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How awesome is Jon Pertwee?

My loyalties are fickle. Although, to be scrupulously fair, I don't think that I could rate Jon Pertwee higher than William Hartnell in the Doctor stakes. Too many of those seventies stories are just that little bit naff. He's bloody awesome, though. Swashbuckly and splendid, and everything you want from a hero. And why in heaven's name do people never wear frilly shirts and velvet jackets on television nowadays? That is the way to dress, people. It's certainly the way that heroes ought to dress. Shirts with splendid cuffs, and jackets that look like pirates might wear them. And capes! More heroes ought to be striding into danger wearing capes. Beats the hell out of jeans and a t-shirt.

"The Mind Of Evil" is an adventure from 1972. It's one that got hit by the BBC's habit of deleting everything in the seventies, although fortunately they only managed to destroy their own copy of it. Still existing, despite the best efforts of the junkers, is a very nice quality black and white edition from somewhere or other, which got released on video back in the nineties. Because they're still hoping to issue it in colour some time, and are presently working on a colour retrieval project, it's not yet been released on DVD. But I've been watching it with the aid of my Plug Your Video Into Your Computer gizmo. Hurrah!

There is nothing about "Mind Of Evil" that isn't wonderful. Literally. Well, okay. Richard Franklin persists in being a bit rubbish, but I overlook that because I really like the character that he plays. Everything else is perfect, though. It's from right smack in the middle of the Third Doctor's exile on Earth, so all the familiar bits and pieces are present. UNIT? Check. Master? Check. Monster bent on world domination and other assorted evils? Check. There's also a helicopter and a motorcycle - the Pertwee Era was obsessed with both - lots of gunfire, action by HAVOC, and a snooty government type for the Doctor to take the mick out of.

It's a great story. The Doctor is present at a demonstration of a new method of dealing with Britain's worst criminal offenders - a machine that sucks evil out of brains, and turns criminals into sweet innocents. This, as nobody but the Doctor seems to realise, soon leads to an evil-eating machine that's brimming with mad, cackling evilness. Since the machine is actually not a machine at all, but an alien beast that feeds on hatred, terror and other such nastinesses, and it's been sold to Britain's prisons by the Master, the scene is very obviously set for chaos and carnage.

There's half a dozen storylines here, making this one of the few six-parters that actually warrant the length - compare and contrast to the drastically overlong "The Time Monster", of similar vintage, for example. Firstly there's the Brigadier and Mike Yates dealing with an international peace conference right on their doorstep (complete with some large scale tampering from the Master and his brainwashed minions). Then there's Mike trying to supervise the destruction of a nuclear-powered chemical missile. There's the Doctor's attempts to deal with the brain-sucking evil machine, which ties in with a riot at the prison where it's located; the Master's plans to capture Mike's missile; the Doctor and the Master's ongoing game of oneupmanship; and the Brigadier's efforts to stay on top of everything. There's hardly a dull moment in all six episodes, the entire cast has plenty to do, and everybody gets to be brilliantly heroic and a bit flashy. It really couldn't get a whole lot better.

Opening title wibbliness.

Evil alien machine of total evil.

Emil Keller, the machine's inventor. Otherwise known as the Master, obviously.

Hello! Michael Sheard, who's done more Doctor Who than practically anybody, tries to help the Doctor get to the bottom of whatever's going on with the machine of evil.

One of the Master's brainwashed minions; in this case one of the Chinese delegates at the ongoing peace conference. Mike Yates memorably refers to her as "quite a dolly", so I may have been lying when I said that this story was completely perfect.

Dolly-minion attempts to murder the American delegate via hypnosis, tied in to his ferocious anti-Chinese paranoia. Thereby making him the first man in history to almost be murdered by the Soup Dragon out of The Clangers.

A large photograph of a missile gives Mike and Benton no end of trouble.

Jo Grant, single-handedly defeating a thousand rioting prisoners.

The Master attempts to feed the Doctor's brainwaves to the evil machine of evil, just to see what happens. Note shirt of ultimate frillage.

Sergeant Benton being all stoic and heroic. And anything else you can think of that rhymes.

Mike Yates being suitably dashing.

The Master clearly very much enjoys towering over people who are tied to chairs.

You know, some day I would love to discover just why he's so incapable of killing Mike Yates. Not that I'm complaining, obviously. I'd just like to know. The degree of smirking that goes on in this scene, on both sides, demands explanation.

The Brigadier adopts a cunning disguise in order to quell a prison riot. (Another one. They rioted again after Jo defeated them).

Roger Delgado being utterly wonderful in every way.

Jon Pertwee, likewise.

The Doctor and assorted bits of UNIT, apparently quite sure that they'll be safe hovering six feet above a self-destructing nuclear missile with a chemical warhead. This is the sort of blind optimism that made Britain great, you know. ;)

Well gosh, is the Master escaping again? I never would have foreseen that.

Time for a cup of tea before the end credits.

I love "The Mind Of Evil". I love that the evil monster of the week is essentially a high concept table; I love how brilliantly dashing and entertainingly wicked the Master is; I love Jon Pertwee's shirts... It's all good, basically. Oh, one last screencap, just for general culty fun:

Barnham, the criminal mastermind who had his evilness sucked out at the beginning by the machine. He's played by Neil McCarthy, who is not as famous as he should be for also playing this fellow here:

This is Calibos from Clash Of The Titans (the proper version, from 1981). I say not as famous as he should be, because he did get just ever so slightly upstaged by the make-up. That is him under there somewhere, though. You can just about see him, if you squint.

A point of no great importance I suppose, but then that's the sort of information in which I specialise. Call it a compulsion. Or stupidity. That would also probably cover it.


( 8 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Apr. 16th, 2012 12:51 am (UTC)
Yeah, Jon Pertwee wears the outfits well. Capes have now been replaced by long swishy coats of coolness - Jack has one, Ten had one, Sherlock's got one too.
Apr. 16th, 2012 04:12 pm (UTC)
Everybody has long coats, though. You can buy them in any high street store. Capes and cloaks are much more awesome. They swish better, and look extra good with swords.
Jul. 1st, 2012 10:58 am (UTC)
Drive-by lurker... as a big Pertwee fan, I must say you have wonderful taste in Doctors. I'm still impatiently waiting for that resurgence in gentlemen's clothing fads that will bring out the opera cloaks and properly frilled shirts again. Sigh.
Jul. 1st, 2012 01:55 pm (UTC)
I can never understand why there isn't more swashbuckly clothing in stores. Surely that's how everybody secretly wants to dress?!

Have you ever seen Adam Adamant? Saving the world with a cape and a swordstick. No frills, sadly, but he does make up for that with some rather splendid posing. Also, frock coats.

Jul. 1st, 2012 01:56 pm (UTC)
And I totally meant to use my Adam Adamant icon there, not my Adam Ant one, but never mind. I suppose either could be relevant. :D
Aug. 16th, 2012 03:52 pm (UTC)
Awesome, yes, but somehow I can't quite see Eleven carrying it off, and I do like the Eleventh Doctor.
Aug. 16th, 2012 06:29 pm (UTC)
Eleven is great, certainly.

I don't know. I think he might have some fun dressing up in Pertwee gear. Plenty of room for bowties - plus frills! "I'm wearing frills now. Frills are cool." ;)
Aug. 18th, 2012 01:29 am (UTC)
Ok, now I want to see him try...
( 8 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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