The Master is arguably the most dangerous threat to the Doctor in the Whoniverse.
In light of the stunning reveal on Doctor Who this past weekend, I figured it would be a fun trip to delve into the history of the Doctor’s most famous, and infamous villain, the Master.
As we jump in our time machine for this trip and head back to the Jon Pertwee/Third Doctor Era. The Doctor was now ‘grounded’ on earth by the Time Lords, and all of the sweet rubbery action had to be brought to him. The creative team at the time wanted to bring in a recurring bad guy that was the equal and opposite of the Doctor in every way; sort of a Professor Moriarty to the Doctor’s Sherlock Holmes. And thus the idea for the Master was born.
Roger Delgado was chosen to play the ‘evil’ Time Lord. And he was amazing! In scene-after-scene he showed that the Master was every bit his equal, and often at times, superior to the Doctor! He had outscored the Doctor at school on Gallifrey, was highly skilled at hypnosis, had all the coolest gadgets (the Tissue Compression Eliminator was badass) and his TARDIS had a fully functional chameleon circuit.
It always looked like the Master was one up on our favorite Time Lord. But somehow the Doctor always came out on top. That was probably due to the Master’s grandstanding, but you can’t blame a great villain for a bit of monologuing! The Master was the Third Doctor’s greatest foe, and Roger Delgado made the part of this hypnotic, charming psychopath the definitive one, right up to his untimely death in a car crash in 1973.
Our favorite villain would not be seen again until early in the Tom Baker era, where the Fourth Doctor (and his magnificent scarf) would once again meet his nemesis, this time on Gallifrey. This Master was a shell of his former self, at the end of his regeneration cycle, and desperate to extend his life. The Fourth Doctor foiled (love that word) his plans, and the Master would not be seen again until the final episodes of the Fourth Doctor. The Master was instrumental in the demise of the Fourth Doctor, and his regeneration into the Fifth Doctor.
Much like the Third Doctor, Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor was plagued with having to constantly deal with the Master’s grand schemes. Now played by Anthony Ainley, he took what Delgado started and made the Master his own. The Master continued to be a thorn in the Doctor’s side through the Sixth and Seventh Doctor’s Eras, and was so popular that the producers of the show had to disguise when he would be in an episode, and credited the actor under a pseudonym. The Master was present for the final episode of Classic Doctor Who, pitted against the umbrella toting Seventh Doctor. At the end of the episode, it appeared that the Master was left behind on a doomed planet. But we all know a villain this good couldn’t be kept down!
When the Doctor returned in 1996, after a seven year span where no Doctor Who was on the air, who else but the Master could you have as the Doctor’s nemesis? And the results, well, they could have been better. This time the Master was played by Eric Roberts, and while a great actor, he did not have what it took to bring the Master properly to life. This Master was over the top in a bad way and not even the amazing performance of Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor could stop this back-door pilot from crashing and burning.
Doctor Who was rebooted in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor, yet there was no Master to be found. It wasn’t until the third season of ‘Nu-Who’ when we get to feast our eyes once again on our favorite villain…and he was perfect! John Simm as the Master was the spiritual successor to Delgado and Ainsley. He chewed the scenes and made us feel once again that the Doctor had met his superior. Gone was the T.C.E, and now armed with his Laser Screwdriver, the Master was the perfect foil to the Doctor. In David Tennant’s final episodes as the Tenth Doctor, John Simm’s Master was the only one that could have brought the Doctor, and the returning Time Lords to their knees.
With the Master apparently sucked back into the Time War, Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor was lucky enough to not have to deal with his most deadly enemy (not that he didn’t have enough on his hands). So now we come to the Capaldi Era, and the Twelfth Doctor makes one heck of a discovery. The Master is back! And he’s a she? Our new Time Lady, played by Michelle Gomez is now going by the “Mistress,” or Missy for short. She looks to be every bit the match for our new Doctor. What does she have planned? Whatever it is, we know the Master, or should we say Mistress will continue to show why she is the ultimate villain for our hero, no matter what the gender.
Thus ends the brief history of the Master. What are your thoughts or opinions?