‘THE FACE OF EVIL’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Into the Wild
This is the first adventure with Leela in ‘Doctor Who’!
‘The Face of Evil’ is a four-part adventure by Chris Boucher, starring Tom Baker as the Doctor. As well as the first ‘Doctor Who’ story to be written by Chris Boucher, it is also the first to feature Louise Jameson as Leela, warrior of the Sevateem and the new companion for the Fourth Doctor in 1977.
This was an interesting story where the Doctor meets Leela for this first time. I enjoyed it very much. I purchased the DVD for ‘The Face of Evil’ whilst on holiday in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2012. I wanted to find out how Leela actually meets the Doctor and whether it was a good meeting during the story.
The Doctor visits the planet of the Sevateem, where apparently he’s been here before. He meets Leela, who is scared of him and calls him ‘the evil one’. It turns out the tribe of Sevateem regard the Doctor as the Evil One keeping Xoanon, who is their god, as their prisoner and they want him dead.
Curious and recounting memories of his previous visit to the jungle planet of the Sevateem, the Doctor is determined to put right what he did wrong with Leela helping him. It turns out that Xoanon is a super-computer who has become a living creature and had gone made with a split personality.
The story put to Chris Boucher by producer Phillip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes was interesting. The idea of the Doctor being somewhere before and having a bad impact on the planet was fascinating as well as the idea of a savage tribe worshiping a god that’s actually a big computer.
It’s quite mind-boggling when you think about it and there were quite a number of things I had to be clear on such as the two tribes fighting against each other including the Sevateem and the Tesh. But when I realised that it was the Doctor’s fault and he had to put it right, it made more sense later on.
But the highlight of this story for me is Leela’s first appearance in ‘Doctor Who’. I love how Louise Jameson makes her introduction as Leela in this story. Leela is a complete contrast in terms of the companion like Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, who just recently left the series beforehand.
The camaraderie between Tom Baker’s Doctor and Sarah Jane was so greet in the TV series during the 1970s, that it must have been a shock to the system for those who were watching Leela for the first time. Leela is a savage and proud of it, and that’s a very new take on a ‘Doctor Who’ companion.
I like Louise’s performance as Leela in ‘Doctor Who’ and she works well in her first appearance in the TV series. I’ve met Louise at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions and find her a lovely person to chat and talk to. It was interesting to hear her shake her memories of her debut from interviews and panel talks.
Leela is a strong character, as she’s a warrior and shows no signs of being afraid. She’s curious and easily confused when the Doctor explains things to her. But she’s keen and willing to learn, and the Doctor acts as her teacher which is evident in this her first story as well as later on during the series.
But despite her willingness to learn and clearly seemingly a good character, Leela often lets her savage tendencies get the better of her. This includes her using her knife as a weapon and throwing Janis thorns at people to paralyse and kill them. This is something the Doctor terribly disapproves of.
Leela is also the first ‘Doctor Who’ companion to appear scantily dressed. This was a shock to the world and it was a shock for Louise when she dressed as a proper savage in leather clothes and looking like ‘Tarzan-Jane’ (as my Dad calls her). Leela quickly became a ‘sex symbol’ in ‘Doctor Who’.
I liked Leela’s first meeting with the Doctor in this story. She falls to the ground behind him at his feet. He turns round and sees her. I like how he easily says ‘Hello’ to her and tries to be friendly to her. She calls him ‘The Evil One’ and he tells her, “Well nobody’s perfect’ which I found very funny.
I also liked it when the Doctor asks Leela her name. She tells him and he tells her she’s got a nice name which I found very sweet. It was funny when he asks her, “Would you like a jelly baby?” and she’s shocked saying, “It’s true, then. They say the Evil One eats babies.” which was equally funny.
Saying that though, and there’s no secret about it, there was tension between Tom Baker and Louise Jameson behind-the-scenes when making ‘Doctor Who’. Louise got the impression that Tom didn’t like Louise. This could account for the loss of Sarah Jane Smith and Tom wanted to work by himself.
Quite how Tom and Louise managed to work together for the rest of the series despite the friction is a mystery to me. But years later, Tom and Louise are now great friends and like each other very much. They work so well together in the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’ with the Doctor and Leela.
The Sevateem cast includes Victor Lucas as Andor, leader of the tribe; David Garfield (who was in ‘The War Games’) as Neeva; Brendan Price as Tomas; Leslie Schofield as Calib and Colin Thomas as Sole, Leela’s father. The Tesh cast includes Leon Eagles as Captain Jabel and Mike Elles as Gentek.
I liked how the tribes Sevateem and Tesh got their names in the story. These groups of people are the descendants of a crashed spaceship that ended up on the planet many years ago before being savage. So ‘Sevateem’ is from the word ‘Survey Teams’ and Tesh is from the word ‘Technicians’.
I was impressed with the make-up and costume design of the Sevateem cast as well as for the jungles on the planet. I wasn’t so impressed with the Tesh, as their make-up is green; they wear silly hats on their heads and do a silly bow to worship their god Xoanon which I found so annoying to see.
I liked it when the Doctor saw his own face carved out on a mountain range like Mount Rushmore in America. It makes for a gripping cliff-hanger in ‘Part One’ and helps the audience to realise and understand why the Doctor is called the Evil One by the Sevateem and how terrible his impact is.
Xoanon is voiced by Rob Edwards; Pamela Salem; Roy Herrick; Tom Baker himself and little boy Anthony Frieze. This computer has a mixed personality and it was terrifying when the Doctor was tormented by Xoanon shouting at him and repeatedly asking ‘Who am I?” at the end of ‘Part Three’.
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s the ‘Into the Wild’ making-of documentary with cast and crew interviews; ‘From the Cutting Room Floor’; ‘Tomorrow’s Times: The Fourth Doctor’, presented by Wendy Padbury and a ‘Doctor Who Stories: Louise Jameson’ interview. There’s also a ‘Swap Shop’ interview with Louise Jameson; a ‘Denys Fisher Toys Advert’ and a photo gallery.
There’s also a commentary with Louise Jameson; Leslie Schofield; David Garfield; Mike Elles; Harry H Fielder (who played an Assassin); producer Phillip Hinchcliffe and film cameraman John McGlashan, moderated by Toby Hadoke. There’s also an info-text commentary option to enjoy and two PDF materials including a ‘Radio Times Listing’ of the story and ‘1976 Typhoo Tea Doctor Who Promotion’.
There’s also a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The Dæmons’ with Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning.
‘The Face of Evil’ has been an enjoyable ‘Doctor Who’ story to watch. It features a good introduction to Leela who becomes the new companion for Tom Baker’s Doctor. Surprisingly, this story was recently chosen to be repeated on TV on BBC Four during the Christmas period in December 2015.
‘The Face of Evil’ rating – 8/10
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