Number : Season 14, episode 4 of 6.
Which One : Meet Leela. The Doctor’s previous interference on a planet, 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 parts.
Plot : The Doctor journeys to an unknown jungle planet and meets the exiled Sevateem savage; called 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 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 his interference in a race/planet’s development – was not for the best.
It’s clearly an occupational hazard that the Doctor faces, on an adventurely basis but 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.
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 opress the inhabitants – hence being known as a 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.
“[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 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 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, after the Doctor and Leela gain access to the Xoanon computer and 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.
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