Doctor Who - Face of Evil VHS
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The Doctor arrives on a new planet and befriends Leela, a primitive savage armed with a knife, who is inclined to stab first and ask questions later. Leela has been turned out of her tribe into the jungle realm of deadly invisible monsters. The Doctor learns her people, the Sevateem, are at the mercy of their cruel Gold, Xoanon. Their enemies, the Tesh, live in a space ship hidden behind a time barrier, created and controlled by Xoanon, the giant computer that controls everything on the planet. The Doctor is puzzled when the Sevateem call him :The Evil One," and even more puzzled when he discovers a giant carved idol resembling him. But the answers come clear when he finds himself face to face with...himself.
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For starters, I can say that 2|entertain has finally taken a tiny steep beyond their previously lackadaisical releases. The extra features for this release are a bit better than most of what they have put out in the past year or two. Not a whole lot better, mind you, but still, I personally found this to be an improvement from several past releases.
Putting that aside, I was miffed by their guests for the commentary track. One actor, who played a very minor role in episode one and was killed off, was a commentator, while the then producer, Philip Hinchcliffe, was only included in episodes 2-4. Now really? Why the HELL didn't they just have Philip in all four parts and eliminate the other commentator whose name and character I can't even remember? The biggest shame is that Tom Baker wasn't in on the commentary. But knowing how 2|entertain loves to get as much money as they can from loyal fans, he'll probably be on the re-release.
Lastly, does anyone have any insight as to how long Toby Hadoke has a contract with 2|entertain? Because at this point, the only thing I'm looking forward to when it comes to commentaries, is NOT having this cellophane sack of vinegar and water delegate them. In my humble opinion, commentaries were much better off when the people who were directly a part of the show participated, as opposed to bringing in an outsider who had his Doctor Who scarf eaten by moths.
My bottom line is, since the story itself is pretty good, and that this is the beginning of Leela's storyline, and that the extras involving Louise Jameson are better than others have been, I feel that this a MUST HAVE for every fan of the classic series. And hopefully new and younger fans will appreciate this as well.
I hope that this review was helpful to you, and please tell me your opinion(s) on my review so that I can hopefully improve upon my future reviews. Thank you for taking the time to read this and consider my opinion.
I've always had mixed feelings about Leela. Unlike most male (and perhaps many female) fans, I never considered Louise Jameson's character a "sex symbol" nor a particularly good match for the Fourth Doctor in terms of personal chemistry. At the same time, Leela accompanies the Doctor on some of my favorite adventures: "The Robots of Death," "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" and "Horror of Fang Rock." What I liked about Leela was not the way she filled out a skimpy leather costume but how she stood up to oppression and superstition and social convention while exhibiting a raw physical courage that surpassed that of any other companion of the classic era. Producer Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes may have been looking for an Eliza Doolittle; what they got was a Natalie Bumppo.
We first meet Leela as she goes on trial for blasphemy against Xoanon, a god that her tribe, the Sevateem, worships and looks to for guidance in its war with the Tesh, a rival tribe that relies on advanced technology and psychic powers vs. the Sevateem's knives and crossbows. Leela is banished to the jungle, where she meets the Doctor, who resembles the "Evil One" whom the Sevateem fear and speaks with the same voice as Xoanon, their god. In Part One's cliffhanger, Leela leads the Doctor to a mountain where his face has been carved like a U.S. president on Mount Rushmore (viewers and critics often remark on this scene, but the monument still looks like a high-school art project). Suddenly, the Doctor remembers visiting the planet previously and helping the crew of a crashed spaceship repair its damaged onboard computer. The Sevateem and the Tesh, he deduces, must be descendants of that crew.
For all its ambition in depicting a civilization whose god is a supercomputer gone mad, "The Face of Evil" suffers from gaping holes in its logic and story elements that simply make no sense. Who, for instance, carved the face in the mountain and why does it resemble the Fourth Doctor if he visited the planet so long ago he hardly remembers it? The Sevateem are too technologically primitive, and why would the Tesh, so determined to repel the Sevateem, include an unguarded secret passage through the Doctor's mouth that allows outsiders to penetrate their complex?
The Doctor later explains that Xoanon (the ship's computer) went mad because he made the mistake of programming his own personality into it, but how would that work exactly and where did the computer's other personalities come from? To further confuse matters, the Doctor says the computer has evolved into a living organism. Even if one concedes the possibility of an inanimate computer evolving into a living being, that isn't how evolution works. Single organisms don't "evolve"; species evolve over millions of years of slight genetic variations favored or rejected by natural selection.
"The Face of Evil" would rate only two stars if it weren't for the menu of Special Features included on this disc. The making-of documentary is smartly produced, even if I disagree with the show's producers that the costume and set designs for this story have held up well with time (they're awful!). The interviews with Louise Jameson and a review of the Fourth Doctor's press coverage, narrated by Wendy Padbury ("Zoe"), are also worth watching.
This is a good entry point for those wishing to try Doctor Who. True, the special effects aren't very special, but it still looks much better than the old Land of the Lost show if you ask me. And in the end, it's the story that matters, & this does not disappoint. This sums up what Classic Who is all about. Interesting storylines, good acting and great dialogue (Doctor: "You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alters their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit the views, which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.").
As I said in my Pyramid of Mars review, Tom Baker will always be my favorite Doctor. And in all the Doctor Who episodes I have seen & will see, I don't think I'll ever see a better companion than Leela. Despite being created just to draw older males to watch the show, she's not just eye candy. She is a very competent warrior who helped the Doctor take down some of his enemies. I've already seen about half of her episodes & will be sad to see her leave.
So, for anyone looking to try the old Doctor Who show & see what all the fuss is about, this is not a bad place to start.