Number : Season 4, episode 8 of 9
Which One : Faceless chameleon.
Cast : The Doctor : Patrick Troughton
Polly : Anneke Wills
Ben Jackson : Michael Craze
Jamie : Frazer Hines
Commandant : Colin Gordon
Blade : Donald Pickering
Jean Rock : Wanda Ventham
Samantha Briggs : Pauline Collins
Crossland : Bernard Kay
Meadows : George Selway
Ann Davidson : Gilly Fraser
Spencer : Victor Winding
Jenkins : Christopher Tranchell
Inspector Gascoigne : Peter Whitaker
Heslington : Barry Wilsher
Nurse Pinto : Madalena Nicol
Supt. Reynolds : Leonard Trolley
Policeman : James Appleby
Announcer : Brigit Paul
AF Pilot : Michael Ladkin
Written By : Malcolm Hulke & David Ellis.
Produced By : Innes Lloyd & Peter Bryant
First UK Broadcast : 8 April – 13 May 1967.
Length : 6 x 25 minute parts.
Plot : The Doctor returns to Gatwick, in 1966 and uncovers a plot by shape-changing chameleons – to kidnap young people for.
Whats good : It has some good ideas. The chameleons are a decent concept – not really invaders, more survivalists. Their “look” is memorable. The copied bodies laid out in the carpark is chilling. The on-location airport footage gives it an authentic feel. Pauline Collins’ Samantha would have made a good companion; alongside Jamie. Sets up the opening events of The Evil Of The Daleks.
Whats bad : At 6 parts, it’s too long and drawn out. Polly and Ben go strangely missing after episode 3 and don’t return till the end. It’s another deleted episode.
Review With Spoilers : The Faceless Ones is the 8th and penultimate episode of season 4 and features the last appearance of companions Ben and Polly.
The Tardis happens to land at Gatwick airport, London – on 20 July 1966 (the day that Ben and Polly oriinally departed with the First Doctor) and Polly witnesses a murder in one of the hangers of a policeman by some chameleonic lifeforms – masquerading as airport personnel.
The fearureless Chameleons – (it later turns out) were all disfigured, by their homeworld sun exploding and they now “steal” the identities of other lifeforms by keeping the original victim on ice – to maintain the contact. A kind of a Zygon proto-type monster.
The Chameleons, are operating from a hidden Earth geo-orbit satellite and sending planes (capable of space flight) down to Earth; under the guise of a fake travel company – to steal humans to copy.
The Faceless Ones is an almost entirely airport-based;mystery piece. Featuring the shape changing Chameleons, who steal human identities. Nobody – is what they truly seem.
It benefits from plenty of on-location shooting, at the real Garwick airport; which gives The Faceless Ones – an authentic feel.
The Chameleons are strikingly realised – for a Who monster. Their real appearances, are only fleetingly revealed – (until the end) and make up some of the more memorable moments from the first 3 parts.
“Somewhere in outer space, there are fifty thousand young people, three of my friends amongst them, and somehow we’ve got to bring them back. I want to get on this last flight, which means the Chameleons must think that everything is going according to plan!” The Doctor
Their intentions; are unusually – for Who, not about world domination/extermination. They “only” want to steal 50,000 young people to maintain their copied images and improve their races appearance. A drop in the ocean really, when taken alongside the Dalek’s and Cybermen’s mass-genocide plans.
Companions Ben and Polly, are bizarrely written out – mid-episode after being captured by the Chamleons. They don’t appear again, until a small pre-filmed reappearance right at the end.
Which is an odd way to dispense with 2 likable and popular companions but was probably due to the actors being only paid up for the first half and the decision made to release them.l – following this.
It does however, give new companion Jamie room to manoveur and develop -alongside his temporary squeeze; Samantha Briggs (Shirley Valentine‘s Pauline Collins).
The Faceless Ones also benefits from strong performances from; Donald Pickering – as the coldly sterile Chameleon Captain Blade and Who regular Bernard Kay – as Crossland.
The Faceless Ones has many good concepts and ideas present. Including, the look of the Chameleons and the discovery of all of the human bodies (being copied by the Chameleons) hidden in cars in the airport carpark.
At 6 parts though, it is far too long and could have been a much more to-the-point and punchier 4-parter. The latter parts, are stretched out too much and whilst the Chameleons are an interesting concept – they ultimately aren’t that memorable.
Not enough is made of their human-mimicing skill and The Faceless Ones could have benefited from a full-on”no-one can be trusted” angle – as they could infact be a Chameleon in disguise.
Patrick Troughton has a good turn here, as the Doctor. He bounces along, somewhere between airport prankster and undercover detective. His scenes where he continually harasses the airport commandant – are fun too.
The Faceless Ones is an overly long but still an interesting airport number, with an alternative monster and monster motivational angle. It also sets up the next episode; The Evil Of The Daleks
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