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DVD Review: ‘Doctor Who – The Mind of Evil’

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DWEOne Doctor Who serial that has not yet been released on DVD (until now) because of difficulty in producing or restoring a color copy is The Mind Of Evil. Considering that this six-episode serial features a showdown between the Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and the Master (Roger Delgado), one of the Doctor’s greatest foes, it is surely one that fans will want to see. Now, they have their chance, as The Mind of Evil recently got a two-disc release.

The Mind of Evil is one of those stories that appears to be about one thing, and then revelation by revelation, changes into something else entirely. The original problem introduced is a machine that removes evil from the brain of criminals, but some of the “cured” keep winding up dead. Then, we find out about an issue between the Chinese and the Americans at the First World Peace Conference. Finally, the Master is shown to be the real culprit of the unrest. It’s this continuously-escalating device that gives the beginning of the story real umph, and because all three still matter past their first focus, it’s a rich, layered story, even if a few have complained about the Master’s seemingly-incoherent plan.

The battle of wits between the Doctor and the Master, two Time Lords with radically different values and points of view, is one that never gets old. They have fought through many a serial, including an arc only a few years ago during David Tennant’s tenure as the Doctor. Any encounter the two share is worth watching, and The Mind of Evil is part of that proud tradition.

What is really interesting is that the Master’s greatest fear is the Doctor, a dynamic that does not go both ways. We see the Doctor terrified by Daleks, Cybermen, and fiery hell, but not the Master, whereas the Master’s vision, when exposed to the fear-inducing device, is of a giant Doctor. I think it is this fixation on the Doctor that keeps the Master coming back and staying relevant, while the Doctor has foes with bigger-scale plans to worry about, so he often underestimates the Master until they are face to face.

Besides the Doctor / Master stuff, there’s plenty left for UNIT, including Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), Sergeant Benton (John Levene), and Captain Yates (Richard Franklin), to do, and Jo (Katy Manning) gets involved in the story, too. While the title of Doctor Who is accurate in that the show has always been, and will always be, about the Doctor, I have really enjoyed the periods in the run where the Doctor has a team, which has sort of happened this past year in Matt Smith’s tenure, though not to the extent as during the Pertwee era. The Mind of Evil makes use of that group in a nice way, and I really appreciate the ensemble chemistry.

This is the first DVD release of The Mind of Evil. As such, it is not a Special Edition, nor does it have quite as many extras as the last couple Doctor Who titles put out, which were. But that does not mean it skimps on the bonus features, still needing two discs to fit everything in.

The audio commentary for this serial is provided by Manning, regular participants Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks, director Timothy Combe, stunt arranger Derek Ware, guest actors Pik-Sen Lim and Fernanda Marlowe, and moderated by Toby Hadoke. On top of the photo gallery and PDF materials, there is a twenty-two minute “Making Of” that was produced in 2009, a revisit of the filming locations in the present day, and a look at the BBC Television Centre circa 1971. All of this combines to give a very full presentation, one worthy of a Doctor Who release.

Doctor Who The Mind of Evil is available now.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com