Doctor Who (1963–1989)
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The Mind Robber: Episode 5 

With Jamie and Zoe having been turned into fiction, the Doctor must find a way to save them without suffering the same fate or becoming part of the Master Brain.

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
Frazer Hines ...
Wendy Padbury ...
...
The Master of the Land of Fiction
Bernard Horsfall ...
Christopher Robbie ...
Christine Pirie ...
Barbara Loft ...
Child
...
Child (as Sylvestra Le Tozel)
Timothy Horton ...
Child
Christopher Reynalds ...
Child
David Reynalds ...
Child
Martin Langley ...
Child
John Greenwood ...
David Cannon ...
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Storyline

With Jamie and Zoe having been turned into fiction, the Doctor must find a way to save them without suffering the same fate or becoming part of the Master Brain.

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12 October 1968 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Peter Ling wanted Zorro to appear, but this was vetoed for copyright reasons. A quotation from Walter de la Mare's 1912 poem The Listeners seems to have been excised due to similar concerns. See more »

Quotes

Gulliver: We obey our creator, that is all that can be expected of any character, unless the Master bids us otherwise.
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Connections

Featured in The Lively Arts: Whose Dr. Who (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

Symphony No. 7 in E major, WAB 107 - movement 3, Scherzo
Composed by Anton Bruckner
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User Reviews

S6: The Mind Robber: What just happened?
5 January 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The sixth season of Doctor Who began with a rather dull and obvious serial and was not the most inspiring of starts. At the end of that story the Tardis is forced to make a sudden jump out of the path of an erupting volcano but it isn't ready to do so and as a result gets thrown into some sort of limbo with nothing on the outside. This happens within the first few minutes and from there things start getting strange – Jamie and Zoe believe they have arrived in their respective homes as this is what they can see in the viewing screen, but on the outside is nothing – just literally nothing, a clear white everything. The first episode alone took me by surprise because it is so very different from the previous serial and so very interesting that it had me from the start.

This continues with plenty of moments which even now, to a grown man, are spooky and unsettling; a scream playing over an image of a peaceful Jamie and Zoe beckoning, a creepy voice-over, the destruction of the Tardis and just generally an odd sense of this being something different and unusual. On top of this one of the characters gets frozen and his face removed, leaving a quite startling image of this frozen faceless image – which works even if I think it would have been better to freeze the character as a person and throw a white stocking mask over him, but the cardboard image works too. When the Doctor reconstructs Jamie into someone else by mistake, it was around then that I started to wonder what the hell I was watching because it no way is this the same season that started out with such a snoozer. But it is and it continues to be as unusual as this with the world turning out to be a wholly fictional creation of a great intelligence (no, not that one) and controlled by the master (no, not that one either it transpires).

It isn't perfect by any means and indeed some of it is a little silly (the wrestling moves with a comicbook superhero) and ultimately the conclusion is not quite as good as it could have been but it is engaging, creative and enjoyable. Personally I would have liked some more challenging edge pushing and pushing the idea (those familiar with the Doctor from the original Open Your Eyes, this is the sort of thing I would have liked) but it does still do that – and I can only imagine seeing it with 1960s eyes as opposed to someone grown up with more envelope-pushing ideas. The creation of the fictional world is good because it is variable and it wisely builds off nothingness – which is more unsettling than any castle of sci-fi set. The effects may have dated but characters without faces, Medusa moving in and other such things do tend to unsettle.

The cast work very well within this. Troughton convinces as being thrown and battling. Hines is good even if he doesn't quite have the range I would like – he is good at the action stuff and being a foil, but anything more subtle (like fear or doubt) he isn't breaking; I hate to keep comparing him, but he is no Ian. His replacement Wilson is alright but it is such a weird change in and of itself that it is effective even if he was poor. Padbury shows that, no matter what else she can do, she is a tremendous screamer – a real bloodcurdling one. She is pretty decent as a companion based on this but again, her role seems so fixed and very much a supporting one, she is no Susan and no Barbara – but this is not her but the direction of the show.

The Mind Robber is not perfect but it is so out of the box (literally given the end of the first episode) and so unusual and fresh as an idea that it is hard not to enjoy it. Add into this some genuinely unsettling aspects and you have a really pretty strong serial that more than makes up for a lackluster start to the season.


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