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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,

M.B.
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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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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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on 30 March 2014
This story is a great troughton story but not one of his best (consider the enemy of the world or the tomb of the cybermen or the invasion) but its still good though. The idea between the world of fiction and real life is fantastic and is a one off for who (i think!) its
a unique story in itself and features a truly memorable and iconic cliffhanger at the end of episode 1 which is great the artwork is fantastic and the restoration team have worked there magic once again however it could warrant a special edition release i think as it was released in 2005 and restoration techniques have moved on since then the story rattles along at a great place and at times is truly haunting especially medusa and jamies face this is a fine release with a cracking story ok extras and some great artwork the extras are average theres a making of documentary which is ok and the best extra of this dvd is the humourus basil brush sketch featuring the yeti however the extras arent the best as on other releases if you want to get into classic who or troughton in particular i would watch tomb of the cybermen first but this is still worth the watch 4/5 for me knocked down from 5 because of the extras...
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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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on 3 February 2018
I really enjoyed this - it's a strange story but I like the concept and imagery of it - like the toy soldier guards and the control room. It's imaginative and now (since having had Matt Smith as the Doctor) it's easy to see the Troughton influence. Worth buying.
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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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on 14 January 2014
Had this when I had a VHS player, and have now got it on DVD. I enjoyed it, and it is now part of my collection. The quality is excellent, and the subtitles are very helpful. A very well acted story, and Hamish Wilson does a good job as Jamie, when Frazer Hines had chickenpox during filming.
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on 19 April 2016
These BBC productions never fail to please. Bought to replace the VHS versions, the Dr Who chronology is a glimpse into the growth and development of the BBC broadcast.
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on 27 August 2017
Excellent service and quality
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