The Face of Evil: Part 4
Broadcast on January 22nd 1977 @ 6.25pm (11.7 million viewers)
Part 1 of ‘The Face of Evil’ was broadcast on New Years Day in 1977, six weeks after the conclusion of ‘The Deadly Assassin’. Between the two stories viewers were treated to omnibus repeats of ‘Pyramids of Mars’ and ‘The Brain of Morbius’ but with this story Season 14 continues and a new direction for the programme begins. Long time companion the iconic Sarah Jane Smith had departed and Tom Baker had been appeased by being given a story without a companion at all. However, it was time to return to the established format and introduce a new companion for the Time Lord.
Producer Philip Hinchcliffe’s intention was to mirror the Pygmalion/My Fair Lady story and allow the Doctor to assume the role of teacher, instead of guardian and protector as with other companions. Leela ably brought to life by the lovely actress Louise Jameson, is a warrior of the Sevateem tribe. In a similar style as Jamie McCrimmon both were uneducated, based upon their humble beginnings but that did not mean that they lacked intelligence. In fact, the opposite was true. As a result, Leela is able to ask questions which enlighten the viewer, a key function of the companion to explain the unfolding action.
‘The Face of Evil’ is of course fondly remembered for the cliffhanger to Part 1 which reveals the Doctor’s face, carved into the rock face, in a style of American landmark Mount Rushmore. Happily that model still exists in the collection of the visual effects designer for the story, Mat Irvine. Another enjoyable aspect of the story is the revelation that the Sevateem are descendants from a human survey team and the ancient relics of Xoanon are merely pieces of their equipment. The sequence where Neeva places a helmet upon his head, for example, is very amusing as it features an obvious spacesuit (cricket) glove. Xoanon, the computer that develops an insane personality clash, has roots in Hal 9000 from the 1968 film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and also the BOSS in ‘The Green Death’, but works quite well explaining why it had instigated conflict between the tribe and the Tesh. It is also refreshing to have the Doctor faced with the consequences of his actions and, in this case, having to rectify his mistakes caused by a previous visit to a planet.
Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)
Perhaps forgotten from the story is the non-traditional way in which Leela actually joins the TARDIS. Chasing after the Doctor she meets him at the ship and asks if she can go with him, to which he politely declines and wishes her goodbye, twice. Fortunately, the fleet-footed Leela sprints into the TARDIS and next week she has not been returned to her home planet but begins her adventures across space and time. This moment is, therefore, memorable for being different, a new companion who is also a fresh departure from previous characters, joining the Doctor onboard the TARDIS somewhat against his will but like the viewers he doesn’t really mind.
Watch as The Doctor realises he has to fix Xoanon before the atomic generators explode.
Also first aired On This Day…
- The Daleks’ Master Plan: The Abandoned Planet
- Day of the Daleks: Episode 4