Tuesday 3 May 2011

162 The Faceless Ones: Episode Six

EPISODE: The Faceless Ones: Episode Six
TRANSMITTED: 13 May 1967
WRITER: David Ellis & Malcolm Hulke
DIRECTOR: Gerry Mill
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones
TELESNAPS: The Faceless Ones: Episode Six

"Meadows" tells the Commandant that he doesn't know where the originals of the airport staff are kept. The Commandant shuts the airport to outbound flights and instigates a massive search. The Director dismisses the Doctor's request for the humans he holds. The Doctor is dismissive of the Jamie replica which has lost his accent. "Meadows" escapes his guard. The Doctor tells the aliens, now dubbed Chameleons, that he knows that the airport staff originals are on earth and when they're found the Commandant will remove the devices stabilising the copies, killing the Chameleons based on the airport staff one by one. The Chameleons contact air traffic control who bluff but the Chameleons see through it. Samantha and Jean find the bodies hidden in the car park and Jenkins is awakened killing the Chameleon "Jenkins" on the space station. Blade, whose original is on Earth, and the Director, whose original is safe on the space station, argue leading to the Director and "Jamie" being killed. Jamie & Crossland are freed and the process of returning the captured humans begins. The Doctor gives the Chameleon scientists a few hints to the solution to their problems. Returning to Gatwick, Jamie bids farewell to Samantha. Ben & Polly realise that this is the very day they left Earth so decide to stay behind. The Doctor & Jamie discover the Tardis has been stolen .....

4 episodes of mystery, one of urgency and now an episode of bluff/brinkmanship as the Doctor tries to regain the lost humans while the Commandant bluffs about holding then actually does holds a gun to the Chameleon's head. Somehow this story is lacking something: there's no urgency to the first few episodes even when the Doctor's companions start disappearing and indeed Ben & Polly hardly get a mention after that. Then at the start of episode five everything gets a bit manic, the deadline of the last flight of the season emerges which is rather odd as we now know this story is set in July and most Englishmen go on holiday in August! A little restructuring with more urgency earlier on would help. I suspect my opinion may be changed if we could see more of it: the Chameleons are supposed to be an impressive visual sight but very little of them is visible in the surviving episodes. It's only in this episode that anyone identifies them as Chameleons, and even then they themselves don't use that name and the actual name of their race goes unmentioned.

So why did we not see Ben & Polly between episode 2 and their brief appearance here? What's happened is that Anneke Wills and Michael Craze left the series following episode 2: their appearance here is courtesy of the location filming recorded before the studio sessions. Anneke Wills led an interesting life both before and after Doctor Who and is currently producing a series of autobiographies. Michael Craze left the acting profession and ran first a pub, then a hotel. He died in 1998.

This episode leads directly into the first episode of the next story with the Tardis being stolen, not an uncommon device in the sixties. But this episode is also established as taking place on the same day Ben & Polly left Earth. So on the space day at least THREE forces are in operation in the London area: WOTAN & The War Machines, the Chameleons, and the protagonists of the next story: The Daleks. So the Doctor's premonition in The War Machines, similar to what he feels when the Daleks are nearby, may be due to there *actually* being Daleks nearby! It's also possible that there might possibly be an escaped Yeti hiding in the Underground ahead of the Web of Fear as well as an advance guard of Cybermen in the sewers!

No comments:

Post a Comment