Doctor Who - The Face of Evil
Philip Hinchcliffe for BBC
directed by Pennant Roberts
starring Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, David Garfield, Victor Lucas, Brendan Price, Leslie Schofield, Colin Thomas, Lloyd McGuire, Leon Eagles, Mike Elles, Peter Baldock, Tom Kelly, Brett Forrest, Rob Edwards (voice), Pamela Salem (voice), Anthony Frieze (voice), Roy Herrick (voice)
written by Chris Boucher, music by Dudley Simpson
Doctor Who, Doctor Who (Tom Baker), Doctor Who (classic series), Leela
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On a nameless planet, young and fierce warrior Leela (Louise Jameson)
is cast out from her primitive tribe, the Sevateem - that's inexplicably
littered with relics from a spaceship - for speaking out against their
alleged "god" Xoanon and their attack against "the
wall", which is demanded by their shaman Neeva (David Garfield),
Leela's sworn enemy. On the run, Leela runs into space-and-time traveler
Doctor Who (Tom Baker), who has landed on the planet by mere chance, and
seeing his face she immediately mistakes him for "the Evil One"
- being convinced of his good nature only when he saves her from an
invisible creature only hunting by sound. However, the Doctor is soon
captured by the Sevateem, who also mistake him for the Evil One, and now
it's up to Leela to save him. An attempt by the Sevateem to re-capture him
turns up fruitless, yet Neeva claims he has been killed as an omen that
the attack on the wall will be successful - and so they attack.
Doctor and Leela meanwhile drop into the Sevateem village, and seeing the
relics the Doctor begins to understand - but still wonders why everybody's
taking him for the Evil One. When the Sevateem return, the Doctor offers
his help, but that's where chaos breaks loose, as Xoanon (who is an actual
being, and shaman Neeva actually speaks with him) releases his invisible
creatures onto the Sevateem.
The Doctor sumises if there are all these
relics from a spaceship among the Sevateem, the spaceship has to be
nearby, probably behind "the wall", which is actually adorned by
a giant sculpture of his head - making it all the more likely that he has
meddled with the affairs of this planet before.
The Doctor and Leela
climb inside the sculpture's mouth and find a teleporter to the spaceship,
where they find another tribe, the Tesh, who have the power of telepathy
but other than that are just as primitive as the Sevateem. And the Doctor
finds a supercomputer, which he has centuries ago fed his mind into, and
the computer has since gone schizophrenic, and has separated the survey
team (Sevateem) from the technicians (Tesh) to see which is more equipped
for survival, shutting them off from one another and creating animosity
between the two camps in the long haul. It's now up to the Doctor to turn
off the computer that is Xoanon and thus restore order on the planet, but
Xoanon is less than likely to want that ...
restrictions and bland direction notwithstanding, this is a near perfect
episode of Doctor Who: The idea of a supercomputer that has
made himself God of a primitive tribe is not only inspired but even
proto-cyberpunk, and while the story's logic might not be absolute
perfection, but makes perfect sense within the confines of the episode.
But what The Face of Evil is actually really good at is
world-building: Despite the rather cheapish sets and some ridiculous
costumes (especially the Tesh), the very alien world this story takes
place feels lived in, the lives of these primitive tribes make sense,
thanks of course to a well-crafted script, but also strong performances
and a emphasis on atmospheric filmmaking that belies the economically
built sets. And the result of all of this is quite simply rather awesome.
an added bonus, this episode gifted the Doctor his arguably best
companion, Leela, who as a logical continuation of Sarah
Jane Smith's at times forced textbook feminism really acts
like the brawns to the Doctor's brains, thus reverting gender conventions,
in a narratively motivated way (which goes for Leela's entire run).