Doctor Who #289: The Mind of Evil Part 5

"Huh, it’s rather like making a film, isn’t it, sir?"TECHNICAL SPECS: The Internet provides where there is no DVD. First aired Feb.27 1971.

IN THIS ONE... UNIT assaults the prison!

REVIEW: Exciting! Not only does HAVOC pull off a cool assault on Dover Castle (playing the prison), but it choreographs the regulars in fun ways as well. We have Jo falling back onto Mailer. We have Captain Yates escaping by breaking his bonds and flipping a guy over his head. We have a real massacre as UNIT takes no, uhm, prisoners and shoots up Mailer's dapper inmates. We have the Brig charging in, invulnerable, with a loudspeaker, and fast-drawing on a baddie as soon as he starts shooting from the roof. We even have UNIT men scaling a castle wall. Even the Doctor's bit, facing the Keller creature is made more fun through the inclusion of old monsters which better eyes than mine have well spotted - a Dalek (does Terry Nation know?), a Cyberman, a War Machine, Slaar the Ice Lord, a Zarbi, a Sensorite (THEY'RE scary?), a Silurian, and (heh) Koquillion.

But all this action wouldn't mean as much of the serial didn't keep doing what it does best, and that's giving each of the cast some excellent character moments. I doubt, for example, we've ever had as warm a companion as Jo Grant. She has an obvious love of the Doctor, but shows a similar kindness to others as well, it's just who she is. I love that she immediately senses that the Doctor is dead tired, and he shows her a vulnerable side this Doctor doesn't normally show. It's really sweet. Although for an escapologist, she does spend an inordinate amount of time in that cell. Meanwhile, Yates stands up to the Master, mocking his capacity to launch the too-complex missile (but really, how hard can it be?), and Benton releases HIMSELF from the hospital seeking redemption. The Brigadier glows with pride that this young man would be so determined. Promote him, already! And the Brig gets the best role of all, putting on a cockney accent to pretend he's a delivery man, thus infiltrating the prison grounds. I don't know what Major Cosworth was on about with his secret tunnels idea, because that's not part of the plan, but the Brig's a total badass with what he's chosen to do.

Still, the most fascinating character piece is the surely the renewed partnership of the Master and the Doctor. I say renewed because at the very least, they worked together in Terror of the Autons, but it seems like their relationship goes back a ways, and they're falling into old patterns. Yes, the Master forces the Doctor to help him stop the Keller creature, threatening Jo to do so. And once it's done, it's business as usual. However, just look at their collaboration. The Master is always supportive and appreciative, and doesn't even attempt a betrayal (unlike Mailer who almost gun-butts the Doctor in the back of the head for fun). It's a little strange to see them forget they're enemies, but it speaks to something in their past that bears exploring.

- Some pretty terrific action beats AND character moments, this may be the best episode of the serial.


Anonymous said...

I enjoy seeing UNIT portrayed as a competent military organization, and the Brigadier as the kind of executive who in real life would be given such a vital job.

And I too love the scene where Benton begs on to the prison operation because he wants to kick some ass. He's often portrayed as kind of a simple, jolly guy, but obviously he has a rougher side. Let's not forget he became a soldier for a reason. You see just a tiny echo of the 'brutal' Benton from the 'Inferno' world, but here tempered with a sense of justice and gentleness.



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