Doctor Who started the of year 1977 by sending the now companionless Doctor to a remote
having him befriend a savage, and scantily clad, warrior woman: Leela. The Face of Evil is a very good story. It aired during on to the show's high
points. Tom Baker was fully into his
role, they writers were trying new things and they had distanced
from the program's children's show origins.
This story in particular works well and has an interesting plot
unfolds nicely. Plus it includes the
introduction of Leela, arguably the sexist companion The Doctor has
After the events that transpired on Glaifrey in The Deadly
Assassin, The Doctor and the TARDIS materialize on a strange planet and
out to have a look around, as he always does.
Little does he know that a certain female warrior, Leela, has
banished from her tribe, the Sevateem, for speaking out against the
Neeva. He's been speaking to their god,
Xoanon, who is being held behind an impenetrable wall by the evil Tesh.
the Sevateem's sacred duty to rescue their god.
Xoanon has informed Neeva that the wall will open, just for a
a designated time in the near future and wants an all-out attack. Leela thinks it's a fool's errand, the same
as it was the last time they attacked at Xoanon's bidding years before
of their warriors were killed, as it was the time before that, and the
For speaking what she thinks is clearly obvious, she's
exiled into the jungle outside the barrio that keeps the invisible
bay. There she meets an odd man in a
long scarf: The Evil One, though he
insists he's just The Doctor. He is the
spitting image of the man who imprisoned Xoanon eons ago, and a giant
image of his
face is carved into the side of a mountain... and it looks exactly like
The Time Lord soon convinces Leela that he's not the Evil
One, but he realizes that something's going on, and that he's most
responsible for it. He and Leela go back
to investigate at the Sevateem village, but that's not such a good idea
the whole tribe instantly think he's the incarnation of evil. Just what's going on, what did he do, and how
can he fix it all?
There's a lot that goes right with this serial. Tom
Baker is still charming and funny, but
he's not goofy as he is in some stories.
Here he stays calm in the face of danger, but he realizes it's
none the less. When several Sevateem
warriors spot him, for example, the leader yells "Stand still!" as they
pair of arrows that bury themselves in a tree right in front of The
Doctor. "That was either very good
shooting or very
bad. Either way, I wouldn't dream of
Leela is a great companion too. Her
character takes the (rare) strong female
companion (like Sarah Jane Smith) and combines it with the male
gets into a fight so that The Doctor doesn't have to (just about all of
one nice package. In addition, she's a
primitive, so it makes sense when The Doctor stops to explain things to
such as plot points that the younger viewers might have missed. I have a thing for strong, independent women,
so it's not surprising that she's one of my favorites.
The story works well, and is quite subversive in a way.
It includes some -so-subtle commentary on
religious fervor which would never fly on a prime-time program in the
States. Neeva whips the members of the
tribe into a frenzy to attack the evil Tesh not based on what the other
has actually done to them, but because that's what his religion demands. What's more, when The Doctor arrives and
tries to reason with him using logic, he proclaims that the Evil One is
lies and demands that no one listen to him.
The parallels to Earth-based religions are hard to miss.
Another thing I appreciated is the fact that the show was
growing up by this time. It was getting
away from the monster-of-the-week type of show that it had been at
times in the
past (though not always). This serial is
a good example of the creators actively trying to have a fearful
but just one that is not a horrible monster.
As a matter of fact, the creatures out in the forest that do
even invisible, a nice way to save money and take the emphasis away
thing that's attacking and putting it more on the plot.
The mono soundtrack has been cleaned up and is very
good. It is nice and clear with no hiss
or background noise to take away from the story. Being
a mono track, there's really not much
more to say about it.
The full frame video has been cleaned up by the Restoration
Team and it looks good. The
colors are solid though out and the level
of detail is decent. The image is sharp,
with a lot of definition so Who fans are sure to be pleased.
Another great set of extras are included with this
show. First off is a commentary track
with actors Louise Jamison (Leela), David Garfield (Neeva), Mike Elles
(Gentek), Harry H. Fielder (Assassin), producer Phillip Hinchcliffe and
cameraman John McGlashan. It's all
moderated by Toby Hadoke. As usual, I
the commentary track quite a bit. It's
lively with some nice anecdotes thrown in and everyone sounds like they
good time recording it.
As far as video extras go, the first one is Into the Wild
a 25-minute making-of featurette
that includes interviews with many of the major players who are still
with the notable absence of Tom Baker.
It's nice to hear Louise Jamison talk about how she saw the role
thoughts on the costume and the fan reaction to her character. From
the Cutting Room Floor is a nine minute collection of alternate
several scenes. These are silent, but
they've synched them up with the audio track from the aired episode,
appropriate. Next up is Tomorrow's Times - The
which continues the series. Once again
they search through British newspaper reviews of Doctor Who and read clips to give an
idea what the critics thought of the show at the time.
It's one of the more interesting bonus items
included with this set.
Doctor Who Stories:
Louise Jamison is a 17-minute interview with the actress
shot in 2003 for The Story of Doctor Who.
Also are the disc are several short items
including a vintage 4-minute Louise Jamison interview from Swap
Shop and a Denys Fisher toy commercial.
In addition there is an 'info-text' option for each
story. This is something that the other Who releases have and I'm a big fan of
them. This pop-up text options allows
viewers to read about the shooting schedule, changes between various
incarnations and the final version and learn about the history of the
supporting actors. It's well worth
watching, though it can be distracting so watch the story without it
extras are wrapped up with a photo gallery and
the usual Radio Times listings.
This was a very good example of a classic Doctor Who
serial. Tom Baker is charming and at
ease in the role and his new companion is one of my favorites from this
the show's history. The story is
interesting and more than just The Doctor trying to find a way to
group of invading creatures or stop a megalomaniac scientist. Highly