wife, showing his brutality. Unlike the hammy Ainley, this one is a lot more quiet and poised. In many ways he plays off well when it comes to the more energetic and child-like Doctor. He’s quite a dignified figure… who is also prone to going a bit mad. Still, when it comes to Masters, Eric Roberts just doesn’t quite cut it. He’s good, but I wouldn’t say he’s fantastic. 7/10.

The Costume

Geoffrey Beevers: Same as what I said before, but works less due to the make-up not being as excellent. Thus the distinction between the black coat and the charcoal skin is not as blurred as before. 5/10.

Anthony Ainley: A slightly more regal version of Delgado’s costume, it’s perhaps a bit too subtle for a character such as this. I don’t know, it needed a little bit… more. I don’t know what it is, but the costume and the character don’t quite sit right. For someone this big, they needed a little bit extra to help pull it off. Whereas on the other hand… 6/10

Eric Roberts: While this Master wears a lot of clothes, it’s his ceremonial robes that really stand out. And really, it’s what should have been given to Ainley’s character. Switch their costumes round, and it would fit better. This Master is subtle, so he’d need the regal costume. Ainley’s Master is a bit over-the-top, so he would do well decked out in the Time Lord costume (even if it was a bit impractical). 6/10

The Introduction

Geoffrey Beevers: While the twist that the Master is back again, it’s lessened by the fact that it’s the same twist from before. And, sadly, he’s just not as effective this time round. Still, it’s a pretty neat introduction, so we can’t complain that much, can we? 5/10.

Anthony Ainley: While technically he first appears in The Keeper of Traken, I’m counting Logopolis as his first appearance. In which he kills the Fourth Doctor after the two teamed up. You can’t get much more spectacular than that. He sets himself up well and quickly goes on to prove why he’s going to be a threat in the future. 8/10.

Eric Roberts: Like I said, the first time we see his Master, he kills an innocent for no other reason than because he can. He does a pretty good job at introducing himself as a threat… it’s just a shame that the rest of the story is a bit sub-par. Still, he set himself up as quite a decent threat, even if the script doesn’t agree so. 7/10.

Best Story

(Note I’m putting all the Masters together per decade to judge them as one story, since some Masters only appear briefly).

Honourable Mentions: Geoffrey Beevers has done a lot with the audio dramas (being the only Master left alive), so I recommend go hunting them out. Likewise The TV Movie isn’t too bad or anything, just not a good Master story.

The Five Doctors gets to show the Master at his best, I feel. He gets to outplay the Cybermen, stroll around like he owns the place, and actually get annoyed at the Doctor when the Master is finally in the right. He’s great fun to watch in this anniversary special, taking charge and just having so much fun in the role. It’s where he really shines. 9/10.

Worst Story

(Note I’m putting all the Masters together per decade to judge them as one story, since some Masters only appear briefly).

Time-Flight features the Master dressing up in disguise for… well you could say he’s totally insane, but even then there’s things that don’t make no sense. Why does he dress up for no one in particular? Is it just something he likes to do? The episode itself is a… well a complete mess, but a fun mess nonetheless. And Anthony Ainley is always fun to watch. 6/10.

Best Moment

Geoffrey Beevers: There’s little to choose from, so I’m going to jump into the expanded universe and point out that he was the bad guy for the Big Finish 50th celebration in the audio story The Light at the End. He’s pretty clever in that role, showing that despite his brief appearance, he can make the character of the Master work. 7/10.

Anthony Ainley: Ooh what to pick, what to pick. I think I’m going to have to go back to one of his first appearances: When the entire universe is under threat, he pretty much blackmails the universe into obeying him, otherwise he’d let them die. Lets think about that: the universe is in danger and he’ll only save them if they let him be in charge. Even though he’s in the universe. He’s so mad… and yet brilliant. 9/10.

Eric Roberts: “Life is wasted on the living!” It’s a clever little moment that counters the Doctor’s “All you ever do is kill”, showing just how different these two characters are. It’s not the best moment, but it’s a pretty neat moment nonetheless. It’s a small moment, but pretty cool nonetheless. 7/10.

Overall

Geoffrey Beevers: He did a serviceable enough job, even if it isn’t particularly memorable. But, he does help set the way for the future of the character. Plus, he absolutely kills it in the expanded universe, so that helps too. 5/10.

Anthony Ainley: He’s mad, he’s bad, he’s a fantastic actor and a great character. Sure he’s a bit silly at times, but at the other times he really captures the menace of the character. It’s a shame the actor passed away so young, since it’d have been great to hear him in the audios. 8/10

Eric Roberts: He doesn’t have a script to do his character justice, and he isn’t the best actor out there. But he plays the role well, and leaves a lasting impression. Not the best Master, but he could have been a whole lot worse. 6/10.

Final Tally

Geoffrey Beevers: 27/50

Anthony Ainley: 38/50

Eric Roberts: 33/50

So there you have it. My look at the Master in the 1980s to the 1990s. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.

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