Thursday, 6 June 2013

The Mind Of Evil, Episode 4 (in colour!)


Originally Broadcast 20th February 1971

Written by: Don Houghton

In a nutshell: With the Doctor out of action thanks to the Keller machine, the Master sets about stealing the nuclear missile from UNIT.

Review: There’s a lovely touch at the opening end of this episode with the Master trying to revive the Doctor who is close to death after being exposed to the Keller machine. Delgado has a sincere ness about his worry and I love that he makes sure he checks both the Doctors hearts. I admit the moment is a little spoilt by the fact the two-hearts of a Time Lord is mentioned a couple lines later, showing it wasn’t an improvised moment by the production team.

In fact, this episode is full of nice touches, such as the heart warming nature of Jo Grant when she rushes to get a cup of water for the feinting Doctor and her shock at the Master. Quite rightly so, this being only her second story, she only checks for one heartbeat from the Time Lord. It’s quite surprising this is only her second story, she’s already fitted very nicely into her role as companion (or assistant, it is 1971) and it’s hard to imagine a time when she wasn’t there. Jo’s been there for just seven episodes prior to this one and I love the fit much more than that of the Doctor and Liz, who weren’t always right for each other.

Captain Yates. Playing possum?
The next brilliant little moment comes seven minutes into the episode when we’re exposed to the Masters fears. It’s very right that the Doctor was scared, first of fire (courtesy of last years Inferno) and then the Daleks (his deadliest enemy) so it’s even more obvious that the Master should be scared of the Doctor. And not just the Doctor, but the Doctor laughing at him. It’s fun and right and then Delgado plays it with such terror it’s scary. Not even he can fight off the machines impulses on the brain

This is one of those episodes of Doctor Who which only the Pertwee era can succeed in, where it can feel like you’re not watching Doctor Who. There’s a good five or more minute segment where we start following UNIT and hear nothing from the Doctor. This doesn’t feel in the way or annoying or taking us out of the action, in fact, it’s brilliant. There’s a moment of fear when Yates appears to get shot, although he makes the fastest recovery in the universe in order to tail the stolen missile. The scene isn’t as impressive as the fight scene from episode one of The Ambassadors Of Death but it comes a close second. I enjoy watching the Brig and co in action and the Who team did a fantastic job in creating a fun and easy-to-watch group of secondary characters. This episode certainly feels like their show, with the Doctor either out of action or hiding out in the prison for all but the last two minutes and it certainly works well. Now, where’s that UNIT spin-off? I think this is as close and as successful as we’re ever going to get and that’s a shame.

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