I know this is a story that cops a lot of flack, mostly for being too over the top and camp, but seriously folks, what’s not to love about Philip Martin’s ‘Mindwarp’. In a nutshell it’s a creepy, scary and foreboding story featuring the return of Sil (Nabil Shaban), Brian Blessed and has the most dramatic, spell-binding, spine-tingling ending to any Doctor Who story EVER.
End of story. The death of Peri is so chilling, so shocking that some of the issues with parts three and four should just be overlooked for this amazing moment. The brain of Lord Kiv is transplanted into Peri. Nicola
|Brian Blessed as Ycarnos.|
|The wonderful Nabil Shaban returns as Sil.|
The adventure starts with a beautiful use of ‘paintbox’, early computer-generated effects where the ocean is made pink and a ringed planet is hoisted into the sky above. The sets are low-lit and moody, the mentors – creatures like Sil, are very well done indeed. The show looks terrific. The first two episodes are great. It’s not a rocket-fast start but it’s a slow peeling of the environment, exploring, getting into trouble, culminating in the Doctor connected to a machine that is frying his brain.
The second episode sees a changed Doctor, a traitor, one with his own interests before others. The question is, are we seeing the truth? Remember that this is all coming from the matrix, and the Doctor starts to wonder if the matrix can lie. We, as an audience, are confronted by a very disturbing interrogation scene where the Doctor interrogates Peri on the rock of sorrows whilst the tide comes in. Is this really what happened? The Doctor said it happened, but not the way we are shown.
The third episode it gets a bit wobbly. Perhaps not quite enough story to fill four full episodes? I’m not sure but Ycarnos (Brian Blessed) is joined by Alphan rebels led by Tuza – to be honest a terrible performance by actor Gordon Warnecke, and this subplot is not as compelling as the rest of the tale to be honest. The rebels are dressed like Mexicans and despite makeup appear rather too clean for rebels living and hiding in caves desperate to overturn their oppressors.
Kiv (played by star of ‘The Young Ones’ Christopher Ryan), the Lord of the Mentors, has his brain transplanted into a different type of mentor – this one is brown. The final episode seems to have the Doctor turn back to the side of good after he eats some of Sil’s marshminnows. He rescues Ycarnos and they head to save Peri, but in the midst of confusion, they are separated and the Doctor is pulled into the TARDIS and the fate of Peri is not a good one.
Brian Blessed is simply wonderful as Ycarnos. I have seen him in a few things, including ‘The Black Adder’, and this role was simply written for him and
|The stunning ending.|
The story suffers only from Tuza, the third episode sagging a little, and the consistent and un-relenting crosses to the court room. I don’t mind the crosses, but they needed to be cut way back there are far too many in this story, as there were in the first. Philip Martin produced an amazing, chilling script, and director Ron Jones produced his best (and last work) for Doctor Who easily.9/10