Doctor Who: The Mind Of Evil by Don Houghton (DVD review).

March 27, 2015 | By | Reply More

The Doctor (actor Jon Pertwee) and Jo Grant (actress Katy Manning) attend a mind-altering demonstration at Stangmoor Prison where the prisoner Barnham (actor Neil McCarthy) has all the evil taken out of him with alarming consequences by the Keller machine process. The Doctor is alarmed about what happens to the evil and this worsens when various people alone with the machine die from their own fears. Attempting to dismantle the machine, he gets a whiff of it himself but is saved by Jo walking into the room. It seems the machine couldn’t focus on the two of them at the same time.


Back in London, the Brigadier (actor Nicholas Courtney) is looking after the security of a multi-nations gathering when the Chinese delegate is mysteriously killed. He’s suspicious of Captain Chin Lee (actress Pik-Sen Lim) but not really believing Sergeant Benton (actor John Levene) when he faints and she vanishes. She’s under the control of the Master (actor Roger Delegado) and the Keller machine is giving her the ability to kill people.

Back at the prison, convict Mailer (actor William Marlowe), the next in line for the Keller treatment, has led a revolt and Jo is amongst the captives. Through bad planning, it doesn’t last.

In London, the Doctor quickly unravels what has been going on and the connection to the Keller machine. The Master, having bugged their phones and listening in on the movement of a toxic missile then finds he has to get back to the prison before the Doctor if his plan is to succeed. As far as the Governor knows, the Master is Professor Keller, who says the machine needs a few minor tweaks but insists on seeing the next person, Mailer. He gets the prisoner alone and then together with him, some gas grenades and guns, has another minor riot but has the prisoners back in charge and the Doctor captured when he arrives.

The Master tests the machine on the Doctor who is rendered unconscious and even the he has problems turning it off as it gains in strength. When the Doctor is put in the cell with Jo, the Master admits that there is a sentient force inside the machine. The Master gets Mailer and selected prisoners to attack the UNIT convoy and steal the missile. The Doctor and Jo use the distraction to escape their cell and hide in the Governor’s office, thinking that would be the last place anyone would look for them. Even so, they can only watch as the Master’s team goes off and steals the missile and, unknown to them, hide it in a nearby disused airfield.

The entire UNIT convoy with the missile is shot and although injured reporting in, Captain Mike Yates (actor Richard Franklin) does follow them before being captured. The Master decides to keep him alive as a bargaining chip should anything go wrong.

As the Doctor and Jo try to escape, they are captured but spotted by the Brigadier flying overhead in a helicopter. He believes that the missile is in the prison and formulates a plan to get in. Which is where I stop and you buy to see what happens next.

Considering the sentience life-force in the Keller machine comes from the Middle East, I couldn’t help but wonder if this is another aspect of the Great Intelligence. It could hardly be the Nesterne Intelligence although it is rather odd that the Master has formed alliances with another disembodied life-form in rapid succession. Even so, he is rather out of his depth with this one especially as it has a taste for the darker emotions, including his own, and probably didn’t have much of a chance. It’s interesting that he sees the Doctor as his biggest feat which is never explored further.

The audio commentary is a musical chairs governed by Toby Hadoke with the likes of actors Katy Manning, Pik-Sen Lim and Fernanda Marlowe (who says she was never married to William Marlowe), director Timothy Comb, producer Barry Letts, script editor Terrance Dicks and stunt arranger Derek Ware. A lot of interesting information is revealed. Terrance Dicks points out not being comfortable with stories extended over seven episodes, despite some of his and Malcolm Hulke’s stories took full advantage of and some of their best. There was a general consent that the forty-five minute stories of today are far too short which I also agree with. Katy Manning wants it known that Jo Grant was never dizzy. Derek Ware’s comments on the stunt arranging at the prison where he switched roles and ended up shooting himself gives insight into filming. What all of them did ignore was the fact that this story had been restored to colour from a black and white print.

The extras have a DVD all to themselves. The twenty-three minute ‘Behind The Scenes: Television Centre’ barely has a minute about ‘Doctor Who’ but it gives a marvellous insight into how production was done in the early 1970s and the controlled chaos of set preparation.

Equal time is given to ‘The Military Mind’ looking over the creation of the story which ran out of funds and although not said explicitly might explain why directory Timothy Comb wasn’t asked back again and according to the audio commentary hadn’t known his expenditure at the time. I remember vaguely from other sources that the Beeb suits were never happy with directors who over-ran costs.

The other two extras are the ‘Then And Now’ where Dover Castle hasn’t really changed much in the past forty years. The photo gallery isn’t as extensive as in other stories but considering how much they were working under the clock filming at the castle, that is hardly surprising.

‘The Mind Of Evil’ still works remarkably well and is certainly one of the most action-packed stories.

GF Willmetts

March 2015

(region 2 DVD: pub: BBC BBCDVD3269. 2 DVDs 146 minutes 6 * 25 minute episodes with extras. Price: £ 5.60 (UK) if you know where to look)

cast: Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning, Nicholas Courtney, Richard Franklin, John Levene, Roger Delegado, Neil McCarthy, Pik-Sen Lim and William Marlowe

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Category: Doctor Who, TV

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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