Stateside Whovians, rejoice! The reconstructed and animated version of Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones is about to premiere in the US. Ya-who!
“The Faceless Ones” is the mostly-missing eighth serial of the fourth season of Classic Doctor Who, which originally aired in 1967 and starred Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor. It concerns a race of sinister, identity-stealing aliens known as the Chameleons.
Until 1978, the BBC routinely deleted contents from its archives for various reasons, and “The Faceless Ones” was one of the numerous casualties of this culling. Following the return of one episode by a collector, the BBC film archives have held just two of the serial’s six episodes, along with snippets of footage and still images from the other four. Yet it is these pieces of source material, combined with off-air recordings of the soundtrack, that allowed the animated reconstruction of the serial to happen — as with “The Power of the Daleks” and “The Macra Terror,” two wholly-missing Troughton-era serials that are now available as reconstructed and animated Doctor Who stories.
In “The Faceless Ones,” the TARDIS lands on a runway at Gatwick Airport in 1966, and the Doctor and his companions — Jamie (Frazer Hines), Polly (Anneke Wills), and Ben (Michael Craze) — soon scatter after an airport security officer sees them and gives chase. Polly ends up in the Chameleon Tours hangar, where she witnesses a man murder another with an odd type of gun. But after the Doctor and Jamie alert the authorities and go to the hangar with the airport’s skeptical Commandant (Colin Gordon), they find no body. And no Polly either, as she has been kidnapped.
Elsewhere at Gatwick, a woman named Samantha (Pauline Collins, Shirley Valentine) is at the Chameleon Tours kiosk trying to get information from the company’s representative — Polly’s doppelgänger — about her brother; he was supposed to be on one of their tours in Rome, but it appears he never arrived, despite the postcard that Samantha received from him.
As the Chameleons transform another of their brethren using the stolen identity of another human, Inspector Crossland (Bernard Kay) arrives at Gatwick to investigate the disappearances of his partner and Chameleon Tours customers, while the Doctor and Jamie do their best to persuade the Commandant and Crossland that the Chameleons are behind all of the missing people. Meanwhile, the face-stealing, shape-shifting aliens are onto the Time Lord and taking steps to prevent him from learning the truth or stopping them in their mission. But with his companions in jeopardy, the Doctor has his own plans to save them and tens and thousands of other humans, and will face off against the Chameleons in a final showdown. On their turf, no less.
A brilliant story from start to finish, Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones premieres in the US with three back-to-back episodes, Parts 1-3, on Wednesday, October 7, at 8 PM ET, on BBC America. It concludes with the back-to-back Parts 4-6 on Thursday, October 8, also at 8 PM.
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