Technicolor Triumph

Review of The Mind of Evil (#56)
DVD Release Date: 11 Jun 13
Original Air Date: 30 Jan - 06 Mar 1971
Doctor/Companion: Three, Josephine "Jo" Grant, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Stars: Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning, Nicholas Courtney
Preceding Story: Terror of the Autons (Three, Jo, the Brigadier)
Succeeding Story: The Claws of Axos (Three, Jo, the Brigadier)

Although the BBC archives include all six episodes, The Mind of Evil is unique in that none of them (currently) exists in the original color format. Due to that fact, this serial has never before been released on DVD, making it—until now—the only Pertwee adventure I had yet to see.

Through technical machinations, color information buried in Episodes 2 through 6 could be pulled out and used to re-infuse them with a semblance of their original character. However, Episode 1 had no embedded color, rendering the chroma dot color recovery technique used on the other episodes useless. Instead, some seven thousand keyframes had to be hand colorized by the ridiculously talented (and dedicated!) colorizing artist Stuart Humphryes, better known by his YouTube handle BabelColour.

I'll get to the story in a moment, but first I want to convey exactly how bloody brilliant BabelColour's work is. I would put money on it that someone watching this DVD for the first time, never having been told about its history, would never guess it was anything but a cleaned-up original color print—until they got to Episode 2. At this point, the color seems to pulse every couple of seconds—it's particularly egregious on faces in a couple of spots—and one realizes just how seamless a job BabelColour had done in that first episode. While I wouldn't wish the horrendously long, painful, probably underpaid hours on him again, I know I'd dearly love to have him colorize all the other episodes (in this serial and others) that have so far only been done with chroma dot. His work is vastly superior.

As for the actual serial, I'd been looking forward to it for some time out of sheer curiosity. After all, this is the one that was going out when I was born. I'm happy to report that I found it really engaging.

The story really comes in two parts; the first centers on the World Peace Conference and the role Captain Chin Lee plays in the larger plot, while the second is almost entirely focused on the stolen missile. It's at the end of Part 3 that we start to see yet another of the Master's overly complex plans come to light, along with the mutual posturing the Third Doctor and Delgado's Master do so well.

I'm actually not going to say much more about the plot itself, other than that the main conceit—of an entity that feeds off of the evil in people's minds, resulting in a sort of personality-erasing brainwashing—is beautifully chilling. Elsewhere, Jo shows some metaphorical cojones, we get some interesting insights into the fears of both the Doctor and the Master, and the Doctor utters some truly quotable lines (e.g., "Thank you, Brigadier, but do you think for once in your life, you could manage to arrive before the nick of time?"). It's lovely.

DVD Extras (highlights)
The Military Mind
You can tell that this story has been slated for eventual DVD release for a long time, just by looking at this "making of." It was recorded in 2009, and even without being told that, one would know it was years old by the presence of both Nicholas Courtney and Barry Letts (who died in early 2011 and late 2009, respectively). Also interviewed are director Timothy Combe, script editor Terrance Dicks, and actresses Fernanda Marlowe (Corporal Bell) and Pik Sen Lim (Captain Chin Lee). There were plenty of worthwhile tidbits revealed, though what struck me most was the sad fact that Combe felt "hard done by" not to be asked to return to Who due to some misunderstandings along the way. This extra is certainly worth your time.

Behind the Scenes: Television Centre
I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting from the DVD extras in this set, but I think I can safely say this wasn't it. A 24-minute documentary from 1971 (broadcast within weeks of Mind of Evil) follows presenter Norman Tozer around BBC's Television Centre for 24 hours. In and of itself, it's interesting enough, especially as TVC was a very busy place at the time. But how much more appropriate and interesting would it have been to take the time to make a new documentary about the historic colorization process needed to bring this story to us on DVD? Color me disappointed.

I was quite taken with Mind of Evil. There was certainly a high body count, but at least it shows that UNIT can, on occasion, actually hit the broad side of a barn. And if you're a fan of Three and the UNIT era in general, you'll almost certainly come away a satisfied customer. Come for the colorization work, stay for the story.

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