Timestamp #56: The Mind of Evil

Doctor Who: The Mind of Evil
(6 episodes, s08e05-e10, 1971)

Timestamp 056 The Mind of Evil


The Doctor goes to prison, and the show goes back to black and white. Remind me to never lend the BBC my tape collection.

A new device, the Keller Machine, can apparently extract evil thoughts from the mind and rehabilitate prisoners. The Doctor, while attending a demonstration of the device, thinks himself above the primitive 1970s Earth, and feels vindicated after the demonstration yields one comatose prisoner named Barnham, and later, one dead medical student. Meanwhile, UNIT is running security for a world peace conference, and Captain Chin Lee of the Chinese delegation deceives UNIT to help the Master steal a nerve gas missile.

The machine is intelligent, and it feeds off of negative emotions like fear and aggression. It kills people by making them envision their greatest fears so it can feed, and the Master figures out that the machine will overpower both him and the prison, so he teams up with the Doctor to shut it down.  Starved for evil to feed on, the machine learns how to teleport directly to food sources, but it cannot function around Barnham since he completely devoid of negative emotion.

The Doctor offers to trade the missile for the Master’s dematerialization circuit, and knowing that he can’t allow the Master to roam free in time and space, he tries to trap the Master with Barnham and the mind parasite. The Master gets his circuit back in the ensuing chaos, escapes, and runs down Barnham. The Doctor sets the missile to self-destruct, taking the parasite with it.

This is twice now that the Master’s plans have threatened to overcome him: He goes big when he builds a plan to take over the world. The Doctor’s fear of his enemies is fascinating since he hardly shows it when he’s up against them. The Master’s greatest fear, the Doctor looming over him and laughing in victory, betrays his insecurity.

It’s also interesting how the Doctor is so cautious about exposing himself as a Time Lord, but he never misses an opportunity to denigrate the technology of the era in which he’s trapped. No wonder people dislike him so much.

This was a straightforward story with a couple of twists, and a good continuation of this season’s overarching theme of the Doctor and his nemesis.


Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos


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.




7 thoughts on “Timestamp #56: The Mind of Evil

  1. I thought it was pretty interesting thart one of the Doctor’s greatest fears was losing the battle to save the alternate Earth in Inferno. It shows how much he puts on his own shoulders that he feels guilty that because he didn’t do enough a whole world was destroyed, forget the culpability of the people who put the world in danger in the first place.

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