For years 'The daemons' has been hailed as a classic by many Who-Fans who were old enough to have seen it on first transmission. This became accepted lore and in the eighties (before the advent of video releases and before DVD was ever dreamed of) no one questioned it.
But, is the story any good..?
Well...yes and no.
The setting and premise - English country village becoming increasingly isolated as 'Satanic' forces take control is a staple of many a televison/film production - and here it works beautifully. Lovely locations and some nice clever tricks.
The population of the village (Squire, landlord, Vicar, White Witch, Policeman etc) are all present and correct and play their allotted roles with varying degrees of conviction (the bizarre range of accents for such a small, out of the way place as Devils End is rather bewildering though.)
The forces of Darkness as presented here range from the sublime (The Master played by Roger Delgado never puts a foot wrong. This actor is simply superb & his untimely death was a real tragedy), the so-so (Azal the eponymous Daemon is a standard 'Who' villain with iffy make up who SHOUTS a lot & his comeuppance is a bit 'suspect!) to the ridiculous ('Bok' the living Gargoyle is a little fat man in a body stocking with tiny flappy wings & a string tail who postures a lot and fails to convince on any level you care to mention.)
The resident team of 'Goodies', well here the Doctor's assistant is Jo Grant played by Katy manning who veers from being groovily 'cute' to being a right royal pain in the backside. Not the greatest of actors to have played a companion role, she gets by on her own 'kooky' personality - which serves the narrative but not much else. Likewise, Jon Pertwee's Doctor is arrogant, pompous and condescending to all and sundry...but manages to maintain varying degrees of 'likeability'. If he was your Doctor when you were growing up, you'll love him, otherwise...well he may take a bit of getting used to. He ranks pretty far down in my pantheon of favourite Doctors, but here the beauty of the countryside and the more fantastical elements of the plot seem to dilute any major problem.
One Very Bad Thing though - the music score. It's awful and VERY inappropriate. Aficionados of this era of 'Who' deem the vast array of warbles, electronic farts & synthesised hokum as being so 'outre', experimental and 'daring'. In some stories that may (MAY) be the case. Stories such as 'The Mutants', 'The Sea Devils' and even 'The Silurians' benefit from such bizarre, alien sounds...but a tale of Devil worshipping in a quaint English village needed a more orchestral musical score...something in the vein of Hammer Horror, or even 'Who's' own 'Pyramids of Mars'. Here, the music is distracting, obtrusive & destroys almost all the atmosphere the production would seem to be trying to create.
The Direction is fairly unremarkable (remember it's pretty modest TV (and BBC TV at that!) fare from the earliest eras of the 1970s, so there's no 'cinematography' as such - it's very much 'point the camera and shoot the thing'. The location work is nice though, but once in the confines of the studio for all the interiors things become very much more pedestrian.
Don't think about the ending too much either....it's a bit silly (though in principle it's got it's roots firmly in witchcraft/wiccan lore - it's just not explained at all, so it comes across as ...'What..???'
So, it's a nice little slice of 70s 'Who'. Vastly overrated though..but pleasant and inoffensive enough. The separate elements all work well and (more importantly) combine well. If you love the Pertwee years - this will be the ultimate in viewing for you. Enjoy i