The Mind Robber: Doctor Who: Season 6
The Mind Robber SYNOPSIS:
The Doctor takes the Tardis out of time and space to avoid it being buried in lava. Stranded in a white void, Jamie and Victoria are tempted out of the ship and captured by white robots. A strange force invades their minds and as they all try to escape the Tardis breaks up.
The Doctor awakens in a forest of words to be forced to solve various puzzles, one he gets wrong causing Jamie to be temporarily stuck with totally different face. The three then encounter various characters from famous books such as Gulliver from Gulliver's travels, Rapunzel and mythical beasts such as Unicorns. A figure called the Master is watching their various trials as they are pursued by clockwork soldiers
Once his original face is returned to him, Jamie manages to get into the main castle and finds machinery printing out words. Zoe and the Doctor deduce they must not believe in anything fictional they encounter like Medusa or it will be able to harm them. They are eventually brought beofre the Master who wants the Doctor to take over as the imaginative source for the Master brain.
The Doctor refuses and his companions are turned into fictional characters. Despite attempting to avoid the clockwork soldiers and rescue his companions the Doctor is trapped into a battle of imaginative wits against the Master the price for failure is they are all to become slaves of the master brain.
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The Mind Robber DETAILS:
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The Mind Robber CAST & CREW
Patrick Troughton(Second Doctor)
Fraser Hines (Jamie McCrimmon)
Wendy Padbury (Zoe Herriot)
Emrys Jones — The Master
Bernard Horsfall — Gulliver
Christopher Robbie — Karkus
Sue Pulford — The Medusa
Philip Ryan — Redcoat
Christine Pirie — Princess Rapunzel
John Greenwood — D'Artagnan / Sir Lancelot
David Cannon — Cyrano
Gerry Wain — Blackbeard
Paul Alexander, Ian Hines, Richard Ireson — Clockwork SoldiersBarbara Loft, Sylvestra Le Tozel, Timothy Horton, Christopher Reynalds, David Reynalds, Martin Langley — ChildrenJohn Atterbury, Ralph Carrigan, Bill Wiesener, Terry Wright — White Robots
Production Staff for Serial UU:
Writer - Peter Ling, Derek Sherwin (episode 1 only, uncredited)
Director - David Maloney
Script editor - Derrick Sherwin
Producer - Peter Bryant
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The Mind Robber REVIEWS
Well halfway through the Troughton's already.
The compelling photo evidence provided last night already puts the Mind Robber high on the 10 scale without doing a review and as nice and simple as it would be to just do that will plow on regardless and cover the actual episodes. Well part 1 is an all time favourite of mine, it's weird, mysterious, and just out there so totally like anything done in Dr Who up to that point. An enemy they can neither see or hear but can haunt them with nightmares and break up the Tardis. If I saw this as a kid would've been totally freaked out by the White robots and the noise they make. Plus you get plenty of views of Zoe's tush and it spins away into the darkness…oh and with what's left of the Tardis.
Then into the four remaining parts of the Mind Robber which are quirky but also just as mysterious and now down right bizarre with all sorts of weird fictional characters turning up and saying their piece. We get another guy playing Jamie and does a really good imitation for a guest artist when his face gets mucked up. Then the weird and strangely threatening clock work robots which look harmless but are kind of creepy. Then there's the Master who I really thought was the ACTUAL Master until the last episode who gives a great performance being weird and alternating between nice and nasty.
Ok the Mind Robber had hokey bits, like the Carcus and the Minotaur but heard a lot of things went wrong during this production and it doesn't show much... 9/10 half the score is for Zoe in a sparkly catsuit. Finally the producers have realised they can make the Doctor's assistants hornbags…hmmm there's Polly isn't there... Ok INTELLIGENT hornbags.
Firstly as we know, episode one was hastily commissioned and written by Derrek Sherwin (who received no onscreen credit) cos it was decided to cut the dreadful Dominators back one episode. With no budget, the Tardis prop and its interiors, and just the regular cast it looks like it could be a retread of everybody's favourite EDGE OF DESTRUCTION. But wait.... its more than that. Much much more. In fact, episode one alone is probably one of the best Who episodes up to this point. Mind Robber takes what is essentially a cost-cutting problem and uses it to its advantage. Sherwin comes up with the great and effective idea of adding an extra set that consists of NOTHING which acts as the dangerous white void that lures Jamie and Zoe out of the TARDIS set.
Mind Robber seriously ups the creepiness factor and runs with it cos (unlike EDGE OF DESTRUCTION) you get a real sense that SOMETHING has invaded the Tardis with the use of the images of Scotland and Zoe's world on the scanner screen plus the creepy music and noises. Also, Troughton plays the whole thing dead straight and you really do believe in the threat. Its not until we are in the void that we see the ultra, ultra creepy white robots with their ultra ultra creepy whirring noises that the hairs not only stick up on your neck but go flying off! The single scene where Jamie and Zoe are unaware that the robots are just beyond their vision in the void but are surrounding them is way scary. But that is NOTHING compared to what happens next: the TARDIS is blown to pieces and everyone is floating off into blackness. This is without a doubt one of the BEST cliffhangers in the original series. When you think about it you are getting five genuinely scary cliffhangers in one go;1. The TARDIS being blown apart2. The Doctor floating away on the chair3. Zoe screaming in hysterics4. Zoe and Jamie clinging onto the spinning console for dear life5. Zoe and Jamie and the console slowly spiraling away from view and disappearing.And then they add the icing on the cake by just slowly fading everything to black before rolling the credits. I get chills every time I watch it. Its what Who is all about. Perhaps the only story in the new series to come close would be BLINK (again, a cost cutting story)
Thankfully the sheer brilliance of the Mind Robber doesn't end there. Episodes 2 - 5 are just as good and its still bloody creepy in parts. The white robots and the even creepier clockwork robots are 1000 times better than the cybermen have ever been - on half the budget and a million times better directed. They are relentless, grim creations that just keep going without question. Plus their strange noises alerts the viewers to their oncoming menace - just like the Weeping Angels did forty years later.
The guest characters are all very memorable as well. Rupunzel is funny, naieve and ironic all at the same time, Gulliver is a great foil and loyal companion and its great that he only speaks the words that were written for him in Gullivers Travels. And even the Karkus is great too - a fictional character FROM THE FUTURE. You can really believe in these people which itself is ironic cos they are actually SUPPOSED to be works of fiction! Set wise; again its great - they make the most out of a fuck all budget here. White (and black) voids that look like they actually do go on forever. The cave interiors with the candles and the interior of Rupunzel's castle look great and the Master's (ooh-errr!) lair with the TV monitors is very effective. This is a story which clearly demonstrates imagination over budget - and wins then some!
Finally, the regulars. Troughton is in top form turning in one of his best comedy performances mixed with some great dramatic bits (plus his great panicky moments "Oh my giddy aunt!!") Poor old Fraser gets chickenpox but you gotta love the "get out of jail free" card that this story presents itself with. You would swear Mind Robber was written in to it deliberately to have his face changed by the Doctor. And finally, Zoe. Or to be more accurate; Zoe's arse. Lets have another look at that picture again;
Mid Robber is a definite classic without a doubt. I would also like to add that if you don't already have the DVD of this story then run out and get it for Christmas straight away. It looks brilliant all remastered and vid-fired within an inch of its life and the feature on the making of the story with interviews with the writer, producer, director and as many of the cast as they could find (and there are HEAPS of them), it makes a worthy addition to your Who collection. In fact, the picture above I captured off the DVD itself. So you could say that that particular scene has been remASStered!!!!
Mind Robber has the classic Science Fiction plot (and kind of like a Terry Nation "by the book" one in parts Mr Grob!) - there's separation and there's some great small challenges and tests they face on their way to get to a big final showdown... which ends up being a little bit like the Wizard of Oz!
And it's the challenges that they face that make this episode move along so nicely - the toy soldiers in particular are very memorable... any time a common harmless item is used in such a threatening way, it's nearly always hugely effective (discussed at greater length in a few stories time I'm sure!). Another thing to note that such is the excellence and imagination of the story, they were able to write another Jamie into it while he was out (with the mumps?) for a week... excellent stuff!
But for some reason, I can't give it a 10. I'm not sure why, but when I compare it to previous 10s and 9s, it's not quite there for mine... it's not far off, but bits of it are still a little bit hokey, and maybe even a little bit slow... but on the whole, it's very enjoyable!