Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The Mind Of Evil, Episode 1 (in colour!)

Originally Broadcast 30th January 1971

Written by: Don Houghton

In a nutshell: The Doctor and Jo visit Stangmoor Prison where a new machine that can alter people’s minds is unveiled.

Review: The opening to this episode is strange with the Doctor and Jo driving up to the gates of Stangmoor Prison in Bessie. I know a lot of comparisons are drawn between Pertwee’s Doctor Who and ABC’s 1960s series The Avengers but that is more evident in this single episode than anywhere else in the third Doctor’s tenure. Everything here screams with the essence of those types of shows.

The colourisation still feels a little blurred at times but it’s such an amazing and brilliantly effective recreation. I’ve been noticing so much more from this colour copy than I ever have before. Even major plot points like the strange device behind Chin Lee’s ear. Maybe I was being blind or my black and white copy wasn’t as clear as other peoples, but I’d never spotted it before. The new colour is a real treat and it really hits home how long it’s been since this serial was seen how it was meant to be, when the DVD booklet points out it’s now been over forty years. Forty years! Behind born in 1990, I’ve never witnessed this serial in all its glory before now and I’m loving it.

Hello! Team Pertwee is back in colour!
I’ve previously noted how this episode feels like Doctor Who doing The Avengers, but it’s also taking from other things as well, giving a strangely effective mix of genres. We get the soap opera feel, as we’re not just following the Doctor in space anymore. After ten minutes we cut back to the Brigadier to see what he’s up to and watch him solve a murder without the Doctor. Also, why does Chin Lee tell the Brig important papers have been stolen and then walks straight out of UNIT HQ and pulls them out her pocket and burns them outside the building? How she didn’t get caught sooner I don’t know!

The other genre Doctor Who is being here is a dark and gritty prison drama. It’s quite striking to see the show go behind prison walls and it gives quite a horrible representation of what it’s like to be imprisoned. Although, I suppose that’s the point as it screams alarms at the little kids watching. Don’t go to prison, kids. Not even the Doctor can save you in there!

So far this has been Doctor Who adapting to what works on television and when you see Doctor Who changing with the times it’s at its strongest. This is such a fantastic episode and a really underappreciated one by me. Now I’ve got it in colour I could watch this episode time and time again and still love it. In fact, from episode one I’d say it’s one of the strongest Pertwee openings. A gem of an episode. Roll on episode two!

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