Earth: Final Conflict
Television Review
Earth: Final Conflict
Sandoval's Run
Episode A12, first broadcast in the USA 19th January 1998

A malfunctioning Implant leads to trouble...

Avatar, the fourth episode of Earth: Final Conflict, delivered the chilling warning that the CVIs implanted into Taelon servants are all liable to degenerate. In Sandoval's Run we witness the results of this, as Da'an's right hand man collapses when his CVI fails. Dr Bellman uses a revolutionary technique known as the anti-cybervirus to treat him, in the hope that he can be re-implanted. But the dying Sandoval, now relieved of the imperative to serve the aliens, goes on the run. He tracks down his wife Dee Dee, who he had committed to a psychiatric institute, and wishes to make his peace with her. Meanwhile the Taelons have ordered his termination.
Just when Earth: Final Conflict seemed to be heading into something of a rut, along comes a terrific instalment that delivers a wealth of surprises. Besides some sparkling writing, the episode's greatest asset is Von Flores who, relieved of the shackles of playing the faithful Companion servant, lets loose his emotions as the desperate Sandoval.
Equally rewarding is the fact that another layer of the show's ongoing story arc is revealed. One of the most trusted of the Taelon servants, Sandoval possesses secrets that are unknown to Boone - and he reveals that the relationship between the Companions and Humans is symbiotic. Without each other, both races will die. Given that Doors and the resistance are working towards driving the Taelons from the planet, Boone could be left with a very interesting dilemma. (9/10)
By David Richardson


Doctor Who
Doctor Who: The Mind of Evil Cover
Merchandise Review
Doctor Who
The Mind of Evil
BBC Home Video
Price: £16.99. Out now

The Master plan that came to nothing

Another entry in BBC Video's recent extravaganza of Doctor Who averageness, The Mind of Evil is a disappointingly listless piece of work.
The blame falls mainly on the story - or rather, two stories jemmied awkwardly together. One involves a riot at Stangmoor prison, where a revolutionary process removes evil impulses from serious offenders, the other concerns a world peace conference in London. In a public relations coup waiting to happen, a nerve gas missile is simultaneously being ferried about with minimal escort (naturally). Delgado's marvellous Master provides the slender link, hijacking the missile with the help of the inmates to aim at the peace conference.
The conference looks promising for a while but vanishes in episode three, overtaken by the dreary prison shenanigans - capture, escape, capture, not-one-but-two lengthy riots, that sort of thing. Lacking the dramatic hook to sustain its six (is it really that few?) episodes, the workaday script just ambles to a deus ex machina conclusion which features the first-ever instance of someone being run over by a stationary van.
The problems are compounded by a magnificent lack of credibility. The Keller machine is initially presented as 'a box' which 'stores negative impulses'. No one questions how or why, much less debating the process's dubious morality. The creature within kills by amplifying its victims' fears, yet one man is found covered in scratches, another with a lungful of water. The thing then begins to teleport about the place... somehow. The story becomes farcical when it posits that a bunch of thugs can ambush a missile convoy and operate the launcher while keeping the prison outwardly running smoothly. There must have been a particularly witless load of visitors and callers that day.
Thankfully the cast salvages a great deal. Roger Delgado in particular keeps his performance tightly reined in while clearly enjoying out-acting Pertwee.
Despite the quality of the performances and sporadic realism, The Mind of Evil never gets it together. (5/10)
By Peter Griffiths

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