Number : Season 8, serial 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 episodes.
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 prisoner’s mind. Meanwhile, The Master is concocting a scheme, to use the Keller machine to steal the Thunderbolt gas-powered nuclear missile, from UNIT’s possession.
Whats good : Has a strong crime-and-punishment angle. The Keller machine, as a secondary antagonist – to both the Doctor and 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.
Review With Spoilers : The Mind Of Evil is the second serial of season 8 – and The Master’s – second appearance; in a full story-arc of – The Master featuring stories.
The Doctor and Jo- visit Strangmoor prison, to witness the demonstration of a new device – The Kellerman machine; which claims it can literally sucks the ‘evil thoughts’ from the prisoners mind – and rehabilitate them.
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 Doctor 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 more 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 Doctor Who classic; due to a cluttered and messy story.
The Master, is the main villain in this – attempting to liberate the Thunderbolt missile – and use it against a peace conference. However, the emerging self-aware Keller machine becomes a thrrat in it’s own right. Especially when it becomes mobile and begins teleporting around; killing people – in it’s wake.
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 which the Kellerman machine; attempts to disrupt.
“Science has abolished the hangman’s noose and substituted this [Keller machine] infallible method!” Kettering
Then we have the more action-orientated second half, set in Strangmoor prison; where the inmates escape – and the Master liberates the Thunderbolt missile – from UNIT.
The second half, is much better than the first – due to the pacing being a lot quicker. I sat largely bored through the first 2 episodes. However, it did pick up from episode 3 -onwards.
The (Master created) Keller-machine running wild and threatening everyone (including The Master) is the 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 happened in a Pertwee/Delgado episode and some of the best scenes here, are from their shared interactions.
Also, the Keller-machine gives the viewer a window – into the worst fears of both the Master and the Doctor, as it attacks them – 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 Daleks.
What sits less well, though; is alot of indiscriminate killing with guns. Especially when the inmates breakout of Strangmoor – and also when UNIT retake the prison. The body count here, feels higher than an Arnold Scwarzenegger 80’s 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 which showcases The Master; which gives plenty of opportunity for enjoyable interaction between the Master and the Doctor, has to be worth watching; even if it suffers – from a messy script.
If anything, The Mind Of Evil needs to be watched, just to see the Brigadier – attempt a ‘common’ accent, as he bluffs his way into Strangmoor prison – as a delivery driver.
The Mind Of Evil starts off slow; then finally builds to something interesting – but spends the last two episodes – stretching proceedings out. It can hardly be considered a classic but there is enough here, to make it watchable. At least once.
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