Published on June 7th, 2013 | by Christian Cawley
Reviewed: The Mind of Evil DVD
Released this week was The Mind of Evil, the remaining Jon Pertwee era DVD yet to fall into the hands of fans (officially, at least).
Starring Jon Pertwee as the Doctor and Katy Manning as Jo Grant, the serial is notable for being one of the Master’s finest ever schemes. Roger Delgado is superb, as is the UNIT team of Nicholas Courtney, John Levene and Richard Franklin – not to mention HAVOC. In fact, even the guest casting is marvellous, with Michael Sheard (also seen in The Pyramids of Mars, Castrovalva and Remembrance of the Daleks) and Pik-Sen Lim standing out as Dr Summers and Chin Lee.
Expertly directed by Timothy Coombe (who famously went so over budget that he was overlooked for further Doctor Who serials) The Mind of Evil is basically an action thriller in six fast-paced parts, written by Don Houghton who was also responsible for another classic of the era, Inferno. Delgado’s Master is manipulative, UNIT are at the height of the powers in the days before they were reduced to mere cannon fodder and the threat of the Keller machine is there throughout.
What do you mean, you’ve never heard of the Keller machine?
Professor Keller has created a machine that can pacify even the most dangerous of criminals. But when the Doctor and Jo arrive at Stangmoor Prison for a demonstration, things start to go horribly wrong – especially when they discover that the Doctor’s old enemy Master is responsible for the machine. What could he possibly want from the criminals?
And what connects him with an impending World Peace Conference?
Remastered and Restored Video and Audio
Both “manual” recolouring and the chomadot technique have been employed to restore The Mind of Evil to its original 1971 look, which given the BBC didn’t even own a full set of black and white prints until a few years ago makes this a major restoration.
Now, I don’t know the details but I do recall at the Doctor Who Convention in March 2012 that the Restoration Team were unable to talk about The Mind of Evil. One wonders if this was because of the failure of the chromadot process for episode one, which has instead been restored by Babelcolor, whose work you may have seen on YouTube. You can get an idea of the amount of work involved and the debt Whovians owe Babelcolor by reading this recent update to his site.
The Mind of Evil DVD Extras
To squeeze all of the extras onto The Mind of Evil, this is a two disc release. On commentary duty is Toby Hadoke who expertly moderates actors Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Pik-Sen Lim (Chin Lee) and Fernanda Marlowe (Corporal Bell) along with director Timothy Combe, producer Barry Letts, script editor Terrance Dicks and stunt arranger Derek Ware.
If the commentary doesn’t give you an idea of how long 2entertain and later BBC Worldwide were working on this release, perhaps the making of film, The Military Mind, will. Featuring actors Nicholas Courtney, Pik-Sen Lim and Fernanda Marlow, director Timothy Combe, producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks, this is a fascinating account of missed budgets, miscommunication and various other challenges somehow failing to derail what is one of the most thrilling Doctor Who serials ever.
The usual Now and Then video follows, demonstrating how the various locations (but mostly Dover Castle) have changed in the 40-odd years since the serial was filmed
If Jo Grant’s 1970s hip chic isn’t enough to get you reaching for your bell bottoms and practicing your Brotherhood of Man dance moves, perhaps Behind the Scenes: Television Centre will. Back in 1971, presenter Norman Tozer visited BBC Television Centre to find out what went on over 24 hours in the life of what was then an incredibly busy ‘television factory’. Looking like he walked off the set of Life on Mars, Tozer – who apparently is still lost somewhere in the labyrinthine TV studios – provides a remarkably in-depth commentary on the various aspects to television production in those halcyon days.
Also on the extras disc are the Radio Times listings for the episode and a 1971 Kellogg’s Sugar Smacks promotion, both requiring a DVD-ROM to view. Subtitles and production information captions are included, as is a photo gallery and coming soon trailer.
Now, do I really have to tell you to go and buy a classic, never-before-seen-in-this-way DVD of a serial first seen in 1971? Released on Monday, June 3rd, The Mind Of Evil is just £13.29 on Amazon!