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22 October 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 295: The Mind of Evil, Episode Six

Dear diary,

If there’s one thing that Don Houghton is great at, it’s pitching the relationship between the Doctor and the Brigadier at just the right level. There’s no doubt that this is the same man who wrote those closing moments of Inferno, in which the Doctor decided he’s had enough and makes to leave for good – the antagonism between the pair is at its very best in these scripts.

Still, it’s nice to see that things have at least softened a little between the pair. There’s less outright dislike here, and more a sense of gentle teasing. The Brigadier arrives in the prison and shoots the enemy just in time to spare his Scientific Advisor’s life, and the Doctor asks if – just for once – the man could arrive before the nick of time. Later on he jokes that aside from losing both the missile and the Master, the Brig is doing very well in his job. It’s far friendlier than we’ve seen between them for some time, but it’s great to still see them playing off each other.

It’s a shame that I’ve still not really enjoyed this story. When today’s episode started, I thought it was strange that they’d gone back far enough to show a reprise of UNIT storming the prison – it felt like ages ago. It’s another one of those situations where I simply couldn’t remember what had happened in the cliffhanger, despite only seeing it 24 hours before. The Mind of Evil hasn’t boasted the best cliffhangers that we’ve ever had on the show. Several of them are essentially the same thing (the Keller Machine attacking someone. Usually the Doctor.), and the others just haven’t lodged in my memory. The positive is that we get to see a few shots of the Doctor’s old enemies (Cybermen, and Daleks, and Ice Warriors, oh my!), but there’s some odd choices in there. A Zarbi is bizarre enough, but Koquillion? Really? He’s one of the Doctor’s greatest fears?

What struck me the most about today’s episode is how much it feels like a nice ending to the appearance of the Master in the series. The dematerialisation circuit that the Doctor stole in Terror of the Autons makes a reappearance in the denouement, and the master takes it back, before heading off to the stars. During their final phone conversation (this pair spend a lot of time on the phone, don’t they?), the Doctor muses that they won’t be seeing the Master for a while, and he agrees, adding ‘By the way, Doctor, enjoy your exile!’ For all intents and purposes, it feels like we’re saying goodbye to the character after ten episodes and that we’re ready to move on to something different. Were the Master to suddenly turn up at the end of the season as a surprise, I think it would work brilliantly.

Sadly, I know that’s not the case. He’ll be back again in the very next story. So much for not seeing the Doctor again for ‘quite some time’! And yet… I’m specifically looking forward to it. The idea of this character turning up so frequently this season was one of the things not really exciting me about this run of stories, but I’ve been so won over by the man that I can’t help but anticipate their next battle.

Mind you, his plan is a bit rubbish again this week, innit? He’ll use the missile to spark off a war, destroying the Earth… and then take over of ruler to the now-dead planet. Not sure he’s really thought that through…

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