‘The Face of Evil’ (TV)

‘THE FACE OF EVIL’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Into the Wild with the Fourth Doctor and Leela

Here we are on the first adventure to feature Leela in ‘Doctor Who’! 🙂 Leela would become one of the most popular ‘Doctor Who’ companions to star alongside Tom Baker’s Doctor after Sarah Jane Smith left. Intriguing how producer Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes conceived her.

Leela’s first story, ‘The Face of Evil’, is a four-part adventure by Chris Boucher. This would be Chris’ first contribution to the TV show. He would write two more TV adventures with the Fourth Doctor and Leela and four ‘Doctor Who’ books featuring them. He later wrote for ‘Blake’s 7’ and created ‘Star Cops’.

This story is also the first to be directed by Pennant Roberts. Pennant would direct five more ‘Doctor Who’ stories after this and was essential in the casting of Louise Jameson as Leela. Both Pennant Roberts and Louise Jameson would work together again the TV series ‘Tenko’, which is interesting. 🙂

‘The Face of Evil’ was transmitted on BBC TV in early 1977. Louise Jameson as Leela is introduced as a warrior of the Sevateem. She’s pretty fearless and reckless, but has a good noble heart. In her first story, she’s feisty but comes across as really loyal when meeting up with the Doctor and helping him.

The approach for Leela by producer Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes was to do an Eliza Doolittle meets Professor Higgins type of relationship with the Doctor. This is from the George Bernard Shaw play called ‘Pygmalion’ which was later adapted into the musical called ‘My Fair Lady’.

Now I’ve seen the ‘My Fair Lady’ 1964 film with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison, so I knew what that was about. It was interesting how they try it here with Leela being introduced and the Doctor teaching her to be civilised instead of savage. It’s not well-executed enough, but it was interesting. 🙂

I purchased ‘The Face of Evil’ DVD when I was on holiday with my parents in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2012. After having seen Leela in other stories, I wanted to find out how she actually first met the Doctor and whether it was a good meeting between them or not. After seeing it, I enjoyed it a lot. 🙂

I’ve had the DVD cover of ‘The Face of Evil’ signed by Louise Jameson at the ‘Science of the Time Lords’ 2019 event at the National Space Centre in Leicester, January 2019. I’ve met Louise a number of times at conventions and have enjoyed meeting her since she comes across as warm and friendly.

At the ‘Science of the Time Lords’ 2019 event, I shared with Louise how much I enjoyed her introduction as Leela in the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series and with her meeting Tom Baker’s Doctor. Louise is very engaging to talk to at conventions and I always look forward to getting a chance to meet her.

I found it interesting to hear Louise share her memories of making her debut in ‘Doctor Who’ from both DVD interviews and panel talks at conventions. The process of creating Leela as a companion on the TV screen is an intriguing one. It isn’t without its setbacks both technically and professionally.

Anyway, in the story, the Doctor visits the planet of the Sevateem. Apparently, it’s a place where the Doctor’s been to before, but he can’t remember off hand. As he explores the jungles of the planet, after realising it isn’t Hyde Park ( 😀 ), the Doctor meets Leela as she runs and falls down behind him.

The Doctor reassures Leela that he doesn’t mean any harm, but she’s scared and calls him ‘the Evil One’. “Well, nobody’s perfect,” says the Doctor. 😀 It transpires the tribe of the Sevateem regard the Doctor as the Evil One who is keeping Xoanon, their god, as his prisoner and they wish he’d be dead.

As the Doctor becomes curious and recounts his memories of his previous visit to the Sevateem’s planet, he becomes determined to put right what he did wrong. Leela helps the Doctor and it turns out Xoanon is a super-computer who’s become a living being; gone mad with this split personality. 😐

Another source of inspiration for this story was that producer Philip Hinchcliffe wanted to present the idea of the Doctor being somewhere before and having a bad impact on the planet. Robert Holmes and Chris Boucher embellished it with an inclusion of the Doctor’s head as Mount Rushmore.

Imagine having to climb down the Doctor’s head in a similar style to climbing down Mount Rushmore in ‘North by Northwest’. 😀 Although the Doctor and Leela as well as other Sevateem warriors do get to go inside the Doctor’s mouth. Thank goodness they didn’t go through the nose. 😀

I liked seeing the Doctor have his own face carved out on a mountain range like Mount Rushmore from America. It made for a gripping cliff-hanger in ‘Part One’. It helped the audience to realise and understand why the Doctor was called ‘the Evil One’ by the Sevateem and how awful his impact was.

It’s also interesting to have the idea of a savage tribe worshipping a god that’s actually a big super-computer. A lot of things that happened with the Sevateem and the Tesh are derived from a survey team ship that crashed to the jungle planet many years ago, which was pretty intriguing to discover.

I do like how the Sevateem and the Tesh tribes 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 they became savage. ‘Sevateem’ is from the word ‘Survey Team’ and Tesh is from the word ‘Technicians’.

It’s quite mind-boggling when you think about it and there were quite a number of things that I had to be clear on regarding the two tribes of the Sevateem and the Tesh fighting against each other. Once when I realised that it was the Doctor’s fault, he had to put it right and it did make more sense.

It’s also fascinating how the Doctor arrives alone before meeting up with Leela and the rest of the Sevateem. Of course, this is following on from ‘The Deadly Assassin’. But imagine the adventures the Doctor had between that time from the previous TV story into this one and what adventures he had.

I know Big Finish have played around with that idea as well as BBC Books. I read the book ‘Asylum’, which is presumably set before ‘The Face of Evil’ where the Fourth Doctor met Nyssa. I’ve also written stories where the Fourth Doctor meets a certain James Darby played by certain Timelord007.

The highlight of this story is of course Louise Jameson as Leela’s first appearance in ‘Doctor Who’. Incidentally, when you meet Louise at conventions – it’s ‘James-son’. Not ‘Jame-a-son’ as in ‘Spider-Man’. 😀 I learnt that from watching ‘The Doctors: The Tom Baker Years’ Myth Makers DVD I have. 😀

I really like how Louise makes her debut as Leela in ‘The Face of Evil’. Of course, Leela is a complete contrast in terms of a ‘Doctor Who’ companion compared to Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. I imagine a lot of ‘Doctor Who’ fans were getting used to Leela after Sarah Jane left the TARDIS lately.

The camaraderie that was between Tom Baker’s Doctor and Lis Sladen’s Sarah Jane was so great to watch in the TV series during the 1970s. It must’ve been a shock to the system for those who were watching Leela for the first time. I know things weren’t easier in the behind-the-scenes making of it.

Leela is a savage and very proud of it. That is a very unique take on a ‘Doctor Who’ companion. Previous ‘Doctor Who’ companions have mostly been girly and tended to scream a lot. Not that’s a bad thing, but Leela is an instance of a companion where she rarely screamed during the TV show. 🙂

I enjoy Louise’s performances as Leela in ‘Doctor Who’, both on TV and in the Big Finish audios. She especially works well in her first appearance of the TV series. I do like how Leela isn’t a stereotypical savage since she does come across as curious and intelligent despite some of her violent tendencies.

Leela is a strong character since she’s a warrior and shows no signs of being afraid. She does get easily confused when the Doctor is explaining things to her. But she’s keen and willing to learn. The Doctor acts as her teacher, which is evident in her first story as well as later on during the TV show. 🙂

But despite her willingness to learn and clearly seeming to be 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 be ‘scantily dressed’. I’m sure this was a shock to the world. It was a shock for Louise when she had to dress as a proper savage in leather clothes and looking like ‘Tarzan-Jane’ (my Dad calls her that 😀 ). Leela became a ‘sex symbol’ in ‘Doctor Who’! 🙂

I’m not sure you can get away with that in terms of TV today for a family audience. But at the time, it must’ve been considered pretty racy. I’m sure Mary Whitehouse had a lot of complaints to say about Leela when she was first introduced in ‘Doctor Who’. But then, she complained about a lot of things.

Going back to Leela’s first meeting with the Doctor, I do like how he tries to be friendly with her despite her being scared. I’m surprised she didn’t fully lash out in fear at the Doctor since she seemed to be taking him steadily and gradually grew to trust him during the events of the tale itself.

I did like it when the Doctor asked for Leela’s name. She tells him and he says that she’s got a nice name, which I found very sweet. It was funny when he asked her, “Would you like a jelly baby?” and she said, shocked, “It’s true, then. They say the Evil One eats babies.” which was equally amusing. 😀

Saying that though, it’s no secret that there was tension between Tom Baker and Louise Jameson during the behind-the-scenes making of ‘Doctor Who’! Louise got the impression that Tom didn’t like Louise. This could account for the departure of Sarah Jane Smith as Tom wanted to work by himself. 😐

Quite how Tom and Louise managed to work together in the rest of the series despite the friction they had is a mystery to me. I can imagine how hard it must’ve been for Louise. Tom probably didn’t socially interact with Louise as on the same level of social interaction with Lis Sladen in the show. 😦

Thankfully, years later, Tom and Louise became great friends and the two like each other very much nowadays. I’m glad that they work so well together in the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’ that star the Fourth Doctor and Leela. I’ve listened to a number of their Big Finish audios and they’re brilliant.

Tom Baker is equally good as the Doctor in this adventure. I like how curious he gets about the Sevateem’s condition on their planet; how he works out what’s going on and how it happens to be his fault flooding back to him as he remembers. Some of his one-liners are very amusing to listen to. 🙂

It was amusing when the Doctor wasn’t intimidated by Neeva’s peculiar ‘dance’ as he threatened him with some part of an old spaceship in a ritual. 😀 It was also amusing when the Doctor used a jelly baby to threaten to kill someone instead of using a knife which Tom Baker strongly objected to here.

The Sevateem cast are as follows. There’s Victor Lucas as Andor, leader of the tribe. Andor casts Leela out for speaking blasphemy against Xoanon. Like everyone else in the tribe, Andor becomes afraid when the Doctor makes an appearance, thinking he’s the Evil One. He dies halfway in the tale.

Leslie Schofield guest stars as Calib, who soon becomes the next leader of the Sevateem tribe in the story. Leslie Schofield was in ‘The War Games’ with Patrick Troughton. Calib doesn’t believe the Doctor is the Evil One once he sees him, but that doesn’t stop him stabbing Leela with a Janis thorn.

David Garfield guest stars as Neeva in the story. This isn’t David Garfield’s first appearance in ‘Doctor Who’ as he also was in ‘The War Games’ with Patrick Troughton. He later did ‘The Hollows of Time’ with Colin Baker. Neeva has great worship for Xoanon before attempting to destroy the god in ‘Part Four’.

Brendan Price guest stars as Tomas, a young male member of the Sevateem who tries to help Leela avoid being killed by assassins in the jungle once she’s cast out. Tomas joins in the fight against Xoanon with Calib and the others. Tomas becomes supportive to the Doctor and Leela in the story. 🙂

Don’t worry! The Doctor saves Leela in the end. 🙂 There’s also Colin Thomas as Sole, Leela’s father, who appears briefly at the beginning of the story before he’s sent away to be killed by some Horda. Leela’s father doesn’t get addressed much in the story. That’ll be saved for the story ‘The Evil One’. 🙂

The Tesh cast are as follows. There’s Leon Eagles as Captain Jabel; Mike Elles as Gentek and Peter Baldcock as Acolyte. I did think for a while that Leon Eagles looked like Michael Gough. He could’ve been, couldn’t he? Mike Elles as Gentek did get panicky in this tale until Captain Jabel told him off. 😀

I was impressed by the make-up and the costume designs for the Sevateem as well as the production design for the jungles planet, which must’ve been filled inside Ealing Studios. The Sevateem do look like savages in a jungle. Mind you, there aren’t enough Sevateem women here. 😀

I wasn’t very impressed by how the Tesh looked in terms of their make-up and their costume design. The Tesh’s faces are green and they wear silly hats on their heads. They also do silly ritual bows to worship their god Xoanon and to greet each other which I did find pretty annoying in watching them.

Xoanon is voiced by a number of people. There’s Rob Edwards and Pamela Salem (both who went on to be in ‘The Robots of Death’); Roy Herrick; Tom Baker himself and the little boy Anthony Frieze, who kept repeatedly asking, “Who am I?” at the end of ‘Part Three’ which must have been terrifying.

Of course, Xoanon is a computer who has a mixed personality. After tormenting the Doctor at the end of ‘Part Three’, Xoanon does everything he can to ‘destroy and be free’ and that includes killing the Doctor. Will the Doctor be able to restore Xoanon and rectify the damage he had caused here? 😐

The original DVD special features were as follows. There was the making-of documentary called ‘Into the Wild’ with behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews. There were highlighted film trims called ‘From the Cutting Room Floor’; ‘Tomorrow’s Times: The Fourth Doctor’ presented by Wendy Padbury and a ‘Doctor Who Stories: Louise Jameson’ interview. There was also a ‘Swap Shop’ interview with Louise Jameson; a ‘Denys Fisher Toys Advert’ and a photo gallery of the story. There was a stereo sound audio mix option for the story and a DVD audio commentary with Louise Jameson, Leslie Schofield, David Garfield, Mike Elles, Harry H. Fielder (who played an assassin in the story), producer Phillip Hinchcliffe and film cameraman John McGlashan, moderated by Toby Hadoke. There was an info-text commentary option to enjoy and two PDF materials including a ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story and a ‘1976 Typhoo Tea Doctor Who Promotion’. There was also a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The Dæmons’ with Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning.

On Disc 4 of the ‘Doctor Who – The Collection – Season 14’ Blu-ray, the ‘Into the Wild’ making-of documentary; the ‘From the Cutting Room Floor’ highlighted film trims; the stereo sound audio mix option for the story and the DVD audio commentary can be found on there. The photo gallery and the info-text commentary option for ‘The Face of Evil’ have been updated for 2020 on the Blu-ray. The ‘Tomorrow’s Times: The Fourth Doctor’ feature is now included on the ‘Logopolis’ Blu-ray disc of the Season 18 Blu-ray box set. The ‘Swap Shop’ interview with Louise Jameson is now included on ‘The Robots of Death’ Blu-ray disc. The ‘Denys Fisher Toys Advert’ and the ‘1976 Typhoo Tea Doctor Who Promotion’ PDF are now included on Disc 8 of the Season 14 Blu-ray box set. The ‘Doctor Who Stories: Louise Jameson’ interview are sadly not included on ‘The Face of Evil’ Blu-ray disc.

The new special features on Blu-ray include the ‘Behind the Sofa’ feature on ‘The Face of Evil’ with Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela) and producer Philip Hinchcliffe as well as Peter Purves (Steven) and Sophie Aldred (Ace). There are also unedited film trims; the ‘Girls, Girls, Girls: The 1970s’ discussion between Caroline John, Katy Manning and Louise Jameson (taken from ‘The Three Doctors’ Special Edition DVD) and BBC trailers and continuity announcements for ‘The Face of Evil’. There’s also a brand-new Blu-ray audio commentary for ‘Parts One and Three’ of ‘The Face of Evil’ with Tom Baker, moderated by Matthew Sweet.

On the PDF front, as well as the ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story, there are also production documents and scripts.

I found ‘The Face of Evil’ to be an enjoyable ‘Doctor Who’ adventure. It features a good introduction to Louise Jameson as Leela becoming the new ‘Doctor Who’ companion for Tom Baker’s Doctor. There are complexities to the story, but it has an enjoyable and thrilling atmosphere when seeing it.

Surprisingly, this story was chosen to be repeated on BBC Four TV during the Christmas period of December 2015. The proof is in the BBC trailers and continuity announcements on the Blu-ray disc. I wonder if any Fifth Doctor stories will get repeated on TV someday as I would like to watch them. 😀

‘The Face of Evil’ rating – 8/10


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2 thoughts on “‘The Face of Evil’ (TV)

  1. Lol, again i love this story as it shows the Doctors help can do more harm than good, Louise Jamesons debut as Leela is superb & instantly makes the character interesting & likeable while Tom Baker gives his usual excellent bonkers ingenious performance as the Doctor.

    Another well written review which sums up the pros & cons of this Fourth Doctor classic perfectly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘The Face of Evil’. It was an interesting story about the Doctor visiting a planet that he’d been to before and causing a bad impact on it. I liked Louise Jameson’s debut as Leela and she certainly does an interesting version of the companion. I really liked her first meeting with Tom Baker’s Doctor and the two of them work well together in this story.

    Glad you liked how I weighed the pros and cons of this ‘Doctor Who’ story with Tom Baker and Louise Jameson as the Fourth Doctor and Leela.

    Thanks Timelord Simon!

    Tim. 🙂

    Like

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