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The Master:
'The Black Knight'

"Sometimes the Devil is a gentleman."- Percy Bysshe Shelley

"I am the Master: you will obey me absolutely, and without question."- The Master

Just about every hero has an enemy who is his opposite; someone who has the same powers and abilities as he does, but who uses them for evil rather than good. Sherlock Holmes has Prof. Moriarty. Superman has Bizarro. King Arthur has Mordred. Even Maggie Simpson has that other baby with the one eyebrow. And the Doctor has the Master.

The Master shares the Doctor's great intellect, but he is evil incarnate. Like the Doctor, he is a Time Lord, he has a TARDIS time machine, but his one's much cooler (ie, it works). In addition, where the Doctor's most used device is his trust sonic screwdriver, the Master finds his murderous Tissue Compression Eliminator a handier tool. This ray-gun device kills by compressing it's victims to the size of a dolls, squeezing them to death. The Master is also an accomplished hypnotist and master of disguise.

The Master made his first appearance in the Dr. Who story The Terror of the Autons, in which he assists the terrible Nestine Consciousness in it's (their?) second attempt to take over the world. The third Doctor foils the Nestines, but the Master escapes to plague the Doctor again and again- and to be foiled again and again. The main failing of his plans seems to be his willingness to ally himself with creatures as vicious and unscrupulous as himself, only to be surprised when he is stabbed in the back. Ah, well, the best of us have our blind spots.

The Master's career as the Doctor's arch-nemesis was tragically cut short when the actor who played him- the splendidly malign-looking Roger Delgado- died in a car accident. The caracter returned again several years later in The Deadly Assassin, in which it was revealed that Master had used up all his regenerations (as a Time Lord, the Master could die and regenerate 12 times before really dying) and was a corpse-like figure on the point of death. He planned to tap the power of the Eye of Harmony on Gallifrey to restore his life and destroy the Time Lords in the bargain. The fourth Doctor was able to stop him, but once again, the Master got away.

When next he turned up, he was still trying to find some way to prolong his life, and he did so by taking over the body of Tremas, the father of the Doctor's friend Nyssa. Thus begins the Master's second major major run as a Dr. Who villain. Now played by Anthony Ainley, this Master is younger and more energetic than before though not, alas, quite so superbly evil. This version of the Master remains the Doctor's enemy for the remainder of the series, pitting his wits mostly against the fifth Doctor, but later against the sixth and seventh Doctors.

The Master's last appearance was in the Dr. Who telemovie, in which it is revealed that had been captured and exterminated by his old allies the Daleks. The seventh Doctor is charged with returning his remains to Gallifrey, but ends up on Earth. The remains take on a malignant life of their own, before taking over a Los Angeles paramedic. This version of the Master is played by Eric Roberts. Need more be said? It's a bit of a come-down for the old villain to say the least. At the end of the story, the Master is presumed dead and, since the BBC is unlikely to make more Dr. Who in the future, he will probably remain that way.

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