Doctor Who – The Face of Evil

Yes, it’s time for another random selection from my pile of classic Doctor who DVDs. This one was first shown in January 1977 and starts Tom Baker as the Doctor, with Louise Jameson making her debut as Leela.

The last time we saw the Doctor was when he left Gallifrey at the end of The Deadly Assassin in a desperate rush to avoid having to be president of the High Council. But it appears he’s been travelling for quite some time since then – time to have visited a planet, mucked about with a computer and then forgotten all about it. When he arrives in a jungle on a planet somewhere or other, he is recognised by the local tribe who call themselves the Sevateem. While they’re dressed in the usual bits of leather, they have some bits of technology that look suspiciously advanced. Could they be descendants of visitors from somewhere else? Well, of course they can, but they don’t realise it. All they know is that the Doctor is the Evil One, and it’s hard to deny this, as there’s a Mount Rushmore style image of his face on a nearby rock formation.

While struggling to recall his previous visit, the Doctor teams up with Leela, who’s been cast out of the tribe for daring to claim that the great god Xoanon doesn’t exist. There is a slight misunderstanding at first, when the Doctor offers Leela a jelly baby:

It is true then. They say that the Evil One eats babies

But they soon settle down to sorting things out, popping over to see the other tribe, who are known as the Tesh. Legend has it that while the Tesh stayed at “the place of land”, the Sevateem went out to explore, oh, you get the idea. What we have here is your traditional marooned spaceship, with the descendants of the technical crew still occupying it and making use of what technology still works, and the descendants of the survey team doing much the same in the jungle.

The problem they all have is that the ship’s main computer had become sentient, and when the Doctor was last on the planet he made a slight programming error. Thinking he was fixing it, he somehow managed to leave an imprint of his personality on the machine, which caused it to get a wee bit confused, not to mention ever so slightly homicidal. It’s always fun when the Doctor has to face up to the consequences of his actions, especially when neither he nor we know what those actions were…

As always, everything gets sorted out with only a moderate body count, and Leela decides to join the Doctor on his travels, despite his reluctance. Oddly enough, that mirrors real events – at the time, Tom Baker had the notion that he could carry the show without a regular companion. The production team’s Cunning Plan to prove him wrong slightly failed when The Deadly Assassin turned out to be a classic. So he wasn’t all that keen on having a new companion, and wasn’t always kind to Louise. They have long since made things up, and they’ve happily worked together on some Doctor Who audio plays.

All good fun, complete with Forbidden Planet monsters from the id style invisible monsters, which when illuminated prove to be floating projections of the Doctor’s head. Nice.

Special Features

In addition to the usual commentary, production subtitles, photo gallery and so on, there’s a reasonable collection of extras:

  • Into the Wild – the usual reminiscences of the making of the story
  • From the cutting room floor – pretty much a watch once and forget thing, unless you’re seriously obsessive. This is a selection of unused shots from the filmed parts of the story[1]
  • Tomorrow’s Times – The Fourth Doctor Former companion Wendy Padbury introduces a selection of press cuttings from Tom’s time as the Doctor. Good stuff, like the previous instalments
  • Doctor Who Stories – Louise Jameson – Another extract form the 2003 Story of Doctor Who, with Louise talking about her part in Doctor Who
  • Swap Shop – Louise Jameson appearing on the then very popular Saturday morning TV show
  • Denys Fisher Toys Advert – Oh dear. Doctor Who merchandise has been around since about a microsecond after the first appearance of the Daleks[2], and the quality seems to have varied. The figures on show in this ad look remarkably unlike the real people and things.

[1] In those days, it was quite normal for parts of TV shows to be shot on film (typically location work, or when external studios were used for special sets) and the rest on film. While this does look a bit odd, as there is a different look to the two media, audiences at the time seemed to accept it…
[2] I had a Dalek when I was a very young person many years ago

One thought on “Doctor Who – The Face of Evil

  1. Pingback: Doctor Who – The Robots of Death : Losing it

Comments are closed.