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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Doctor Who: The Mind Robber: Episode 3 starts as the Doctor (Patrick
Troughton) manages to convince Jamie (Frazer Hines) & Zoe (Wendy
Padbury) that the Unicorn is nothing but a figment of their imagination
& that they can make it go away, the same goes for anything else in the
strange land of fiction they find themselves stranded in. The trio
continue into a maze where Jamie is separated from the Doctor & Zoe who
are left lost in the maze to fend off a deadly Medusa (Sue Pulford)
that can turn anyone who looks at her into stone...
Episode 8 from season 6 this Doctor Who adventure originally aired here in the UK during September 1968, directed by David Maloney this is the halfway point of the story & so far I have liked The Mind Robber but haven't loved it. The script by David Ling was his one & only for Doctor Who & there's a really neat idea here somewhere with a fictional place populated by fictional & literary character's but I just feel the story is a little plodding as the Doctor, Jamie & Zoe wander around, I don't know about anyone else but after a solid hour of it it's becoming a little tiresome as far as I'm concerned & the BBC budget doesn't help either. Think of all the sources of literature that could have been tapped for this story but weren't due to budget, time & technical restrictions, the possibilities were literally endless so simply having the Doctor stuck in a maze seems like a waste of good potential. Anyway that's the way it is & there's nothing we can do about it now, I liked Jamie's humorous encounter with Princess Rapunzel otherwise there's not a great deal here beside some novelty value. It's also a relief that Jamie gets his proper face back! For some reason all five episodes of The Mind Robber are shorter than the standard Doctor Who length of twenty five minutes, in fact The Mind Robber: Episode 3 runs for less than twenty minutes opening & closing credits included while episode five runs for just eighteen minutes.
This episode sees the appearance of a Minotaur mostly seen by a shadow on a wall which was wise because when they do show the mask it's not that impressive. Fairing much better is the Medusa at the end, it actually looks rather good with stop-motion animated snakes on her head which is a very time consuming effect to achieve & it looks surprisingly decent here. Even better still are the life-size toy soldiers which look great & have this cool sounding clockwork sound effect when they move as well, I love the huge winding up key that stick out of their backs as it's a nice touch that gives them a bit more personality & detail although it's a shame they don't slowly spin round.
The Mind Robber: Episode 3 is a good watch like the previous two, there's nothing wrong with it & it's perfectly entertaining even if I don't think it's the absolute classic many make it out to be.
Review of all 5 episodes:
This story is very similar in type to the William Hartnell era story The Celestial Toymaker (although this is quite a lot better). It is, like that story, a whimsical trip into a weird make believe world controlled by a sinister power. This idea was returned to again later in the classic series to some extent with aspects of a couple of stories (e.g. Warrior's Gate) and again in recent Moffatt/Matt Smith era series with Amy's Choice and to some extent The Doctor's Wife being derived from the same template.
The excellent first episode has a surprise element with some dramatic and brilliantly unusual happenings such as an exploding TARDIS and an endless white void. It is very well done and provides an enticing, fascinating start to the story. Then there is a thoroughly enjoyable if not quite as brilliant second episode where ideas such as the land of fiction, characters like Gulliver (speaking only lines he spoke in original text, a great idea very well executed) and a maze-like forest of words provide a good amount of interest. After that there is a still very good third episode then a slightly disappointing and occasionally silly 4th episode and a decent but rather unremarkable and not wholly successful 5th episode.
This has a disappointing lack of development after such a promising start. It must go down as a missed opportunity which would have been better as a 3-parter. Great first episode though.
My Ratings: Episode 1 - 10/10, Episode 2 - 9/10, Episode 3 - 8.5/10, Episode 4 - 6.5/10, Episode 5 - 7.5/10
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