The Faceless Ones is the first story since The War Machines to be set on present day Earth and we get plenty of shots that could have been from any programme of the day and a load of characters who at first seem to be very much like the characters you would get in any other adult drama such as police inspectors, head of airports, pilots, stewardesses, immigration officers etc.
It is only when Polly sees a man being shot by what looked like a ray gun that suggested that there was something not ordinary going on at Gatwick airport.
The crew are separated pretty much as soon as they exit the TARDIS and are nearly crushed by a aeroplane about to land. For the most part of the story the Doctor and Jamie are on their own as both Polly and then Ben are captured by the alien menace who are posing as pilots and other airline personnel for an airline that caters for trips to young people, which i assume were starting to become popular at the time.
It was a shame that they seem to get rid of Ben and Polly so easily after what they had gone through in the last forty or so episodes but at least it was reasonable given the plot of the story and made sense as they were getting in the way of the aliens plans so in that sense it worked better than it could well have done.
We are also introduced to a new character called Samantha Briggs in this episode who basically took over both Ben and Polly’s role as a second companion in the story and was actually rather good and you can see why they considered her to be a replacement to Ben and Polly when they decided to leave the TARDIS, or were pushed (delete where applicable). Pauline Collins gave a good account of herself in the role of Samantha Briggs and gave as good as she got.
The main baddies were the chameleons who were an interesting alien race whose plans in the story were basically to carry on living and that was there raison d’etre to doing what they did in the story, so it is not simple to call them evil in the strictest sense of the word, but not really thinking about the consequences of what they were doing to the other party.
The familiar setting of the story helped I would say to draw the viewers in as when they first tuned it it could have been an episode of any present day drama and despite the aliens present in the story the setting of the story really grounded the viewers into something quite different for the show up to that point.
Despite its six episode length the story actually doesn’t feel that long and certainly doesn’t seem to be stretched over that length either which is not often the case with six parters.
Gerry Mill definitely makes the most of the setting of the story with lots of establishing shots of airplanes landing and taking off and in flight, just to make sure that you are aware that the story is set in an airport and I think that this adds to the story to be honest.
I do have to admit that the new animated version of the story does it make it a far more watchable experience than it was as a listening experience, and shows what people would have seen back when it was originally broadcast and I certainly enjoyed the adventure more than I ever had before.