Doctor Who: The Deadly Assassin (Story #88)

7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

A different story without a companion

The companions kind of provide the Doctor with direction


Nice outfit, guy!

The Doctor (Tom Baker) has just left Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) and is summoned back to Gallifrey.  When he has a vision of the assassination of the President, the Doctor is unable to prevent it and is accused of pulling the trigger.  Realizing the Master (Peter Pratt) is behind the attack, the Doctor must uncover the real triggerman by entering Gallifrey’s computer network known as the Matrix to root out the assassin and learn if the Master is still alive.

Doctor Who:  The Deadly Assassin aired during the fourteenth season of Doctor Who.  It was a four part serial airing from October 30, 1976 to November 20, 1976.  The episoded followed Doctor Who:  The Hand of Fear and has been collected in The Tom Baker Years as Story #88.


I feel like I just stepped out of a refreshing Irish spring!

Following Sarah Jane Smith’s departure in the previous episode Doctor Who:  The Hand of Fear, Doctor Who:  The Deadly Assassin has the distinction of being a companion-less episode of Doctor Who.  Creators have stated that this was difficult because the Doctor’s companions give the Doctor a reason to explain what is going on.  It also keeps the Doctor balanced and his wackiness in tune.  This is a good episode to watch to understand why the Doctor needs a companion (if for nothing else to keep the story going).

The other strange thing in the story is the Matrix.  It is pretty ironic that it is called the Matrix and can be a manipulated environment.  The sequence where the Doctor is going after the assassin’s identity is very “un-Doctor Who” that feels somewhat action like.  It also shows once again that The Matrix film wasn’t very original.


Yeah, nothing horrifying about this!

This serial is the first serial to establish that the Time Lords have twelve regenerations.  The Master is allegedly at his last regeneration and trying to gain more.  With the Doctor currently on his eleventh regeneration in Matt Smith, it is interesting to see possible ways for the creators to get around being out of regenerations.

Doctor Who:  The Deadly Assassin is if nothing else an interesting Doctor Who.  It is kind of all over the place, but I like the uniqueness of the episode.  The Master’s appearance at the end is also pretty terrifying with a rotted body.  I miss the pacing that a companion provides for the Doctor but kind of like the story (which allegedly had a lot of basis in The Manchurian Candidate).  Doctor Who:  The Deadly Assassin was followed by Doctor Who:  The Face of Evil which introduces the Doctor’s next companion Leela (Louise Jameson).

Preceded By:

Doctor Who:  The Hand of Fear (Story #87)

Followed By:

Doctor Who:  The Face of Evil (Story #89)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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