Sunday, 7 July 2013

The Face Of Evil (Part Three)

Originally Broadcast 15th January 1977

Written by: Chris Boucher

In a nutshell: The Doctor has realised the mistake he made in the past and he’s the reason Xoanon exists.

Review: There’s only one way to put this: Part Three is so much weirder than the first two instalments! A giant Tom Baker face glowing yellow, people walking through walls, Xoanon’s multiple voices chanting in an empty room. The first five minutes is like a bad trip at times, as is the cliffhanger to this episode but more on that later!

The meaning behind the names of Sevateem and the Tesh is actually very clever. Sevateem from Survey Team and Tesh from Technicians. It’s one of those simple little things you can get away with in sci-fi that’s clever and yet unseeingly obvious at the same time.

What strikes me from this part is it’s rather like a modern-day two parter, it feels as if after part two (the halfway point, modern day Who’s end of part one) we’ve swapped locations and the story has changed. I’m not sure I like that and certainly here the adventure feels to be waning a little from the brilliant opening half of the serial. I think the greatest thing still holding this together and saving it for me are our two leads. Leela isn’t really a companion yet, this still being her opening adventure pre-time travel and yet she feels so right. The chemistry between her and Tom’s Doctor is just so powerful. As I said previously, I can’t believe the two didn’t get on in real life, as they appear to be connecting so well onscreen. It’s also very clear this isn’t your typical Doctor/companion relationship, it’s very different to the recent Doctor/Sarah dynamic, although I could also see how Sarah could be inserted into this script, and she did feature in the original plans by Boucher.

The Four Doctors?
There’s something really special about Louise Jameson’s portrayal of Leela. If it were a present day companion like Sarah, the performance would be very wooden and horribly bad but Leela is an uneducated savage, a little bit simple at times. I imagine this a brave decision for Jameson because it could’ve gone one of two ways. Either it would make Leela incredibly brilliant and believable or would be viewed as horrible acting and she shines so brightly in this story, she really does fit the show well.

My interest in the episode has returned as the Doctor reaches the computer room and is questioned about the mistake he made in the past. I still think the Sevateem are becoming a bit dull, simply playing catch-up with the rest of the characters as they finally travel beyond the wall. The idea is very clever with Xoanon taking the Doctor’s personality and then adding it’s own to it. I like that and think it makes for a brilliant Who story. The scene between the Doctor and Xoanon’s voices has so many powerful lines that could class as the cliffhanger we’re spoilt for choice. But then the cliffhanger we get is so powerful, Xoanon’s child voice of ‘Who am I?’ is so freaky and brilliant, I just love the ending. I couldn’t care less about the other plot strands going through this episode anymore, but the main one is just great and just strong enough to keep my interest levels occupied as we face the final episode.

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