- Actors: Tom Baker, Louise Jameson
- Producers: Phillip Hinchcliffe
- Format: VHS
- Studio: BBC
- VHS Release Date: 24 Jan. 2000
- Run Time: 103 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 83 customer reviews
- ASIN: B00004CYMT
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 284,639 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ £2.80 delivery
Doctor Who The Face of Evil [VHS]  
Customers who bought this item also bought
Another adventure for Gallifrey's favourite son. The Doctor (Tom Baker) is captured by the tribe of the Sevateem after landing on a strange alien world. He is befriended by Leela (Louise Jameson), a savage young warrior who tells him that her people recognise and fear him as the Evil One. Intrigued, the Doctor discovers that his own face is carved on a local rock face, reputed to be the home of the god Xoanon. Is the Doctor in some way responsible for Xoanon's presence, and can he prevent tribal warfare from breaking out? Also included is Louise Jameson's appearance on 'Swap Shop' to publicise her debut as Leela.
"The Face of Evil" (1976) was the fourth story in the 14th season of Dr Who. Tom Baker was well and truly established in the role of the heroic Time Lord, but the Doctor's popular assistant, Sarah Jane Smith played by Elizabeth Sladen had departed at the end of "The Hand of Fear". This story was inspired by HG Wells' The Time Machine (filmed in 1960) with its future society split in two: one group descended into primitive superstition the other surviving as a technological elite. Adding a crashed spaceship, a computer with multiple personalities and a mysterious carving of the Doctor, this would have been a routine adventure but for one thing; the first appearance of a new assistant played by Louise Jameson. An instant hit with the audience, Leela was a different kind of Dr Who companion. Confident, not adverse to violent self-defence, scantily-clad and unselfconsciously sexy, Leela was part-way between Tarzan's Jane and The Avengers' Emma Peel. Writer Chris Boucher acknowledged The Avengers influence, also noting that he named the character after Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled! Leela stayed with the Doctor until the end of "The Invasion of Time" (1978). --Gary S. Dalkin
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The story deals with the intriguing idea of the Doctor's intervention having an adverse effect on a civilisation; the Doctor was responsible for, albeit accidentally, driving Xoanon insane. There is also a pleasing element of mystery to the early part of the story as we see a primitive tribe with what appears to be the remains of advanced technology.
The set design is creative; the story features a convincing jungle set but after two episodes the action shifts to the futuristic white corridors of the colonists spaceship which are also impressive sets. The chamber with three large screens that represents Xoanon is also very effective. The Sevateem are well realised with good costumes. The Tesh on the other hand are less impressive, they have silly costumes and a bizarre comical bowing ritual.
After a downbeat performance in 'The Deadly Assassin' Tom Baker is back to his old self here cracking jokes and being eccentric in a very strong performance. Louise Jameson is superb as new companion Leela. Leela's characterisation is very different to other companions, she is portrayed as fearless, violent and extremely tough with the Doctor objecting to her acts of brutality. Leela is also shown to be ignorant but intelligent, the Doctor even describes her as a genius.
There are some very memorable cliffhangers such as the one at the end of episode one where we see the Doctor's face carved Mount Rushmore style into a cliff face. The episode three cliffhanger where Xoanon torments the Doctor is harrowing.
All in all 'The Face of Evil' is a clever, gripping, thought provoking story with pleasing twists and a great new companion.
The main extra is 'Into the Wild' an informative 25 minute 'making of' documentary. 'From the Cutting Room Floor' is a selection of film trims from filming done for the story at Ealing.
'Tomorrow's Times The Fourth Doctor' is about newspaper coverage of Doctor Who during the Tom Baker era. It is presented by Wendy Padbury. They cover William Hartnell's sad death in April 1975 and some of the reactions to it.
'Doctor Who Stories: Louise Jameson' is 17 minutes of footage from an interview with Louise Jameson, conducted in 2003, in which she talks about her time on the show. There is also a short clip from a 1977 episode of 'Swap Shop' in which Louise Jameson is interviewed by Noel Edmonds.
I hadn't seen `The Face of Evil' since the original broadcast when I was in my early teens, so many of the story's details seemed new, but I clearly remembered the bare essentials ...
This story is famous mostly for introducing the Doctor's new companion and it's quite an introduction to a fine actress. From the opening shot, Louise Jameson's screen presence is remarkable and all the essential characteristics of Leela are there in the very first scene, where she is on trial for denying Xoanon, the tribal god. Leela is intelligent, open-minded and brave - the perfect mix for anyone wanting to travel with the Doctor. Leela is also too aggressive for the Doctor's liking but she is a warrior of the Sevateem after all.
The setting of this clever story has a clearly split personality; a savage jungle for the first half then a clean technological world for the second. The `division' theme continues to the two tribes, the hunter-gatherer Sevateem in their jungle where invisible monsters rumble through the trees and the calm Tesh in their shiny corridors, the usual high standard of acting throughout. Beneath all the other divisions lies Xoanon, worshipped as a god by both tribes but divided against itself. Just how the division happened and how the Doctor can heal it is the essence of the adventure, episode one's cliff-hanger is a brilliant moment. The sets are all very well designed, as are the convincing spacesuits and the hi-tech debris neatly used as the Sevateem's religious regalia, no complaints about Leela's costume either although there were a few in 1977!
The tribal politics and religion of the Sevateem are shown very well through the key characters of Calib (Leslie Schofield) and Neeva (David Garfield) and both characters have time to develop through the story. Calib begins as a devious, ruthless tribal politician but grows towards leadership; Neeva initially seems to be a stereotypical shaman exploiting the beliefs of his tribe for power, but is really a much more complex character struggling with devout religious belief and traumatic disillusionment. Add to this a `god' suffering from multiple personality disorder and it's clear this story has many subtle levels under the enjoyable `adventure' surface. There is also much satire on the nature of organised religion and belief, but at the very end, the angry `god' of the past becomes a benevolent presence that even offers to sacrifice its own existence for its people. Is that intended as an allegory? I'm not sure but this is a very clever script.
However, I must confess I burst out laughing at my first sight of the Tesh for 37 years! I suffered my own crisis of belief at this point and took a while to recover, but the ending of episode three is first-rate and restored my faith. So while `The Face of Evil' isn't quite in the top rank of stories - the three that followed it are true classics - it's a great start for the Doctor's best companion and well worth four stars. Maybe the fifth star was one of the sparkly bits on the Tesh leader's little green hat.
DVD extras include the usual commentary with many interesting contributors and anecdotes. The `making of' documentary and a look at the filming of the jungle sets at Ealing are both good with some extra takes that fans will appreciate. The `Tomorrow's Times' segment on the fourth Doctor is fun, then we get `Leela's' story from Louise Jameson in a great featurette. A very good set of extras.
NOTE: The DVD menu shows clips from the programme as background, so if you don't know the story already, press `Play' ASAP.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews
granted the effects don't hold up. but fun piece