Wednesday, December 28, 2016

TV Review: Doctor Who: The Mind of Evil

Doctor Who: The Mind of Evil written by Don Houghton and directed by Timothy Combe

The Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) travels with companion Jo Grant (Katy Manning) to Stangmore Prison to observe the latest in correctional technology--the Keller Device. The machine is used to remove all the evil thoughts and impulses from whoever is subjected to it. Professor Keller has used it over a hundred times in Switzerland and this demonstration will be the first use in England. The machine goes horribly awry and the Doctor begins to investigate.

Meanwhile, U.N.I.T. (the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) takes on two missions. First, they are providing security to a world peace conference in London. Second, they will escort a Thunderbolt missile to its destruction. The Thunderbolt is armed with chemical weapons and is illegal, so they plan to dump it in the ocean so it can't be put to ill use. The conference has problems with the Chinese delegation, causing no end of problems for Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. He recalls the Doctor to help the situation, leaving Jo to cover the creepy problems at the prison.

The various threads take their time coming together but of course they do. If you know classic Doctor Who, the DVD cover spoils who the main villain is (though he is also mentioned on the back). He takes his time showing up, which fits the pacing of this six-part series. Only a few of the scenes look like padding to make the 146-minute running time. The story moves slowly but methodically to its conclusion in a satisfactory manner.

Pertwee isn't my favorite Doctor, his performance is uneven. The villain is very good. He doesn't have the over-the-top cheesiness that often comes with being a Doctor Who baddie. Jo is a competent, self-reliant, and compassionate companion--the sort of solid support the Doctor needs. Overall, the acting is good.

The production values are pretty high for Doctor Who. Since the villains are the machine and a person, there's no rubber suits or dodgy special effects constantly popping up. Only a few times the show looks dated and under-budgeted. They used Dover Castle for the prison exteriors which looks great and makes a good setting for drama and action. The synthetic music score is a little annoying and definitely dates the show.

Another fun adventure with the Doctor!

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