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Doctor Who: The Brain of Morbius (Story 84)

4.8 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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(Oct 07, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

The planet Karn is home both to a mystic Sisterhood, whose sacred flame produces an elixir of life, and to Mehendri Solon, a fanatical scientist who is using the remnants of spaceship crash victims to put together a new body for the still-living brain of the executed Time Lord criminal Morbius. When the Doctor and Sarah arrive on the planet, Solon decides that the Doctor's head is just what he needs to complete his work.

Special Features


BEHIND THE SCENES
MAKING OF
Photo gallery
Production Notes


Product Details

  • Actors: Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Philip Madoc
  • Directors: Christopher Barry
  • Writers: Terrance Dicks, Robert Holmes
  • Producers: Philip Hinchcliffe
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Original recording remastered, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 7, 2008
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001C71IGA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,982 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Doctor Who: The Brain of Morbius (Story 84)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jason A. Miller VINE VOICE on November 15, 2008
I out-and-out love this story. I've taken the typical "Doctor Who" fan's path to this point of view, however. I was riveted at age 11, embarrassed at age 16, and now celebrate it in all its campy glory. When the disembodied brain of Morbius fell onto the floor with an audible "splat!" late in Part Three, I actually cheered.

What's most impressive about the DVD release is the Restoration Team's attitude to the story. Now that the classic series DVDs have been coming out for almost ten years, and the greatest of the great stories have long since been released, and the available remaining stories come from deep in the third tier (and now, with the imminent release of Doctor Who: Four to Doomsday (Episode 118), the fourth tier), it is hard to predict what editorial slant the DVD extra features will take. I've been surprised, for example, by the coldness toward Doctor Who - Black Orchid (Episode 121), and I nodded along to the wistful revelation that Doctor Who: The Invisible Enemy/K9 and Company: A Girl's Best Friend just hasn't aged that well at all.

Fortunately, the DVD producers appear to love Morbius, and for roughly the same reasons that I do. They're perhaps a little too enamored of Philip Madoc's Shatner-esque turn as this story's Dr. Frankenstein stand-in, Solon. But everyone loves the dimly heroic Condo, the one-armed manservant standing in for Igor.
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Producer Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes made gothic horror a signature theme of Doctor Who in the mid-1970s and attracted some of the largest television audiences in the show's history. Their riff on the Frankenstein story, "The Brain of Morbius," topped 10 million viewers every week at a time when the U.K.'s population was 56 million.

The Doctor and Sarah land on the desolate planet Karn where an arcane sisterhood keeps vigil over a dying flame that produces an elixir of life which their order relies on to survive. Elsewhere on the planet, a brilliant but deranged neurosurgeon named Solon pieces together body parts from crash victims into a patchwork creature to contain the disembodied brain of Morbius, a rebel Time Lord long believed dead. When the Doctor arrives at his mountaintop castle, Solon believes he has found the perfect head for Morbius' brain and drugs the Doctor in hopes of surgically removing it. Meanwhile, the Sisterhood of Karn thinks the Doctor has been sent by the Time Lords to steal their dwindling supply of elixir and tries to burn him at the stake.

Among many other fine actors, "Morbius" showcases the work of veteran character actor Philip Madoc as the mad scientist Solon, a role the show's producers had considered offering to Peter Cushing and Vincent Price. Madoc delivers a performance neither of these actors could have topped. The Welsh actor appeared in three other Doctor Who stories between 1968 and 1979, including "The War Games" in which he played the villainous War Lord. To give you some idea of Madoc's range, he also played the evil Huron Indian chief Magua in the 1971 BBC adaptation of "The Last of the Mohicans," later featured on U.S. public television as part of the Masterpiece Theatre series.
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Verified Purchase
THE BRAIN OF MORBIUS is one of the handful I hadn't seen as a kid, not until I had ordered the DVD 4 years back, and I had to debate for awhile if this finely crafted adventure was indeed on of the Best of Early Dr. Who. I recently watched it again with this in mind, and in spite of what I personally feel is a rather "meh" big baddie look, THE BRAIN OF MORBIUS is indeed one the best.

The all-studio sets are marvelously created, even the somewhat bare bones outside set with varying heights, looking good both in the predominant nighttime and rarer daytime shots. The Sister's cave nails the "Holy Flame" atmospherics, and for those who pooh-pooh the Flame Vault, just take a look at that paint job on the inner side of the door. And the castle interior, filled with interesting visual landscapes and creative framing by Christopher Barry, a veteran Dr. Who director.

The pacing is spot on, seamlessly flowing through slower descriptive scenes to meaningful action, a rewritten script by iconic Robert Holmes filled with signature sardonic humor (Solon's wickedly understated bits in particular) and producer Hinchcliffe's beloved cliffhangers. You can try playing "Spot the Adlib" as there are a few both from Tom Baker and Elizabeth Sladen (one of which Baker had never noticed till he saw it again 30 years later during the Commentary). And speaking of commentary, the one featured on this disc is indeed the BEST yet of the 4th Doctor's first two seasons. It's very lively and full of anecdotes with Baker, Sladen, Hinchcliffe, Barry, and Madoc (who played Solon). The previous ones, starting with ROBOT, can be somewhat snooze fests; I listen to each one before moving on to the next adventure.
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