Doctor Who #164: The Faceless Ones Part 6

"Now go on, Ben can catch his ship and become an Admiral and you Polly, you can look after Ben."TECHNICAL SPECS: Missing from the archives, I've had to use a reconstruction. First aired May 13 1967.

IN THIS ONE... The Chameleons are forced to surrender their captives and leave, and Ben and Polly make their goodbyes.

REVIEW: I've decided that what drives the Chameleons is brainless arrogance. After all, these guys make the absurd claim that they are the most intelligent race in the universe. In other words, despite some serious technological advancements, only by having theme erroneously believe they're geniuses can the plot approach a modicum of sense. After all the hoopla about the "originals" being hidden in a safe place no one will ever look for them, it turns out they were under blankets in the back of their own cars. The police don't do a very good job of it, but Sam eventually figures it out. Up in orbit, the Chameleons let the Doctor prod at some cracks in their loyalty to one another, and it work so easy they are to manipulate. Writer Malcolm Hulke's trademark, the Doctor attempting a compromise instead of a violent confrontation, works in a way it never will again, but it's hard to say if that's at all satisfying. These guys' attitude is so void of respect for other species, it feels like the Doctor is a bit naive to trust them to return to their home. Unless he really did help them out of their jam (see Theories).

But of course, this is really an episode about goodbyes. I'm happy to report Sam and Jamie shared an actual kiss, full on the mouth, this time! Pauline Collins didn't want to stay with the show, but maybe Samantha might've done, the way she wistfully looks on after Jamie leaves. Maybe she'll go look for him in Scotland as Queen Victoria... And then there's Ben and Polly, two people I've missed over the last three-to-four episodes, if only because their adventures could have replaced some of that repetitive radioing between the satellite and Gatwick (ugh!). They show up in the final moments, rescued from a miniaturized state, to say their farewells. Had they been Dodo, I suppose they'd have been forgotten in a drawer somewhere. But no, they do get a proper goodbye scene, and one that tugs at the heartstrings too (just look at their sad little faces!). Somehow, they're back to the date they took off, as if they'd never left. Big day for the Greater London area, what with the War Machines running over the town somewhere in the background, I guess. Ben offers to stay if the Doctor really needs them, but can the Time Lord begrudge them a chance to go home when he well understands what it means to be an exile himself? Hugs and handshakes then, a sweet moment to end on.

Of course, the real ending is the cliffhanger, which involves the disappearance of the TARDIS (sheesh, was the Doctor going to skip town without saying goodbye?!). So the Doctor and Jamie DON'T leave London 1966, though Ben and Polly don't need to know that. It's an odd ending then, where the aliens didn't really get their comeuppance and the Doctor doesn't leave at the end.

THEORIES: The Doctor tells the Chameleons he has a couple of ideas for their leaders regarding their disfigured, identity-less state. It's not clear whether he leaves that information with them, but he must before going back. These ideas, could they have something to do with regeneration? What kind of Time Lord secrets has he given these aliens? Did it save their race, or did they go the way of Mawdryn? The 6th Doctor short story Face Value (by Steve Lyons) has them up to their old tricks, having never reached home so... missed opportunity?

VERSIONS: The Target novelization makes use of the sonic screwdriver, which wouldn't actually appear for a few stories yet.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Stupid Chameleons, Trix is for kids! Once the plot full of holes is done with, we get to some sweet farewells that save the episode.

STORY REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Had Ben and Polly not left in this story, it might have gotten a lower score due to dull and senseless aliens and repetitive plotting. It starts off well enough, with some creepy moments, cool location shooting and the introduction of a potential companion, but crashes and burns under the weight of one or two episodes too many.



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