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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Best remembered for introducing one of the Time Lord's most memorable companions, the warrior Leela, Doctor Who - The Face of Evil has a lot more to recommend it than Louise Jameson's skimpy costume fuelling millions of schoolboys' and their dads' fantasies. It's a surprisingly compelling mystery that sees the Doctor arrive on a planet plagued by invisible monsters (not the only time the show would borrow from Forbidden Planet in Tom Baker's tenure), a tormented villain with the doctor's voice who makes others act out the images of his torment and two warring tribes, one primitive, the other more hi-tech. While he's trying to work out whether they're the captors of a survey team that crashed on the planet or their children, it gradually emerges that we're watching a sequel to a story that was never told by the series, one that deals with the disastrous long-term consequences of his interfering in the past - so far in the past that it's not until the terrific visual punchline to episode one that he even remembers it...

It's one of Baker's best stories, and in Leela he has a surprisingly vicious (at least at first) and ferocious companion, one who actually kills and is proud of her deadly prowess. It's quite a leap from the Victorian Pygmalion figure the role was initially intended and yet despite, as Jameson informs us in an interview on the DVD, being based on a combination of her dog and the little girl who lived in the flat upstairs, she's not presented in a patronising way as a bit of cheesecake with a blade: she can look after herself and is more likely to rescue the doctor than need rescuing herself. It also benefits from surprisingly good design for its jungle planet, something of a Doctor Who speciality in the Pertwee-Baker years, making it one of those stories that for the most part looks as good as its script is ingenious.

There's another good extras package on the disc too - audio commentary by Jameson and co-stars and crew, deleted footage, as well as other featurettes, vintage toy commercials and a stills gallery that reveals the initial horribly misjudged blackface makeup for Leela. Most revealing is that interview with Jameson that doesn't skirt over her difficult working relationship at the time with Baker. He famously didn't want to have a sidekick at all, and the opening episode shows why that wasn't likely to have worked as he wanders around not so much talking to himself to explain the kind of plot points he'd normally fill his sidekick in on as he is talking directly to the camera. It doesn't quite break the fourth wall but without the audience surrogate figure doesn't work half as well. He may not have been happy with the solution at the time, but there's no doubting that it worked wonderfully and that this story made a superb introduction. Oh, and don't forget to watch out for the Janus thorns.
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on 30 September 2012
This is an enjoyable enough 4-parter with some interesting ideas.

The scenes in the jungle are well shot and effective with the Sevateem generally well cast, even if their roles are a little cliched.

Where the serial goes off track is with the introduction of the Tesh, their ridiculous costumes and irritating, little ceremonial gestures. Add to that an embarrassing and unconvincing gunfight and this serial is not as memorable as it could have been.

Still, Xoanon is a creepy concept and there's a real classic ending to part three.

Not up there with the best in the show's history, but not bad either. I would give it two and half stars if I could, but it does not deserves two stars, hence the three.
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on 10 September 2014
'The Face of Evil' sadly isn't one of the better remembered stories of the Philip Hinchcliffe era which is a shame as it's a superb story. The pace is slow but it's an intelligent script with some great ideas behind it.

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.
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The fourth story of Tom Baker's third year as Doctor Who comes to dvd. With all four twenty five minute long episodes presented on a single disc.

This story also saw the first appearance of Louise Jameson as his companion Leela.

It sees the Doctor - travelling on his own - visit a jungle planet. Where there are two tribes. In the jungle live the rather primitive Sevateem. Of whom Leela is a member. Elsewhere on the planet live the rather more advanced Tesh. And everyone mentions a god called Xoanon.

But at the same time, one look at the Doctor's face has people shocked and calling him the evil one. And there are deadly invisible creatures in the jungle. With the help of Leela, the Doctor aims to find the truth about the planet. But a surprise and a familiar face await him....

This comes from an era that most regard as the best of the original seris, a time when the show was at the height of it's powers. With a charismatic star and a production team who were taking the programme to new heights. Thus it's a polished and excellent production with Tom Baker well at home in the lead role. The jungle set is superb considering that it's all studio bound. All the supporting cast take it totally seriously and turn in good work. And Louise Jameson instantly makes an impression as Leela. Making her a smart and brave individual who just happens to come from a primitive planet and thus has little knowledge and experience outside her own realm. But one who is smart enough to learn. There are certain violents elements about the character's behaviour that did get flak at the time, but these vanish in due course.

The story is also something that the programme hasn't done all that often. It's genuine science fiction. A totally alien and well worked out world with a mystery at the heart of it.

It's not the greatest story ever made but it's a very good one from a great era. And thus it's worth five stars.

The dvd has the following language and subtitle options;

Languages: English.

Subtitles: English.

It also has English audio navigation.

The extras are the usual:

Commentary from several members of the cast and crew [including Louise Jameson and producer Philip Hinchcliffe, but not on this occasion Tom Baker].

Production infromation subtitles.

A photo gallery of stills from the story and it's production.

A coming soon trailer for the next release in this dvd range.

The radio times listings for the story as PDF Files.

Also as a PDF file [viewable by putting the disc into a computer and opening said files] are a reproduction of a 1976 Typhoo tea Doctor Who promotion.

Other extras:

A typically excellent twenty five minute long making of documentary about the story.

From the cutting room floor: Nine minutes of film of it being made. This does have onscreen captions to explain what you're seeing being done so it works quite well and is quite interesting.

Tomorrow's times: the Fourth Doctor. Latest in a series of these, which has looked as how news media reported the era of each Doctor. This one is presented by Wendy Padbury [Second Doctor companion Zoe] and whilst it has it's moments it only runs for twelve minutes, thus it gets through the era rather quickly and has little of substance.

More substance can be found in Doctor Who stories: Louise Jameson. This, as with the recent one about Elizabeth Sladen on an earlier release from this year, was originally recorded in 2003 and uses the same format of discussing aspects of her time on the show in various sections. But it's a good interview and very enjoyable, although it does duplicate a little of the material from the making of documentary.

There's also a four minute long extract from an appearance Louise Jameson made on saturday morning kids show Swap Shop [which will be familiar as it was on the VHS release of the story].

There's also a tv advert for a range of Doctor Who toys - including the Doctor and Leela - that were released in the mid 70's. This advert is so very 1970's in style it should bring back many memories of the time.
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on 31 December 2011
The Face of Evil is the beginning of the new era for Dr Who. It all started in January 1977 when viewers, especially the male population caught their first sights of Louise Jamieson as Leela. Leela was very different to the Doctor's previous assistant Sarah Jane Smith. Leela was savage, but she was very brave in an understanding way.

I would like to say to any Tom Baker fan to get this adventure as the acting is first class from the lead actors Tom Baker and Louise Jamieson to the brilliant casting of the Savateem from Brendan Price as Tomas, Victor Lucas as Andor, Leslie Schofield as Calid to the casting of the Tesh from Leon Eagles as Jabel and Miles Ellis as Gentek, but all acting glory goes to David Garfield as the Savateem Holy, but misguided mystic Neeva who grand and over top performance is the crowning glory to this 1977 Dr Who adventure.

I am looking forward to more 1970s classics like the Mind of Evil, The Ambassadors of Death, Terror of the Zygons, Nightmare of Eden, plus the BBC should issue a seperate Special Edition DVD of 'The Revenge of the Cybermen' (similar to the 1972 Jon Pertwee Dr Who adventure 'Day of the Daleks') for true 1970s Dr Who Tom Baker fans. The BBC should also use advance and realistic CGI to re-create the missing 1979 Tom Baker adventure 'Shada'.
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on 1 April 2015
‘The Face of Evil’ is often regarded as a good, solid Doctor Who serial but is not really mentioned as anyone’s favourite. Being part of Season 14, this story is sadly overshadowed by fan favourites, such as ‘The Deadly Assassin’, ‘Robots of Death’ and ‘Talons of Weng-Chiang’. However, I’m here to tell you why this tale is just as good, if not better, than its contemporaries in that season and why it should be in your top ten classic Doctor Who serials.

This story is the epitome of Doctor Who; it absolutely encapsulates the essence of the show. All the pieces simply fell into the right place for this adventure. For a start, the plot is phenomenal. For the first time, we have a story where the Doctor has visited a planet before off-screen and had a negative effect on its development rather than the usual swaggering in and saving the day ploy. He’s shown to be fallible; he’s not perfect: an aspect of the Doctor that would be further explored in Peter Davison’s era and in subsequent incarnations. This already sets the story apart from others and makes the Doctor an even more interesting, multi-faceted character.

The story sets itself up perfectly in the first episode. We’re introduced to two tribes at war, namely the ‘Sevateem’ and ‘Tesh’, that worship the god ‘Xoanon’. The obvious misuse of technology by the 'Sevateem', Tom Baker’s distorted but recognisable voice coming through the equipment and references to the Doctor as ‘The Evil One’ give clues to the mystery behind the status quo, building the intrigue right up to the cracking cliffhanger, where we see the Doctor’s visage in the cliff face. From there, you are completely hooked as all is revealed over the next 3 episodes about the Doctor’s previous visit and the drastic consequences of his actions. The revelation of Xoanon’s identity and the history behind the two tribes I find truly inspired.

On top of the excellently-structured narrative, the serial is furthermore filled with many fantastic lines, moments and cliffhangers, which linger in the mind way after you’ve finished the concluding episode. For instance, when Tom Baker pulls off the stellar line ‘Drop your weapons or I’ll kill him with this deadly jelly baby’; the cliffhanger where the Doctor’s face is carved into the cliff face like Mount Rushmore with the Doctor remarking ‘It seems I have been here before. I must have made quite an impression’; and the unsettling end of part 3 where Xoanon switches personalities and voices, whilst mentally torturing the Doctor. All these scenes add that extra something, making the serial even more memorable.

Obviously, It would be a crime to write a review of this serial without mentioning Leela in her debut story. Her backstory, which ties in with the plot, her interaction with the Doctor and fresh approach to the companion role make her a sublime character. Unlike former companions, she’s a bad-ass savage unphased by the oddities and dangers faced by her travels with the Doctor. This girl can take care of herself, stabbing people with Janis thorns and gunning others down. She may not be an academic but she has a huge capacity to learn. Thus, began a teacher/student relationship between the two characters. She was a breath of fresh air from the ‘screaming’ companion.

The story also benefits from a great set and direction. The jungle setting is wonderfully and convincingly recreated in-studio and captured with dynamic shots on camera. You absolutely feel like you’re there. Recreating the jungle always proved to be a strong point for the production team, as it was equally well-realised in ‘The Planet of Evil’ and ‘The Creature from the Pit’. You also have the added bonus of being able to see this jungle set in excellent picture quality on this new DVD release thanks to the efforts by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.

Aside from a few niggles in the form of cheap laser gun effects and hilarious outfits for the ‘Tesh’, what you have here is a well-paced 4 part rollicking adventure with unequivocally fantastic storytelling, fleshed-out characters and very memorable moments. I thoroughly recommend you purchase this or if you already have it, give it another go, as there’s a colossal amount to appreciate in this impeccable tale. XOANON COMMANDS YOU!
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The seventies were really the glory years for Who, with a strong run of impressive story ideas combined with some really good acting. This little gem from the middle of Tom Baker's reign as the fourth Doctor is a prime example.

Following the events of the Deadly Assassin, the unaccompanied Doctor lands the TARDIS on a strange jungle world. He soon encounters a strange tribe of savages, the Sevateem, who seem to have some very odd religious artefacts and customs. They recognise his face as being that of `The Evil One', and mayhem soon ensues as he tries to win them over.

It's full of interesting ideas. The central one being that the Doctor's actions have consequences, and they're not always the ones he might have wished for. His is indeed the face of evil to the Sevateem, and it soon comes to light that some of his past meddling had a disastrous effect on them. The second interesting idea is one that would be re-used, that of civilisation going into reverse and a once advanced people forgetting how their technology works and regarding their remaining devices as idols and magic.

The strong story is helped along by some good acting, especially from Baker and Louise Jameson as Leela. Jameson gets the character right straight from the off, and the seemingly savage woman with an ability to see beyond her narrow world soon became a favourite companion.

The story is nicely paced, with lots going on and a few good episode closers. The central theme is strong, and the problem and solution nicely explained without too much confusing gibberish techno babble as Who of the era was sometimes wont to do. I

As usual the episodes have been nicely restored, and the DVD quality is excellent. There are the usual high standard of DVD extras, including the info text subtitles. All in all an excellent package, 5 stars.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 January 2014
A jungle adventure religious satire/allegory science fiction psychodrama ... oh, and it's the first one with Leela! 4*

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.
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Saw this particular story decades ago and wanted to see it again, and as I had already bought Genesis of the Daleks’ and was impressed with how well, for me anyway, the story and the characters played out, bought as it was next on my list. This particular teleplay containing all four episodes, there is a good but small selection of extras. The extras are always a plus point for me as they give part of the creative process you also see some of the constraints with which the production team had to deal with.

Tom Baker is on top form here and delivers the goods so to speak. This story was also distinct as this was the debut of Louise Jameson with her Janis thorns, as the Doctor's new companion Leela. David Garfield plays the tribe’s shaman, Neeva and his character is very memorable. In fact there was pretty good acting all the way round. The framework and ‘dressing for the jungle was quite realistic and there was good attention to detail. In fact the way the space vehicle debris and spacesuit relics are used as they are interlaced in what appears to be a Bronze Age village, gives the audience that something terrible has happened in the past. I wasn't overly impressed with the interiors of the spaceship and they looked very dated – more like dressed up empty corridors for ‘run-through sequences’. Lastly I will never look at Mount Rushmore in the same way again – as I am sure Tom Bakers’ face will be imprinted there.
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on 19 August 2012
It really is surprising that many Doctor Who fans don't rate this movie among their 'top ten'-s. It has one of the finest time-travel paradox stories ever in the history of Doctor Who (maybe second only to "Blink"). It shows Leela (a new companion who is strikingly different from all her predecessors) in all her action-oriented glory. It also shows, through the story again, the consequences of actions that are committed by the Doctor, often without the necessary amount of consideration that was actually called for. Brilliant episode, and most definitely worth repeat-viewings. Highly recommended.
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