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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2012
The Mind Robber, a story that until a couple of years ago I never watched, what on earth was I thinking? This is classic Pat Troughton and what a little stunner the Mind Robber really is. When I first read the reviews of this classic tale, I thought to myself that the overall plot was great and the idea fascinating, but as usual with Doctor Who, script to screen can suffer badly. Well, I can now say that having viewed the Mind Robber, its fantastic visually, truly some of the best design work done on the show. It really impressed me when I finally got around to watching it on the fabulous BBC DVD release. I know that the stories of the 60's were made on a shoestring budget but the Mind Robber is something unique. It pulls off so much that it makes you think that you are watching some kind of film that the BBC pinched from some archive somewhere. As you can probably tell, I have no issues with the visual effects production side of this story. So, is the Mind Robber totally perfect?

Well... yes. Peter Ling's script {with Derrick Sherwin's tweaking} is brilliant. The concept is highly entertaining and with Pat Troughton, Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury on top form, what else can you ask for. The quest cast are all great too, especially Emrys Jones "Master", quite a unique character and for once not a run-of-the-mill villian, just a normal newspaper / comic strip writer who was too great for his own good and so was abducted by the Brain, some kind of imagination god and enslaved to create practically everything that humans imagine.

The Mind Robber is also a stand out piece as its production was so troubled. Originally a 4 part story called "The Fact of Fiction", the serial changed titles 3 times and gained an episode. Although, the total run time is 100 minutes, the same run time as a 4 part serial, this confused me for years as I thought where is the fifth episode coming from, until I researched its background and found out that the episodes have been cut by between 4 and 6 minutes respectively. This then created the 18 minute long fifth episode, which stands as the shortest episode of Doctor Who ever. The reason why an extra episode was added to the Mind Robber is because the previous story "The Dominators" was cut from 6 episodes to 5, the extra episode had to go somewhere and thank god it went to the Mind Robber and not the Krotons or the dreaded Space Pirates.

The BBC DVD of the Mind Robber is simple enough, remembering that the BBC released the Mind Robber without the assisstance of 2-entertain. So as you would expect, the DVD is slightly lacking in bonus content, unlike the newer releases. But, that aside, the main documentary "The Fact of Fiction" is a fans dream, all remaining cast and crew come together and discuss the making of the story and also its troubled production. This is a really nice extra feature to watch after viewing the 5 part Mind Robber as it finishes off the evening nicely. As does the very insightful "Highlander" documentary, this 30 min doc concerns a mr Frazer Hines and his character Jamie. Its lovely to see and know that back in the day, Frazer and Pat were inseperable, the two were like siblings, always joking about and getting on all the producers nerves. It is lovely to know though that both actors confess to Doctor Who being there favourite piece of work and the happiest time both stars ever had was working with each other. Lovely.

In the end, the Mind Robber stands out as classic Doctor Who and surely is some of the best television produced in that whacky decade, the 60's. I cannot recommend this great piece of British television enough, even if you are new to Doctor Who and are just having a gander at the classic beginnings of this great show, you shall not be disapointed.

Many thanks to you all your time in reading this observers review, its greatly appreciated,

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2014
This is one of my favourite Patrick Troughton stories!

`The Mind Robber' is an imaginative and clever story with the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe and I enjoyed every minute of it. It's a well written story by Peter Ling; script edited by Derrick Sherwin and well directed by David Maloney. It happens to be Wendy Padbury's favourite story, who plays Zoe in `Doctor Who' and I've had the DVD cover signed by both Wendy and Frazer Hines who plays Jamie. Both `The Mind Robber' and `The Invasion' are my favourite stories from the Patrick Troughton era of `Doctor Who'.

I first watched this story after I bought the DVD on a trip to London in 2008. At the time, builders were redecorating the house. So we watched this story in the upstairs room where the telly was available. I really got into this story very easily as I enjoyed the adventures with the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe anyway.

Following on from 'The Dominators', the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe try to escape from the planet Dulkis as the TARDIS gets enveloped in lava from an erupting volcano. But they can't get away, until the Doctor uses an emergency switch that moves the TARDIS out of the space-time dimension - out of reality. Once done that, the TARDIS ends up in a white void where nothingness exists. "We're nowhere," says the Doctor, "It's as simple as that." Pretty soon the TARDIS breaks up, and the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe end up running around in the Land of Fiction, where fiction and stories come to life.

This story is quite unusual as the TARDIS is outside time and space and the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe are in a surreal world called the Land of Fiction. Essentially, this is a place where fictional characters and stories come to life. Your favourite characters from any book; comic; TV show or film can come to life in this place. Characters like Gulliver; Rapunzel; the Unicorn; Medusa and the Minotaur become reality in this place. I found this an exciting idea as your dreams and fantasies are brought to life. This is a place I would like to live in. But there is a cost and danger to this place as fiction can take you over and you get turned into fiction or be controlled as part of a story which in itself is pretty frightening. I enjoyed every moment in this story and every fiction event that goes on for the Doctor and his companions.

`The Mind Robber' is a five-episode story. It was originally a four-episode story, but due to production problems on `The Dominators' an episode was lost from that story. So an interjecting episode had to be written in between `The Dominators' and `The Mind Robber' to set up the story. So the first episode of `The Mind Robber' is not written by Peter Ling but by Derrick Sherwin (who is uncredited) and features only the Doctor, Jamie, Zoe, the TARDIS and a white void. And in fairness the first episode is done very well by director David Maloney as well as Patrick Troughton; Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury who perform throughout the episode. The scenes in the white void are really tense and the episode ends on a really spell-binding and unnerving cliff-hanger that is a story-turner in what `The Mind Robber's all about. Very effective and creative visuals indeed!

I had a great time meeting Wendy Padbury and Frazer Hines at a convention in Swansea when I asked them both to sign the DVD covers for this story as well as `The Invasion'. I was glad to have met them and meet them again later at future conventions. Jamie and Zoe are my favourite companions from the Patrick Troughton era of `Doctor Who'. I really like those scenes at the beginning in the TARDIS where they see their different homes - Jamie with Scotland and Zoe with her 21st century city - as they're being tempted to go outside.

Wendy Padbury was lovely when I first met in Swansea and still is. I've had the pleasure of seeing Wendy again at a convention in Weston-super-Mara last weekend. I've now met Wendy at four conventions. Wendy claims this as her favourite story in `Doctor Who' in story. And I can see why it's her favourite since it's a clever story and Zoe has plenty to do throughout the entire story. Zoe gets to wear her sparkly cat suit in this story that's become famous and she gets to use her wits about her and resourcefulness when she and her friends explore the Land of Fiction. Zoe's a delight to watch in this story and Wendy plays the character so well. There's a memorable moment at the end of `Episode 1' where Zoe and Jamie cling onto the TARDIS console and there's a surreal camera shot of the TARDIS spiralling and Zoe has is lying on the console with her little bottom shown towards the camera.

Zoe gets to share more scenes with the Doctor as they got into the heart of the labyrinth and face the Minotaur and Medusa, the statue who turns people into stone. That cliff-hanger in `Episode 3' is pretty frightening as the Doctor tells Zoe not to look at Medusa. Kids must have been scared stiff when seeing that in the 60s. Zoe also gets to meet one of her comic book characters called Ze Karkus and gets to have a fight with him which is very exciting. Although Wendy wasn't too happy with the actual fight under TV studio conditions and accidentally fluffed on one of the lines at the end of the scene. I remember chatting to Wendy about that during a coffee club session at a convention in Newcastle and she mentions it on the DVD documentary. Zoe certainly is terrific in this story and I really like her, especially with how Wendy plays her in `Doctor Who'.

Frazer Hines is great in this story too as Jamie. Although Frazer had suffered a bout of chickenpox during the making of this story, but more on that later. Frazer plays Jamie as a heroic young man who braves himself through any danger. He's fiercely loyal to the Doctor and shows how strong he is and being protective towards Zoe. I like it when Jamie, Zoe and the Doctor are in the TARDIS and they're trying to get away from the volcano. There's that comedy business with the Doctor and Zoe being amazed by the volcanic eruption and Jamie's panicking, "Listen, will you two stop gaping at that thing and gets us out of here!" Jamie and Zoe being in the void together in `Episode 1' are also great scenes to watch when they're either lost or surrounded by White Robots. Jamie also manages to outwit a Toy Soldier with its `wee lighthouse' on its head and manages to climb up some rocks to reach the tower where Rapunzel is waiting for him. I like it when Jamie meets Rapunzel (played by Christine Pine) at the window of the tower and there's a nice exchange of dialogue between them.

Jamie gets a new face in this story. Because Frazer suffered chickenpox during the making of `Episode 2', something had to be done to explain his absence from the story. Due to `The Mind Robber' being a surreal story, script editor Derrick Sherwin came up with a puzzle for the Doctor to solve a puzzle where Jamie's frozen and his face collapses and the Doctor has to put his face back together again. But the Doctor gets it wrong and Jamie ends up with a new face, now played by Scottish actor Hamish Wilson. Hamish does a remarkable job at short-notice playing Jamie with a new face. His voice is different and his accent's broader, but Hamish plays Jamie so well in matching the physicality of Frazer's performance. I've seen Hamish at a convention but sadly never got to meet him.

I really found it funny when Hamish looks in the mirror and goes, "That's not my face!" Also when the Doctor's trying to put his face back together again and Zoe's shaking her head about picking up the wrong eyes and the Doctor goes, "Alright, I know!" Frazer comes back as Jamie in `Episode 3' and Zoe goes, "Oh Jamie, thank goodness you're back!" and Jamie goes, "Back? What do you mean `back'? I haven't been anywhere." Just to say, Wendy was joking on the documentary when she mentioned `wouldn't it be great if they stuck with Hamish and Frazer never came back.' She only meant that as a joke as she said so at the convention in Swansea where I first met her and Frazer.

Patrick Troughton as the Doctor is terrific in this story. I found him really funny and a joy to watch. I like those scenes in `Episode 2' when the Doctor calls out to Jamie and Zoe and they call back to him at the same time and he goes, shaking his fists, "No, no, no, no, no! Not all together! One at a time!" I also liked those scenes when he's with the children and they give him puzzles and riddles and he gets pinched by them and he's easily shocked and goes, "Don't do that!" That made me laugh when I saw that. The Doctor gets to share more scenes with his companions and I like the camadarie and friendship he shares between them. He prompts his companions to say, "It doesn't exist!" whenever the Unicorn, the Minotaur or Medusa appear to scare them. I also like how he works things out and quickly adjusts to this Land of Fiction they're in. I also like the scenes when Patrick's Doctor confronts the Master in the climatic scenes of the story. A terrific performance and one of Patrick's best as the Doctor.

I liked some of the characters from fiction that pop up in this story. There are the Toy Soldiers who are human-sized and have that mechanical walk with that sound they make. They wear red uniforms, although you can't see that in the black and white picture of the story but you get the idea. There's also some White Robots who appear in the story, and they appear out of nowhere in the void when Jamie and Zoe come across them in `Episode 1'. They have that horrible electronic noise whenever they appear, about to take Jamie, Zoe and the Doctor away. All these soldiers and robots work for the Master. Now who's he I wonder?

Bernard Horsfall makes his first appearance in `Doctor Who' as Lemuel Gulliver. I really like Bernard's performance as Gulliver and he's certainly a favourite of director David Maloney in his `Who' stories. He would go on to play more `Doctor Who' roles in future stories. This is the first out of four TV stories. I chatted to Wendy recently about Bernard Horsfall and she likes him. I really like Bernard as Gulliver in this story, giving a noble performance. We don't know who he is yet until `Episode 3' and I really like it when the Doctor works out who Gulliver is and they shakes hand as if they were old friends and Zoe's completely astonished. Gulliver sounds exactly how original author Jonathan Swift wrote his words and Bernard plays the part so well, making him sound so convincing as the character.

There's Christopher Robbie playing Ze Karkus, who I loved watching as a character. He's a comic book character that is very 60s-like and is like one of the action-packed superheroes. Zoe's read him in the comics from the 21st century and has a fight with him. He's got this funny crazy voice with a German-like accent which sometimes I can't take seriously, saying things like, "You will come out! And put zor hands about zee head!" or "I am at your command!" He appear an enemy at first with his anti-molecular ray disintegrator pointed at the Doctor and Zoe. But eventually he's under Zoe's click of her fingers and he becomes an alley helping the Doctor getting down into the computer room with Rupenzel's hair and destroying the Toy Soldiers to save Jamie and Zoe.

Emrys Jones plays the Master in this story. No, not that Master! He's playing the Master of the Land of Fiction of this story. The Master is a writer who was taken out of the 1920s and is now running everything in this strange surreal land of fiction. His brain is wired up to a large computer that controls his thoughts and provides the fictional characters he wants to create. The Master originally wrote for the `Ensign' boys' magazine and wrote thousands of words. He wants the Doctor to take his place since he's getting on and becoming an old man. This is where we get two sides of the Master who has this gentle side as well as a frightening nature when controlled by the computer. He forces the Doctor to work for him, and even gets to turn his companions Jamie and Zoe into fiction and turn against him, which leads to some cheeky and child-like performances from Frazer and Wendy when they lock the Doctor up in a cage.

The special features on this DVD for `The Mind Robber' are as follows.

There's a `Basil Brush Show Segment' and is a lovely bonus treat. It's an episode of Basil Brush from the 1970s called `The Himalayas' and it features a guest appearance of the Yeti, which is an actual Yeti costume from 'The Web of Fear', one of Patrick Troughton's stories that's recently been found. Watching this was so enjoyable and I got to see the differences in how they make Basil Brush today compared to yesteryear. There's an audio commentary on `The Mind Robber' with Frazer Hines, Wendy Padbury, director David Maloney and Hamish Wilson that is very enjoyable to watch and listen to.

There's a making of documentary called `The Fact of Fiction', focusing on the making of `The Mind Robber' with interviews from cast and crew including Frazer Hines, Wendy Padbury, Hamish Wilson, director David Maloney, Christopher Robbie, writer Peter Ling, script editor Derrick Sherwin and designer Evan Hercules. It's an interesting look back on the making of the story, going through the challenges of how this story was made. There's also `Highlander - The Jamie McCrimmon Story' which is an interview with Frazer Hines looking back on his time as Jamie in `Doctor Who' that I enjoyed. There's also a photo gallery and an info-text commentary option to watch during the story. There's also an Easter Egg to look out for on the main menu of this DVD.

There's so much I want to say about `The Mind Robber' as it's such a great story. But then I could be writing this all day. A terrific story and a classic one from the Patrick Troughton days. It's one of my favourites, as well as for many others like Wendy Padbury and it's cleverly put together in terms of writing by Peter Ling as well as direction by David Maloney, who would go on to direct many more `Who's. You really will enjoy this! It's great! I'm not joking!

The next story with the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe is 'The Invasion'.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 January 2014
After a glut of repetitive base under siege stories it was about time Doctor Who attempted something different and 'The Mind Robber' fills that requirement brilliantly.

The first episode, which just has the TARDIS sets, the regular cast, a white void and a handful of white robots to work with, is creepy, atmospheric and very well acted. It also fits in seamlessly with the next four episodes. This is all especially impressive since the episode was a cheap, last minute measure which became necessary when an episode was shaved from 'The Dominators'. This episode was written by script editor Derrick Sherwin although no one is credited as having written it.

The cliffhanger at the end of part one, with the TARDIS exploding, is stunning, one of the all time great cliffhangers. The other three cliffhangers aren't quite up to the standard of the first, but they are all effective.

Nursery Rhymes, Wordplay and enigmas are all used effectively and there's some very pleasant use of mythical creatures (a Unicorn, the Minotaur, Medusa) and other fictional characters (Gulliver, Rapunzel). Bernard Horsfall is brilliant as Lemuel Gulliver, the idea of his speech entirely consisting of dialogue from Gulliver's travels is fabulous. In another imaginative scene Jamie climbs up Rapunzel's hair having mistaken it for a rope. Admittedly the Karkus is considerably less effective.

Emrys Jones gives a powerful performance as the tormented Master, who despite being the villain is actually quite charming. I should also stress that this Master is not the same as the character who will later be played by Roger Delgado.

The white robots are quite intimidating and the toy soldiers are very creepy. The story is very well directed by David Maloney and the story just breezes along.

Hamish Wilson did a very good job of playing Jamie while Frazer Hines had Chicken pox and the change of face is skillfully worked into the story. Regulars Patrick Troughton, Wendy Padbury and Hines are all very good throughout.

The writers, actors and director overcome all the adversity and this is, for me at least, the best Troughton story.

As for extras, there is 'The fact of fiction' a near 35 minute 'making of' documentary. As usual for this type of thing it's very informative and entertaining.

'Highlander' is a very good 22 minute feature in which Frazer Hines discusses his career with, of course, plenty of emphasis on Doctor Who. It's especially nice to hear about how well Hines and Troughton got along.

There is also a mildly amusing clip from 'The Basil Brush show' from 1975 which featured a Yeti costume.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 18 August 2006
This is a very good DVD release, which I enjoyed watching. The Doctor and his companions Jamie and Zoe are transported into a mysterious land of fiction. There they encounter Gulliver, Medusa, the unicorn, the minotaur, and ultimately the Master, who is controlling the whole domain. (Note: this is not the same Master who would appear later in the series!) In addition to this, Jamie suffers the fate of having his face changed for a while!

Here's a story that is thoroughly imaginative and rather different from any of the surrounding stories. The excellent Patrick Troughton, in his third and final year as the Doctor, performs as well as always, and there is a fine showdown in the final episode between him and Emrys James as the Master. Mentioning the final episode, reminds me of one disappointment regarding the story - the ending! It seems to be quite abrupt and unsatisfying.

There are some good extras on the DVD too. I'm not keen on the Basil brush segment. However, there is a good documentary featuring Fraser Hines, giving his memories of his time on the series.

Certainly a better story than 'The Dominators' which preceded it. A good addition to the Doctor Who DVD series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 October 2014
It's customary among Dr Who fans to think of this story as a classic. One is expected to praise it.I'm not going to. The truth of the matter is that it's poorly written, repetitive, and much of the action is illogical. I know that some of this was the result of production problems and the need to lengthen the stoty from 4 episoides to 5 at shoirt notice, but I suspect it would not have been a whole lot better without it.

The scenes which advance the plot in any way could probably be edited into an episode of 20 minutes. The rest consists of a long sequence of 'exciting' dangers faced by the regular characters. And it's a VERY long sequence, none of which furthers the plot at all. In addition, the writing and plotting often makes no sense. If the Master is a pulp-fiction writer from the 1920s, how does he know of the 21st Century comic strip character The Karkus? The Tardis enters a reality outside time and space as a result of an emergency escape from molten lava performed by the Doctor, yet by episode 5 the story is claiming that the travellers were deliberately kidnapped so that the Doctor's mind could be used by the villain of the piece. Zoe's behaviour throughout borders on the mentally-defective, except when she suddenly develops Emma Peel-esque martial arts skills which enable her to defeat a superhero. Between forgetting every two minutes that not believing in the apparent dangers renders tham harmless, walking though a doorway which she knows to have a photoelectric alarm and stepping into a building without noticing that the room she is entering has no floor, she gives a poor impression of the future educucation sytem of Earth!

The acting is absolutely abysmal too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 December 2013
Allegedly inspired by TV viewers that believed that Crossroads was real (God help us) though I'm bound to suspect it being inspired by LSD.

It's good; admittedly not fast, with every idea wrung dry of every drop of worth, and often used twice, but they're generally good ideas and (a big plus) it looks good too, from the white void of Episode One (20 minutes of drama created from 'Shall we or shall we not?') to the Forest of Words to the White Robots and Toy Soldiers (these last look particularly good).

The overall plot is a touch insubstantial; the bloke in charge is apparently the writer of the Captain Jack Harkaway Penny Dreadfuls, and he got kidnapped by an alien entity (that we never see) and forced to make up stories in perpetuity. Why? And he wants the Doctor to take on his burden. Again why? Not Dickens, Hardy, Trollope? He could get a whole creative team together.

But that's the twaddle that David Maloney (directing Dr Who for the first time) got given to work with, and he did a very good job. The 'Suchathing doesn't exist!' gambit is over-used, and the minotaur will be over-used in a couple of later stories, but Princess Rapunzel is funny, and Bernard Horsfall does a good job as Lemuel Gulliver, a character with really very little to him.

Jamie's face is a lovely idea - it's a pity, in a way, that they had to wait until Frazer Hines was ill before thinking of it - and his cousin, Hamish Wilson, makes a good fist of standing in for him.

I don't get the Karkus at all - surely they could have found a better use for Christopher Robbie than a super hero that nobody's heard of - what about one that they have heard of, or a classical hero, or Polyphemus...

The denouement of trying to turn the Dr into fiction is rather more convoluted than my brain is comfortable with, and I strongly suspect that Peter Ling was finding it hard work to think his way out of the scenario he'd created. Jamie and Zoe as baddies work well though.

There is always an inherent danger in starting from the premise of 'the characters in this story are not real', and it's all to Peter Ling and David Maloney's credit that this does work as well as it does - stylish and satisfying, in spite of its shortcomings.

(Blackbeard - Edward Teach - was real, not fictional; ditto Cyrano de Bergerac).
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 6 April 2005
With many of the best Patrick Troughton stories missing or fragmentary, it's wonderful to get to know this marvellous story from the late sixties, an era when the series was evolving into a rather groovy, loose-limbed style. The Doctor Who season containing The Mind Robber was by all accounts somewhat chaotic behind the scenes, much like the social trends of the age generally. But this story retains a remarkable integrity and manages to reflect the show's best traditions of adventure and excitement while energetically breaking new story-telling ground. I had never seen this particular story until buying the DVD recently, and enjoyed it more than I ever expected. While there are some places in the 2nd and 3rd episodes where the story on first viewing seemed to veer into over-indulgent territory, the triumphant concluding episodes wrapped up and the earlier action beautifully. The final duel of the storybook heroes made me almost fall off my chair laughing, and was a delicious reward for staying with this story to the end.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 21 March 2005
After the slightly disappointing release of Horror of Fang Rock, this is much improved. The story is great. Although the story was recorded at a time of great strain for the programme, it prospers. Great performances and an unusual story. The remastering of the story is first rate. I watched the VHS version after this and it is remarkable how much better it is on DVD. In many ways, this makes the old black and white stories so much more important to own on DVD.
The special features are better than the previous effort this year. The documentaries are more meaty and the Basil Brush feature is amusing, if not terribly relevant. The commentary is good but not the best I have have heard.
All in all, a good buy.
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on 30 January 2010
Something made me, 20 years ago, when I was 8, to fall in love with a strange TV series...
As I was living in Barcelona by then (I'm from The Balearic Islands) I could see the TV series in the local TV, in catalan language...

To this point, my memories about that era are few and vague... But what I can remember clearle is me and two friends of mine, at my school, spending all the playing time to play Doctor Who... Our imagination converted the Toilet entry into the Tardis. And when we used to get out of it, a world of imagination opened in front of us...

But for some reason, I lost contact with the Doctor Who world. Until now, that I have discovered the new series and the classic DVD collection which I'm patiently and carefully collecting.

So far I have already seen all the available Hartnell DVDs and now I'm doing the same with Troughton ones. And I can assure, further than any reasonable doubt, that The Mind Robber is a wonderful excercise of Imagination. A pearl ideated by Peter Ling, that merges the Sci-Fi world with the world of literature in a very natural form...

The Mind Robber, credits for making a child of 28 years enjoy himself as a child of 8 again, in a constantly surprising mix of characters and misterious leads and tricks that challenge the Doctor Who-Patrick and his companions Jimmy and Zoe.

The only thing I didn't like about it is that Zoe Herriot, who is supposed to be a real smart girl, spends most of the time simply screaming... Well... I supose it is a sign of the times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 November 2013
Patrick Troughton's years as The Doctor were becoming my least favourite.I had tried The Invasion,Tomb of the Cybermen and The Seeds of Death all to my utter boredom.The charisma of The Doctor and his companions was there,but they couldn't sustain my interest.
So,I decided to give the second Doctor one last go with The Mind Robber and Ive had a pleasant surprise.The story moved along nicely,the three leads clearly work well with each other and for problematic production it all pulled together nicely.
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