Doctor Who: The Masque of the Mandragora (Story #86)

6.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 6/10

Fun setting, nice opening

Potential lost, meandering start to the story, dull energy villain


Don’t you like my fun dress?

The Doctor (Tom Baker) and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) find themselves pulled into a time vortex known as the Mandragora Helix.  When Helix energy secretly enters the TARDIS, the Doctor and Sarah Jane inadvertently take the Helix energy back to 15th Century Italy where the Duke of San Martino has just died.  With the title of Duke on the line, Giuliano (Gareth Armstrong) finds himself challenged by his mystic believing uncle Count Federico (Jon Laurimore).  The priests of Demnos are planning a revolt, and the Mandragora Helix takes advantage of the revolt.


Grrr Sarah Jane…I’m a lion!

Doctor Who:  The Masque of Mandragora was the first serial of the fourteenth season of Doctor Who.  The series aired in four parts from September 4, 1976 to September 25, 1976.  It followed Doctor Who:  The Seeds of Doom and has been collected in The Tom Backer Years as Story #86.

I love the Italy, renaissance style setting of this story, but I don’t feel it is used very well.  When I learned that the episode was set there, I expected a lot of fun and style, but the series takes a long time to get going.  The last portion of this series is fun and does have more of what I’d expect from a story set in the period…including a masquerade party.


I’ll kill the 300 Spartans!!!

Another fun portion of this story involves the opening scene which has Sarah Jane and the Doctor exploring the TARDIS (discovering the TARDIS’ secondary control room…with nice wood paneling).  Sarah Jane discovers the 2nd Doctor’s flute and the Doctor sees the 3rd Doctor’s puffy shirt.  With such a rich history (even by the 4th Doctor), it is fun to see the Doctor get back to his roots in any series and remind viewers how old the show is.

The Mandragora Helix is a so-so villain.  I liked the priests of Demnos (their appearance in the forest is actually kind of creepy), but the generic energy villain of the Helix takes away from the creepy cult.  I wish that the energy creature had been another story (The Sarah Jane Chronicles “Secret of the Stars” was going to be tied to the Mandragora Helix but the tie was cut).

Doctor Who:  The Masque of the Mandragora is a series with ups-and-down.  It is a sad aspect in that it was the second to last series of Elisabeth Sladen, and it could have been better.  Doctor Who:  The Masque of the Mandragora was followed by Doctor Who:  The Hand of Fear.

Preceded By:

Doctor Who:  The Seeds of Doom (Story #85)

Followed By:

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

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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