Doctor Who: The Mind of Evil (s08e02, pts. 1 – 6)

4 out of 5

Directed by: Timothy Combe

The serial that went way over budget… and it shows! Writer Dan Houghton’s The Mind of Evil is a nearly perfectly goofy Pertwee entry: leaning in to the third doctor’s fastidious, abrupt nature; pairing him against a ridiculous “I want to take over the world!” Master variant; tossing in aliens, and mind control; allowing Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) to be competent but with his entertaining whimsy. The only thing really preventing it from being on top is that it hardly makes a lick of sense. Not that Who needs to (“You don’t have to be logically plotted to be a great episode around here, but it helps!”), however, the story veers around a bit too much to be as freewheeling as a totally successful nonsensical serial should be… It’s also odd that the Master comes back as quickly as this second episode, as it definitely undermines his appearance. So somewhere between his previous introduction and the mess of storylines here, there’s a perfect perfect episode.

We start with the Doc harumphing over an invention being demoed at a prison that, like, sucks out all of the prisoners’ evil intentions. Not that anyone can speak to who invented the thing or how it works, but Doc’s ominous “be careful with that!”-type warnings are, of course unheeded. …Until the machine seems to be tied to upswings in aggressive, riotous behavior at the prison, but Doc’s attentions are divided by a murder mystery at the World Peace Conference, and by the time we get to The Master taking control of the prison, and kidnapping a missile with which he plans to enact his world-taking-over schemes, all is good. However, navigating through the initially disparate parts of the story is very bumpy, and at no point does any of The Master’s scheming make sense, but Roger Delgado gets to ham it up so effectively, that part of things doesn’t matter so much. Jo is even used rather effectively throughout, employing her enthusiasm to bond with an evil-freed inmate, and tussle against the bad guys when Doc is waylaid by one means or another.

The prison, and eventual storming of it by UNIT are where we get an impressive array of stunts, vehicle work, and shot coverage, suggesting where that money went. There’s also a pretty hilarious bit where the evil-sucking machine goes haywire, and stuff is chucked randomly around the room. That effect is cheap, but effective.

Cohesion surely eludes The Mind of Evil, but with all of our actors written to play up their best attributes, and a story that keeps spinning regardless of its cohesionlessness, and a money-spendin’ shooting mentality, our six parts are, at the very least, continually entertaining, if not especially inspired.