Friday, 5 July 2013

The Face Of Evil (Part One)

Originally Broadcast 1st January 1977

Written by: Chris Boucher

In a nutshell: The Doctor arrives on a planet where two tribes are at war. But with him being branded ‘The Evil One’, has he left an impression on this world before?

Review: I feel like I’ve accidentally selected the second part of this adventure, with the way it’s opening up with accusations on Leela of being a traitor. This scene has cliffhanger written all over it and it’s a great way to start and bring you into the story straight away. There’s even the right amount of extras for once to make it look believable!

The TARDIS lands on the planet and out steps the companionless Doctor in what can only be described as an awkward moment for Doctor Who. With nobody to talk to, the Doctor faces camera to tell us it’s not Hyde Park and to tie a knot in his hanky. This is the sort of scene Baker can deliver when he’s speaking to a companion or another cast member yet here his performance is all off, like he knows this won’t work.

Even when the Doctor is walking through the forest, whistling away and making funny faces at the sound of a monster it all seems off. Something is really wrong here with Tom’s performance but then he bumps into Leela. As soon as the Doctor is onscreen with somebody else, he shines. The energy is back, it feels right and the Doctor is being funny and brave and brilliant and scene stealing. There’s also a lot of comedy involved which is one of the things that makes the fourth Doctor so great.

Not too shabby CSO and a great ending!
The plot about the Doctor being ‘the evil one’ is definitely intriguing. We can clearly tell Xoanon is Tom Baker’s voice and Leela seemed so determined he was evil, there has to be something in it. But what? It’s a strong warm up, not a lot of Doctor Who was actually about the Doctor in this day and age so to have some strange planet linked to him without him knowing starts to show the ‘fame’ the Doctor is getting, something that’s explored a lot more in the 2011 series of the show

When Tom’s on form this becomes a show you can watch all day everyday and it just be scenes with Tom Baker talking to someone. He’s that good and when teamed with some cracking dialogue, as he is here, it’s just easy viewing which is what most good TV is. When the Doctor threatens someone with a ‘deadly jelly baby’ it’s very much what the Doctor would do and I can’t believe the original script had this featuring the Doctor holding a knife to a character’s throat. It just goes to show that, in later years when Baker got a little ‘overprotective’ and claimed to know the character better than the writers that there was definitely a lot of truth in it.

It’s easy when you have a tribe to turn the script into rubbish and make your characters fairly dull, such as in An Unearthly Child (in some places), this episode fails to be dull. It’s set up a great mystery so far and sparked a great chemistry between the Doctor and soon-to-be new companion Leela. I know Tom Baker and Louise Jameson famously didn’t get on at all, but it’s hard to see that here, the two seem to get on so well. And as for the cliffhanger itself, now that is how you end an episode! I seemed to remember not really thinking much of this serial but from the opening part, it’s just brilliant and I want to find out more about the Evil One!

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