Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones
(4 episodes, s04e31-e36, 1967)
First, following on from the last review: I love the new theme music as well. It actually sounds a lot better to me than the first arrangement.
This time, we get the Doctor versus the body-snatchers at the airport, and this would be fun to revisit in the post-9/11 era.
The TARDIS materializes right on the airport runway, Polly gets turned into a pod-person after witnessing a murder, and the Doctor and Jamie get the red tape run around. Ah, red tape… Doctor Leonard McCoy was right: The bureaucratic mentality is the only constant in the universe.
I really liked this one, with all of the intrigue and the politics as the travelers tried to solve the mystery. I loved our heroes hiding in the photo booth, especially with the Doctor cheesing it up for the camera. The Doctor maniacally pretending to have a bomb as a distraction reminded me of the modern Doctors. Jamie was especially fun to watch as he was so lost in the modern era, and yet ends up really propelling this story forward.
Of course, Ben and Polly are both captured and don’t appear in much of this serial as a means to facilitate their departure from the show in Doctor Who tradition. At least they get to say goodbye. More on that in a second.
On companions, I’m glad Samantha Briggs didn’t join the group as the production team wanted. I found her kind of irritating even though she saved everyone with her mirror. Jean Rock, on the other hand, would have been fantastic as a companion, and I’m glad to see after a little research, that we get to see Wanda Ventham (mother to Benedict Cumberbatch!) a few more times in Doctor Who.
I found the sexism in the discussion as Samantha decides to investigate the hangar to be excusable: Samantha says she “needs a man” to keep her safe, and Jamie agrees. Samantha doesn’t strike me as very empowered, and Jamie’s temporal basis makes him more prone to strength belonging to men over women. I don’t agree with the sexism, but I recognize that it fits with the time and characters.
There was some really nice humor from the Doctor after he was nearly frozen to death in the same room they’re searching: “Jamie, we’re getting warmer, which is a change from the last time I was here.” I also didn’t mind the common Doctor Who trope of shrinking people for long-term storage as I was engaged in the story.
Polly and Ben leave the TARDIS on the very day they started to travel. The Doctor’s envy is obvious as he can’t go home yet. Ben and Polly have been good companions, even with Polly’s unevenness of character. They were a breath of fresh air, and will be missed. This, of course, leave Jamie as the single companion on the TARDIS with the Doctor, and I don’t mind that arrangement as Jamie as shown to be very capable.
Overall, this was an enjoyable time.
Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”
UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Evil of the Daleks
The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.
5 thoughts on “Timestamp #35: The Faceless Ones”
The Faceless Ones is also notable as the first story written by Malcom Hulke. It’s a name that you’ll be seeing a lot in the early 70’s stories. I was kind of upset that Ben and Polly really didn’t get a better sendoff. Marginalizing them for most of the story like they did with Dodo didn’t sit well with me. Ian and Barbara got heroics, Vicki became a historical figure, and Steven got to become king and mediate piece between two races on a planet. Ah well, at least as you say they at least pre-filmed the goodbye scene so the sendoff wasn’t as abrupt as Dodo’s.
The nice thing moving forward is that we’ll have more modern day stories since with Ben and Polly leaving there’s no longer any fear that if the Doctor reaches modern times that he’ll lose his companions.
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