C089 The Face of Evil


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The Fourth Doctor gets a brand new companion and someone’s carved a familiar face on Mount Rushmore



At an unknown time, on an unknown planet, an as yet unnamed tribe is being shitty to their only female tribes person, Leela. Upon closer inspection, the tribe, who call themselves the Sevateem, are perhaps not what they seem: their leader sits upon a throne that looks suspiciously like it came out of a spacecraft and their shaman is wearing bits of a spacesuit. Their behaviour, on the other hand, is straight up savage and the unfortunate Leela is banished for questioning their beliefs.

When an unaccompanied Doctor arrives on the planet, he is mistaken for “The Evil One” and nearly sacrificed. As fortune would have it, though, the equally unwelcome Leela pops round and saves him, and they escape into the jungle. Alas, it is populated by invisible phantoms, surrounded by a makeshift time barrier and guarded by a mysterious force with a familiar face that purports to have abducted the god of the tribesmen, Xoanon.

5 Responses to “C089 The Face of Evil”

  1. Paul Fauber | @wordsmithpaul

    DOCTOR WHO rarely deals with religion. Interestingly, lead actor Tom Baker spent his late teenage years in a monastic brotherhood before leaving to take up military service. In the book of Genesis, God created man in his image. “The Face of Evil” involved the Doctor correcting a previous mistake, which caused a computer, Xoannon, to create a society from a spaceships’ crew in his schizophrenic image.

    The survey team became the Sevateem, a tribe of savages who valued brawn. Technicians remained aboard their spaceship to maintain it before developing fantastic psychokinetic abilities as the Tesh. Xoannon, the spaceship’s computer, grew unstable so its damaged id created unseen projections that menaced anyone penetrating a protective boundary. The Sevateem and Tesh regarded the computer as a god and developed rituals and practices to perpetuate their beliefs. The Doctor, the root cause of the society’s creation, was at the heart of both belief systems. He left his personality print behind after helping an expedition repair their computer, which became a life form the bifurcated society he encountered upon his return worshiped.

    The Doctor also encountered Leela, a warrior of the Sevateem, to whom he related his discoveries and understanding of what they meant. She left with him at the story’s conclusion to continue as his companion going forward.

    New writer Chris Boucher’s script dealt simultaneously with two complex, potentially controversial topics: religion and abnormal psychology. Science fiction often speaks allegorically, commenting while entertaining. This story fits into the fourth Doctor’s chronology while addressing one of the program’s greatest criticisms, the Doctor isn’t often confronted with the implications of his adventures. Presenting a story where the Doctor faces one of his past, previously undocumented mistakes gave him responsibility while cleverly moving the program into new territory.

    Reply
  2. Trenton Bless | @trentonbless

    Though I enjoyed The Face of Evil, it did have a few issues.

    I mean, the concept is amazing! Two “tribes”, descendants of the original landing party, are sort of warring with each other. The mastermind behind it all is a computer with a slice of the Doctor’s personality inside.

    But the issue with this story is that it’s not super original. Computer monster? Done that before. Invisible monster? It’s been done (and will be done again!). Jungle planet? Didn’t we see that only a few stories before? Come now, be original at least!

    Leela is a great addition to the show. And that’s not just because her outfit is so revealing (although that is a definite plus). Louise Jameson is brilliant as Leela and brings this sort of warmth to the character. Definitely a great addition to the cast.

    The Sevateem and the Tesh are clever disguised names for what the humans really were at one time. I enjoyed the mystery that unravelled over the course of the story. Very well done. I’ll also say that the cliffhangers for parts one and three were done very well, too.

    Overall, this story makes up for its unoriginal elements by throwing a few wrenches into the mix here. Though I did enjoy it, I’m giving it an even 3.0 because it’s just a bit… average.

    Reply
  3. Michael Ridgway | @Bad_Movie_Club

    Things I liked:
    • Big Mount Rushmore Doctor head!
    • Attack of the big angry floating Doctor heads!
    • The Mad Max tribe wearing bits of space stuff. Particularly liked looney Neeva with his space glove hat.
    • The Second Foundation Tesh tribe. Although their salutation bows are RIDICULOUS.
    • Bloodthirsty Leela. More please.

    Beefs:
    • It feels like a sequel to a previous adventure. Did I miss it? Did we see the Doctor on this planet before? I was expecting some kind of timey-whimey twist, with a past Sevateem-based Doctor shadowing a Tesh-based future version of himself. Instead we get another ‘most powerful computer in the universe’ gone mad. Yawn.
    • This all feels underpopulated. Massive tribal attacks and counter-attacks aren’t overly convincing with just four blokes on either side.
    • This is the second adventure, after Mandragora, where the Doctor is the central cause of a tonne of death. Good job, Doctor. And then at the end, you just abandon these people! I give it ten minutes before they start killing each other again (#dutyofcare). The Seventh Doctor would have stuck around and mediated a sustainable peace settlement.
    • The Doctor’s escape from his Goldfinger laser-death, with a mirror: I call bullshit. The Doctor’s mirror wasn’t touching the laser! What if the laser had moved in Leela’s direction first? Booo.

    Trivia: the Doctor’s mistaken identity as the Evil One reminds me of the Seventh Doctor’s mistaken identity as the Great Architect in the awesome adventure Paradise Towers.

    Summary: interesting premise and creepy imagery, if a slightly confusing, underwhelming finale.

    Rating: 3.3/5 big angry floating Doctor heads on the rampage! ROAR!

    Reply
  4. John Knight | @KnightWriter80

    The Face of Evil is a story that, like The Deadly Assassin and The Invisible Enemy, had a very significant impact on my childhood. While I do not recall how old I was when I first saw it, I do remember having some nightmares related to the Episode 3 cliffhanger with Xoanon attacking the Doctor merely with the high-pitched and repeated “WHO AM IIIII?”

    Having re-watched it last night, I realized this story may have had other, more inspiring, impacts on my life and development. But that’s more for self-revelation.

    I was trying to recall how often we meet the companion before she meets The Doctor. At first, it seemed atypical, until I really thought about it and realized it actually was a common occurrence, though less so for being in the opening shot/scene.

    I really ended up enjoying the script during this latest re-watch, there’s a lot of great one-liners (and a few brilliant responses). It is one of the few stories that had a number of “4th Wall Breaking Moments”, which in itself helps it to stand out. It’s the first story since Seeds of Doom that we don’t have a scene inside the TARDIS.

    I am quite grateful to the Who Back When crew for this unique and enjoyable journey through the series, and only want to say “Keep up the great work!”

    As for the story, it has its personal significance, and its importance to the series as a whole, but it’s far from perfect… 3.5/5

    Reply
    • Peter Zunitch

      Sorry… I was on vacation and thought I sent this in already. I know there’s at least 0.25 people out there who care so….

      The ideas here are great. The story itself is a bit Ho-Hum. What does stand out above all else is Leela. Louise Jamison is so good in her introductory story she outdoes Tom himself. He’s great, but she nails it. Pick any one of her scenes and you’ll see innocence, sincerity, her comprehension in the face of things that are totally incomprehensible, all at once. Yes it’s true, the costume doesn’t hurt, but the way she moves, the way she emotes, there’s a constant stream of thought to be read on her face at any given moment, and both her ignorance and anger are perfect foils for the doctor. She is truly an often underrated exemplification in the legend of great companions.
      I’ve spent all my time on one character when there’s a whole episode to review. That’s probably because I’ve mostly said all I need to about the rest. The costumes are fine, the music’s fine, the effects, drama, action, fine. The mount rushmore of the Doctor is awesome, but’s a shame the production was studio-bound. Some good locations would have really beefed up the visuals. The old space ship parts and equipment being re-purposed as primitive relics is incredibly fun, but that’s it.
      There’s some befuddling plot points, and a test of skill that makes no sense whatsoever, but hey, the story exists to serve one purpose, It brings Leela onboard the Tardis. May the great god Xoanon not put Janus thorns in your five fingered hat. 2.3

      Reply

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