23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Horror-Who at it's best, thrilling stuff!,
This review is from: Doctor Who - The Brain of Morbius [DVD]  (DVD)
From the opening shots of Karn, eerily dark and swathed in thick swirling fog, you know you're in for a real classic hiding behind-sofa-ride with this serial. In the very first episode you get a gruesome beheading, a crippled servant with a hook for an arm, later delights coming in the form of a brain in a jar of green goo, the Doctor almost being burnt at the stake and a monster cobbled together from various body parts.
It's scary stuff with some real-edge-of-your seat moments, one of the most surprising being when Solon shoots his assistant Condo, literally ripping a hole in his chest, spurting blood. It's not something you'd see in the revived series and in many ways, this raw, untamed feel just adds to the dark overtones of this story. It raises questions on the ethics of what true life is in relation to Condo's subservience to Solon and Morbius's half-life as a brain trapped in a transparent case, a slave to base instinct.
The true star of this serial has to be Philip Madoc as Solon, his performance is deliciously sinister, his perseverance through all the odds to try and revive Morbius admirable, despite the gravity of what this entails. The scene where Condo knocks Morbius' brain onto the floor to Solon's dismay is particularly poignant as he cries of `such intellect, wasted on a stone floor by a mindless brute'. This is a man that has devoted himself to a cause and has lost all compassion for others, from the way he continually deceives poor Condo to his underhand poisoning of the Doctor and Sarah, his true intentions masked wonderfully behind a façade of a nice, well-spoken academic.
Villains like Solon are always a joy to watch, the battle of intellects between them and the Doctor is what the show was made for. Tom Baker puts in a great show too in this episode, really shining in the scenes with the Sisterhood as he tries to convince them of his pure intentions. Liz Sladen gets some nice moments too, her feistiness sparking brilliantly off the Doctor, and poor girl, she goes through a lot in this serial! Poisoned, tied up to a table, blinded and then chased and beaten up by Morbius - and speaking of her blindness, I think she acted this really well. Yes, the whirling arms might look a little overstated compared to today's more conservative styles of acting but if you put yourself in her shoes, if you had just lost your sight you'd be absolutely terrified and Liz really conveys this in her voice.
When this serial was first broadcast it got between 9-10 million viewers per episode. This was Doctor Who in its element, Tom Baker taking the series through the peak of its success and from serials like this you can see how so many elements of it have gone on to influence further Who episodes. It is these linkages - this episode obviously taking root from the story of Frankenstein and his monster - that weave their through history, the tension and the theme of science pushed to its most terrifying. Even the imagery lives on, the Sybilline Sisterhood of recent episode `The Fires Of Pompeii being almost a carbon copy of the Sisterhood of Karn in this episode.
Brilliantly acted, dark brooding sets and a super-tense plot + a really good behind the scenes documentary `Getting A Head' which has some fab interviews with the cast and crew - this is yet another fantastic release in the Doctor Who DVD range.
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Initial post: 23 Jul 2008 15:49:06 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Jul 2008 16:10:19 BDT
An absolute blinder! of a review - really enjoyed reading it. Also, I too picked up on the Sisterhood idea being used in 'The Fires of Pompeii' episode.
In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jul 2008 19:22:05 BDT
Thanks for the comment, glad to know you liked the review!
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