Friday, February 4, 2011

The Mind of Evil



I enjoyed that a little more than Terror of the Autons.

UNIT look like a proper military outfit, the Brigadier talks and sounds like a soldier who knows what he's doing and both Sergeant Benton and Captain Yates get properly involved. There's some nice comedic stuff between the Brigadier and Benton towards the end of the story when the Sergeant finds himself appointed 'Acting Governor' of the Prison.

The Master has an over-complicated plan as usual and as usual seems to need the Doctor to bail him out before it all goes horribly wrong. You can kind of see why The Master rushes through his regenerations if this is the kind of plan he regularly puts together.

However, there are - again - some nice scenes between The Master and The Doctor. The concern The Master shows for The Doctor after the latter has had his second run in with the Keller Machine makes you wonder how serious The Master's threats to kill the Doctor actually are. It's like their playing some Timelord game with the Earth. (Or playing at being God and the Devil having their bet over Job).

[Must stop taking these things so seriously]

I haven't said much about Jon Pertwee's performance as The Doctor yet. The one advantage to watching Doctor Who in broadcast order is I have got a feel for the rhythm of the programme making and performances in a way that I haven't when dipping in and out of stories.

The Third Doctor does have a tendency to be a little patronising. He's also seriously ungrateful to the Brigadier on several occasions and clearly, his mind is on getting the TARDIS sorted out so he can go off gallivanting around the Universe again. Pertwee plays all that well. Yes, he's got a few trademark gestures: neck rubbing etc that are short-cuts to showing us what's going on in the Doctor's head but what I have been impressed with is Pertwee's ability to play the serious stuff dead straight.

I'll probably have more to say as I carry on through the era.

A couple of other things I noticed. There's another silent black actor, playing The Master's chauffeur to follow Roy Stewert's appearance in Terror of the Autons [His second appearance as the strong, silent type after playing Toberman in Tomb of the Cybermen] and one of the technicians in 'Inferno'. I think watching 'Race Against Time' the excellent documentary about non-white actors in Doctor Who (and British television in general) on The Mutants DVD release has made me pay closer attention to these parts.

The fact that Chin Lee is played by Chinese actress Pik-Sen Lim made me wonder why six years or so later they couldn't find a male Chinese actor to play Li H'Sen Chang in 'The Talons of Weng-Chiang'. But I digress.

The Mind of Evil is pretty good. There's hardly a duff performance from any of the guest stars but William Marlowe's Mailer should be singled out for special praise for being a nicely underplayed thug.

Also a quick 'Hurrah' for Michael Sheard as Dr Summers. There's something reliably good about Michael Sheard in Doctor Who...like Philip Madoc, John Abineri or Norman Jones.

22/07/17 Update: I think I damn this with faint praise in this review. Now, I'd put it as one of my favourite Pertwee stories. It has issues - mainly the design of the Keller Machine itself - but there's a real solid tension throughout. The Master is magnificent. Also, if you're looking for signs of the close friendship between the Master and the Doctor before Missy then this is the story for you, especially the scene post-the Doctor's second run in with the Keller Machine. 

There's a lot more to be said about this story so I may make a re-visit for a re-review. 

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