Doctor Who Reactions: "The Face of Evil" (SPOILERS)

Part One:

In which we meet Leela, a warrior of the Sevateem, who is cast out for questioning the local shaman, and the Doctor arrives for a visit and finds that everyone calls him "The Evil One", despite that he can't remember ever visiting the place before.

Cliffhanger: The Doctor sees his face carved into the side of a mountain!


Part Two

In which much running around is done, and the Doctor is captured, but passes the Test of the Horda and name-checks William Tell. He and Leela go to investigate the land of the Tesh, but meanwhile the id monsters from Forbidden Planet attack the Sevateem.

Cliffhanger: The id monsters attack Tomas!


Part Three

In which Tomas is not killed for some reason, and the Doctor and Leela are captured by the psychically-powerful but somewhat fey and goofy-looking Tesh, but they escape and the Doctor goes in to see the great god Xoanon, who turns out to be a computer that the Doctor broke the last time he was there, and outside Leela has a fairly slow-paced shoot-out with the Tesh.

Cliffhanger:  Xoanan has a psychotic breakdown and is painfully loud at the Doctor!


Part Four

In which the Sevateem invade Tesh territory, and the Doctor fixes Xoanon rather easily, and the Sevateem and the Tesh start re-enacting the ending of "The Savages" and Leela forces her way into the TARDIS because she doesn't want to be Steven Taylor, Jr., or maybe she's noticed that she appears to be the only woman on the planet and figures it's time to get out before the men realize that.


1)There's no indication given as to how much time has passed for the Doctor since the events of "The Deadly Assassin". It may've just happened for him, or it could've been a long time. There's nothing in the story that says.  If one wanted to do Fourth Doctor "Missing Adventures", this would be a good gap to place them in.


2)There's also no indication given as to when the Doctor's previous visit to the planet occurred, except that it had to have been during his fourth incarnation. As I recall, the novelization places this visit during his immediate post-regenerative trauma, sometime in-between scenes in the first episode of "Robot", using his confused condition to explain how he screwed up so badly, and why he doesn't remember being there before.  This always seemed an unnecessary complication to me - I just assume that he has loads of adventures that we don't get to see, and that after all the centuries he's lived, he might be forgiven for not immediately remembering every backwater planet he's been to.


3)Of course, this is the story where we are introduced to Leela. According to the extras, Leela was created to be "not-Sarah Jane", and I think she fulfills that role pretty well.  Louise Jameson was very well cast, and does a good job here, especially considering the firction that initially existed between her and Baker. The Doctor hadn't had a "primitive" companion since Jamie (He's due for one again, I think), and even Jamie was positively urbane compared to Leela!  Plus, even in the 70's, there was still a big difference between having a female companion merrily knifing people as compared to a male one! I'd forgotten how much she was established as a questioner of "received wisdom" in her initial story - makes me already wish she'd had a better "leaving" than heading off into the sunset with wimpy old Andred.  I like to think she kept provoking regenerations in him until he regenerated as someone less weedy.


4)I remember that when I first watched this as a kid, I totally didn't get what the heck was supposed to be going on with Xoanon. I didn't understand that the multiple voices were meant to represent multiple personalities.  I also didn't get why Xoanon yelling "Who am I?" at the end of Part Three made the Doctor collapse.


5)I liked the setting of this story - I'm a sucker for "civilized people lapse into savagery"  settings.


6)Of the remaining human characters. Neeva is the only one that I find interesting. An object lesson in why you should never meeet your gods. They're bound to be a disappointment. In a way, I'm surprised that they got away with a story that lampooned religious belief this way - things must be different in the UK.


7)Some Fun Quotes:

  • "It's true, then - they say the Evil One eats babies."
  • "Never be certain of anything. It's a sign of weakness."
  • "Now, drop your weapons, or I'll kill him with this deadly jelly baby."
  • "Killing me isn't going to help you.  It isn't going to do me much good, either."
  • "Who licensed you to slaughter people?"
  • "We start getting proof and we stop believing."  "With proof, we don't have to believe."
  • "You wouldn't want an unfair advantage, would you?" "Yes."
  • "Destroy and be free!"  Motto of my high school, oddly enough.


Overall: Quite a good story, I thought.  A nice introduction for Leela, a character who I came to like quite alot, but didn't always get the good writing she deserved.


[Part of list of Doctor Who episodes here.]

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[T]he Doctor arrives for a visit and finds that everyone calls him "The Evil One", despite that he can't remember ever visiting the place before.

Happens to me all the time.

I like to think she kept provoking regenerations in him until he regenerated as someone less weedy.

Especially if the "provoking" involved a dagger.

"Killing me isn't going to help you. It isn't going to do me much good, either."

Just another example of why Groucho would have made a good Doctor.

I was thinking about this - they should do a story where the Doctor goes back to this planet and discovers that his fix for the first problem has somehow made things worse.

Isn't it interesting how the "planet of the idiots" (as I like to call it) parrallels the Time Lord home world. You've got a "citadel" with the technical, "intelligent" people, and the wasteland, with the "savages". And a big computer with a Time Lord mind programmed into it...

I never noticed this before. Not that I think it means anything... although, it does sort of draw a parallel (unintended?) between Leela's 1st and last stories. Perhaps she stayed on Gallifrey because, in the end, it reminded her of "home"-- except, on her new planet, she had managed to make some friends. It's funny this never crossed my mnd before in all these years, because it makes her departure feel more "right" somehow.

First of all, whose bright idea was it to release the first of the Leela episodes dead last? I rather liked this story ad would have preferred to see these episodes much earlier. Not only is it a good introduction to Leela, but it would make for a good introduction to the Fourth Doctor for someone unfamiliar with him. Tom Baker comes off particularly well, I think. I like to think all of Dave Gibbons’ comic book adventures took place in the gap Bob mentioned between “The Deadly Assassin” and “Face of Evil.” I think they missed an opportunity by implying that the Doctor had visited this planet once before in his past. Why couldn’t his future self have visited the planet in its past? Well, he might not have made the same mistakes that led to this story’s dilemma for one thing, but part of the fun of a time-travel story is telling why he must take that same series of steps. I see echoes of “Face of Evil” in both RTD’s “Silence in the Library” as well as SM’s “Impossible Astronaut.” I often try to second guess where stories are heading, and am frequently more satisfied with my ending than the aired one. I’ll bet that’s where a lot of writers get their ideas. I’m a little disappointed we didn’t see more of the TARDIS, but I haven’t watched the final episode yet. Every time they mentioned the “Tesh” I thought of this guy:

When Philly's Channel 12 first ran Tom Baker's 1st 4 seasons, they ran the stories out of sequence.  ROBOT, then THE SONTORAN EXPERIMENT, then REVENGE OF THE CYBERMEN... and so on.  I clearly remember THE TALONS OF WENG-CHIANG was the first Leela story they ran, and they ran it before THE HAND OF FEAR, Sarah's last.

I had to tape the run several times to get the episodes in the right order.  Then, later, they ran them in MOVIE form, more-or-less uncut (while before, all 4 seasons had been cut for commercial time, but with coming attaractions added at both the beginning and end of each episode, narrated by Howard De Silva... the HORROR!!). The initial "movie" edits were not done very professionally, and often, something where the breaks had been was badly edited-- either bits of film run twice, or MISSING.  I had the impression Channel 12 was doing the edits themselves, though someone online argued that the distributor was doing it themselves.  of course, they changed distributors as one point... later still, they ran all the episodes they had in episodic form, UNCUT, and I wound up taping them AGAIN. (Although, to be honest, normally, I just watch the movies, even though, here and there, the "bad edits" at some of the breaks are annoyng.) If I recall right, they ran "INFERNO" (it was the year they only had the complete color Pertwees) up to "TERMINUS"-- and then stopped.  Go figure.  I've never seen any of the later ones, from "ENLIGHTMENT"-up as individual episodes.

More comments I posted just now at  Enjoy!
"Sarah who seemed to have an alarming predilection to getting kidnapped and needing to be rescued"

Yes, my very 1st impression of here WAS "an English Lois Lane", right down to the bossy attitude. I sometimes wonder If I'd liked her sooner or taken longer than I did, IF my 1st Sarah story had been "THE TIME WARRIOR" instead of "ROBOT". Despite myself, I did fall for Sarah (midway thru "THE SONTORAN EXPERIMENT"-- guess I do have a weakness for "women in distress"). So, by default, I resented Leela at first, simply for her not being Sarah. Because the Philly PBS station ran the stories totally out of sequence-- and, I somehow missed a few episodes here and there-- my very first view of Leela was her running thru the sewer in "TALONS". No, really. When the rat grabbed her, I remember yelling at the TV, "YEAH! GET HER!!!" I'm sure I wouldn't have done that if it had been Joanna Lumley. (see "GNAWS")

"THE FACE OF EVIL" has always annoyed me as a story. I've slowly come to terms with it over the years, the really irritating parts I'm used to and the confusing parts (some of which were a DIRECT result of the savage editing done for commercial time, before someone realized it was PBS stations running the show here, NOT commercial stations) I've figured out. I think what helped was my giving the story a sarcastic nickname: "PLANET OF THE IDIOTS". Seriously, it's a toss-up who's dumber in this story: Sevateem, or Tesh. "Yes, Lord!" I mean, the Tesh leader's actually STUPID enough, after recognizing The Doctor, to believe, "No, you are NOT the Lord of Time come again to save us!" Some people are too dumb to deserve saving.

Leela is such a breath of fresh air. Of COURSE she became an outcast. STUPID people ALWAYS harrass and persecute SMART people. Leela may not know much, but she IS smart. Which is why she connects with The Doctor so fast. She sees him as a source of knowledge. Maybe love as well, but Baker's Doctor being who he is, that vanishes pretty quick. "Don't you like me?" "Well, I suppose I do like you, but I can't go carting everyone I like around with me." After the number of times he repeatedly LURED Sarah into his TARDIS, again and again (who says Time Lords don't fall in love?) this is something very different.

So what we have here may be my LEAST-favorite Leela story. On the other hand, she probably looks her best here-- especially when she goes to some extra effort for the last scene. Which doesn't work, so she has to take matters into her own hands. NO WAY she was just gonna let him LEAVE that awful place without her!

Just noticed a parallel between Leela and Rose. Both abandoned a man who cared very much for them, as it was clearly a one-way street. Who knows? Maybe Tomas became the new leader.

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