Episode 35: The Faceless Ones
Companions: Polly, Ben, Jamie
Written by David Ellis and Malcome Hulke
Directed by Gerry Mill
The Doctor and his companions fight against a dangerous alien race.
I listened to the audio of this weeks ago and it had no impact whatsoever beyond the acknowledgment that I had listened to it on my commute to work. It’s not a bad story but I found myself bored and it was frustrating.
The serial begins with the TARDIS landing on an airport runway. As a plane lands the Doctor and his companions scatter. Polly sees a man murdered and runs to find help. She is captured as the Doctor and Jamie begin to investigate the crime scene. Ben is later captured. The core of the story involves the Doctor and Jamie trying to find and save Ben and Polly as well as fight the aliens that have kidnapped young travelers. A young girl, Samantha Briggs, becomes involved as her brother has been missing and she suspects it has to do with a suspicious travel company, Chameleon Tours.
The premise starts out fine but this was a serial that should have been edited to four episodes instead of six. This was Ben and Polly’s last story and they are barely in the narrative. Polly has a bigger part than Ben’s but with the introduction of the side character of Samantha, they’re both pushed aside and ignored until their final goodbye. With a quick look, I discovered that the actors, Michael Craze and Anneke Wills, were contracted up to the first two episodes. They’re ending was pre-shot and inserted. It’s a damn shame because I really like Ben and Polly. From what I’ve heard and read of their adventures, they have been charming companions and not nearly as appreciated as they should. As much as I have enjoyed Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor Adventures, I wish that Ben and Polly had been introduced earlier in the Hartnell era. They played off Hartnell quite well and it would have been a delight to see more of those adventures.
The Faceless Ones is an entertaining episode but only towards the end of the serial. Samantha Briggs was an interesting temporary character and I think she would have been a great traveling companion as she had great rapport with Jamie.