The Mind of Evil (1971)

Coming straight after Terror of the Autons, The Mind of Evil sees the Master trying to start a war by creating hostilities between the Chinese and the rest of the delegates at the peace conference where the security arrangements are been handled by UNIT. Whilst all of this going on, the Doctor and Jo visit Stangmoor Prison to see the Keller Machine. It seems like a good idea, take all the evil and negative emotions out of a criminal and they are suppose to be a better person as a result. Professor Keller is behind the machine and of course it turns out to be the Master. But it’s quite a while before we see him. Watching in 2011 it’s not a surprise especially as he is on the cover of the VHS but in 1971 it must have been a shock to see him back so soon. What’s quite good is how the events in the prison and at the conference seem so separate but become connected. It is also impressive how the Keller Machine is made to look scary despite being an inanimate object. With an odd sound effect and a wibbly screen effect, you can make anything seem scary.

The problem that there was in the previous story surfaces in this one. The Masters plan is simple yet the way that he goes about it is so convoluted that it slightly ruins the story. Thought there is still a lot to enjoy. The stuff at the peace conference was fairly standard but made memorable by Captain Chin Lee who spent quite a while under the control of the Master. Despite all the aggravation that she causes, there is a great deal of sympathy for her when she becomes herself again. The action in the prison was also impressive. There were three characters that stood out. The first being Barnham who is the gentle giant who befriends Jo. I thought that he was a character that wasn’t always at the forefront of the action but was still important. The net was Mailer who is the leader of the prison revolt and is the one who is the Master’s inside man. He was a naïve character who honestly believed he was important though he only had a limited lifespan. The third character was Dr Summers as played by the brilliant Michael Sheard. He is a character who wants to stand up to Mailer but sadly knows he would lose that battle.

The leading cast is now a foursome and they all put in a great display. Jon Pertwee gives several lovely performances including fear when he is attacked by the Kellman machine. His scenes with Katy locked up in the prison were nice and helped provide a brief pause from the main action. This story was the first example of Jo befriending someone and Katy does it well. Nicholas Courtney is on fine form and gets the rare honour of actually saving the Doctors life. He really does come across a natural then there is the mighty Roger Delgado who despite having a rather convoluted plan, puts in a great performance. Being the suave and confident person before realising that the machine is starting to get too powerful. This is common place for the Master but Delgado does it brilliantly and his on screen chemistry with Pertwee is top notch.

The Mind of Evil is a nice story with a different setting and an unusual threat with just a hint of political tension thrown in for good measure. It’s another example of how a six part story can work when done right. It’s not the best story of the season but it’s still good. Just with it still existed in colour. Though for those long-time fans that have this story on VHS will get a chance to see snippets including the impressive UNIT sequence when they ‘invade’ the prison. Good Stuff!

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