Number : Season 14, serial 4 of 6.

Which One : Meet Leela. The Doctor’s previous planetaey interference, takes a sinister turn.

Cast : The Doctor : Tom Baker
Leela : Louise Jameson
Neeva : David Garfield
Andor : Victor Lucas
Tomas : Brendan Price
Calib : Leslie Schofield
Sole : Colin Thomas
Lugo : Lloyd McGuire
Jabel : Leon Eagles
Gentek : Mike Elles
Acolyte : Peter Baldock
The Assassin : Harry Fielder

Written By : Chris Boucher

First UK Broadcast : 01 – 22 January 1977.

Length : 4 x 25 minute episodes.

Plot : The Doctor journeys to an unknown jungle planet and meets the exiled Sevateem savage; Leela. More worryingly though, is the huge carving of the Doctor’s image in a cliff face; which the Sevateem worship, as an evil deity; known as “Xoanon”.

Whats good : Leela. The jungle set is original. The Doctor’s “god” problem.

Whats bad : The Sevateem actors – apart from Leela and Shaman Neeva; don’t convince – as savage warriors.

Review With Spoilers : The Face Of Evil marks the introduction of the Doctor’s new companion; Leela. It also covers the aftermath, of a previously uncovered (and unfilmed) Doctor visit; where the Time Lord’s interference in a race/planet’s development; did not turn-out, for the best.

It’s clearly an occupational hazard, that the Doctor faces. We never usually get to see the aftermath of the Doctor’s schemes; after having altered planetary events. Especially, when his tinkering causes oppression – rather than freedom. (their was brief mention of the Third Doctor having visited Karfel before the Sixth Doctor – in Timelash and the Seventh Doctor havibg had an adventure as Merlin the Wizard in Battlefield.

In this case, we don’t get to see the Doctor’s original visit – to the jungle world but it is assumed to have taken place sometime around the events of Robot; whilst under post-regenerative stress/confusion.

Which explains somewhat, why the Doctor mis-programmes a powerful computer – in his own likeness; to rule over the jungle planet and oppress the inhabitants – hence being known as an ‘evil god’.

We are also introduced to Leela, the Doctor’s new companion; who is an ass-kicking savage warrior-maiden. Happy to stick ex-tribal friends, with paralyzing Janus thorns. Much to the Doctor’s moral disgust. In terms of feminist progression – in Who, this one ripped up the rulebook.

The expansive jungle set deserves a mention, simply because of its unique look and brings back thoughts of the jungle set from Planet Of Evil. Maybe they resused some of the props?

“[to Leela] That wasn’t necessary. Who licensed you to slaughter people? No more Janis thorns, understand? EVER!” The Doctor.

Also, Tom Baker – always excelled at playing evil characters or evilly-motivated versions of the Doctor, such as in Meglos. He also excels in this, playing the projected form of the evil super computer; ‘Xoanon’.

The Face Of Evil is the logical Who-story; never attempted before, which shows the aftermath of the Doctor’s previous time-meddling. With the introduction of companion Leela and a strong performance from Baker – as the evil god computer Xoanon; it has to qualify as another good Hinchcliffe number.

It is unfortunately – let down by a saggy final third – and a long drawn out middle section. Especially, after the Doctor and Leela gain access to the Xoanon computer and it could do with a recut here-and-there.

But it’s still a strong Hinchcliffe episode and a first for the series (returning to a planet badly affected by the Doctor’s previous interference), despite some bad pacing issues.

????⚪ (4/5)

Old Doctor Who

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