"Doctor Who" The Face of Evil: Part One (TV Episode 1977) Poster

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The introduction of Leela.
poolandrews8 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Doctor Who: The Face of Evil: Part One starts on an unnamed distant planet as the savage & primitive Sevateem warrior tribe banish one of their number Leela (Louise Jameson) into the wilderness for speaking against their God Xoanon, the tribes shaman Neeva (David Garfield) sends a couple of assassins to kill her. The Doctor (Tom Baker) arrives on the planet instead of Hyde Park, stepping outside the TARDIS he decides to have a look around & meets Leela who instantly recognises him as 'the evil one'. The Sevateem tribe think that 'the evil one' is holding their God Xoanon captive, the tribe leader Andor (Victor Lucas) is convinced by Neeva that the Doctor seen by them as 'the evil one' should be executed...

Episode 13 from season 14 this Doctor Who adventure originally aired here in the UK during January 1977, New Years Day 1977 in fact & was the fourth story from Tom Baker's third season playing the Doctor. After Sarah Jane Smith left the TARDIS & Doctor Who as a series at the end of The Hand of Fear (1976) & the companion-less previous story The Deadly Assassin (1976) a new regular companion to join the Doctor on his travels was needed. At first it was thought that the Doctor would spend the rest of season fourteen solo but producer Phillip Hinchcliffe liked the character of Leela so she became the next regular companion. Here with The Face of Evil Leela gets a reasonable if unspectacular debut story, the script by Chris Boucher is a fairly uninspiring tale of a superstitious primitive tribe whose whole lives come under the influence of a God & religion. There's the usual Doctor Who sci-fi spin on things but I just couldn't get that excited by it, simple clichéd character's & a predictable story doesn't help. One thing going for it is that it gives Tom Baker's natural charm a chance to shine with a particularly funny script full of great one-liners. I also have to mention the great cliffhanger ending which for a change isn't a typical clichéd 'the Doctors about to die' ending but a dramatic major plot revelation & twist which makes for a nice change.

Apparently the budget for The Face of Evil couldn't stretch to any outside location filming although the footage shot at Ealing studios of the jungle exteriors were shot on film. A lot like Planet of Evil (1975) from season thirteen an entire alien world has been recreated in the studio, while it's not quite as dense, colourful, varied or truly alien looking as the set seen in Planet of Evil it's still pretty impressive & the one single outstanding aspect of The Face of Evil: Part One. One might say that this episode is slightly more violent than usual with Leela having no conscience when it comes to killing people, her skimpy leather costume doesn't leave much to the imagination either & is definitely one for the dads.

The Face of Evil: Part One is a decent if unspectacular start for both a new companion Leela & a new story, good but not particularly memorable & saved by a great cliffhanger ending & a brilliantly funny performance by Tom Baker.
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Classic Epiosde
droach7530 March 2008
Classic Doctor Who. Great start to the Face Of Evil 4-parter.

The writing is so good. Just check out the quote above about jelly babies.

The sets and costumes all look good. The story is very simlar to Forbidden Planet.

This episode stands out as it introduces The Doctors new companion (Leela).

Tom Baker as usual is having a blast. He delivers lines with such relish.

It makes watching Doctor Who from this era a joy.

Afterall he is the definitive Doctor. 9/10.
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The Day God Went Mad
A_Kind_Of_CineMagic8 December 2014
Review of all 4 episodes:

A proposed title for this story was The Day God Went Mad and that is a good title for any story as well as a pretty appropriate name for this adventure. It involves The Doctor arriving on a planet which he has visited before, but does not remember at first, and slowly realising he has somehow come to be thought of as a God by the people there following his actions on his previous visit. That premise is an extremely thoughtful idea in itself, contemplating the aftermath and consequences of The Doctor's interventions on other worlds. There is a lot more to this story too, including the character Leela who becomes The Doctor's new companion. Following Sarah Jane is the toughest act to follow of all but Leela is a brilliant and different type of companion, being a tough and fiery young woman from a tribal civilisation with violent tendencies.

The first two episodes are absolutely fascinating, engaging and brilliantly written setting up a story which is really intriguing. The final two episodes are not quite at that great level but remain really good with some good thrills, nice scenes and plenty of interest. Although I felt the outcomes were not quite as fully intellectually satisfying as the wonderful build up caused me to expect it was still an enjoyable and involving conclusion. These episodes also serve as an effective introduction for Leela with some lovely scenes for her and Louise Jameson putting in a super first performance. Tom Baker is amazing throughout the story yet again as well, lighting up the screen at every moment.

The concepts in the story are strong and there are some chilling moments such as the tremendous cliffhanger at the end of part 1 and the almost equally gripping end to part 3.

This great adventure is wrongly overlooked due to being in such a great season where it is overshadowed by 4 all time top classics surrounding it. In most seasons this would be a highlight.

My ratings: Parts 1 & 2 - 10/10, Parts 3 & 4 - 9/10. Overall - 9.5/10
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The Jelly Baby Stays in the Picture
JamesHitchcock12 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The Doctor loses control of his TARDIS yet again and arrives on a jungle planet where he finds himself in the middle of a holy war. The local tribe, the Sevateem, are planning an attack on their enemies, the Tesh. The Sevateem worship a god named Xoanon, who they believe is being held prisoner by the Tesh, and the purpose of the attack is to liberate him from this captivity. A complicating factor is that the tribe believe the Doctor is the Evil One, the supposed god of the Tesh, and threaten to kill him on this account. The title refers to the fact that the Doctor's face is carved, Mount Rushmore style, on a local mountain. An explanation for this is given in the course of the serial. It is also explained why the Sevateem, an apparently primitive people, have a number of items of advanced scientific equipment in their possession.

Writer Chris Boucher's previous title for the serial was "The Day God Went Mad". This was eventually dropped, doubtless to the relief of BBC executives who would have faced a storm of protest from Christians had it been kept. This title, in fact, referred not to the Christian God but to Xoanon, which turns out not to be a god after all but a schizophrenic computer. It would appear that one of the perils of creating artificial intelligence is the possibility of creating artificial insanity. The serial does, however, contain a certain amount of religious satire; it is the conflicting religious beliefs of the Sevateem and the Tesh, who both worship Xoanon but in different ways, which keep them in a state of perpetual conflict.

This was the serial which saw the first appearance of the lovely Louise Jameson as Leela. The original intention had been that Leela would be a one-off character, appearing only in this story, but someone in the production team evidently liked her because she became the Doctor's new regular companion, leaving with him in the TARDIS at the end of the serial. (It is even suggested that she does so because she has fallen in love with the Doctor, a suggestion not followed up in later serials). Leela marked a new departure in the history of the series. Most of the Doctor's previous female companions- Susan, Zoe, Jo, Sarah-Jane- had been sweetly innocent, girl-next-door types, whose relationship with the Doctor is essentially a father-daughter, even grandfather-granddaughter, one. (Susan, indeed, was the Doctor's granddaughter in the literal sense). The main exception was the independent-minded lady scientist Liz Shaw, but she did not prove popular with viewers and left after only one season.

There is nothing sweet, innocent or girl-next-doorish about Leela, and not only because she habitually wears a revealing leather outfit based upon Raquel Welch's in "One Million Years BC". She is a trained warrior with a distinctly bolshie personality; when we first meet her she has been exiled from the Sevateem as a religious dissident. (Her crime has been to doubt both the existence of Xoanon and the wisdom of the proposed attack on the Tesh). After 1977 the Doctor's companions would never again be girls next door. We had the rather supercilious Time Lady Romana, easily the Doctor's intellectual equal (and in her own mind his superior), Janet Fielding's assertive, self-willed Tegan, Nicola Bryant's sparky, sexy Peri and Sophie Allred's rather morose Ace, a girl with a massive chip on both shoulders. Sarah Sutton's Nyssa had a sweet, gentle personality, but as an alien princess she did not really qualify as a girl-next-door. Unless, of course, you happen to live next door to the planet Traken.

By all accounts Jameson and Tom Baker did not really hit it off. He would have preferred it if the Doctor had been free to travel the cosmos alone, unencumbered by any companion, and certainly did not want a female companion who dressed in a skimpy costume and who would quite happily resort to violence at the least provocation, something which conflicted with his own vision of the Doctor as an intergalactic pacifist. (In one scene in this story the Doctor was supposed to threaten one character with a knife, but in a piece of ad-libbing Baker substituted a jelly-baby for the knife. The producer was not best pleased, but the jelly-baby stayed in the picture).

Their personal differences, however, do not appear to have affected their performances, as both are very good here. "The Face of Evil", in fact, is a first-rate serial, with some unusual and original themes. In the age of ISIS and the Taliban, its theme of religious hatred and religiously-inspired violence seems perhaps even more relevant than it did in the seventies.
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Cheap, predictable fare for Tom Baker
Leofwine_draca2 January 2016
Review of Complete Serial:

THE FACE OF EVIL is a four-part Tom Baker DOCTOR WHO adventure notable for introducing Baker's brief companion Leela, played by Louise Jameson. The story begins when Baker lands on an alien planet occupied by caveman-style tribes who live in fear of the return of an evil god destined to bring destruction to their world. However, there's a surprise in store...

There's no faulting the ambition of this production, which attempts to bring to life an alien civilisation in a way that is fairly well realised. The tribal stuff is quite a bit of fun, although campy (and the guy wearing a glove on his head has to be seen to be believed!), and the limited special effects work quite well. I particularly enjoyed the Mount Rushmore-style ending of the first episode which is a lovely hook, and those studio jungles never get tired.

A shame, then, that the script is so predictable and even a little tired by this stage. The old 'Doctor infiltrates an alien race and helps them to overcome evil' is played out with almost exactly the same plot ingredients as previous adventures and the whole warring tribe stuff is a bit pitiful. The latter two episodes move to the usual corridor type settings and are a bit more fun, and it's nice to have TV regular Leslie Schofield on board. But Jameson is a little awkward in her debut appearance and Baker seems merely to be going through the motions, leaving this a lesser story from his tenure.
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The Debut Of Leela In A Cheap Looking Story
Theo Robertson30 October 2013
A companionless Doctor lands on a planet where he is mistaken for the God Xaonon and finds himself caught up in a war between two tribes , one being the Seveteem and the Tesh

This is a story whose main claim to fame is that it introduced the companion Leela . One can see instantly see what producer Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes are trying to do - change the stereotypical companion of a screaming bimbo in to something entirely different but I'm not entirely sure how successful the production team . A savage handy at killing people in effect the character still remains a plot device where she has to constantly ask stupid questions in order for the Doctor to spout exposition . It also goes without saying she has to appeal to red blooded adult males and like Louise Jameson in some skimpy cowhide costume does the job very well and it's interesting watching the rather strange too convenient poses Ms Jameson constantly carries herself in just in case we see too much of Leela . One can't help thinking Hinchcliffe and Holmes are trying to have their cake and eat it at the same time

The story itself is a little too obvious of rational explanation versus superstition which was touched in the season opener Masque Of Mandragora but here everything is a little too simplistic with shouts of " Blasphemer " and " Heretic " at every opportunity from the noble savages who aren't all that noble at the best of times . This is Chris Boucher's debut script for the show and it's interesting how often this type of story cropped up in BLAKES 7 which Boucher script edited . The advantage BLAKES 7 has over this type of DOCTOR WHO story is that it lasts half the time and we'd be getting snappy one liners via Kerr Avon with possibly some location filming . Here we have a studio bound alien jungle that director Pennant Roberts fails to develop and comes across as a very cheap television production that the show was infamous for
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