Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Mind Robber

‘The Mind Robber’ is an example of ideas coming together and working well. Far away from the ‘base-under-siege’ formula common throughout the previous year, ‘The Mind Robber’ is a fresh, interesting and well played out story, and one of the very best of Patrick Troughton’s era.
Jamie and Zoe face the White Robots in Episode One.

We start with the intriguing Episode One, written by Derrick Sherwin to make up for the shortfall of an episode in the previous serial, and with no sets to call on bar the TARDIS and no actors to emply but the regulars and a couple of extras playing white robots, we get an episode reminiscent some ways of the first episode of ‘The Space Museum’. It’s eerie and atmospheric and the regulars are great.
Wendy Padbury has stepped into the role of Zoe and from the get-go it’s like she was always there. She’s a different companion to Victoria, although she also has a decent scream on her. She works very different with Jamie compared to Victoria – she is very smart and from the future and so patronises Jamie at times, but the dynamic is great.
There are some great images conjured in Episode one, including Jamie and Zoe holding onto the TARDIS console as it spins through space. The director has come up with clever ways to achieve a lot of shots through the serial and mostly they pay off. It’s the sort of creativity sadly missing from ‘The Dominators’.
Zoe about to fight the Carcus (Christopher Robbie)
With Frazer Hines sick during the shooting of the second episode, Sherwin came up with a great idea to use a different actor in Jamie’s place – when the Doctor miss-assembles Jamie’s face as a test. Hamish Wilson steps into the role of Jamie effortlessly. We have a story set in a world of fiction. It’s a step into fantasy, and a step away from Science Fiction. It’s the opposite of a story like ‘The Wheel in Space’ and it works very well. There are some wonderful comic moments, it’s well paced across five episodes, and the cast seem to enjoy this story a lot.
It’s still rough at the edges. Wendy Padbury to this day bemoans the fact that they didn’t have time to shoot her fight with the Carcus properly. It’s great to see her throwing a big superhero around, but unfortunately at times it’s clear he is just jumping over Zoe.

The sets are well done, and there are some nice touches of humour, especially in the final episode. Bernard Horsfall is a great Emial Gulliver, and Emrys Jones as the ‘Master’ was a wonderful piece of casting. In the final scene when he says ‘oh you mean I’m going home?’, he’s a joy. That set is rather good too. Jamie and Zoe have doubles at some stage, and they are truly creepy. This story has a lot of creepy elements to it.
Bernard Horsfall as Gulliver.
Peter Ling, the writer (bar episode one) came up with a truly imaginative story. Sometimes it might feel like it’s really aimed at a very young audience, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. The only downside is the ending, which is a bit flat, a bit simple. When everything appears lost for the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe just press every button on the computer console, the world goes crazy, the TARDIS reappears and everything is ok again. Still, it’s a minor quibble on an excellent story.


Hamish Wilson as Jamie - Episode Two.

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