The Faceless Ones

This story is not known to exist in its original format
(6 black-and-white 25-minute TV episodes)
in its entirety.
See below for episodes available on DVD / video CD Audio - 2 discs
(Doctor Who Story No. 35, starring Patrick Troughton)
  • written by David Ellis and Malcolm Hulke
  • directed by Gerry Mill
  • produced by Innes Lloyd
  • featuring library music tracks
  • 6 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: Landing on a runway at the busy Gatwick airport in the 1960's, the four time/space travelers soon accidentally witness suspicious and murderous activities in the hangar for Chameleon Tours. When Ben and Polly soon go missing, the Doctor and Jamie team up with Samantha Briggs, who claims that her brother is one of hundreds of young passengers who never really arrived at their foreign destinations. What secrets are the sinister Captain Blade and his Chameleon Tour crews hiding? And where do his planes take the passengers?

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have already seen the program.
To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide version instead.


At last true excellence begins for the Patrick Troughton Era, which will continue through most of next year's powerhouse "Monster Season", as this is the first in a series of stories that really came together well.


Enjoy the dramatic landing of the TARDIS while you can, because its movement will not be demonstrated again for several stories. The script assumes that you already know all about the TARDIS - not ideal, but this particular story still works well, as it's only important to recognize the Doctor as an unorthodox man of mystery and indeterminate origin. It is here that Jamie firmly takes over the role of prime sidekick from Ben, who is quickly reduced to a very minor character whose only significant contributions occur in episode two. Polly is still quite important in the first two episodes, especially as she gets the main plot going, and she should feel right at home again playing the villain-controlled zombie in a contemporary setting as she did in "The War Machines" (story no. 27). However, she too is soon replaced as lead female companion by the character of Samantha Briggs, who proves to be a stronger, more interesting, and much better scripted companion candidate than damsel-in-distress Victoria Waterfield in the next story. It is interesting to speculate what Pat Troughton's Monster Season might have been like had Samantha joined the TARDIS crew.

Although the Doctor and the airport Commandant are technically on the same side in this story, the constant clashing of their opposite styles and beliefs begins in the first five minutes of the story, and provides much essential, and humorous, drama throughout. Then enter Captain Blade, and his hordes of purposeful, average-Joe and -Jane zombies hidden amongst the everyday people at the airport for an excellently creepy set of main "villains". Donald Pickering's masterful portrayal of Blade, coupled with some choice pieces of BBC library music by none other than Sound Effects designer Brian Hodgson, provide an atmosphere unique to Doctor Who at its most suspenseful and subtle.

Bernard Kay is on hand once more to bring to life the character of Detective-Inspector Crossland of Scotland Yard, who touts his saxophone-shaped smoking pipe as any good Sherlock Holmes wannabe would, and proves to be an excellent mediator between the Doctor and the Commandant. His presence, and Samantha's, ensure that the plot will not get bogged down in a deadlock between the Doctor and the authorities.

The plot mounts very effectively, a non-stop flow of questions and clues advancing the story, with lots of action interspersed. The early disappearance of Ben and Polly in this adventure adds perfectly to the main mystery of the piece - a story tailor made for missing friends. As the significant audience anticipation builds, so too is the viewer's curiosity nicely and slowly satisfied, as the story's settings expand beyond Gatwick airport, where the answers to the mysteries are solved, and a new dramatic dilemma is discovered. With Malcolm Hulke finally being successful at making his Doctor Who writing debut, we get a host of fairly well developed characters taking a modest stand against stereotypes, especially in terms of associating villainy with an entire species. The final answer is NOT a writer's typical cop-out of killing off all the bad guys. Something much more civilized is attempted here, and although some elements of character and motivation could probably be improved on, I have to say that this script has a truly noteworthy ending. The pace ebbs and tides in the final episode, but altogether holds up very logically.

Terrance Dicks does the ending an injustice in his novelization by adding a few lines between the Doctor and Jamie to suggest that the lack of "justice", or as I would call it, "legalized revenge", disappoints them both. Wake up from your primitivism, guys! A win-win solution is much better, a greater understanding has been reached, and a brilliant new synergistic solution combining the best of everyone's ideas is surely on its way! If you've got emotional problems getting over your feelings of "injustice" without forcing others to do things, think about seeking a therapist who's competent in teaching you self-responsibility!


Ben and Polly make their goodbyes in the final scene, which works well, and one excellent story leads into another.....



Doctor Who: Lost in Time - Patrick Troughton
2 DVD discs

(also included in Lost in Time Boxed Sets)

Coverage on The Faceless Ones (a 6-episode story) includes:
  • Episode 1
  • 8mm off-screen clip from episode 2
  • Episode 3
More details & buying options for "Lost in Time" DVD's
Audio CD - Doctor Who - The Faceless Ones.

This audio CD set features the complete audio tracks of all 6 television episodes of this story, narrated by actor Frazer Hines (who also played Jamie) to help listeners follow what used to be visual aspects of the story. This version is playable in any normal audio CD player.
Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror - Collectors' Edition

2 VHS video tapes

Coverage on The Faceless Ones (a 6-episode story) includes:
  • Two complete episodes:
    • Episode 1
    • Episode 3
More details & buying options for missing episode VHS videos
Comments on this article are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

Contact page


LYRATEK.COM


Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "The Evil of the Daleks"



Home Page Site Map Star Trek Sliders Doctor Who Patrick Troughton Era Episode Guide Catalogue