Doctor Who: The Face Of Evil by Chris Boucher (DVD review).

February 27, 2016 | By | 2 Replies More

Leela (actress Louise Jameson) is expelled from her tribe, the Sevateem, for speaking up against an attack against another tribe, the Tesh, saying it was doomed for failure. Behind the scenes, Tomas (actor Brendan Price) and Calib (actor Leslie Schofield) tend to think so as well but won’t speak up against Neeva (actor David Garfield), the ‘witchdoctor’ who advises leader Andor (actor Victor Lucas). Even so, Tomas follows after Leela after hearing Neeva has sent two men to kill her.

DW-FaceOfEvil-DVD

Leela meanwhile bumps into a strangely garbed man who looks like her devil whom we know better as the Doctor (actor Tom Baker). He helps her evade invisible creatures that are stalking them both and gives her an opportunity to come to his aid when the two men shoot at him as well as Tomas saving her. The Doctor decides that must go back to the tribe’s village and study the technology they have only to be captured. The Doctor is tested against the Horda, small local inhabitant creatures that can strip flesh in seconds and then rescued again by Leela.

They return a second time, when the tribe goes to battle, and the Doctor investigates the technology that Neeva uses but they are caught by the returned Calib, who poisons Leela but held at bay by Tomas as the Doctor uses the devices to create an antidote and save her. He also discovers that the voice of the god Xoanon is that of himself and realises he must have been here in the past. Xoanon isn’t happy and turns off the devices that keeps the invisible creatures at bay. The Doctor creates a gun that will neutralise these creatures for Tomas to use but warns not to use it too quickly or it won’t recharge. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Leela investigate the bust of the Doctor in stone to seek a way past a time barrier that keeps things out of step by a few minutes that can’t be penetrated and find a quick way to the spaceship and discover that the Tesh have telepathic control powers. First Leela is apprehended and when the Captain Jabel (actor Leon Eagles) doesn’t believe the Doctor was the one who inadvertently modified the AI computer Xoanon when it had a damaged memory core with his own personality and it is now schizophrenic and is knocked out as well. Both of them are hooked to a machine which will essentially disintegrate while it examines them. Fortunately, the Doctor figures a way out and then they try to sort things out. From here, you need to watch for yourself.

Apart from introducing a new companion for the Doctor, this is really the first time in the TV history that we hear of an event that we didn’t actually see happening in his history. From the looks of things, it probably wouldn’t even make half an episode but is still significant in thinking you don’t necessarily see everything the Doctor does.

The audio commentary is a musical chairs conducted by Toby Hadoke with actors Louise Jameson, Leslie Schofield, David Garfield, Mike Elles and Harry H Fielder, producer Philip Hitchcliffe and film cameraman John McGlashan. Probably the biggest surprise for me was finding both Schofield and Garfield were in ‘The War Games’. Schofield I remember as one of the Americans but it wasn’t until Garfield said he played one of the generals that I realised I thought he was much taller but then hadn’t made the connection. Patrick Troughton was nearer his height and many actors would be dwarfed by Tom Baker. Interestingly, both Scofield and Garfield also had appearances in an obscure film called ‘Star Wars’ a year later which is also briefly discussed. Louise Jameson’s comment that she had 3 inch heels/uppers inside her boots explains why her legs looked so long. From my art perspective, it’s the way heels stretch the muscles into looking more shapely.

Oh, I was going to say that Leela seemed to be the only female member of the Sevateem, and even the people talking didn’t notice, until I spotted one extra woman in one scene the second time around as they went off to war. Even so, when you consider that women were warriors as well, you have to wonder why the cast is so predominately male. Maybe too many skimpy clothed women would have been too much for a family series.

As usual, there are plenty of extras. ‘Into The Wild Cast’ looks at the making of the story, mostly through the eyes of Louise Jameson and Matt Irvine who was now chief effects designer and the reaction to the Leela costume. For those interested in film editing, ‘Cutting Room Floor’ shows the takes needed that were cut into the final scene. ‘Tomorrow’s Times – The Fourth Doctor’ has actress Wendy Padbury looking through the press comments from Tom Baker’s tenure. Being brought up in those times, we fans never took their comments that seriously but it’s interesting seeing how they grudgingly accepted him after the first season.

The rest of the extras is devoted to Louise Jameson with an interview about her time on ‘Doctor Who’ and a smaller piece from BBC’s TV show ‘The Swap Shop’ from while she was on the show. There is also a predominance of publicity photos of her as Leela in the ‘Photo Gallery’ showing where, as she described in the audio commentary and interview as having looked like someone had thrown a mud pie in her face from her first make-up lady.

‘The Face Of Evil’ is one story I haven’t seen in a long time and yet it is still very effective, more so when you consider the budget at the time. Using Ealing Studios for the jungle gave it a bigger sense of expanse than a smaller studio would have given it. When you consider how many jungle setting the Doctor and his various companions have been in over the years, this one has to be on par with them. Don’t under-estimate adding it to your collection.

GF Willmetts

February 2016

(region 2 DVD pub: BBC. 1 DVD 96 minutes 4 * 24 minute episodes with extras. Price: under £ 6.00 (UK) if you know where to look. ASIN: BBCDVD3379)

cast: Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Leslie Schofield, Victor Lucas, Brendan Price, Colin Thomas, David Garfield and Lloyd McGuire

check out website: www.bbcshop.com

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Category: Doctor Who, TV

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

Comments (2)

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  1. avatarJulian White says:

    Without wishing to display my fanboy credentials too much I must take issue with your statement: ‘ this is really the first time in the TV history that we hear of an event that we didn’t actually see happening in his history’. As far back as The Sensorites the Doctor was name-dropping – in that story it was chucking a chicken bone at Henry VIII so that he’d be sent to the Tower where the TARDIS had been sequestered, if I remember correctly – and it was practically impossible for the Third Doctor to have a conversation without mentioning someone famous from history.

    I may, of course, be misinterpreting your statement – it’s probably the first time we have a return so that the Doctor can undo something he got wrong first time round.

    PS – a few days ago you asked in responding to a comment I made if I’d be interested in reviewing. First I’m in Canada and while that doesn’t, of course, rule out ebooks I’m no longer sure I can guarantee the time needed to be reliable enough. I’ve not managed to read a novel for another author – and that book has got through the beta reading stage and has been published… I may be retired and with theoretically lots of time but it doesn’t work out that way! Some months ago in fact I sent you a possible review of ‘Hide Me Among the Graves’ by Tim Powers – and after a couple of rewrites I suffered a meltdown which required reformatting. My apologies for not getting back to you but I think it’s probably for the best.

  2. avatarUncleGeoff says:

    Hello Julian
    The Doctor name drops he’s met various people but there is the odd contradiction like avoiding Leonardo da Vinci in ‘The Masque Of Mandragora’ although has said he’s met him a couple of times. Of course, he might not have met him in da Vinci’s current time-line and avoiding that although that’s probably a rationale that would have occurred at the time.
    That’s side-tracking. The point from the review is this story is the first to acknowledge something we might have seen. In those days, continuity was pretty tight. We saw them leave and arrive somewhere else shortly after. Finding gaps to fit in various things is something the Who fans do and there’s even been a book on such things. The Doctor could just be name-dropping on some of them just to reassure his companions that things could be worse.
    I was going to edit out the PS and write back directly but felt that it would be useful to address something here. I didn’t see that review you sent in. I’m notorious for answering emails so if you or anyone else are sending in don’t hear from me, short of a major illness, email me again.
    Geoff

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