March 22: The Faceless Ones Episodes 3 & 4

Episode 3 was returned in 1987, so we can also watch this.

There's not much that actually happens in this episode, but it's filled with enough incident along the way to stay entertaining.  We do learn a little more about Chameleon Tours, and the Doctor gets a chance to do more investigating.  Ben and Polly are still missing, which means the Doctor and Jamie get more opportunities to really bounce off each other, and they make a splendid double act.  The Doctor also comes in contact with a new authority figure, Detective Inspector Crossland, who, it turns out, was the partner of the man murdered in episode 1 -- and unlike the Commandant, he's willing to believe the Doctor's story.  This means the Doctor gets to go back into air traffic control with the Commandant.

The Doctor demonstrates an alien freezing pen for the
Commandant, DI Crossland, and Jean Rock. (The Faceless Ones
Episode 3) ©BBC
Watching these scenes, it strikes you how at home Troughton is causing havoc.  The scenes in The Moonbase felt forced, but this feels much more natural, as the Doctor disrupts things just by being there, and he does it in a way that it's difficult to imagine Hartnell doing.  It's quite wonderful to behold.  And while Ben and Polly are missed, it does give Jamie a chance to shine, and his interactions with Sam Briggs are lovely, as he's awkward yet fiercely loyal to the Doctor.

And then DI Crossland heads onto one of the Chameleon Tours airplanes and learns that the people onboard are being kidnapped and disappearing on the plane...

Episode 4 is another enjoyable episode, even if it does have a silly "set up a slow moving laser beam to kill our heroes and then leave the room" action from the villain (and here we note that Goldfinger came out only three years earlier).  Sam then goes off to get onto a Chameleon Tours flight, and Jamie doesn't want to let her, so he steals her ticket while giving her a kiss -- the telesnaps don't tell us how chaste the kiss was, but it sounds like it was more than just a peck on the cheek...

And the other events are nice; the Doctor investigates the medical facility and discovers the real nurse in a cupboard, and Jean Rock learns that Chameleon Tours picks up people at airports around Europe, but it never drops off passengers -- while the Doctor seems to have already worked out what's happening.  "How high can fighters go these days, Commandant?" he asks.  When told the answer is "ten miles plus," he's dismissive: "How futile."  And indeed, we learn that the airplanes are actually spaceships, heading up to a station in orbit.  But what the Doctor doesn't know is that Jamie is on board (albeit not miniaturized like the other passengers since he was sick in the bathroom at the time).  It's a good story, paced and written well -- let's hope they can finish strong.