It’s the return of our arch-nemesis – black and white episodes!
Sue: Is there a reason why this story is in black and white?
Me: Yes, it’s specifically designed to annoy you.
Sue: Can’t they recolour it or something?
Me: That would be ridiculous and almost certainly impossible. Anyway, this story looks much better in black and white. Well, that’s the common consensus, although how anyone would know that, not having seen it in colour for several decades, is open to debate.
Sue: Why is the Doctor’s license plate ‘WHO 1′? Surely it should be ‘WHO 3′?
Me: Or ‘WHO TORY’. Your observations on the Third Doctor’s politics have created a bit of a stir. You’re the new Paul Cornell.
The Doctor and Jo arrive at Stangmoor Prison.
Sue: Is this going to be Porridge meets Doctor Who?
The prisoners are in a very rowdy mood.
Sue: Another loud location; I have a headache already. Are we supposed to hear the dialogue in this scene? Because I can’t.
We are introduced to a hardened criminal named Barnham.
Sue: Oh look, it’s Vinnie Jones crossed with Marty Feldman.
And then the Doctor and Jo take their seats for a scientific demonstration.
Sue: Was the Doctor supposed to flap his coat into that extra’s face like that? Was it a mistake or was it deliberate? You know, to show that the Doctor is an arrogant, pompous twat.
As Professor Kettering attempts to explain the Keller Process to the assembled onlookers, the Doctor chips in with some very snide remarks.
Sue: There’s nothing worse than trying to give a lecture when there’s a smart arse in the audience who keeps interrupting you.
Me: That’s just an average Thursday for me.
Kettering explains that the machine can extract evil thoughts from a person.
Sue: Will it blow-dry their hair at the same time?
As Barnham is attached to the machine, Sue seems fine with the overall concept.
Sue: It all sounds very nice. If it works, of course. I’m guessing that it probably won’t.
Me: There would be five extraordinarily dull parts left if it did work.
Sue: As opposed to five ordinarily dull parts, you mean?
Me: Oh look, it’s Mr Bronson.
Sue: He’s well after my time, love. I was busy getting married while you were sat at home watching Grange Hill.
Meanwhile, UNIT are planning to throw a nuclear weapon into the sea.
Sue: Oh no, not Mike Yates again!
And then, a little later.
Sue: Oh no, not mind control again! Surely they could come up with something a little more creative? Just for one week?
The Doctor is infuriated by the authorities’ reluctance to destroy the Keller machine. He’s so angry, he lets his real age slip out.
Sue: So, is the Doctor several thousand years old or what? He didn’t look like he was lying when he said it. It looked like he said it by mistake. Oh, I don’t really care; it’s too complicated to keep up with and life’s too short as it is. Forget I even asked.
The Doctor decides to send everyone away so he can examine the machine himself.
Sue: Is that really such a good idea?
Me: What would the machine make you see? What would scare you to death?
Sue: I’m not scared of anything.
Me: There must be something that terrifies you.
Sue: Bad carpentry?
Me: Killed by splinters. Nasty.
As the Doctor prods around, the machine turns itself on.
Sue: Will the Doctor see the Master?
Instead, the Doctor is engulfed by flames.
Sue: Oh, that makes sense, I guess – he did see a planet burn a couple of weeks ago.
Me: What do you make of it so far?
Sue: I’ve seen worse.top
Sue: You never see the Doctor this scared normally. It’s unsettling.
Jo crashes into the room and the Keller machine deactivates itself.
Sue: That’s the second time Jo has saved the Doctor’s life. Not that I’m keeping score or anything.
The Doctor is visibly shaken by the experience.
Sue: Ah, he’s actually mentioning Inferno now. I’m glad. It proves that he really does feel bad about running away and leaving all those poor people to die.
The Doctor is convinced that the authorities must destroy the Keller machine.
Sue: Why doesn’t he just push the machine over? You know, accidentally on purpose. He could pretend to stumble and then he could put his foot through the damn thing at the same time. If it’s that bad then what is he waiting for?
Meanwhile, a telephone engineer is doing something suspicious to the communication lines at the peace conference.
Sue: Is this guy hacking into the phones? Is he a journalist?
His work done, the engineer retires to his shelter.
Sue: Whatever happened to those stripy tents? You never see them by the side of the road anymore.
Me: Ditto for white dog poo.
Sue: Oh, it’s the Master! So soon? I wasn’t expecting that. Is the Master obsessed with telephones? Do all his plans involve them? Didn’t John Simm do something with the phone network once?
His disguise discarded, the Master ends up in a limousine, puffing on a big fat cigar.
Sue: He looks like a right banker. And this is the Doctor’s fault, yes? The only reason the Master is dicking around on Earth is because the Doctor trapped him there. He’d probably be off annoying the Daleks or the Cybermen if it wasn’t for the Doctor’s meddling.
The Doctor meets with Fu Peng, the Chinese delegate to the peace conference. The Doctor boasts that he is a friend of Mao Zedong.
Sue: This Doctor is such a name-dropping luvvie.
Me: He’ll be claiming that he was Stalin’s golfing partner next.
Sue decides to change the subject.
Sue: We used to have a lampshade like that.
There are times when I’m not sure how deeply Sue is watching this programme; I’m convinced that she spends the first five minutes of any scene checking out its fixtures and fittings.
Sue: OK, this is starting to feel a bit racist now. So there are only two Chinese woman in the whole world? And they both must be up to no good? Oh dear.
The Master hypnotises Chin Lee into carrying out his nefarious plans.
Sue: The Master is basically Derren Brown here. But with more hair. I like him.
Sue is also a big fan of Mailer.
Sue: This bloke is very good. It’s like we’re watching The Sweeney when he’s strutting around. Can he become the Master’s regular companion? The sets really are top-notch in this story, too. It looks like a real prison. In fact, the only reason I know it’s not a real prison is because they’re shooting it on videotape.
The episode concludes with the American delegate believing that Chin Lee has turned into a red dragon. Well, we assume it’s red. It could be pink for all we know.
Sue: I think they’ve just turned up the racism to 11.top
Sue: That is a very dodgy monster – on all sorts of levels. And that has to be the worst pretend faint I have ever seen on television. Pathetic!
Meanwhile, Benton and Yates are parading around in front of what is clearly a blow-up photograph of a missile.
Sue: That CSO is atrocious. It looks so cheap. It probably looked even worse in colour.
Sue begins to question the wisdom of holding a peace conference when you are trying to dispose of a top-secret nuclear weapon.
Sue: The Brigadier looks completely shagged out this week. He needs a good lie-down. I’m really worried about him.
Back at Stangmoor, Mailer is throwing his weight around.
Sue: This bloke is very rough. It’s like he’s walked into the wrong programme.
But he’s not so tough. Jo manages to disarm him and a prison riot breaks out.
Sue: You go, girl! Jo is pretty good, isn’t she? She’s not half as stupid as she looks. She has this tomboy thing going on. I really like her cords.
Meanwhile, the Master is sitting in his car, listening to some really odd music.
Sue: Is the Master listening to Dudley Simpson FM?
The Master strolls into the prison as Professor Keller and it doesn’t take him very long to take the whole thing over with the help of Mailer.
Sue: I told you he was rough! He just shot that guy in the back!
The Doctor is brought to see the Master. As his chair spins around, Sue is disappointed.
Sue: He really needs a cat.
The Doctor tries to leg it.
Sue: It’s weird to see an action scene in a wide shot like that. It’s very unusual but I’m not sure it works.
Recaptured, the Master hooks the Doctor up to the Keller machine.
Sue: What the hell is going on?
I have to rewind the episode (several times) just so Sue can spot all the monsters.
Sue: Daleks… Cybermen… Ice Warriors…
Sue: I don’t recognise the rest.
Me: Try again.
Sue: A grasshopper? No, wait – is that a Zarbi? A Zarbi?! Why is he frightened of the ****ing Zarbi?!
Sue: It looks like a flying box. I’m sorry but I haven’t a clue.
So I tell her:
Sue: A War Machine? **** off!top
The Master rescues the Doctor from the clutches of the Keller machine.
Sue: Has the Master changed his mind again? He never thinks it though, does he? That’s a bit crap.
When the prisoners keep Jo safely locked up, Jo asks what makes her so special.
Sue: “You’re a woman and we’re a bunch of prisoners. You work it out, love”.
And then Sue makes a very pertinent point.
Sue: Where did the Master get this alien machine thing from anyway? If he’s stuck on Earth, where did he find it? I’m confused. Did he buy it on an intergalactic version of eBay?
Sue guesses that the Doctor will turn out to be the Master’s greatest fear, seconds before it happens.
Sue: It was either going to be the Doctor or the Autons. It wasn’t that hard to guess.
As the Master struggles against the machine’s power, Sue still can’t see what all the fuss is about.
Sue: Why doesn’t he just pull the bloody plug out?
The Doctor is in a bad way. One of his hearts has given out and he is drifting in and out of consciousness.
Sue: The Third Doctor likes his comas, doesn’t he? He’s a very sickly Doctor.
Me: If this was the Troughton era, he’d probably go on holiday for a week.
Sue: That was a nice dissolve between the Doctor’s face and the Master’s. I can see what they’re trying to do there. Nice.
The Master and a bunch of convicts set out to steal the Thunderbolt.
Sue: There is some terrible acting from the extras here. They are reacting to the news that they will be stealing a nuclear weapon like they’re going on a day trip to Alton Towers.
However, when the Thunderbolt’s convoy is ambushed by the convicts, Sue is impressed.
Sue: The stunts are great. As usual. Oh wait, hang on, here comes Mike Yates to spoil it all. Oh dear.
Me: Listen to the way his feet skid when he comes to an abrupt halt! It just needs a comedy cartoon sound effect.
Sue: Mike Yates always manages to take the grit out of a scene. How the hell did he get through Sandhurst? I’m not sure if it’s a comment on how the upper-class are useless but they still manage to rise to the top, or if it’s just bad casting.
Yates miraculously manages to avoid being shot in the head and he gives chase on a motorcycle. He follows the convoy to an abandoned aircraft hanger.
Me: Even more cartoon skidding from Yates! I’ve seen more dignity from Shaggy in an average episode of Scooby Doo.
Sue: He’s not exactly Steve McQueen. In fact, he’s more like Frank Spencer in Some Mothers Do Have ‘Em.
An injured Benton tells the Brigadier that the bad guys were using a Black Maria.
Sue: You never see Black Marias anymore, do you?
Me: They’ve gone the way of stripy tents and white dog poo. The Mind of Evil is actually a very interesting historical document. If you squint at it.
Sue: Is the Keller Machine a mini-TARDIS? It certainly sounds like one. Instead of looking like a police telephone box, it looks like a policeman’s helmet. And now it’s taking off! See, it is a TARDIS! I was right!
The episode concludes with the machine attacking the Doctor. Again.
Sue: I’m not sure how I feel about this one. Some of it is very good and some of it is utter shit.top
Sue: The more I look at it, the more I’m convinced that this is a terrible design for a monster. A box with a helmet stuck on a tube. Terrifying.
Back at UNIT HQ, the Brigadier prepares to lead an assault on the prison.
Sue: Ah, bless Benton for discharging himself from the hospital. He’s so keen. I’m really warming to Benton. He’s much better than Yates.
At this precise moment, Yates ups the ante by turning into Action Man, escaping from the clutches of the Master in the process.
Sue: He’s gone very butch.
The Master returns to the prison, where he finally realises that his machine is completely out of control. Things are so bad, he turns to the Doctor for help.
Sue: The Master really is a rubbish villain. He’s supposed to be the Doctor’s archenemy and yet he talks to him like he’s an old pal. And it’s pathetic that he has to ask the Doctor to help him when his evil schemes go pear-shaped. He’s rubbish.
As the Doctor attempts to pacify the alien creature, he is attacked once again.
Sue: Now he’s afraid of Silurians. I thought he was friends with the Silurians?
After submitting himself to this terrifying ordeal (War Machines!), the Doctor chills out in a cell with Jo.
Sue: Uh oh, he’s name-dropping again.
The Doctor regales Jo with a tale about Sir Walter Raleigh and a potato (so it must be bollocks).
Sue: This is just shameless padding.
The Brigadier turns up at the prison and he passes himself off as a working class oik to a convict pretending to be a guard.
Sue: Cor blimey, guv’nor!
As UNIT infiltrate the prison’s grounds, Sue can’t help but admire the scenery.
Sue: This really is a lovely prison. It’s very pretty – lovely foliage. I could definitely live there.
And then UNIT storm the place.
Sue: There’s our obligatory shot of a stuntman falling from a high ledge. I was wondering when that was coming.
As UNIT press forward, they take no prisoners.
Sue: UNIT are pretty vicious when they want to be. They definitely have a shoot-to-kill policy.
As the death toll mounts, Sue can’t believe what she’s seeing.
Sue: When does Doctor Who turn back into a children’s television show again? This is more like Straw Dogs.
The episode concludes with the Doctor seemingly shot by Mailer.
Sue: That’s the Brigadier shooting the bad guy. I’ll bet you any money.top
Sue: They are so pleased with the stunts last week, they are showing them all again this week. Not that you can blame them, I suppose.
The Brigadier shoots Mailer dead in the nick of time.
Me: You were right, love.
Sue: Great cut, though. Nicely done.
The Brigadier thinks he has everything sown up and he definitely doesn’t expect a dressing down from the Doctor.
Sue: The Doctor is an ungrateful dick. The Brig just saved your life, you git!
It’s at this point that Barnham decides to wander back into the plot.
Sue: I know where I recognise the actor playing Barnham – he’s Jaws in the James Bond films, isn’t he?
Jo is very protective of Barham and she rushes off to find some food for him.
Sue: I hope Jo doesn’t give him some porridge, that really would be heartless.
Back in the lab, the Keller machine breaks free of its electronic lasso.
Sue: This scene is making me seasick.
It isn’t long before the machine is attacking the Doctor and Jo again. When Barnham enters the room the machine powers down and Sue believes she has it all figured out.
Sue: You just think nice things! Think about fluffy kittens and you’ll be fine!
With her theory backed up by the Doctor, Sue picks up on the ramifications.
Sue: This implies that the Doctor and Jo must have evil thoughts. I can believe this of the Doctor but not Jo. And the machine seemed to be feasting on the Doctor’s evil thoughts, which is interesting.
The Master telephones the Doctor so he can gloat about his plan. This involves sparking off World War III so he can take over the planet.
Sue: The Master’s plan is crap! He’s insane!
The Doctor sets out to stop the Master with just a reformed criminal and some Venusian karate to aid him.
Sue: I bet he wears Hai Karate aftershave as well.
The Master’s plan is foiled but Barnham is killed in the process. Jo is devastated.
Sue: Poor Jo.
Me: Just wait until she finds out that Barnham was a convicted paedophile!
Back at UNIT HQ, the Doctor tells Jo off for feeling sorry for herself. She should be feeling sorry for him instead!
Sue: It’s all about him, isn’t it? Good grief.
The story concludes with the Master telephoning the Doctor, just so he can wind him up a bit.
Sue: Don’t worry, I’m sure the Master will be back next season. And I don’t know why the Doctor looks so worried – his archenemy is bloody useless.top
The Final Score
Sue: I didn’t like that one very much. The monster was rubbish. The Master was rubbish. The Doctor was a bit of a git. It was two episodes too long and it was in black and white. It’s definitely not in my top 10.
Me: And that was our very last black and white episode. Thanks to 2Entertain’s release schedule, everything will be in colour from now on.
Sue: That’s definitely worth a dance.
The experiment continues…
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