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Doctor Who: The Face of Evil (Story 89)

4.7 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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(Mar 13, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Doctor Who: The Face of Evil

The Doctor touches down on a savage planet and befriends Leela, a fetchingly-dressed outcast from the tribe.


Doctor Who: The Face of Evil introduced one of the most unusual of the time traveler's companions: Leela (Louise Jameson), an intelligent but savage woman from a jungle planet, a fierce fighter who looked good in a skimpy leather outfit. The Doctor (Tom Baker) finds himself caught between two tribes, one primitive and physical, the other effete and possessed of mental powers. Leela, who's been cast out of the primitive tribe for heresy, teams up with the Doctor as he discovers his face carved in stone on a mountainside--and realizes that the root of the problem may be his own past actions. Though the sets, special effects, and a few plot turns of The Face of Evil require some suspension of disbelief, this story has fantastic elements: the roaring invisible monsters (which may have inspired the similar monster on Lost), the rituals of the two tribes, the Doctor's confrontation with a computer with a split personality, and Leela herself. But above all is Baker, one of the all-time greatest Doctors. Intelligent, capricious, yet driven by a clear moral sense, Baker projected an unmistakable impression of being more than human yet still relatable. This story falls smack in the middle of Baker's seven-year tenure, when his grip on the character is assured but he hasn't yet begun to chafe at it. The extras on this DVD are abundant: outtakes, photos, a detailed making-of documentary, a wonderful interview with Jameson, an examination of the media response to Tom Baker's Doctor, a 1970s talk show featuring Jameson, and a commercial for Doctor Who action figures! --Bret Fetzer

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Tom Baker, Louise Jameson
  • Directors: Pennant Roberts
  • Writers: Chris Boucher
  • Producers: Philip Hinchcliffe
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 13, 2012
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001QCWQ5I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,517 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Doctor Who: The Face of Evil (Story 89)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Without a doubt this is one of the best adventures from the Tom Baker, or any, era. The fourth Doctor was really hitting his stride in this one, and it is a true classic. The Doctor proves his long-running theory that if you travel though time and the universe long enough, you will eventually run into yourself. In its original serial form, this adventure featured one of the best and most surprising end-of-episode cliffhangers in the history of the series. The Doctor's interaction with the primative tribe he encounters is priceless; and the sarcasm, wit, and one-liners that the Doctor's fourth incarnation is known for flows freely. The "lush" jungle sets, and production values in general, are good by Dr. Who standards. As if all of this weren't enough, the Doctor gets a sexy new travel companion in this one, Leela, who scampers around half naked most of the time, but who contrasts beautifully as the enlightened savage to the Doctor's quirky intellectual. The only bad thing about this Who adventure is that it took so long to finally come out in video.
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Coming right on the heels of THE DEADLY ASSASSIN, THE FACE OF EVIL shifts the series away from its earlier, "cozy" format, and in a pretty permanent sort of way. I often wondered why so few episodes dealt with the consequences of the Doctor's meddling in the affairs of other civilizations --this one takes the form of the Doctor confronting the spectacle of his own face carved into the side of a mountain on the scale of Mount Rushmore.
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.
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Format: DVD
Judging from its practically non-existent reputation among fans, "The Face of Evil" is one of the most underrated Doctor Who serials of all time. Perhaps it lacks popular appeal because it's a fairly literate science fiction story, in contrast to typical Doctor Who, which focuses more on horror and fantasy elements. To put it another way, "Face" is not as creepy or entertaining as the more gothic serials made around the same time; but if you're in the mood for literary sci-fi, this is very rewarding stuff.

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.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
THE FACE OF EVIL was one of my favorites as a kid, and it's still is! But is it one of the best? With the entire spectrum of Dr. Who adventures before us, I must say... it isn't.

The striking visual imagery of the savage's costumes, their props, and the neat tie-ins with internal background is jarringly contrasted with the campy costumes of the "intelligentsia", their rather half-hearted designed control room altar, and the gigantic plot holes that threaten to swallow "suspension of disbelief" whole (which I shan't go into the rather depressing and lengthy list). And that whole snooze-fight scene between Leela and the Tesh, hah! Or the paralyzed, dead guard who shoots his arm out as he is pushed over... snickers, anyone?

Nevertheless, even though THE FACE OF EVIL has too many sloppy flaws to make it one of the true best of early Dr. Who, there is also alot to be said about it. The various incarnations of the Doctor's face are delightfully creepy, all the main characters of Sevateem do excellent performance jobs, and, of course, it's the introduction of Leela!

Another fun bit is Tom Baker's short self-dialogue at onset of first exiting the Tardis. Baker had previously boasted to Producer Philip Hinchcliffe that he didn't need a companion- he could easily just talk to himself throughout a serial. Hinchcliffe wouldn't have any of it, but he did allow Baker to briefly ... experiment... with the concept, staring directly into the camera and saying his lines. Very different, very rare, and you decide if Baker could have pulled it off for good. ;)

There are a bunch of othe great sparklies like that, so THE FACE OF EVIL still remains one of my personal favorites. As an aside, the Audio Commentary on this one really stinks.
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