Doctor Who: The Mind Of Evil – Special Edition DVD Review

Doctor Who – The Mind Of Evil, starring Jon Pertwee, is out now on DVD.

This special edition of The Mind of Evil brings The Third Doctor’s clash with The Master and his terrifying machine to our screens in glorious colour for the first time.

The Doctor is on hand at Stangmoor Prison with Jo Grant to witness the demonstration of a new machine that drains the violent impulses from prisoners’ brains. When the Doctor is called away to help the Brigadier solve a series of murders surrounding the impending World Peace Conference, he realises that the events are connected and only one mind is dastardly enough to do so: the Master.

The Mind of Evil manages to balance its concurrent storylines with a good deal of skill, in that it’s not immediately obvious that the two are connected. It’s partly because it seems like an incredibly roundabout way for the Master to get his hands on a missile, but that does at least make room for the surprisingly effective prison riot scenes. The machine, which confronts the subject with what they fear, also allows for a welcome bit of insight into the Master’s psychology: what he fears is, of course, the Doctor.

It’s not a strong story for Jo, who is essentially there to get captured and wait for The Doctor, but Roger Delgado is terrific fun as the Master, oozing evil and self-satisfaction, and his back and forth with the Doctor is wonderful. There’s some good UNIT stuff here too, as the Brigadier’s confusion allows Nicholas Courtney to make the most of the opportunity for a bit of comedy. As ever, Jon Pertwee’s turn as the Third Doctor is exemplary. Every swish of his cape and piece of Venusian karate is immaculate, and his perpetual frustration with the Brigadier is always wonderful.

As the Doctor Who special editions go, The Mind of Evil is suprisingly light on extra features but there’s still a lot here. The commentary is a busy and informative affair, with a good number of the cast and crew on hand. The second disc’s main documentary, ‘The Military Mind,’ is relatively brief at 20-odd minutes but packs a lot into that running time. Director Timothy Combe discusses his frustration with the lack of time to shoot UNIT’s  assault on the castle, the late producer Barry Letts talks about getting a genuine missile courtesy of the RAF, and actress Pik-Sen Lim remembers Jon Pertwee’s game attempts to speak Hokkien. There’s also a vintage documentary on BBC’s Television Centre, and a brief featurette which returns to Dover Castle

Somewhat muddled but always entertaining, The Mind of Evil might not be as essential as the recently re-released Inferno, but it’s a fantastic showcase for Delgado’s Master and packs some impressive action sequences.