Number : Season 4, serial 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 episodes.
Plot : The Doctor returns to Gatwick, in 1966 – and uncovers a plot by shape-changing chameleons; to kidnap young people.
Whats good : 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 episodes – 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 story.
Review With Spoilers : The Faceless Ones is the eighth – 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 airplane hangers of a policeman; by some chameleonic lifeforms – masquerading as airport personnel.
The ‘featureless’5 Chameleons, (it later turns out) – were disfigured, by their homeworld sun exploding – and they now “steal” the identities of other lifeforms (by keeping the original victims alive but unconscious – to maintain thir copy ). A kind of pre-cursor to the Zygon.
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 ‘airport’ feel.
The Chameleons are strikingly realised – for a Who monster. Their real appearances, are only fleetingly revealed – and their appearance makes up – some of the more memorable moments, from the first three episodes.
“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
The Chameleons intentions; are unusually – for Who, not about world domination or Earth extermination. They “only” want to steal 50,000 young people to maintain their copied images – and improve their race’s 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 of this; mid-story – after being captured by the Chamleons. They don’t appear again, until a small pre-filmed re-appearance; right at the end.
This is an odd way, to dispense with two likable and popular companions but was probably due to the actors themselves, only being paid for the first half – and the decision made to release them early; as they were leaving anyway.
It does however, give new companion Jamie – more room to develop; alongside his new ‘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 car-park.
At 6 episodes, though, it is far too long; and could have been a much more ‘to-the-point’ punchier four-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. 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 interesting ‘airport number’. With a good concept for a monster/antagonist. It also feeds into, and sets-up the next episode; The Evil Of The Daleks
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