An underrated story that illustrates the resourcefulness of
buckbooks | Hillsboro, Oregon USA | 11/02/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Mind Robber" was initially derided by Who critics as mere fantasy when, in fact, the story has a solid science fiction foundation: the brain of an unseen alien intelligence must be fed by the musings of a pulp-fiction writer imprisoned in its service. Turn on the commentary text and many of the production problems that contributed to the unique nature of this story are revealed.
First, the original four-episode story was stretched to five because the previous story, "The Dominators," didn't offer enough material to pad out its planned six episodes and was cut back to five. So the added first installment of The Mind Robber had to be improvised on a shoestring budget from existing props and sets. The "great white void" which so distinguishes this story was created specifically because "nothing" was cheap to depict.
Next, actor Frazer Hines contracted chicken pox before shooting on the second episode could begin and had to be temporarily written out of the story. A substitute actor was cast to play Jamie that week with a clever subplot written in to explain his changed appearance.
The story, which may seem an incomprehensible jumble at first, actually follows a very logical set of rules exploring the nature of fiction vs. reality. The storyteller, for example, dictates the action, so the Doctor can change the story by writing it himself, but if he refers to himself in the narrative he will become a fictional character and therefore cease to exist.
The use of literary figures such as Lemuel Gulliver and Cyrano de Bergerac harks back to one of the series' original objectives, to serve as an educational children's program. Gulliver, for instance, speaks in dialogue lifted mostly from Jonathan Swift's novel. So kiddies who think they're watching a low-budget sci-fi serial are actually getting an introductory course in English lit.
This story is a sterling example of the resourcefulness and solid acting that made Doctor Who, particularly the early episodes, such a charming TV series."
We're nowhere, it's as simple as that
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 02/25/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of the most imaginative stories in Doctor Who took place during the notoriously unpreserved Patrick Troughton era. Fortunately, The Mind Robber survived the BBC purges for us to enjoy, and it's bizarrely surreal with a capital biz!The TARDIS leaves the space-time dimension into a place where anything is possible. "We're nowhere, it's as simple as that." Jamie and Zoe enter nowhere, represented by a blank opaquely white background. The TARDIS breaks up, and they find themselves in a strange land full of life-size toy soldiers, a forest of words, unicorns, a Minotaur, Medusa, Rapunzel, and other characters.They constantly encounter a British sailor who speaks in a well spoken but extraordinary manner, and the Doctor deduces his identity later.Riddles and intuition are helpful in this land. And the Third Doctor's explanation to Jo in The Mind Of Evil, "we believe what our minds tell us to," is also apropos here. When Jamie and the Doctor try to rescue Zoe, they hear her voice behind a door without a handle. "When is a door not a door? When it's ajar." The door vanishes, and guess what they find Zoe trapped inside?Wendy Padbury stands out as Zoe. She is cute as a button, in a glittering black catsuit, hanging for dear life on the disembodied TARDIS console like an exotic ornament. Another time, she has her turn as Emma Peel, using martial arts to overcome the Karkus, a Teutonic comic book superhero. Christopher Robbie (the Karkus), would return in Revenge Of The Cybermen as the Cyberleader. Zoe's inquisitive as the Doctor, while Jamie, protective of her as he was with Victoria, is more cautious. Keirsey would see it as a classic example of a Rational paired with a Guardian. Her analytical mind and memory comes in useful, as she detects an arithmetic progression in the labryinth.Bernard Horsfall (the British sailor) would appear in two other Who stories (Planet Of The Daleks, The Deadly Assassin).Debits: the Medusa could have been more convincing, i.e. more frightening (q.v. Clash Of The Titans) and the villain isn't exactly effective. Still, one of the series' greatest moments."
Very Good And Nostalgic Doctor Who Adventure!!!!!
David S. Burt | Memphis, TN USA | 02/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the best Dr. Who episode I've seen with the 2nd Doctor. It's also was the first black & white Dr. Who episode I've seen. I rented this video a few months ago and I really enjoyed it. The episode was somewhat in the realm of the Twilight Zone and Outer Limits in a way, but of course it's Dr. Who, in my opinion is the most creative (and intelligent) science fiction series in television history. I liked both Jamie and Zoe in this one when they get lost in this strange dimension where time and space doesn't exist and fantasies and storybook characters come to life. Doctor #2 was an interesting character, but not as much wit and charm as the Doctors I'm used to seeing like Tom Baker (#4). In all, Mind Robber is so fun to watch, very nostalgic. I recommend this video to fans of both Dr. Who and classic science fiction fans."
"Who says wishes don't come true?"
Brian May | Australia | 01/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 5 part story is a delight to watch. We must be thankful that this is one of the few Patrick Troughton adventures to exist in its entirety. Set in the Land of Fiction, "The Mind Robber" is wonderful, whimsical and fantastic (quite literally!). The opening episode is eerie and suspenseful as the plot slowly unfolds. There's a real sense of siege as the TARDIS comes under attack and the scenes in the white void are both surreal and tense. Once the crew reach the Land of Fiction, the story just gets better. Fictional characters such as Gulliver and Rapunzel are full of life and personality (unfortunately so much more than many "real" Dr Who characters!) and there are genuinely frightening moments (such as the confrontation with Medusa). The white robots and clockwork soldiers, although they look very simplistic and obviously BBC models/costumes, both exude an air of menace. A story such as this, set in a realm of fiction, could easily have overstepped the mark between fantasy and just plain preposterous - fortunately it doesn't. Great performances and a great story combined!"
Top-Notch Troughton And Company
K. Fontenot | The Bayou State | 02/19/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Growing up, I viewed very few of Patrick Troughton's adventures as the Doctor. For this reason, he was always an afterthought in my little "Who" world. After watching a number of his tales, however, he's quickly become one of my favorite incarnations of the good Doctor. I love his rapport with his companions and anybody else who happens to stumble on to the wobbly sets of "Doctor Who." In this particular adventure, he really shines, making me rank "The Mind Robber" as one of the best "Who" serials in the entire series' long run. It starts out with the Doctor, Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) in a TARDIS that's about to be engulfed by molten lava. With no real idea as to what will happen to the TARDIS in this state, the Doctor (with a little help from Jamie) executes an emergency exit feature on the TARDIS' console. Where they end up is nowhere, literally. They are out of reality, time and space altogether. Jamie has visions of his home, Scotland. Zoe sees the city she was raised in. Zoe, against the Doctor's orders, leaves the safety of the TARDIS to see her home. What she finds is a void that shows her what she wants to see. Jamie goes to save her and gets caught up into the visions as well. Once the Doctor seemingly saves them, all three end up trapped in a world where fiction is reality and riddles help you find your way home. Who or what is behind this "nothing" that has the trio trapped? Can the Doctor save them? You'll have to watch to find out.
This tale features some wonderful characters from literature. From Gulliver to Rapunzel to D'Artagnan, history's best stories get a nod in this engaging adventure written primarily by Peter Ling, who we find from viewing the retrospective, "Fact Of Fiction," questioned his own ability to write science fiction.
This story seemed doomed from the beginning. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Episode One was thrown together to stretch the adventure into five episodes. It's actually one of the highlights of the story. Also, when Frazer Hines became ill, another actor was cast to portray him in one of the episodes. What's great about this is the rather funny way that a different looking Jamie came to be. Spare robots from a previous BBC production were used as well. This story is a shining example of chaos becoming classic.
As far as the actual disc is concerned, the crew at the BBC have outdone themselves once again. This is an excellent DVD transfer with only a few blemishes visible throughout the episodes. The audio is wonderful as well. As with the other classic "Doctor Who" DVDs, this one is chock full of special features. Including the aforementioned retrospective, there's also "Highlander," which looks at the career of the highly likeable Frazer Hines. There's a fun "Basil Brush" sketch featuring the dapper fox and his run-in with the Yeti, a photo gallery, a "Who's Who" gallery, excellent audio commentary and an easter egg as well.
This is a great "Doctor Who" tale and I highly recommend it to any and every fan of the classic series, the new series or science fiction in general. Fans of mysteries and thrillers may also like this story. It's got a fresh and different (for "Doctor Who") story, an excellent cast, a solid villain who shares his name with another, legendary arch-villain of the Doctor and even a little bit of classic literature education. It's simply wonderful. Highly recommended.
And one other completely chauvinist note: Although the Doctor has had his share of beautiful companions, I must admit that few of them have ever looked as smokin' hot as Wendy Padbury as Zoe in this particular adventure."