Doctor Who: Season 14, Episode 1

The Masque of Mandragora: Part One (4 Sep. 1976)

TV Episode  -   -  Adventure | Drama | Sci-Fi
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 123 users  
Reviews: 2 user | 1 critic

The Doctor and Sarah are drawn into the Mandragora Helix, an entity which exists among the stars and which transports the TARDIS to 15th century Italy.



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Title: The Masque of Mandragora: Part One (04 Sep 1976)

The Masque of Mandragora: Part One (04 Sep 1976) on IMDb 8.1/10

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Episode complete credited cast:
Jon Laurimore ...
Anthony Carrick ...
Captain Rossini (as Antony Carrick)
Norman Jones ...
Robert James ...
Brian Ellis ...
Pat Gorman ...


The Doctor and Sarah are drawn into the Mandragora Helix, an entity which exists among the stars and which transports the TARDIS to 15th century Italy.

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Release Date:

4 September 1976 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The idea of a story set during the Italian Renaissance came from producer Philip Hinchcliffe, who had been inspired by a visit to Portmeirion, where the serial was ultimately filmed. See more »


The corpse of Giuliano's father can be seen breathing. See more »

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User Reviews

Good Start To A Good Season That Is Slightly Overrated
30 October 2013 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

Review Of All Four Episodes # Back in the day season 14 of DOCTOR WHO would consistently win every fan poll for best ever season but I'd often be puzzled why ? One can forgive eras such as season five and seven being overlooked by people who hadn't been born before 1960 , and likewise video releases wouldn't have come in to being ensuring that long distant stories remained forgotten but season 14 isn't even the best season to have been produced under Phillip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes . That would undoubtedly be the previous season where the production team had cemented the show as being along the lines of Gothic horror . If there's a criticism to season 13 it's down to there being little variety with the season bookended by no holds barred horror stories written by Robert Banks Stewart and directed by Douglas Camfield . Would it be wrong to point out that season 14 begins on a pseudo historical story and ends on a pseudo historical story ?

The storytelling itself is a jarring mix of the cerebrally good and the painfully bad . The setting of 15th Century Italy where Europe is slowly crawling out of the Dark Ages is an intelligent and all too rare instance of the show having a well thought out setting where the location ties in with any subtext the story might be making . All too often a DOCTOR WHO story takes place on present day Earth or an alien planet when in reality the story could take place anywhere anytime . Science and reasoning versus faith is something we didn't see in the classic show very often and despite Nigel Kneale doing it better in his 1979 QUATERMASS serial it's nice to know Louis Marks that 15th Century renaissance Italy is the perfect setting for this type of subtext . As Frederico says to astrologer Hieronymous " You can no more tell the future than you can tell the contents of my chamber pot " . Also worth noting is the early part of the story concerns itself more with the character action and the political intrigue of the court then the more the story continues the more the Mandragora Helix and its importance to its cult followers take centre stage . The problem is in order to set the story up Marks using some ridiculously contrived scripting such as the Doctor and Sarah being sucked in a time vortex and wandering around allowing the Helix to get in in to the Tardis via the open doors . It also goes without saying the Helix is a bit too easily defeated

I was rather disappointed by this story on its initial broadcast . Taken on its own merits it is a good story , probably not a classic but fairly enjoyable due to its production values . Filmed at Portmeirion forever synonymous with the location for THE PRISONER director Rodney Bennett makes full use of the location giving the story a high production feel rarely seen in the show . It's well acted , has good costume design that the BBC were always proud of and has a strange structure where one aspect of the story is built up then gradually decreases which is - apart from the contrivance - something that shouldn't be taken as a criticism in a story that is fairly solid despite the flaws .

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