Saturday, 6 July 2013

The Face Of Evil (Part Two)

Originally Broadcast 8th January 1977
Written by: Chris Boucher

In a nutshell: The Doctor has to try and gain help from the Sevateem but first he has to convince them he isn’t the Evil One in a game of life or death.

Review: I hope Neeva knows how stupid he looks wearing the hand of Xoanon on his head. What makes it slightly work though is how even the Doctor points out how silly it is or how fetching. After Neeva leaves, the Doctor gets to speak to the mighty God Xoanon and it’s great to see the Doctor’s reaction. He knows he’s done something wrong here, just doesn’t know what. I hope this turns into a time travel adventure, with the Doctor in the future having caused this or something similar. But maybe that’s the Moffat in me expecting that?

I was just saying in the last episode about the Doctor not threatening someone with a knife due to Tom Baker knowing the Doctor yet in this episode he uses a crossbow to threaten people. It’s a bit odd but, and I can’t explain this, there’s something in the performance that makes us know he won’t use it. It’s either because we know the Doctor or something Tom B does to show the audience he doesn’t mean it. If it’s the latter, then he’s an even stronger actor than he’s given credit for. The way he finds a cure for the janus thorn is a bit crap though. We just get to see the Doctor fixing up an antidote in two minutes to a supposedly incurable poison.

If it wasn't written to be a glove, that'd look silly...
I’m quite impressed by the Hoarder when it snaps at the stick and then Leela gives a bit of advice on how to escape to the Doctor. This was 1977 and still in 2013 it’s shocking to see the slap she gets for giving advice to her friend. It’s very bad for Doctor Who and yet played so well by the cast. I’m surprised it never got cut before transmission or even afterward. The escape from the pit is fantastic though. Very good, Doctor. There’s a funny reference to William Tell as well, one of those throwaway lines that I associate with this era of the show. The fourth Doctor always seemed to have met somebody famous in an unseen adventure such as Da Vinci or even finishing the draft of Hamlet for Shakespeare.

From the get go I’ve not worked out how this adventure could support four episodes. There has been a few moments where I’ve thought I’d sussed out the rest of the plot and therefore the episode would be playing catch-up to me but Boucher has turned and twisted the script a few times to get around this and the story is still holding up very well. Somehow there’s been a twenty-five minute delay between seeing the statue of Xoanon and actually entering it but a lot has happened. It hasn’t felt like a delay, it’s felt like the right pace for the story. We’re at the halfway point and, despite getting some silly laser blasts now, there are still a lot of unanswered questions that I really want answered. The cliffhanger was pants though, but the rest of the episode is still very strong. And as for the Doctor and Leela, well they already seem like the perfect fit and they’ve only been together two episodes!

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