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Doctor Who: The Mind of Evil

“You may not find the Master that easy to 'mop up', Brigadier.”

The Master has never been one to let failure get him down. Operation: Plastic Fantastic might have been a complete and total disaster but that's no reason for feeling downhearted. So quicker than you can say “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow” he's back and up to even more mischief. After all, tomorrow is another day... to try and take over the world.

I quite like 'The Mind of Evil', mostly because the Master is in it. Originally he wasn't supposed to appear, he was a last minute addition to the script after Barry Letts decided the character would feature in every story this season. Unlike 'Terror of the Autons' we get to see the Doctor and his nemesis actually interact with each other for more than just a single scene. And none of it feels like fodder for slash fans (yes, I'm making a sly dig at you, Russell).

In many ways, Pertwee's Doctor and Delgado's Master are like a comedy double-act (minus the comedy). The Master is the short, evil and charismatic one, while the Doctor is the tall, heroic and perpetually grumpy one. And, boy, is he grumpy. The Master is making a major charm offensive but the Doctor is in one of his moods throughout, constantly losing his temper and snapping at people, even when they've just come to his rescue (I don't know why the Brigadier puts up with him at times).

As much fun as it is seeing Worzel and Delgado act off with relish, this is a story littered with problems. In many ways 'The Mind of Evil' is very reminiscent of the grittier tone of season 7, leaving it feeling slightly out of place in the more light-hearted world of season 8.

The plot is like two separate stories that have been awkwardly mashed together into a single entity. On one hand you have a rather interesting tale of science gone wrong in one of Her Majesty's prisons that raises some interesting moral questions (is it really more humane to lobotomising hardened criminals rather than execute them?). And on the other we have a underdeveloped tale, one too reliant on lazy cultural stereotypes, about the Master trying to kick start World War III by blowing up a peace conference with a stolen nuclear rocket. What exactly he was planning to do with our freshly nuked planet once he'd taken over anyway is never made clear.

Due to this mishmash of storylines the plot has enough holes in it to qualify as a golf course. The Master's scheme is needlessly over elaborate and is dependent on some unlikely coincidences to succeed. The more you think about it the less sense any of it makes. Best not to try, really. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. That's what I did.

Notes and Quotes

--All six episodes of ‘The Mind of Evil’ currently only exist in black and white. The original colour tapes were wiped from the BBC archive. Efforts to re-colour the story are currently ongoing.

--Since this is meant to be a family show (You know, for kids) Stangmoor Prison is more Porridge than Oz with just a pinch of Prisoner Cell Block H.

--The Master's worst fear appears to be getting laughed at by a giant Jon Pertwee. Terrifying.

--The, frankly rubbish, dragon that attacks the Senator was nicknamed 'Puff' by the production crew.

--'The Mind of Evil' wins the award for the most reused cliff-hanger. Three times an episode ends with the Doctor being attacked by that phallic looking Keller Machine.

--Judging by the way he couldn't keep quiet during Professor Kettering's presentation, the Doctor must be one of those people who talk at the theatre. There’s a special level of hell reserved for people like him.

--The exterior of Stangmoor Prison is actually Dover Castle in Kent.

--The Doctor implies to Fo Peng that he's mates with Chairman Mao. Hmm, can't exactly see the Doctor being chums with the man responsible for the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural revolution.

--Besides being too delicate, Benton is also useless when it comes to covert surveillance. Might as well be carrying a sign that reads 'I'm spying for UNIT'.

Professor Kettering: “Science has abolished the hangman's noose and substituted this infallible method. Professor Emil Keller-”
The Doctor: (to Jo) “People who talk about infallibility are usually on very shaky ground.”
Professor Kettering: (to the Doctor) “For the benefit of the less sophisticated members of my audience I'll explain in very simple terms.”

Mike Yates: “Pity, she's quite a dolly.”
--Captain Mike Yates, everyone.

Professor Kettering: “I tell you that man's death had nothing to do with this machine. If you were a scientist you'd understand that.”
The Doctor: “If I were a scientist? Let me tell you sir I am a scientist! And I have been for several thousand-”

The Master: “You'll do nothing. Or I'll put a bullet through both your hearts.”

The Brigadier: “We are going to see the new Chinese delegate, Mr Fo Peng.”
The Doctor: “Fo Peng? He must be Hokien.”
The Brigadier: “No, no, Doctor. He's Chinese.”

The Doctor: “Thank you, Brigadier. But do you think for once in your life you could manage to arrive before the nick of time?”

The Doctor: “Well, it's a lunatic scheme. Still, that's only to be expected.”
The Master: “Oh come Doctor, how can I possibly fail. I launch the missile, wipe out the peace conference, the world is at war.”

The Master: “That is Thunderbolt. It's a gas missile, nuclear powered and British, of course.”
Mailer: “Of course.”

Two out of four magical dragons named Puff.
--
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

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