Reviewed By: traves8853
Review Date: 3/20/16 1:11 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
I watched The Face of Evil, recently Chris Boucher's first piece of writing for Doctor Who and Leela's introductory story. Isn't it odd that she seems to be the only woman on the planet, though? So by leaving her race on the planet while she runs off with the Doctor, much like he supposedly ran away from Gallifrey, she effectively condemns her people to extinction! The idea of an unhinged, seemingly omnipotent computer isn't exactly new. The War Machines and The Green Death did it before. However, this one is mad! I would even go as far as to say that apart from Leela's introduction, the theme of madness and, in particular, a mad computer as a false god which inverts the expected relationship between man and technology is the only thing radically different about this.
The Doctor's relationship with Xoanon as a nightmarish version of himself is perhaps the thing I like most about this serial. The shared responsibility for the events is the very ironic core of this serial and it starts off with well-crafted suspense, but this only happened because The Doctor forgot to wipe his memory print from Xoanon. When The Doctor arrives back on the planet at the beginning of the story he doesn't remember he was there before till about halfway through the story. So if the Doctor hadn't forgotten to wipe his memory print then none of this would have happened, and if he had remembered being here before he would have gone straight to Xoanon and we could have skipped the first two episodes. Either way, everything resting on the Doctor's faulty memory is deeply unsatisfying.
So why did this happen? The Doctor's memory lapse. What were the motivations of Xoanon? Well, he was mad wasn't? Yeah, I suppose but this all seems a bit flimsy. In the same way that Neeva's avoidance of Xoanon's mind control was because he was psychotic. Still, I did enjoy the anti-religion subtext of it all, but perhaps not all the hammy death scenes. Face of Evil tries to express a lot of good ideas, but for whatever reason, doesn't get them across clearly. The mad god playing good against evil as a miniature expression of the universe is a very nice idea; however, I just think this is rather average as a story. As I don't watch it as often as others it made a nice change. I usually try watching things all in one sitting. This time, however, I just watched the odd episode here and there and I have to say it didn't seem anywhere near as slow as it usually does. In fact, I quite liked it. Not much but better than before at least but I will take that.