The Mind Of Evil – 1971 – S8 – E2/5

wpid-the-mind-of-evil-doctor-who-2.jpgNumber : Season 8, episode 2 of 5.

Which One : The evil sucking machine and the Thunderbolt missile.

Cast : The Doctor : Jon Pertwee
Jo : Katy Manning
Brigadier : Nicholas Courtney
Captain Mike Yates : Richard Franklin
Sergeant Benton : John Levene
The Master : Roger Delgado
Corporal Bell : Fernanda Marlowe
Major Cosworth : Patrick Godfrey
Kettering : Simon Lack
Chin Lee : Pik-Sen Lim
Fu Peng : Kristopher Kum
Senator Alcott : Tommy Duggan
Prison Governor : Raymond Westwell
Dr Roland Summers : Michael Sheard
Chief Prison Officer Powers : Roy Purcell
Senior Prison Officer Green : Eric Mason
Arthur Linwood : Clive Scott
George Patrick Barnham : Neil McCarthy
Mailer : William Marlowe
Vosper : Hayden Jones
Charlie : David Calderisi
Fuller : Johnny Barrs
Main Gates Prisoner : Matthew Walters

Written By : Don Houghton

Produced By : Barry Letts

First UK Broadcast : 30 January–6 March 1971.

Length : 6 x 25 minute parts.

Plot : The Doctor and Jo are sent by UNIT to Strangmoor prison to witness the operation of the Keller machine, which literally sucks all of the evil from a prisoners mind. Meanwhile, The Master is concocting a scheme to use the Keller machine to steal the Thunderbolt gas-powered nuclear missile from UNIT.

Whats good : Has a strong crime and punishment ethics angle. The Keller machine as a secondary threat to the Master is useful. The envisionaged fears of the Doctor and Master are interesting. The Brigadier’s common delivery-man act.

Whats bad : Its a bit boring until episode 3 and then episode 5 & 6 feel drawn out. There is a lot of indiscriminate killing.

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Review With Spoilers : The Mind Of Evil is the second episode of season 8 and the Master’s second appearance in a full story-arc of Master stories.

The Doctor and Jo visit Strangmoor prison, to witness the demonstration of a new device – The Kellerman machine; which literally sucks the evil thoughts from the prisoners minds.

Unknown to the Doctor, the Kellerman machine is the product of the Master’s twisted mind, masquerading as Professor Kellerman. The Master intends to use the Kellerman machine to steal a nuclear missile and disrupt a peace conference.

What Pertwee Who usually managed to do – rather successfully, (for a show about a Time traveller who couldn’t actually travel) was to provide some pretty good Earth based adventures. Spearhead From Space, Inferno and The Sea Devils easily rank amongst the best Who, despite their limited Earth-bound scope.

Mind Of Evil is another of these Earthbound adventures but unlike it’s contemporaries, doesn’t really have the substance of a Who classic due to a cluttered and messy story.

The Master is the main villain in this, attempting to liberate the missile and use it against a peace conference. However, the emerging self aware Keller machine (as a secondary baddie) is well used and is a useful threat. Especially when it becomes mobile and begins teleporting around – killing people.

The main problem with The Mind Of Evil is that it feels like 2 separate adventures in one. We have the more mundane political intrigue of the first half, set around the peace conference and the Kellerman machines attempts to disrupt proceedings.

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“Science has abolished the hangman’s noose and substituted this [Keller machine] infallible method!” Kettering

Then we have the more action-orientated 2nd half, set in Strangmoor prison – where the inmates escape and the Master liberates the Thunderbolt from UNIT, to start WW-III.

The second half is much better than the first due to the pacing being a lot quicker. I pretty much sat largely bored through the first 2 parts. However, it did pick up from episode 3 onwards – for a while.

The Master created Keller machine running wild and threatening everyone (including the Master) is the most best part of The Mind Of Evil and a tangible threat.

Chiefly, due to it being a clever plot device to force the Doctor and The Master to work together for the common good. Something which usually happens in a Pertwee/Delgado episode and some of the best scenes in this, are from their shared interactions – as you would expect.

Also, the Keller machine gives the viewer a window into the worst fears of both the Master and the Doctor, as it attacks them – both mentally. For the Master it’s the cackling image of the Doctor hanging over him and for the Doctor – interestingly it isn’t reciprocated as his fear is of the Dalek’s.

What sits less well though, is there is alot of indiscriminate killing with guns. Especially when the inmates breakout of Strangmoor and when UNIT retake the prison. The body count here feels higher than an Arnie movie.

The Mind Of Evil is a “mis-mash” of interesting concepts, messy direction, long drawn out plot-lines and questionable action set pieces.

Ultimately – an episode featuring the Master; which gives plenty of opportunity for enjoyable interaction with the Doctor, has to be worth watching but it all suffers from a messy script.

If anything, The Mind Of Evil needs to be watched just to see the Brigadier attempt a common man’s accent, as he bluffs his way into Strangmoor prison as a delivery driver.

However, as it starts off slow; finally builds to something and then spends the last 2 episodes stretching proceedings out – it can hardly be considered a classic but there is enough here to make it watchable.

🔵🔵🔵⚪⚪ (3/5)

Old Doctor Who


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