The Doctor and Jo Grant investigate the Keller Machine at Stangmoor Prison, which is being used to remove any malicious elements of prisoners’ personalities.
Meanwhile, the Brigadier and UNIT are being stretched as they are responsible for security for the World Peace Conference, as well as having to deal with the decommissioning of a Thunderbolt Missile. Things only get more complicated for the Doctor and the Brigadier when they discover that the Master is behind the Keller Machine.
The Mind of Evil could be seen as a quintessential story of the Third Doctor’s era. All of the elements are present; Jo and the UNIT family, Roger Delgado’s Master and the Earth-bound nature of the story, however, this has a truly international flavour and feels as though it could be a Bond movie in places. Some time has passed since the events of Terror of the Autons, clear by the fact that there has been some improvement in the relationship between the Third Doctor and Jo, and the Master developing the Keller Machine, and unlike other six part stories, it feels as though there is enough going on to warrant the story’s length and the direction works well to ensure that the viewer remains engaged. That is not to say that the story is perfect, however, as the story does fall down if you think about the Master’s plan too much and I feel that there is not enough done with the creature inside the Machine. However, by and large, thanks to the direction, this feels like a fun romp through a story with a truly international feel. I feel compelled to complement the work done by Stuart Humphyres to bring the first part back to life in colour – I’m sure that it was painstaking work and it really looks fantastic.
One of the strongest elements of this story is that there is enough plot to go around. In the beginning, the three different plot strands appear to be relatively separate, with the Doctor and Jo off investigating and UNIT in a bit of a panic about the Peace Conference and the destruction of the missile, however, Houghton ties the story together nicely in the end by introducing the Master, and the plot feels quite grand and Bond-like in scope. Delgado’s Master is suave and menacing in equal measure and adds a great deal of glee to proceedings and a gentlemanly charm to boot. The scene with him and the Doctor meeting in the Governor’s office in Part 3 feels very much like a confrontation between Holmes and Moriarty, complete with a Bond villain style chair swivel. There is certainly a sense of swagger and confidence in the production, which certainly helps the story along in its more shaky elements and this is probably due to Combe going over budget. It certainly feels as though there are loads of extras, especially in the prison break scenes, which is rare for Doctor Who.
Something else I really liked about this story is that the core cast of the Doctor, Jo, the Brigadier, Benton and Yates get quite a lot to do and there are some lovely moments between some of the characters. When the Brigadier shows up just in the nick of time to save the Doctor and Jo from Mailer and the Doctor berates him, Courtney has a little smile on his face which makes the viewer think that he knows that the Doctor appreciates it really. Equally, there’s a really nice moment between the Brig and Benton after the former tells the latter that he is now acting governor of Stangmoor Prison and almost immediately, the Brigadier warns him about getting delusions of grandeur which is quite an amusing moment. Having spent some considerable time in their company, the writers now feel as though they can flesh out these kinds of interactions here. The Doctor seems to have become much more favourably disposed towards Jo too, perhaps thanks to continued offscreen adventures in the six months that have elapsed between Terror of the Autons and this story. The Doctor and the Brigadier seem to have developed a rapport, demonstrated by Courtney’s smirk when the Doctor delivers the following line:
Do you think for once in your life you could arrive just before the nick of time?
The Third Doctor
This isn’t to say that this story is without flaws. The Master’s plan, for one, feels very generically villainous and not really in keeping with the Master’s modus operandi. The Master wants to use the missile to destroy the Earth and rule over any survivors, which does feel a bit like it’s been lifted from a Bond movie. Equally, I would have liked to have seen more development of the creature contained within the Keller Machine. Some of the best moments are when the Doctor and the Master are subject to it’s psychic impact so it would have been interesting to know where the Master had found it and captured it for this story. These elements do bother me slightly, but thanks to Coombe’s direction, my mind perhaps didn’t linger on these issues for longer.
Verdict: A really ambitious story with some lovely direction and character moments, which is let down by a few small niggles. I really like this story, maybe because it reminds of Bond films of this era. 8/10
Cast: Jon Pertwee (The Doctor), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), Richard Franklin (Mike Yates), Pik-Sen Lim (Captain Chin Lee), Raymond Westwell (Prison Governor), Michael Sheard (Dr. Summmers), Simon Lack (Professor Kettering), Neil McCarthy (Barnham), Fernanda Marlowe (Corporal Bell), Clive Scott (Linwood), Roy Purcell (Chief Prison Officer Powers), Eric Mason (Senior Prison Officer Green), Bill Matthews, Barry Wade, Dave Carter & Martin Gordon (Prison Officers), Roger Delgado (The Master), John Levene (Sergeant Benton), William Marlowe (Mailer), Hayden Jones (Vosper), Kristopher Kum (Fu Peng), Tommy Duggan (Senator Alcott), David Calderisi (Charlie), Patrick Godfrey (Major Cosworth), Johnny Barrs (Fuller) & Matthew Walters (Main Gate Prisoner).
Writer: Don Houghton
Director: Timothy Combe
Behind the Scenes
- Timothy Combe went so over budget that Barry Letts banned him from working on the programme in the future. Exceeding of the budget was largely down to the use of a helicopter in the final part.
- The third story not to feature the Doctor’s TARDIS, although the Master’s TARDIS appears briefly at the end of the story.
- There is no surviving colour print of The Mind of Evil. Part One was recolourised by Stuart Humphryes (better known as Babel Colour), whilst the remaining parts were recoloured using chroma-dot restoration.
- The only story to date to see the Doctor’s dialogue subtitled whilst he is speaking Hokkien.
- Pik-Sen Lim, who played Captain Chin Lee, was married to Don Houghton.
- Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?: Michael Sheard (The Ark, Pyramids of Mars, The Invisible Enemy, Castrovalva and Remembrance of the Daleks.
I really like the reveal of the Master in the tent outside UNIT’s headquarters. I think it is really nicely directed by Combe.
Science has abolished the hangman’s noose, and substituted this infallible method.
People who talk about infallibility are usually on very shaky ground.Professor Kettering and the Third Doctor