PRODUCTION CODE

UU

  

WRITTEN BY

DERRICK SHERWIN (1) & PETER LING (2-5)

 

DIRECTED BY

DAVID MALONEY

 

RATINGS

6.9 MILLION

 

WORKING TITLES

MAN POWER & THE FACT OF FICTION

 

RECOMMENDED 

PURCHASE

'THE MIND ROBBER' DVD (BBCDVD1358) 

RELEASED IN MARCH 2005.

 

CLICK TO ENLARGE IN COLOUR

 

BLURB

Escaping from a

volcanic eruption on the planet Dulkis, the Doctor is forced to use the TARDIS'S Emergency Unit, which takes the craft out of normal time and space... and out of reality itself!

 

The time-travellers arrive in a mysterious world peopled by fictional characters  -Gulliver and Rapunzel, D'Artagnan and Sir Lancelot - but Also by creatures from mankind's worst imaginings...

 

PREVIOUS

 

NEXT

 

The Mind Robber

14TH SEPTEMBER 1968 - 12TH OCTOBER 1968

(5 EPISODES)

 

 

                                                       

  

 

The Mind Robber is perhaps the best-structured release in the BBCís Doctor Who DVD range thus far. Its main bonus feature has not been carved up into several separate featurettes that each have to be played individually: Writing Story X, Designing Story X, Shooting Story X et al. Instead, we have a lengthy, informative and consolidated documentary on the making of the serial. The Mind Robber is also one of the most remarkable DVD releases so far as its five part centrepiece is quite unlike anything else in Whoís television canon, fusing genuinely unsettling nihilistic horror with surreal scares and cartoon camp.

 

 

The discís focal Fact of Fiction documentary does a splendid job of exploring the exceptional set of circumstances that gave rise to The Mind Robber as we know it. The serialís acclaimed first episode was borne of necessity, with problems elsewhere forcing Derrick Sherwin to stretch out Peter Lingís script from four episodes to five on a budget of nil. His solution was nothing short of inspired as, rather than bludgeon twenty-odd minutes of padding into a nicely-paced narrative, he improvised a lead-in to the tale that some still consider to be one of the seriesí most terrifying episodes. Iíd probably agree, were I able to tear my eyes away from Wendy Padburyís shapely bottom as she clings to the TARDIS console floating through oblivion and appreciate the solipsistic terror of the piece.

 

 

Similarly, what could easily have proven to be a production-derailing case of chicken pox was turned into yet another windfall, as the production team were able to seamlessly replace the pockmarked Frazer Hines with Hamish Wilson, whose erroneously-assembled face would serve as a constant reminder of our heroesí surreal surroundings and what they stood to lose. After all, if somewhere can take your face from you, what else can it take?

 

 

The four episodes of The Mind Robber set within the Land of Fiction rank amongst the seriesí most outlandish. With its colourful cast of literary legends and genre stereotypes, The Mind Robber conjures wacky imagery as sundry as that found in The Alice Compendium, Treasure Island and Marvel comic books, but affords it surprising depth. The serialís antagonist, who shapes events from afar, is abnormally affable, and arguably as much a victim as he is a villain. For every cartoon superhero thereís an oversized, sinister toy soldier; for every hammy Blackbeard thereís a Medusa. Indeed, the cliffhanger ending to the third episode featuring the tendril-headed mythological monster may well be one of the most alarming of the era.

 

 

Together with the serialís five episodes and The Fact of Fiction, the DVD also boasts a commentary featuring Frazer Hines, Wendy Padbury, Hamish Wilson and director David Maloney. To be fair, thereís little of note unearthed in the commentary that doesnít make it into The Fact of Fiction, but Hinesís telling of certain anecdotes is much more amusing in the commentaryís more casual setting. Hines also forms the focus of the discís second most substantial special feature, Highlander, which sees the pretend Scotsman talk us through his lengthy tenure as the second Doctorís definitive companion with his customary charm. The remaining feature, Basil Brush and the Yeti, is far less worthwhile in my view, but Iím sure that completists will appreciate its presence all the same.

 

Overall then, both The Mind Robber and its DVD accoutrements come highly recommended. This curious disc may not be all that representative of the Patrick Troughton era, or indeed Doctor Who generally, but it has a capacity to entertain that eludes some of its more traditional peers Ė particularly the debacle that it followed.

 

Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006

 

E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Design

 and Patents Act 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.

Unless otherwise stated, all images on this site are copyrighted to the BBC and are used solely for promotional purposes.

ĎDoctor Whoí is copyright © by the BBC. No copyright infringement is intended.