Doctor Who: The Mind Robber
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A quick escape from the path of molten lava sends the Tardis to "nowhere" where anything that springs to mind may become reality.
The 1968 Doctor Who serial The Mind Robber is a two-fold blessing, because it's not only one of the more engaging story arcs from the program's second season, but also because it's one of the few shows featuring Patrick Troughton as the Doctor that has remained intact since its original BBC broadcast. The five-part story strands the Doctor and companions Jamie (Frazier Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) in a strange world populated by characters from fiction, including Rapunzel, Blackbeard the Pirate, and Lemuel Gulliver. Controlling this riot of literary personages is a being called The Master (though not the evil Time Lord from subsequent Who seasons), with whom the Doctor must match wits in order to rescue his friends and save the Earth from a sinister plan. A longtime fan favorite brimming with imagination, visual style (despite its limited budget), and an energetic performance by Troughton, The Mind Robber is a welcome inclusion to the growing collection of Doctor Who on DVD. --Paul GaitaSee all Editorial Reviews
- The Fact of Fiction: a 35-minute retrospective of the story's production
- Highlander: a 22-minute look at Frazer Hines's career
- Basil Brush: a 10-minute sketch featuring the Yeti
- Photo gallery
- Production note option
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Doctor Who: The Mind Robber is yet another fantastic entry in the Patrick Troughton era, with a compelling story that focus' on fairy tale characters coming to life, to great acting (especially from Patrick Troughton), and even some decent action sequences that keep the story moving forward when it starts to loose steam, The Mind Robber is a great addition to any ones Doctor Who Collection!
While episode one tries it's best to keep you glued to the screen, it can get a little tedious at times, which is understandable due to it being the cheapest of the four parts. Most of episode one it is set in the Tardis, with the exception being where the previous story ended, and a huge white stage, so there isn't much to look at in the background, unlike later one in the next three parts, so unless you just love the color white, you won't find much in the set. The special effects aren't anything to talk about, until the end of the episode, which I'll talk about in a second, so like the set, there isn't much to really talk about. The acting is at it's weakest in episode on, but that's only because the first episode was just kinda written so it would have a "first" episode, so it wasn't as thought out as the other parts were. Also, it turns out that Fraizer and Wendy had a hard time acting with each other on the set, so that only added to the standard script. But don't get me wrong here, the acting is still great, especially from Patrick (which is of no surprise), so overall, the acting is standard. Like I stated above, episode one is mainly there because it had to be, it tries it's best to set up the story. It does a decent job, but you can only do so much when you throw a episode together just like that, so for the most part, the story is alright. The only exception would be the end of part one, which was an excellent cliffhanger that made you want to see more, awesome job for being able to pull that off. So as you can probably guess, the overall story for episode one was ok, minus the awesome cliffhanger.
Episode two is, in my opinion, the strongest of the episodes, with all of the main cast at there best, including Patrick (shocker!), the set being simple but effective, and the special effects being what you've come to expect from 1960's Doctor Who. Starting with the set, the set is, like I stated above, simple but effective, so it's not anything special. So overall, the set is standard. Like the sets, the special effects are simple, but effective, so it's nothing special, but it serves it's purpose, so like the set, the special effects are standard. Now up to this point, everything has being standard to ok, but unlike episode one, this story was given a good amount of thought, and it really shows. Episode two's story begins with the fantastic cliffhanger from episode one, then continues to follow the three main actors as they try and reconnect with each other, while at the same time being hunted by the Land's Master. All three actors are at the height of there game, with Patrick being able to show off his acting chops amazingly. The story also includes Hamish Wilson, who played Jamie for an episode and a quarter, the reason being that Fraizer had gotten smallpox right before shooting began for episode two, so the team made him stay, and called Hamish in, and what fantastic decision it was! As soon as Hamish jumps on screen, he instantly jumps into the role with ease, capturing Fraizer's accent and personality practically perfectly, from his hand movements, to how he walks, and even how he acts around the other characters. But the most impressive thing about his performance would be that he only had a couple of hours to study the script, rehearse, and then film, so kudos to him for being able to pull that off! So overall, the episode and acting was at it's height here!
Episode three does a good job of keeping the story moving, while still bringing something new to the table so things don't get stale. Starting with the set, I think it would be safe to say that the sets are at it's best here, and it shows. Without revealing to much of the story, the sets offer a varity of things to look at, which keeps the story fresh and exciting. So overall, the sets are fantastic. Like the sets in episode three, the special effects are also at it's best, and it's clear from the start. While the story starts off with using some of the techniques the previous part used, it soons branches out into uncharted territory, and succeeds, with some of the effects being able to hold it's own even by todays standards. So as you most likely guessed, the effects are, like the sets, simply fantastic! But while the sets and effects are at there best, the acting and story dies down some, which makes things drag on a tad bit. After reaching the height of what was episode two, episode three tries to contuine bringing a fresh story that keeps you hooked, and while it does fufill that goal, it also creates the problem of there being slightly bland spots littered throughout episode thre. So overall, while the story does start to loose steam, it still manages to keep you watching(Also, like episode one, the cliffhanger here is great, and it keeps you wondering what will happen in episode four). Then there's the acting, which isn't anything major, but is still pretty good. After episode two, the cast continues their adventure to meet the mysterious Master of the Land of Fiction, while facing more of his traps and attempts to trap the trio in his world forever. This is also the episode that has Hamish Wilson stepping down from the role of Jamie, and letting Fraizer return. So basically, it's episode two, but with even more challenging traps and mazes. So while the acting isn't as awesome as episode two, it still manages to keep you ente
While episode four looses major steam, and has a disappointing fighting scene, the episode still manages to keep you watching till the credits roll. Starting with the sets, you can instantly tell that the production team tried there best here, with the sets being basic but interesting, with the exception of the Master's lair, which was executed brilliantly. So overall, while the sets are mostly simple, they still manage to spice things up, even if it's only a little. Since this is the last episode of The Mind Robber, the team tried to mesh all of their best effects into episode, and while they do a good job of showing it all off, it still makes you feel a tiny bit underwhelmed. So yeah, that's pretty much it for special effects. Up next is the acting, which by now is the standard stuff we're used to getting. The only new thing they bring was the Master's character, which was up until now, pretty boring. The actor who plays the Master plays him well, being able to act innocent and joyful one minute, and then cold and evil the next. So for the most part, the acting is standard, not counting the Master. Last but not least is the Story, which goes up and down the whole time. There's a lot of interesting elements that go along with this part, but when those episodes aren't in play, the story could get boring. But to spice things up, the team decided to add two different fighting scenes to keep the story going. While the first fight is semi-entertaining, it's also extremely rough around the edges, and it shows. But they do get a free pass due to them only being able to practice the fight for a couple days, and the fact that they could only film the scene once. But where the first scene fails to deliver, the second scene passes with flying colors. Without giving to much away, the fight contains five different fairy tale characters, and a lot of swords. So for the story, while it looses some major steam throughout, it still manages to keep you hooked...barely.
So, too, thinks the mysterious and very alien minds who control matters in the shadows. They want that energy for themselves...and they want Earth.
The episode opens with a bang--an active volcano threatens the TARDIS and the Doctor's youth and inexperience shows here--he doesn't know for certain if the lava will damage his ship, and with Jamie's urging, employs a desperate last-minute tactic of sending the ship into "nowhere." This seems to solve the problem for Jamie and Zoe, but the Doctor is terrified. "Nowhere" is something completely out of his experience. And this is what makes it unique for Troughton. He remembers being the "Original Doctor" in fits and starts, and usually vaguely. He constantly relies on his predecessor's diary to help puzzle out his problems. A completely new and unusual problem FRIGHTENS him because he has move into his own "nowhere" space and operate from there. Although he does a lot of growing in his short tenure, this Doctor has very few low points, and this is one of his lowest before THE WAR GAMES. He doesn't know what to do, but he knows it is a very very bad idea to go outside the TARDIS. He's gotten a taste of an alien vibration and he does not like it one bit. The novelization explains why we should all be afraid of vacuums in the most chilling language, but on the screen we just know that this very old, experienced being is out of his depth and he knows it.
The alien mind(s) lure Jamie and Zoe outside showing them what they desire the most: their homes. They trick the Doctor out by showing him what he fears: the loss of his companions (a tragic foreshadowing of THE WAR GAMES). He rescues them but it's all been a ploy. The TARDIS is under attack, and finally, the Doctor too. One of the most unforgettable shots is Zoe and Jamie clinging to the console for dear life in the nothingness as the Doctor spins slowly away, unconscious, in his old wooden chair.
And then after that, things get VERY interesting.
Troughton's Doctor never fully regains his composure until he's captured by the Master Computer. Literally in a box, he is accidentally given the key to rescue them all and he takes the moment with a childish glee. Up until this point the viewer could easily wonder if the Doctor is so worried because the Land of Fiction looks too much like the Celestial Toyroom for comfort--there is some fanon out there that suggests the Toymaker is responsible for its creation, and the Doctor finds the Toymaker one of the most terrifying of his foes.
Jamie and Zoe's roles are fantastic throughout the show, along with a clever solution for replacing Frazer Hines when he was down with chicken pox. Wendy Padbury and Frazer Hines do a wonderful job of commentating throughout the show, and it's hard not to laugh when Wendy sees how she and Frazer cruelly (and smirkingly) used the Doctor's worry about them to trap him in the computer. "Brats!" She exclaims, bringing down the show. Wonderful tidbits of technical filming and set challenges keep you going--it never gets old and never will this episode.
The next four episodes are no slouch either. "Out there" is a land of fiction, characters from books such as Gullivers Travels and Rapunzel, but even creatures from mythology, Medusa, unicorns, etc. How do you escape Medusa? How do you escape a stampeding unicorn? When it doesn't exist?
And I don't want to hear any more talk about Rose being a revolutionary companion who "doesn't just scream." The new series was NOT the first to have a proactive companion who wasn't a cardboard cutout. Zoe is fantastic in this, taking down a futuristic superhero (Karkus) that she read about in her own time, and even saving the day as she destroys the computer controlling the fiction world.
An easy recommend. Patrick Troughton seems incapable of having a bad serial, and it's not just due to the writers. The Second Doctor's friends seem to have an impish excitement about each adventure, and that's conveyed through to you in every scene. And when you're watching TV to escape, that's almost impossible to resist.