Doctor Who: The Mind of Evil
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(Jun 11, 2013)
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New to DVD! Digitally remastered Doctor Who classic The Mind of Evil! Professor Keller has created a machine that can pacify even the most dangerous of criminals. But when the Doctor and Jo arrive at Stangmoor Prison for a demonstration, things start to go horribly wrong – especially when they discover that the Doctor’s old enemy Master is responsible for the machine.
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The Doctor can't resist commenting, "People who go on about infallibility are usually on very shaky ground."
Kettering frowns, but continues, explaining discoveries that "anti-social behavior was governed by certain negative or evil impulses. Now this machine, the Keller Machine, extracts these impulses and leaves a rational, well-balanced individual.... The negative impulses are stored in that reservoir box there."
The Doctor: "Where do they go after that?"
Kettering: "No where, sir. I repeat, they are stored in that box."
The Doctor is more than skeptical and we are too. George Patrick Barnham, a violent offender, is brought in to receive his sentence of reconditioning in the Keller Machine. But something goes wrong. Barnham gives a howl of pain and has to be taken from the room unconscious.
The Doctor is disgusted, but he has hardly begun to worry about that when a technician, alone in the Process Room, dies a painful death. Before the results of his postmortem are available, we find out that more is afoot. The first ever World Peace Conference is being held in England, and UNIT is handling security. In addition, UNIT has to guard a nuclear missile with a nerve gas payload that is being transported through the countryside.
With all that on his plate, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart gets another headache. Captain Chin Lee, of the Chinese delegation to the peace conference, complains that important papers have been stolen from their rooms. If they are not found, the Chinese will withdraw from the peace conference.
What the Brigadier doesn't see afterwards, but we do, is Chin Lee burning the papers herself. But hold on, there's weird pulsing music playing as she does so, and she fingers a button-sized implant behind her ear.
Then the dead technician's autopsy results are available. He was scared of rats, and died of a heart attack with rat scratches on his neck. Next Kettering, alone in the Process Room, is horrified to see the Keller reservoir start pulsing, the music crescendos, and before you can say Jack Sprat, he's dead of drowning in a perfectly dry room. And he had a fear of drowning.
The Doctor is adamant that the machine must be turned off. He's in the Process Room trying to do so when the reservoir starts pulsing again. The Doctor tries to fight it but it's beating down on him. What terror will the Doctor see? What would scare him so bad his heart would stop?
And that's the end of Episode 1. This is quite a long setup - but you'll see that it's worth it. All the different threads comes deliciously together. If the Master should happen to show up - of what would HE be most scared?
I really like "The Mind of Evil". The convoluted plot is a doozy. Not even Jo's irksome chirping can throw me off it. "The Mind of Evil" first aired Jan/March 1971, six episodes of 25 minutes each. This is a review of the 2013 two-disc DVD release, the first time it's been on DVD. It was released on VHS in black & white (the only format BBC had kept). But this DVD will be in fully restored color. If you know about these things, the Chroma Dot color recovery process was used to restore the original color in episodes 2-6. Episode 1, however, had to be manually recolored frame by frame by Stuart Humphryes (AKA YouTube's Babelcolour). [Recommended youtube viewing: "The Making of 'The Ten Doctors Part One' by Babelcolour"] Also, of course, the DVD has digitally remastered picture and sound quality.
Trivia: Some exteriors, primarily for Stangmoor Prison, were filmed in and around Dover Castle. This serial went so excessively over budget that its director, Timothy Combe, was not allowed to be considered for any subsequent Doctor Who work. [See comments in Special Features 1 & 4.]
Extras for the 2013 DVD release:
DISC 1 Special Features
1. Commentary. Toby Hadoke (fan extraordinaire, also has a 1-man Dr. Who show) moderates, with commentators include Barry Letts (producer), Katy Manning (plays Jo), Terrance Dicks (script editor), Pik-Sen Lim (plays Captain Chin Lee), Fernanda Marlowe (plays Corporal Bell), Timothy Combe (director) and Derek Ware (stuntman and HAVOC founder). I thought this was a very interesting commentary.
Dicks: "I'm completely schizophrenic about UNIT. I think it's brilliant. I love Nick... and we both [Dicks and Letts] worked as hard as we could to get away from it and get the Doctor back into space."
Katy mentions that "The Mind of Evil" was one of her very favorite series. It's interesting hearing her talk in her real voice, and not in Jo's an-octave-higher voice.
Letts comments on how a lot of the single-line players and extras were stuntmen, rather than just actors, because "The Mind of Evil" has a lot of fight scenes. "Unfortunately, you had to pay these people as stuntmen, which was quite expensive. And to be honest, using HAVOC was one of the reasons this was one of the most expensive Dr. Who's that I ever did. And the sets, the prison set. Because originally, we intended to shoot the prison scenes on location. But no prison would let us do it. So, to build it in the studio, and to build a two-story set like that, and one that didn't wobble about all the time... it cost the Earth."
Other major expenses: 7 1/2 days location shooting, a helicopter added at the last minute, location shooting negative scratched resulting in re-shoot, the set-up and special effects for the teleporting Keller Machine
2. Information Text. Lots of interesting detail. "In the draft scripts, the Keller Machine was called the Malusyphus, implying that the process siphons off malice." (If you mangle the Latin a bit.)
The Chinese dialect the Doctor speaks (aka Pertwee attempts to speak) is spelled Hokkien.
The Doctor and the Master have to make an uneasy alliance in more than one serial. Having the Master stuck on Earth at the same time as the Doctor helps with one problem: "It was implausible to have a succession of alien monsters seemingly queuing up to attack [Earth]. In the 1971 series, all the threats the Earth faces are a direct result of the Master's machinations."
3. Subtitles in English
DISC 2 Special Features:
4. "The Military Mind: Making The Mind of Evil" (23 minutes) Commentators include Pik-Sen Lim, Terrance Dicks, Barry Letts, Fernanda Marlowe, Tim Combe and Nicholas Courtney (plays the Brigadier, d. 2011). This special was filmed before the colorization was complete, so all clips are in B&W.
Many things are covered, but there is quite a bit about the budget problem. Though Letts admits that "Tim's a very good director, indeed.", he isn't glowing about how the show went overbudget. Fernanda says, "In later years, watching it again, I realized how good it was... I'm not sure he [Combe] got the support he should have got."
And I was touched when Combe said, "I felt that perhaps there's been some misunderstandings.... I thought I'd be going on to do more Doctor Who's. But unfortunately, that was the last... I didn't have a sonic screwdriver to fix things up... I find it difficult talking about this right now."
But then, we realize the BBC had to have a budget, and something, perhaps, had to give.
5. "Now and Then: The Locations of The Mind of Evil" (7 minutes) Dover Castle, for one, looks the same. While watching this extra, I remember thinking, "Why didn't I notice that this storming the prison scene had a seriously ruin of a wall standing in the middle of a prison?"
6. "Behind the Scenes: Television Centre" (24 minutes) This is a TV show episode, presented by Norman Tozer. We meet him outside the giant BBC Television Centre, where, he tells us, "over 4,000 people" work on BBC TV shows. Over a 24-hour period, Norman visits different departments of different shows. In the sets department , we see a label indicating that a set is for "DR WHO - PRISON HOSPITAL". And then there's a model sitting on a table with a note: "PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH OR REMOVE THIS MODEL". It's a scruffy miniature of the TARDIS.
7. Photo Gallery (5 minutes)
8. PDF material: Radio Times listings, 1971 Kellogg's Sugar Smacks promotion
9. Subtitles in English
10. Coming Soon Trailer. This is a trailer for:
The First Classic Doctor Who
.....Made in Colour
Becomes the First Classic Doctor Who
In High Definition
A Complete New Remaster of "Spearhead From Space" with Brand New Special Features Exclusive to the Blu-Ray release
When you get this please do the same, you will be doing yourself a tremendous favor by getting rid of the color for this great episode of Doctor Who and in my personal opinion the best of the Pertwee era!
My other fav Pertwee episodes are Planet of the Spiders, The Dinosaur Invasion, The Green Death and Day of the Daleks, but I think The Mind of Evil was really his best story overall. Please enjoy it and relish it but ONLY watch it in B&W. You can turn the color back up when you watch the special features. The making of the story is really even though the director was never able to do a DW show again. It's really too bad because he was one of the better directors in the show's history.
Okay, I am reviving my earlier statement due to being corrected on this note, The Mind of Evil has not been colorized but color-restored point of fact. Personally though I will still view this story in B&W because it just works for me. I don't like how the color seems washed out and the edges blurry because of the recolorization or restored effect. What have you. I originally saw this story in B&W but the BBC had lost the color tapes for years and only the B&W version remained. I originally saw The Mind of Evil in black and white and I think the starkness and boldness of that works much better for this story. The color photos I've seen from this Dr. Who are sharp and colorful but to my eyes this DVD is somewhat blurry-looking and washed out in color.
Here is another observation: RESURRECTION OF THE DALEKS (Story 134) is touted as the "highest on-screen body count" in Doctor Who history, yet although I haven't gotten a full count in THE MIND OF EVIL, this must be right up there or pretty close, especially between the Prison Break and the pitched battle between the prisoners and UNIT, not to mention all the folks mentally slurped. (I tried counting during my second viewing with the audio commentary on, but lost track by the third episode.)
As for the extras... well, heh - I sort of wished they managed to stick the "Making of" on the first disc so I could just ignore the fluffy padding otherwise taking up the majority of the second.
Nevertheless, if you are skipping AUTONS like I am due to pricing, I'd certainly recommend picking up this instead as your first introduction to Delgado's masterful Master, as well as just an excellent story with tight directing, fine acting, and overall meaty plot.