THE DOCTOR WHO RATINGS GUIDE: BY FANS, FOR FANS

BBC
The Mind of Evil

Episodes 6 A color photo from an otherwise monochrome adventure.
Story No# 56
Production Code FFF
Season 8
Dates Jan. 20, 1971 -
Mar. 6, 1971

With Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning, Nicolas Courtney,
Richard Franklin, John Levene.
Written by Don Houghton. Script-edited by Terrance Dicks.
Directed by Timothy Combe. Produced by Barry Letts.

Synopsis: The Master returns, and brings with him a device that feeds on the evil impulses of the brain.


Reviews

A Definitive Pertwee Story by Michael Hickerson 27/11/97

For me, the Pertwee years are generally defined by three factors: the presense of UNIT, stories involving the Master, and the recurring theme of humanity's ability to destroy itself due to lack of thinking ahead and our own ignorance. Now, these aren't in every Pertwee story, but are an overwhelmign majority of them. Sometimes, you may get two of them together, but rarely do you get all three.

With the exception of stories like The Mind of Evil.

At the beginning of episode one, you have three seemingly different plot threads that by episode four have come together rather seamlessly to provide us with one of the best stories of the Pertwee years. First, there is the Keller device and the prison riots at Stangmore Prison, next there is the peace conferences, and as if that weren't enough UNIT is disposing of weapon of mass destruction at the same time. That's a lot to pull off in just one story, but Don Hougton does it masterfully. It's a shame that he was only able to contribute two stories to the show since both of them were excellently done.

The Master's second appearance is chilling and wonderful. His presense here is still fresh and unlike later in the season when I kept going, "Him again?!" he works well here. The rest of the cast perform up to the high standards of the first two years of the Pertwee era and bring off this story rather well.

There are several minor things that make this story shine. One is that the Doctor and Jo are still "feeling out" their relationship. There is a mutual respect building between them and the beginnings of the friendship that will be cemented by year's end, but there is also a bit of the tension that was present in Terror of the Autons. Also, UNIT actually feels like a real para-military orgnization and does more than serve as the Doctor's comic foils as they will do later on in such stories as The Time Monster. Finally, there is the sense of time having past from one story to another. I honestly get the feeling that several months have passed between Autons and this story. Either that or the Master has been setting this up for monthes and pulled the wool over the Time Lords's eyes, which is an even more intriguing possibility.

All in all, though, there is a lot to recommend about this story. If you haven't seen it in years, I recommend powering up the VCR, sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying a classic of the Pertwee era.


A Review by Leo Vance 21/11/98

A black and white Jon Pertwee? Not really?

Well it is. On the good side, the effects which simply don't work on colour 1971 Doctor Who are far more impressive here. Jon Pertwee is rude, thoughtless and arrogant -- really quite quintessential and very good, as well as having the humorous elements that made his portrayal superb in The Time Warrior. Katy Manning for once does reasonably, the character of Barnham is brilliant and well thought out. Roger Delgado is magnificent as the Master, and Nicholas Courtney is as competent as ever. Richard Franklin and John Levene are competent, and the 'cheshire cat' and 'fainting' scenes are utterly superb. The final sequences are succesful, and the telephone call is hilarious. The Keller Machine is a brilliantly thought out idea, the script is superb, the 'realism' (guns and bombs) works better than normal Doctor Who, and the exchange in Chinese is also impressive.

On the bad side, the Chinese Dragon is truly awful, the acting of the prison break ringleader is just as bad... and the other prisoners are also rather useless.

A mostly good story, which, like The Invasion, should be a 8 or 9/10, but misses something. 7/10


A Review by Ben Jordan 11/3/99

With the help of a powerful alien parasite, the Master has set his sights on the takeover of Earth. And in Season 8, that sentence could refer to a good three stories. Most of us have probably heard that like many other seasons, the seventh could have been the last. So let's think like the production team did in 1970. How are we going to jazz up Season 8 to keep the viewers from turning over to Star Trek? I know! Let's have the same villain for the whole year. Yeah, and why don't we just use the same plot over and over again, but with a different name? Good one Terry! That'll really keep 'em guessing! Still, Terror of the Autons, Mind of Evil, and Claws of Axos are entertaining, but watch them all together and more than a tad of deja vu will pervade your mind.

No wonder the Doctor seemed a bit cheesed off in this story. Numerous capture-escape-capture-escape sequences would get on your nerves. Continuity is awry -- characters are introduced then disappear for no reason. What happened to Chin Lee? I would have liked to have seen more of the Doctor's linguistic expertise as witnessed with the Chinese delegate. For that matter, what about this third world war and that peace conference? Precious little effort is made to convey the seriousness of the matter, and by the second half of the story, it's all but forgotten. What exactly was the Master doing in Switzerland when he was going to put into effect his operation of conquest in England anyway? Buying Toblerones? One matter is cleared up though. I now know why the Master went through his lives so much quicker than our hero. He smokes cigars! Silly sod.

As for the mind of evil itself, well, it's a worry. Witness the character of Barnum. A violent clich? 'you'll never take me alive' sort of chap, plugged into the Keller machine and reduced to an ineffectual wooden actor with no mind. That thing is scary! A creature that could suck your mind dry of evil thoughts is however an interesting concept. And I always enjoy seeing the Doctor and the Master work together, since it gives their characters more depth -- not just a clearly defined good guy/bad guy routine. The acting is largely quite good, especially from the regulars. Watch out for an early appearance of Michael Sheard as Somers (did that guy ever have an unbroken hairline?). The production values are fine too, and as far as I'm concerned Doctor Who looks brilliant in good old black and white.

Overall then? Well, Mind of Evil is worth watching. But it's nothing we haven't seen before, and it's just too repetitive.


A Review by Matt Haasch 16/4/00

After blowing $50 on a bet for 15 Virgin New Adventures, i decided to review something to clear my head. So I review one of my latest purchases, the Jon Pertwee classic-THE MIND OF EVIL (evil Dudley Simpson music cue starts here...) What can I say about this one... well "they" say it drags, as does alot of Pertwee's episodal regime, In fact, I coulda sworn that Catastrophea dragged a bit, and almost purposefully in his swansong Planet of the Spiders, which sums up for me the good,and the bad of the era.

I noticed a bit of the length, but this barely affected me, because the whole time, it keeps you interested. HAVOC- the stunt team that was in a few Bill Hartnell serials makes an apperance here, with some of the best millitary action I've seen on the show to date. Also, as usual, Delgado's Master is so brilliant, every line he delivers makes you giggle it's so great. Eerie too! Him in his limosine, his mind control on the Chinese girl (which Mike Yates has the hots for) all seem to work in advantage of making him look "eeevil", as Mel would say. Pertwee is once again good, proving that timelords, however old looking, can whomp on the normal human male. Mailer is, well, fantastic. He's the greatest criminal I've ever seen, well a petty criminal anyway. His nonchalance in the governor's chair, his bargaining with the Master, his saying,"If that's all you got Doc, well it just ain't good enough." is a fantastic scene.

The battle of the convoy, adn attack at Stangmoor are brilliantly staged, and Yates and Benton are very good, trying to hang onto their dignity as the Brig yells at them. Some characters in this one prove to be cranky at times... Anyway, this is a good 6 episode chunk, with few flaws, and the alien inside the Keller machine is spooky, and the machine is, at least neat looking, compact and servicable. The way it travels is neat too, the screen turning all wavy, makes you think you're on a bad black & white LSD trip. Barnam and the Prison doc aren't bad either, in fact, I rather liked Barnam, the poor unintelligent fellow. All this and a Dudley Simpson score that, even though is limited to his usual range of electronics, manages to squeese out some thrills for his Keller machine theme thingy. Overall, I'll never regret buying it, unless if I would've needed the money to purchase a new kidney.


The Mind of Average by Andrew Wixon 31/10/01

This is such an archetypal mid-Pertwee story that it's difficult to review it without letting one's prejudices towards the era creep in. I have, it must be said, come to be rather scornful of the middle third Doctor seasons: the Doctor is an arrogant, patronising, holier-than-thou bully, Jo is about as credible an intelligence operative as Secret Squirrel, the UNIT boys are comic stooges and the Master, though charismatic, is a cartoon villain. And all this things are true of Mind of Evil.

It's fashionable to argue that Mind of Evil is a throwback to the harder-edged Season Seven and while this is understandable, it's clearly not the case. Would as crassly comic a character as Cosworth have appeared the year before? Would a Season Seven story have painted international relations and foreign characters in such broad strokes? And let's take another look at that plot: given the events of Terror of the Autons, the Master must have brought the mind parasite to Earth with him even though he presumably expected the second Nestene invasion to succeed. That's what I call contingency planning. And given that he can hire uniformed mercenaries (who all vanish by episode six) why bother recruiting convicts to do his dirty work? And if he's going to blow up the peace conference with a missile why bother murdering individual delegates first? Above all, what is the point of the Keller Machine?

The Peace Conference characters and scenes are, let's face it, padding, rapidly forgotten about by half-way through the story (one suspects Don Houghton was simply trying to drum up work for his missus). This is probably for the best as the prison end of the story is much more successful. The sets are as convincing as these things get in DW, William Marlowe and Neil McCarthy turn in good performances, and the storming of the castle is impressively spectacular in its own way.

Probably the most memorable thing about Mind of Evil is how lavish bits of it are - the closing sequence with an aircraft hangar, a helicopter, a full-size missile and a van (well, maybe not the van) leaps to mind. But apart from this it's a very average Pertwee/Delgado/UNIT story. A lot of people really like that sort of thing. But, all other things being equal, I'm not one of them.


Almost a film by Tim Roll-Pickering 26/3/02

The Mind of Evil stands out as the only Jon Pertwee story that now only exists almost entirely in black and white and it may well benefit from that. It is hard to assess the full realisation of many special effects given that black and white can often get away with things that are are impossible to do in colour. Consequently this story is a little difficult to review entirely objectively since it can no longer be viewed as it was originally made.

Having said that The Mind of Evil is in many ways a hangover from Season 7 and it shares with that season many of the features which make most of its stories stand out amongst the all time greats even to this day. There's a strong sense of reality in the story, with the prison setting and the Thunderbolt missile and this provides a strong contrast to the story's more fantastical elements such as the Keller Machine and the alien parasite contained within it.

The story is strong as well, mixing several different elements to provide a strong tale. The idea of decommissioning the Thunderbolt missile at the same time as the Peace Conference comes across as a good gesture towards world peace that goes wrong, whilst the alien parasite is an interesting concept that allows the viewer a rare opportunity to see into the minds of both the Doctor and the Master. Don Houghton's script is full of strong ideas, scenes and characterisation that make it flow so well and it is supported by some excellent direction from Timothy Combe. Throughout the story there's a strong sense of its almost filmatic and this gives it much depth as do the production values. Now that the story only survives as a black and white film copy it has ironically gained a further step towards feeling like a big screen adventure.

On the cast side, Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado both give strong performances that complement and contrast one another strongly. The Master comes across well in this story, at times appearing like a major crimelord and posing as a criminal reformer whilst the Doctor once more seeks to assert his independence in seeking to get rid of the parasite quickly whilst UNIT demand his attention elsewhere. Of the guest cast William Marlowe (Mailer) comes across the best, though Patrick Godfrey (Major Cosworth) is a little too close to parody. However this does not in anyway detract from what is truly one of the all time greats of Doctor Who. 10/10


A slightly tiresome affair... by Tom May 19/9/02

"If I were a scientist?! May I tell you, sir, that I *am* a scientist! And I have been for several thousand..."
I didn't particularly enjoy this story, but maybe this is in part down to expectations. Having watched the sublime, admittedly atypical Ambassadors of Death again recently, my fervour for Season 7 amongst Dr Who's many seasons was near unparalleled. Mind of Evil I had never seen before, and I had heard it was somewhat in the style of the previous year's episodes. Additionally, Don Houghton, screenwriter of Inferno, was the writer. You can see such hopes of mine were perhaps ripe to be quashed in some way.

To begin with, Pertwee's Doctor has changed... or at least, partly; his presentation in the series has drastically altered since the previous season. He now seems fully imbedded in British neo-military life; roundly an establishment figure. This is partly created by his gradually more cosy relationship with the Brigadier and UNIT; the abrasive streak in this Doctor now extends solely to the odd "scientist with ideas above his station", "petty" bureaucrats and the politicians of the day. "Because those idiots in London won't let me!" he petulantly cries, after saying he'd like the Keller Machine destroyed. This is a Doctor who wants to do precisely what he likes; but this is not the anarchy of a Troughton or Tom Baker incarnation: it is the crusty antagonism of an irascible old British gentleman. He is a gentleman who, in an inversion of Harold Wilson's famous words, thinks only "gentlemen" of his calibre ought to be "players". Need I mention the wholly patronising tone he takes with Jo?

Pertwee's Doctor is a man of the world, rather than the universe it seems...

Self-indulgent talk about meeting Raleigh (one of the story's very rare intended light touches), a bizarre chat with a Chinese delegate in which the Doctor speaks as if he is himself a world diplomat, in the good books of none other than Chairman Mao, himself. The man is a show-off and really does very little good throughout the story. He clearly has influence in quite high places, despite his semi-rebellious pretensions; note the chat where he seems to think he can use his influence to get William Marlowe's character off.

The Doctor here is, as Mike Morris noted in his review of Ambassadors, a constantly abrasive figure, being rude to whoever he wants, when he so pleases. "Passes... television..." he absurdly laments at one point, while at the entrance to Stangmoor Prison. The difference between here and Ambassadors is that the story is far less interesting, and the Doctor doesn't do anything like as much to solve problems or uncover a mystery, as he does in the Season 7 epic. His morality in that story at least has a questioning edge to it, yet here he is complacent.

Oh, and there's a hint of Venusian Aikido, yet more gurning and some not too impressive facial contortions... par for the course sadly, with Pertwee's Doctor throughout most of his post-Season 7 stint. There's a bizarre bit where the Master is prey to the Machine's effect, and he sees an absurd maniacally laughing Pertwee on a video screen. At least this bit was inexplicable and absurdist, I suppose.

A real problem of the story is the appearance of the Master... any more complex factors at work behind the pseudo-"A Clockwork Orange" premise are instantly discarded when it emerges, early in the story, that, ah, that old Master is behind it all... cheeky old jackanapes!

While he is as ever suavely and dependably rendered by Roger Delgado, he does seem shoe-horned in to the story, and it really does all get much less interesting when he is revealed. The writer really does seem to relegate the Keller Machine to the status of a mere impersonal device, whereas in the first episode it is the epicentre.

Nothing is done really with any possibility of genuine moral questions concerning crime and punishment. Besides the Master's predictable position as "supervillain", we are given the petty distractions of William Marlowe's tough cookie ringleader of a prison rebellion (a mere standardized, blander Reegan, whom Mike Morris describes so memorably in his Ambassadors critique) and the hapless MacGuffin of Barnham. "Depending on how you look at it, he is either an idiot or a saint!" Nothing is done to explore this portentous proclamation, and he is just there as a banal distraction or as a plot device, as in the final episode.

UNIT I suppose comes across a little better than it would do in future stories. Claws of Axos, from my recollections, really quickened the rot, so to speak. It must be said, though, that the UNIT of Terror of the Autons and Mind of Evil, while still having some gravitas about it, is an altogether cosier organisation, rather than the ambivalently portrayed force it is in Season 7. It is summed up for me, when the "UNIT theme" music, so brilliantly arranged with flute and such instruments, is used here towards the story's end, played on a sole, reedy keyboard; what a dilution!

Mike Yates really does not help; an unlikely soldier he seems here. Benton I suppose is treated as both dependable and hapless. There's a good touch of having a woman soldier, a Corporal Bell, but she is barely involved and seems merely a glorified secretary.

Jo is not my favourite companion, and she is really at her worst in these earlier stories. Here, she comes across as a bland, fairly dense young girl out of her depth, at times when dealing with the beleaguered Barnham she appears a wet nurse, and she displays an unlikely penchant for kung fu. A predilection that is never revisited in the series. I prefer the strong, vivacious companions, chiefly the Romanas.

Nick Courtney always was a great asset of the programme, and he gives effective performances in Web of Fear, The Invasion and Season 7. He is still very good here; portraying a pragmatic, if largely decisive professional soldier. Lethbridge-Stewart is very much an idealized view of the firm-but-fair good old British officer, and he is well played as such. I was most amused by his adoption of a disguise and languorous accent; "... and booze for the Guv'nor... they'll think you're barmy!" A nice touch of humour and mild ingenuity; the like of both this story is notably short of. It is a shame the production team didn't consider having more dangerous elements in the British or UNIT militaries, like General Carrington, by means of emphasizing the contrasts and shades of Courtney's character.

There again, I'm drawn into a contrast between The Mind of Evil and The Ambassadors of Death... obviously I would be more lenient if I were to draw extensive comparisons with some of the misfiring Pertwee stories of later Seasons. But there is little point in doing that. Ambassadors and other Season 7 stories are wonderfully entertaining and really break new ground for the series.

The Mind of Evil is proficient as a mild entertainment, but little more: 'tis a runaround with an unlikable Doctor and a megalomaniacal villain. This is not Dr Who at its perhaps typically atypical best...

5/10


A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 17/8/03

The Mind Of Evil links three apparantly separate plot strands into what is little more than a standard Pertwee runaround. This is largely due to the six part format, which sags resulting in padding and repetition. Things that work, include the extension of UNIT (with the addition of Corporal Bell), the location work, novel ideas in the story (removing fear from criminals), the prison scenes (though they do drag at times) and the continuing Doctor/Jo development within their relationship. The ultimate appearance of the phallic shaped Kellar Machine is partially effective, because of some of the images it generates (a War Machine?) leaving you to wonder just what does the Doctor actually fear?...

Basically it's a mixture of the good and the bad, unfortunately the bad points outweigh the good.


I told you I only needed one of you by Terrence Keenan 30/9/03

There's a lot to chew on in what is easily the best serial of Season 8.

Don Houghton manages to blend in three separate plot lines (The Kellar Machine, the Peace Conference, the Thunderbolt) and pay them off in a credible, exciting fashion. Not only that, we also see things escalate in the relationship between the Master and Doctor.

Which is a good place to start. After The Deadly Assassin, this is the best Master story. Big Roger Delgado gives his best performance, period. Even more so than Terror of the Autons, we see the menace in the character's more charming moments. We also have hints that the Master fears the Doctor, if the images from the mind parasite are any clue. But the kicker is that the Doctor is ready to kill the Master and be done with him. Our hero has the Master pinned with the parasite and willing to let him go up when the Thunderbolt is blown up. Usually, the scheme backfires on the Master, or some third party serves as the agent of retribution, but in this case, the Doctor is willing to do the deed. It kicks the rivalry up a few notches. Oh, the back and forth bantering between the Doctor and Master is top notch in this one.

This is also Jo Grant's finest hour. She gets to act like an adult and gets treated like one, for the most part. I cheered when she helped stop the first riot at Stangmoor. She gets a parental side by caring for Barnham. And there's no screaming and no "help me Doctor!" moments either.

The rest of the cast all hold their own. Pertwee gives one of his stronger post-Season 7 performances. Nick Courtney gets to show a lot of sides in the Brig -- which is what makes this character more enjoyable. The rest of the cast all hold their own.

What makes The Mind of Evil so good is its mix of strong performances, a stronger script and well-designed action sequences together in a way rarely seen on Who. The Mind of Evil takes us into a more realistic setting -- there are no bug eyed monsters and the human monsters are just as frightening.

Brill stuff.


Scary shit... by Joe Ford 11/5/04

This is one of the last of three throwbacks to season seven (the other two being The Sea Devils and Invasion of the Dinosaurs) and in my book it is the most successful in capturing what was so gripping about that first year for Pertwee. For a start it is filmed and performed with total conviction, you never doubt any of the material because it is treated in such a serious and dramatic fashion. It is blessed with a fantastic budget, which allows for some breathless action sequences. And it contains a genuine threat and one that that manages to scare effectively without resorting to rubber masks and messy deaths. Oh yes this is a powerful story all right.

There is one scene in Mind of Evil that guts me every time I watch it. It takes place at the end of episode three; the Doctor is re-captured by the Master is tied into the Keller machine by Mailer. It is a combination of the imagery and the ideas. The Keller machine has already been demonstrated as a mock electric chair torture device and seeing the Doctor manhandled by such a thug with a bloody great shotgun is terrifying. The clinical setting and the Master's casual enjoyment of the situation added to Dudley Simpson's forceful musical score combines to create a truly chilling moment and one that sticks in the mind.

I have always been a firm believer that the 'real' world has no place in Doctor Who (my disgusted reaction to rape/abortion/bestiality in Warlock) or if it must be involved it should be used only as a backdrop to highlight the fantastical elements. In my book Doctor Who is escapist fiction and helps provide a release from the terrors of the real world. Watching it is like hugging a comfy blanket when you are ill. Who wants to be reminded about terrorists/rapists/incest, the sick underbelly of society that festers out of control? Not me. But then a story like The Mind of Evil comes along which deals with nuclear weapons, prison riots and evils of the mind and it reminds me that the real world can be utilised effectively, it can push terrors to the surface that we would like to forget about. It is great television, scary and thoughtful and it almost makes you ache to think what other dramatic stories there are to be told in the hellish land we live in. Doctor Who with little imagination sounds a dire prospect but when illicit elements can be used this well I am willing to forgive.

There is a hell of a lot of gunplay in the story, the action quota being much higher than your average Doctor Who. Given the era it is set in you can be sure that the stunts will be successful and several sequences, the raid on the missile and the attack on the prison are breathtaking. Doctor Who violence never feels that real to me but this, criminals and soldiers gunning each other down, strangling, punching, shooting at point blank range, is painfully realistic. UNIT is still being treated as a vicious organisation, gone is the "we don't actually arrest people" from The Invasion and now they are taking control of deadly missiles, protecting peace conferences and killing anybody that prevents them upholding the Queen's peace. They scare me frankly, despite idiots like Henderson and Yates (both seem right nancy boys) because they have the right to take lives if necessary. Even Lethbridge-Stewart takes a few of them out, posing as a provisions driver and storming into the prison grounds, he shoots somebody right in the chest on top of a building. I get that this is kill or be killed but it is still frightening.

Brr... that damn Keller room, could they have designed it any scarier? It's like some high tech dentist room, cold white tiles everywhere. When Barnham is strapped to the chair and the camera zooms down from above as the machine throbs into life you cannot fail to see the death penalty similarities. The Keller machine itself is a brilliant idea, an evil intelligence that feeds on the evils of mind and uses your fears against you... now there is a chance to get inside your characters head and see what makes them tick. During one of several heart-racing attacks by the machine the Doctor is confronted by the parallel world he saw destroyed last year in Inferno and it is touching to see it stills play heavy on his mind. Even better is the Master's fear, a truly surreal moment where the Doctor appears as some laughing phantom, taunting the Master and suggesting his deep fear of losing to his foe. Once the machine becomes mobile it really takes on a life of its own, eating up brains aplenty and turning the screen a horrible crackly white colour that, combined with the victim's deathly screams makes quite an impact. Maybe it was a mistake to make the machine so phallic looking but the ideas are what count and the performances, especially Jon Pertwee's make the thing far more frightening than it really deserves to be.

Ahh yes Pertwee, the least impressive actor of the lot you say? I say rubbish and watch this story as an example of what he was capable of. His turn as the terrified Doctor is unforgettable, for the usually arrogant and insulting Time Lord to be so helpless and petrified and yet still maintain his dignity was not an easy job but Pertwee is superb, his achingly tired, almost drugged reaction to the Master's abuse is haunting. To know that one of his hearts stopped suddenly makes the threat very real, even the Doctor cannot fight against this monster and it will never stop coming. I realise Pertwee enjoyed playing the dashing dilettante and he certainly impresses in his action sequences in other stories but this is his star turn, showing the Doctor at his all time weakest and yet still managing to fight. When he says, "How on Earth am I going to stop (the machine) now?" you know that things are bad.

The story even compromises the Master who made his debut in the previous story as a intergalactic showman, deadly certainly but with a knowing smile that informs us he will always be beaten in the end. Here there are no such pretences and when he infiltrates the prison with bombs and guns to release the inmates all that cuddly villainy drops away. Suddenly he is torturing the Doctor in the most perverse manner and stealing missiles to fire at a peace conference. In these post 9/11 days his plans seem more terrifying than ever, this may be elaborate fiction but there are some shocking reminders of some of the worst atrocities humanity has seen. There is a sinister edge to the Master in this story that we never saw very often (The Deadly Assassin, the end of the Keeper of Traken, Survival) but should have been exploited far more. Brought to such a deadly serious level the Master is quite the gripping villain, one you never doubt when he threatens, "I'll put a bullet through both your hearts".

If all people can rant on about is the coincidence of the Keller machine and the Thunderbolt being dealt with in the same story then we should consider ourselves lucky. Come on, Doctor Who thrives on bloody coincidences like this all the time! The only trouble I have with the plotting is the repetitive nature of some of the events; the cliffhangers do feel very samey when there were some ripe moments to choose from (driving off with the missile for one!). But even these faults can be looked on as strengths when you realise how much more striking each machine attack is to the last, the way the familiar events build in tension ensure that the climax is very potent indeed.

Timothy Coome is a much-undervalued director and his work here maintains his flawless track record that began with the equally impressive Silurians. He manages to capture a scene as vividly as possible and create an atmosphere of terror as good as any of the celebrated Who directors. Touches like the cage rattling inmates during each Keller process, the 'phantom' Doctor looming over the Master, the close up of the bubbling creature with Summers' disgusted reaction in the background, prove he is milking the story for every nightmare. He somehow manages to make the machine disappearing from a room the most alarming of moments, some fast zooms, drunken angles and fades he convinces the machine is bloody well pissed off and wants out! He handles the action with a nice touch of realism, laying off on the music so we can hear the men screaming their last screams.

This sort of thing would have put me off ever watching the show again when I was a kid so I can only imagine what the youth of then had to say. How Terror of the Autons managed to escape the 70's as the biggest scare fest when this shocker was nestled next door is beyond me.

It remains one of my favourite Pertwees to this day mainly due to its clinical realism and unflattering glimpse at the real world. There is a remarkably polished feel about the show aided by the fact that it only exists in black and white which helps immeasurably (no gaudy colours to get in the way of the scares!). I cannot understand how this is compared to James Bond as not one of those camp classics comes close to capturing the cold flavour of this story, yes they both enjoy plenty of action but in terms of atmosphere and terror The Mind of Evil wins hands down.


A Review by Brian May 13/7/04

The Mind of Evil epitomises the Jon Pertwee era of Doctor Who. The earthbound setting; lots of action to allow the third Doctor many opportunities for flamboyant heroics; a heavy UNIT presence; and, of course, the Master up to his usual tricks. It's set in season eight, when Barry Letts's vision for the programme began to solidify, with elements of familiarity and cosiness, but it has more in common with the hard edged and bleak season seven.

Remarkably, for its six-part length, it's engaging and well paced. There's no need to mention the dreaded p-word! There are some slow moments, but they're primarily contained within episode five (the scenes with the Doctor and Jo locked in the cell, up to and including his Walter Raleigh story), but most fifth episodes are like this, anyway.

The story shouldn't work - there's a lot of inconsistency. The Master is plotting everything at once - the use of the mind parasite, taking over Stangmoor Prison, hijacking the Thunderbolt missile to destroy the peace conference in London, plus his use of Chin Lee to spy and (apparently) cause suspicion and discontent at the conference (the death of the Chinese delegate, the attack on the American senator). His plan is just more than a little convoluted! There's also the matter of the parasite; it's definitely alien (he yells "I brought you here!" when fighting it off in episode four) and, in the guise of Emil Keller, he's been operating it for almost a year, having conducted 112 mind processes. Since the previous televised adventure, Terror of the Autons, he hasn't able to leave Earth, as the Doctor stole his dematerialisation circuit. So he must have had it stored in his TARDIS before his arrival in Autons. Did he actually expect his first plan to destroy humanity to fail? It's also illogical that the peace conference would occur at the same time as the transportation of the missile, a plot contrivance explained away by the Doctor as "Not the most tactful time".

But it's only after you sit down and think about it that the above problems become apparent. Don Houghton's script keeps the story going at a rapid momentum, so while you're watching, the pace is wonderfully distracting. It stops from dragging by cutting back and forth between the various scenarios, rarely getting bogged down in one place for too long. And it's so enjoyable as well! It plays like a James Bond film, with the political situation, combined with the multitude of action scenes. The highlight is the amazing storming of the fortress in episode five. The other great moment, the hijacking of the Thunderbolt missile in part four, believe it or not, I find rather disappointing, reminding me of the hijacking scene in The Ambassadors of Death. It's a too similar, truncated version of the marvellous set piece in that season seven story. But overall, for an action treat, you can't go wrong.

There are also strong elements of suspense and horror. The clinical nature of the processing room is strongly reminiscent of the experiments of various mad scientists. The Keller machine becomes a thing of dread - it's a cheap looking alien-in-a-box, but its presence is more monstrous than any bug-eyed, rubber suited creature - it retains a sense of mystery, which works in its favour. It's very nail-biting when it starts to vanish and reappear.

The entire nature of the Keller process is quite disturbing, as well. It's a form of social engineering, designed as a substitute for capital punishment. Barnham, the first subject of the machine in this story, will, as Kettering puts it, "take his place as a useful, if lowly, member of society". So let's just forget about reform or rehabilitation, eh? Everyone in their place. And ironically, the gentle, docile Barnham becomes an ally - a likable, sympathetic and, in the end, tragic figure; but he's not the real Barnham, the criminal who resisted the process to the very end. He did not volunteer for the treatment; if he'd never been forced to undergo it, he would probably be no different from Mailer.

Of course, credit must go to Neil McCarthy, whose fine performance gives the character such pathos that you can't help but feel for the placid, doe-eyed giant. William Marlowe is brilliant as Mailer, while Michael Sheard, in one of his many Who roles, is understated but excellent as Dr Summers. All the regulars are great. As mentioned already, producer Barry Letts began to tone down Doctor Who during season eight, especially with the "UNIT family". They're all present in this story, but thankfully the sense of cosiness had not yet cemented itself. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is still the dependable, efficient leader of a crack military unit. He's also human (falling asleep at his desk), capable of sarcasm, with his wonderful "You'd better go and lie down!" to Benton, plus a retort to the oblivious Major Cosworth (and thank goodness this pompous git didn't return!) His error in believing the missile to be in the prison is not buffoonish; it's a logical conclusion to make, given the information he has. (And when Fu Peng dismisses him as ignorant in episode two, I think this is more a commentary on east-west relations rather than a personal slight.) Benton gets some good scenes, especially in the final half, as does Captain Yates, who was introduced in Terror of the Autons seemingly as a romantic interest for Jo. Here he finally gets his hands dirty, becoming a proper soldier. Jo, similarly introduced as a companion for the Doctor to patronise and protect, gets to be very resourceful, having some wonderful scenes at the prison. The Master, despite his aforementioned ill thought out plans, is a dark and nasty character. It's a great moment when the Keller machine reveals his fear - that of the Doctor getting the better of him.

One quibble with the story is the similarity of the cliffhangers; episodes one to four are all involve the Keller machine in some way; one, three and four also give Jon Pertwee more chances to pull faces, perhaps the one shortcoming of director Timothy Combe (in his otherwise excellent Doctor Who and the Silurians, there are four Pertwee gurns!). However, episode five's climax is a corker, with a resolution that doesn't cheat at all.

The music, keeping in line with the rest of the season, is more of Dudley Simpson’s synthesiser-mad phase. The UNIT theme during the storming of the prison is a poor rendition of the gorgeous piano driven version that graced Ambassadors. Although the frenzied, freak-out tune we hear whenever the machine appears is very good, reinforcing the prevailing sense of dread.

However, these elements can't detract from an excellently directed, designed, photographed and acted piece of action and suspense, which is edge of seat right to the end. It's glossy, high budget and gripping. The problems with the script are confidently obscured by the sheer lightning pace, only becoming subject to scrutiny by those sad, obsessed fans who analyse it to death. And then write reviews of it. 8.5/10


Missiles and Cigars at Her Majesty's Pleasure by Joe Briggs-Ritchie 18/12/09

Season Eight is really very good, all things considered. There isn't a single story I dislike in this season; they've all got something to recommend them. The Mind of Evil is certainly a contender for the best story this season. The fact that it now exists solely in black & white is actually to the story's credit. It detracts from some of the special effects that would look less convincing in colour and basically just lends the whole thing a grim quality which is completely appropriate for such a gritty, serious story. If one were to watch The Mind of Evil and The Claws of Axos back to back, the contrast between the visual styles of the two stories would certainly be noticeable - and that's even before you take rude-looking spaceships and gibbering tramps into consideration. I also like The Ambassadors of Death better in black & white and that's also a serious, gritty story with a profusion of human villains. They colourised some of it for the video release but I always turn the colour off and watch it monochrome. It'll be interesting to see whether they restore the two stories to colour when they release them on DVD.

Apparently this was a horrendously expensive story to make and it certainly looks impressive. A real missile no less! In front of a big warehouse on a working launch pad. Add to this the location filming at Dover Castle and the Master riding around in a Daimler and you have a very classy-looking story. I visited Dover Castle in 1998 just before the story was released on video. I wish I'd known at the time that it was filmed there!

The Third Doctor seems to be at his most irritable in this one. He's relentlessly arrogant, pompous and constantly upstages everyone but that's one of the reasons why we love him right? He frequently interrupts Professor Kettering when he's trying to give a talk about the Keller Machine, he's generally dismissive and rude to just about everyone in sight and he clearly enjoys showing off his ability to speak Hokkien and Cantonese. Not too sure about the Mao Tse Tung namedropping though. I hardly think he'd be the sort of company the Doctor would keep.

The Doctor obviously appreciates that the Keller Machine is the real threat, as he doesn't seem too bothered by Mailer or any of the other prisoners. I especially like the bit where Mailer jumps out and points a shotgun at him and he says "don't point that thing at me man, it might go off!" Perhaps his exile is getting to him and putting him in a bad mood.

Jo is quite good in this story. Okay, so in the space of two stories she's managed to get herself hypnotised and taken hostage but she still comes across as being a capable assistant to the Doctor. She's quite comfortable with a gun and she manages to overpower the inmates during the first riot. Katy Manning already has a very good chemistry with Jon Pertwee, something that will remain for the duration of her time on the show but unfortunately this is Jo's peak. She does have some good stories after this but it's mostly downhill from here.

The guest cast are also very good. Michael Sheard is always good in Doctor Who and he doesn't disappoint here. Mailer is a thoroughly nasty piece of work, all the more so because he isn't driven by a desire to conquer the universe, destroy the Earth or enslave the Human species. He simply wants money and a way out. He's desperate and that makes him considerably more dangerous than the Master, in some ways. He doesn't have that suave, sophisticated, cultured edge that the Master does. He's cold, cynical and ruthless. William Marlowe is excellent in the role and it brings back memories of Reegan from The Ambassadors of Death.

The UNIT lot are all on form and I quite liked the Brigadier's van-driver act in episode five and also his order to Corporal Bell to "lay on some coffee". Yates is a bit sickly in this one. I'm sure everyone is familiar with the awful "she's quite a dolly" line. Chin Lee does a good turn as a hypnotised automaton and Neil McCarthy makes Barnham a truly sympathetic character and his death is genuinely saddening. It's really Roger Delgado's story though. It's probably his best performance all season, possibly even his best performance as the Master, period. He's clearly having a huge amount of fun playing the character. The cigar is also a nice touch, makes him seem more like a human villain. He and Jon Pertwee have an excellent rapport and even though this is only the Master's second appearance, it's quite clear that their relationship is a complex one. It says a lot about the Master's character that he sees the Doctor laughing when the machine attacks him.

Ah yes. The Keller Machine. Some clarification on certain aspects of this creature would have been helpful; e.g., why does it actually need to scare people to death in order to feed on them? How come Linwood was covered in scratches and Kettering's lungs were full of water? Scaring them to death is one thing but how did that fear manifest physical symptoms? It doesn't really detract from the effectiveness of the Machine, though. It looks fairly inoffensive but it's absolutely deadly. All the cliffhangers bar one involve the machine attacking someone though, so it gets a bit monotonous. Dudley Simpson's theme for the creature is very effective as is the first cliffhanger when it makes a nice reference to Inferno. There does seem to be something about the Process Room which makes people behave irrationally. Yates walks in and threatens to drag the Doctor back to UNIT HQ; later on, Summers walks in and tries to drag Barnham away before Jo can explain what's going on. Weird.

I wish they'd hurry up with the DVD release.