Tuesday 6 September 2011

288 The Mind of Evil: Episode Six

EPISODE: The Mind of Evil: Episode Six
TRANSMITTED: 06 March 1971
WRITER: Don Houghton
DIRECTOR: Timothy Combe
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: VHS: Doctor Who - The Mind of Evil [VHS] [1963]
Episode Format: 16mm b&w film recording

The Brigadier shoots Mailer saving the Doctor. The Keller machine breaks it's bonds but is restrained by the presence of Barnham, who has no negative impulses left in him. The Master escapes during the fighting and returns to the aircraft hanger ready to launch the Thunderbolt missile. The Doctor bargains with the Master offering him his dematerialisation circuit back in return for the Master leaving. The Doctor takes Barnham and the machine with him as an insurance policy, but Barnham is killed by the escaping Master. The machine is destroyed when Unit detonates the missile on the ground. The Master phones the Doctor to confirm his survival and gloat.

The start of this episode is a long, LONG reprise of the action sequence from the previous episode with Unit storming the prison, omitting how Mailer took Doctor hostage and jumping to Jo's escape attempt which allows us to see that the shot wasn't fired by Mailer, it was the Brigadier killing him. We're then treated to the joy that is acting prison governor Benton (what happened to the real Governor?) and the bargaining between the Doctor and the Master. As we were watching the sequence, the Master sunk to the floor in thrall to the Machine, Liz said "Don't let Barnham walk by the machine" at which point he promptly did, weakening it's control and allowing the Master to escape.

I loved Mind of Evil as a book, released in 1985 & adapted by Terrance Dicks. It was one of the last Pertwee stories to be released with just Ambassadors of Death & Time Monster following it. It's also the latest released Doctor Who book that I borrowed from my local library. I've enjoyed it on previous viewings as a recording from UK Gold and the BBC Video. But it just didn't grab me so much this time round. Perhaps I was expecting it to be just like Inferno, the writer's previous Doctor Who story which I now find is hanging like a shadow over those that follow it. Thematically it feels more like one of the season 7 stories than the later Pertwee seasons, and feels a bit more realistic too. But somehow this time out it didn't push the right buttons for me. Sorry. That worries me somewhat as I don't have either of the next two stories down as ones I like which means this is looking like a particularly down patch of stories.

Like the Silurians, Ambassadors of Death, Terror of the Autons & the Daemons this story was shown in colour in the USA and recorded onto domestic video tape. Unfortunately the person who recorded it taped over it, allegedly with an American Football match, so that only three brief colour clips from the start of this episode survive: The storming of the prison through to the Brigadier rescuing the Doctor, in he Governor's office and the Master returning to the hanger. These are found on the end of the BBC video release of this story. The Mind of Evil vhs is the last double video pack sitting on my shelf of Doctor Who videos that's yet to be released on DVD. There's another double box, but that's got the single tape of Shada and the script book in. It has some company from this season too: it's the last season with three unreleased stories: this, Colony in Space & The Daemons, which are themselves the latest consecutive pair of unreleased stories. A DVD has been mooted but the lack of colour presents problems. However it's known a commentary has been recorded featuring (according to the accounts of those at the UNIT event in London 20/06/2010) Katy Manning, Terrance Dicks, Timothy Combe, Pik-Sen Lim & Fernanda Marlowe, while filming for an extra took place at Dover Castle, the major location for the story serving as the prison. A recent tweet from Dan Hall (classicdw), producer of the Doctor Who Classic Doctor Who range says that Barry Letts also appears on The Mind of Evil commentary.

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