Doctor Who: The Face of Evil (Story 89)
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The Doctor touches down on a savage planet and befriends Leela, a fetchingly-dressed outcast from the tribe.]]>
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Originally titled "The Day that God Went Mad," this serial takes us into an unnamed planet in the distant future, where two tribal factions are locked in an eternal (and ultimately futile) struggle, even though neither side has ever seen its enemy. The inherent danger offered by organized religion is taken to task in a way few episodes before (or since) were up to challenging: as usual, the local God has a perfectly logical, scientific explanation, but there's no explaining this to his devoted followers, particularly the quick-thinking high priest.
The episode is of course noteworthy because it introduces Leela, as portrayed by Louise Jameson, who remains one of the most popular companions of one of the most popular Doctors. Tom Baker carries off another brilliant performance, cheerfully spouting nonsense even as crossbows and poison darts are pointed in his direction. The episode also has the advantage of being part of Season Thirteen, which is definitely Tom Baker's high point as the Doctor. There is stark contrast between the aggressively savage Sevateem and the quietly fanatical Tesh, and it is this contrast which leads the Doctor to the story's climax: the local God is a divided personality and must be made whole --and the Doctor himself is the original cause of the problem! Besides Ms.Read more ›
Perhaps due to its lack of popularity, it took forever for "Face" to come out on DVD. But, as compensation for this, the DVD package is quite nice. The picture quality is good, given the age and origin of the material. And the special features are awesome. They include: a stylishly presented making-of documentary; an excellent interview with actress Louise "Leela" Jameson, who comes across as a warm and thoughtful person; a featurette on press coverage of Tom Baker's era (including some amusing inaccuracies - did those silly journalists even watch the show?); and an oddly mesmerizing 1970s commercial for Doctor Who action figures (which are also strikingly inaccurate). Compared to other single-disc Doctor Who DVD packages, this one is far above average.
The DVD does have a few shortcomings, however. A pet peeve of mine is that the "making of" features on Doctor Who DVDs focus almost exclusively on production, and too rarely delve into the writing and *themes* in these serials. A particularly striking aspect of "Face" is its quite obvious and bold attacks on religion, which are - predictably enough! - not really discussed in the making-of documentary.Read more ›
The plot has been laid out by several reviewers before me and I will not travel that well trodden road any further. Suffice to say that the character of Leela clearly is intended to attract an older audience but at the same time, the darker stories required a much stronger character than the Sarah Jane Smith types in order for the plots to work. Leela is certainly that, a savage killer, brought up to kill or be killed, she is uneducated but not stupid. She has an instinct which saves them more than once and is yet very protective of the Doctor.
Part of the charm of this character was that she served as a role model for many other female actresses in British drama as an independent person, capable of holding her own with men.
The story is the first to acknowledge that time travel can have unintended future consequences which alters the future in a way never thought of. The two tribes are also symbolic of the way our modern society has developed into an environmental side as opposed to a scientific, technological side. The monster, not by accident, is the same as the monster in that classic sci-fi movie, whose name escapes me, but which is created through the scienytist's id when using alien machinery.
A very impressive story to have on video.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an excellent classic Doctor Who serial from the Tom Baker era, and introduces Leela as his new companion. The show itself is really well-written and clever. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Chris K.
The Collection is growing!!!!! Thank you for having this awesome story!Published 7 months ago by VictorSlim3D
This is my favorite story of them all. The two reasons I love this more than the rest are watching the Doctor dealing with being called evil (not something you see in any other... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Jim Phillips
Leela gets her start right here in this story. Jameson shines in the role and carries the day as the much needed shot of energy in the show. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Pulpman
The story of its own merits is actually pretty average. The Doctor encounters a barbaric tribe serving what it thinks is a war god. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Adam Graham, Superhero and Detective Fiction Author
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