Rewatching... Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones - Part 3

My continuing mission: to watch classic television exactly fifty years after original broadcast date...

Saturday 21 April 1967

I'm very disappointed that Ben and Polly are nowhere to be seen this week. We don't even see Michelle Luippi, who's been packed off on a flight because nosy humans have been asking too many questions. The fake air traffic controller, Meadows, gets to remain at Gatwick though, despite the Doctor being onto him.

Good news though: the picture is working again on my TV! So I get to see this new girl, Samantha Briggs. And Jamie seems to have taken on full companion responsibilities now. In fact Sam seems to be acting as surrogate companion too... I wonder if she'll join the four of them in the TARDIS... might be rather crowded.

The Doctor is not a well man... he's covered in frost and looks barely conscious by the end of the recap. But it's a ruse! As Spencer goes to check him the Doctor sprays the alien knock out device in his face and runs from the hangar.

He heads back to find Jamie who's with Detective Crossland and Samantha. Is it me or is Samantha a little bit annoying? I love the Doctor's delight when he spots that Crossland is from Scotland Yard, emphasising "Scotland" to Jamie with a grin. It seems to go over Jamie's wee head though as he doesn't react! Jamie's not the only Scot in the room incidentally: Crossland himself has a slight Scottish lilt to his voice.

Spencer wakes up and has to deal with a grumpy Captain Blade who's not pleased the Doctor escaped. Spencer states that the Doctor has above normal intelligence. "Above yours perhaps," snipes the captain! These aliens can be quite snarky can't they?!

The Doctor and Crossland go to see the Commandant (again!) and as soon as they've gone Samantha decides she's going to do her own investigation of the mysterious hangar. One minute she's all bolshy, next she's playing the weak sixties female card and manipulating Jamie into helping her. She even uses the classic "do you always do everything you're told?" line. Jamie completely falls for it after the immortal "Alright stay here then. After all they can only murder me. T'ra." He should have grinned, shrugged and said "yeah probably!" Finally a triumphant grin as the lad walks off and she's won. This must be what they mean by 'feisty'. I don't know where this myth came from that sixties women were all weak, feeble and screaming. I've seen very few of those to be honest and lots of strong female characters since I began my Doctor Who rewatch.

The Commandant is still banging on about the Doctor not having a passport. He's not letting this one go. The Doctor has sussed that Meadows is an alien imposter and lays all his cards on the table. He believes aliens are abducting young people and replacing them with doubles. The Commandant still thinks he's a nutter so the Doctor demonstrates the alien knock out pen on Meadows' cup of tea, freezing it. He runs off though...bit of a giveaway.

Samantha seems to have stolen Ben or Polly's script and has found the pre-written postcards in the hangar. She has a tearful moment and Jamie calls her a "brave wee lassie". This is not a girl who appreciates that sort of talk though: "Gerroff I've got somethin' in me eye!"

They burst into the control room to show everyone the postcards. Samantha's worked out what the aliens are up to. The grumpy Commandant is hilarious! "You don't think this fellow is a little unbalanced do you?", he asks the detective, referring to the Doctor. I'm a Colin Gordon fan now.

The aliens have got a gadget which they're going to plant on the Doctor to kill him with a remote control device. 'Meadows' accidentally on purpose slaps the gadget on the Doctor's back and apologises. The Doctor's "haven't I seen you somewhere before? You must have a double" line baffles me. Just a few minutes ago he confronted him and fired the pen at his cup of tea! Why do neither of them remember this?

The aliens need to 'deal with' Crossland now so he's summoned to a plane.

Meanwhile the Doctor and Jamie are tearing the hangar apart trying to find the secret door that Spencer came through earlier when the Doctor was frozen.

Crossland snoops around on the plane and finds the cockpit empty. He's caught though and restrained at gunpoint. "This Earth man is a particularly fine specimen don't you think? Blade asks Ann, the stewardess. I'm not sure what he means. Perhaps it's the moustache. Ann reminds me of Dodo. I wonder what happened to Dodo. Perhaps she became an air hostess. I'm sure that's her!

The Doctor finds the hidden door. They enter the secret office and have a look on one of the two surveillance monitors. Seems a bit remiss not to switch the second one on. The alien Spencer activates the death gadget thing that nobody's noticed is on the Doctor's back and he collapses. Cut to the plane which has taken off with Crossland onboard. Ann is all smiles with the passengers but she's eeeevil! The smiley hostess mask drops as soon as she's in the cockpit with Blade, who switches on a monitor to show Crossland the "secret of Chameleon Tours". How are the passengers not able to spot the camera that's panning past them along the plane? And also, the camera appears to be where the side of the plane should be, moving along the window seats rather than in the centre along the aisle! How is there room? Have they got a remote controlled camera actually built into the chassis? As Crossland watches, Blade turns a dial and all the passengers disappear!

I really love a double cliffhanger, and that was rather a good one. I did miss Ben and Polly this week, and Samantha was a poor substitute but it was a good episode for Jamie who seems bound to get his official TARDIS membership card and badge at this rate. So, halfway through an exciting story. I can't imagine what more could happen in the second half; it feels as though it's a four parter to be concluded next week so I'm very curious how they will fill the extra two episodes.

Nick Brown
Nick Brown

I've embarked upon an open ended mission, pretending to travel back in time and watch classic television on (or close to) the fiftieth anniversary of original broadcast date; getting a sense of the context, the magic of that first viewing.

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Rewatching... Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones - Part 3