5 December 2018: It Takes You Away review added.
26 November 2018: The Witchfinders review added.
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THE MIND OF EVIL
"May I ask the purpose of this charade?"
Ho hum. One of the more tedious Pertwee outings.
Mind Of Evil's not all bad, of course. The big action set piece is pretty impressive, even if the Brigadier's lor-luv-a-duck accent isn't. Although continuing to be patronised all round, Jo actually manages to disarm a villain, and also bravely engineers a chance for the Doctor to escape (which would have been more effective had he done something with it instead of just standing there like a Time Lemon).
And Mind Of Evil's a very nice story for UNIT: not only is there lots of derring-do, but there are some very cute character scenes. Even boring old Mike Yates briefly becomes less tedious, what with his Hell's Angel bit and the grinning like a Cheshire cat scene, and Benton is sweet beyond belief with his determination to join in the prison attack and his turn as acting governor. The Brigadier has some great interactions with his team - his "You're too delicate for intelligence work, Benton, you'd better go and lie down" line is a classic - and also shines as the baffled xenophobe in the scene with the Chinese delegate.
The story's not entirely bad, either: using prisoners as the secondary villains is a novel and effective idea, for a start. Unfortunately, the rest of it's not up to much. An entity which feeds on evil impulses is a pretty well-worn SF notion, as is killing someone by conjuring up whatever they're most frightened of, as is reforming prisoners (or the insane) by extracting their bad bits. And the story as a whole seems to moosh together assorted random chunks of plot - the Keller machine, the peace conference, the missile - that don't bear much relationship to each other. It lurches from setting to setting, dropping plot threads with a thud as it goes. Just what did happen with the peace conference, anyway? And where'd the Chinese captain go?
There's also a nice soft heap of cosy padding. Watching the escape-capture-escape-capture sequences in the prison is like getting stuck in a particularly evil time loop. And given how utterly it vanishes from the story, the entire peace conference plot is a total waste of energy. It's all a bit... lacklustre. We're slumping morosely over our keyboards just thinking about it.
As for the Master, what was fresh and chilling in Terror of the Autons seems like business as usual here. We already know the drill: he works out some incredibly convoluted plot for destroying the earth involving an ill-explained alien, he hypnotises random hapless humans, it all goes horribly wrong, he gets away at the end. So bloody what.
And what, exactly, is he trying to achieve? He says: "Later when the earth is in ruins, I shall take over." Frankly, this plan strikes us as ill-advised, unless he has a yen to push around a few cockroaches.
Having said all this, if you're going to do cheesy villain, Roger Delgado's your man. From the cigar-puffing to the chin-grabbing, he's greasily superb.
And the Doctor? Not good. He's annoying in this in a way that only this incarnation can be. From his hideous gurning to his smartarsy conversing in Chinese to his yarns replete with name-dropping to his Venusian aikido, we're itching to give him a good slap. Hai!
It's not entirely terrible. It's got the Doctor in handcuffs, after all. But the odd gem is, alas, a mere glint amongst the dross. File under forgettable.
MORAL: Hooray for evil. Without it, we'd all be dribbling morons.
IF YOU DREAM THEM, THEY WILL COME
If the Keller machine works on the imagination, how did the rat scratches and the water in the lungs get there?
WHICH IS MORE THAN WE CAN SAY FOR YOU
Mike Yates continues his charm offensive with "She's quite a dolly." Ick.
ME SAY YOU COME. UGH
Why doesn't Mike just explain to the Doctor why the Brigadier wants him instead of trying to drag him out by the hair?
SHE MIGHT HAVE INTERRUPTED HIS DINNER, BUT AT LEAST HE GOT THE CHEESE COURSE
Oh, God, that dragon.
"I suppose there couldn't possibly be a secret underground passage or something?" Well, yes. There could. (In a prison. Marked, moreover, on a map.) Well guessed, Major. Have you ever thought of taking up the tarot?
MENS SANA IN OFFICE SANO
After the Doctor drapes his cloak around the suit of armour in the fight scene (a pretty amazing feat in itself given the time he has to do it in), we note that by the next scene in the office the Master has taken the trouble to hang the cloak up neatly for him. Isn't that thoughtful?
IT'S FOR MY OWN GOOD
The Doctor forcing the terrified Barnham over to the Keller machine is not a pretty sight. Not very Doctorly, is it?
In the bombing scene, why doesn't the machine stop immediately Barnham goes near it? And why doesn't it start again when he dies?
It seems to us that exploding a missile full of nerve gas on the ground, evacuation or not, is something of an own goal. And just how did they manage to evacuate a ten mile radius at that speed, anyway?
The Doctor frets about the Master being "free to roam through time and space". But presumably he's already been doing this for several hundred years anyway.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY
The Master has a phone in his TARDIS? With a cord and everything? How charmingly retro. BT, d'you think? With maybe Cable and Wireless for toll calls? (All right, it's possible that he's phoning from outside, but don't spoil it for us.)