Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden

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UNIT at the BFI

The BFI Southbank is marking the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who by showing a story a month, moving in order through the Doctors.

This meant, of course, that March was Pertwee Month. Thanks to the lovely mykreeve, who is not only a BFI member, not only remembered my Jon Pertwee infatuation, but spent half an hour pressing refresh on the order screen the morning tickets were released, I was able to attend in his company.

The story was The Mind of Evil, and it was a cracker. Newly restored to colour, in which it hadn't previously been shown for longer than I've been alive, it made the transition from telly to big screen very well.

We join the Doctor and Jo as they arrive at Stangmoor Prison to oversee a demonstration of the Keller Machine, which extracts evil impulses from the minds of criminals to render them harmless. It all goes horribly wrong. Meanwhile, London is hosting a Peace Conference with UNIT providing security. It all goes horribly wrong. Meanwhile again, some other bits of UNIT are escorting a decommissioned nuclear missile with a warhead containing nerve gas. Guess how that goes?

As one of the BFI hosts said, it was a brilliant script and the cast were at the top of their game. The interplay between the Doctor, Jo, the UNIT family and [Spoiler (click to open)]the Master must be among the most delightful of the era.

There was some genuinely scary stuff - if I'd seen this as a child I'd definitely have been freaked out by the [Spoiler (click to open)]teleporting Keller Machine - and some wonderful moments, like [Spoiler (click to open)]the Master's secret fear being an enormous, laughing Doctor. I was surprised by the carnage of Episode Five, which contained several minutes of UNIT troops and prisoners killing each other; was this up against The A Team on the other side or something?

I knew I hadn't seen the story and I was pretty sure I hadn't read the novelisation, but it was vaguely familiar even so. Eventually I realised I was piecing it together from questions in The Third Dr Who Quiz Book. Ahem.

After the first two episodes, a panel of those responsible explained how the recolouring had happened. After episodes 3 & 4 there was a comfort break and a quick quiz with prizes. The real treat, though, came at the end of the screening, when the special guests emerged for their interview and Q&A: director Tim Combe, prolific script and novelisation writer Terrance Dicks, and, representing UNIT, Captain Mike Yates, Sergeant Benton and Jo Grant. These last three were touchingly delighted to see each other, Katy Manning throwing herself into Yates's lap before holding hands with Benton.

Both Myk and I ran into people we knew, unsurprisingly; I was pleased to see parrot_knight but disappointed to discover later that I'd missed kowarth.
Tags: dr who
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