July 3, 2013

Doctor Who: The Mind Robber

"The Mind Robber" is a story from the tenure of the wonderfully fantastic 2nd Doctor.  His companions in the story are Jamie and Zoe.

Zoe, Jamie, and the Doctor in the TARDIS
Jamie and Zoe are two of my all-time favorite Doctor Who companions.  Jamie is a Scottish Highlander from the past, while Zoe is a genius from the future.  Jamie is lovable and funny and somewhat excitable.  He went from fighting the Redcoats to travelling with the Doctor.  Zoe is brilliant, with an intellect that rivals the Doctor's at times.  She also kicks butt.  In this episode, she gets into a fight and uses Judo to beat a man twice her size.  She was downright Emma Peel-like.  

This story is sort of an oddball for Doctor Who.  It branches out into fantasy rather than the traditional sci-fi of the show.  It starts off immediately after the preceding serial, "The Dominators," ends.  The TARDIS is buried in lava, and they move the TARDIS outside of space and time to get out.  Does that make sense?  Not really.  But, they had to have a reason to get the TARDIS outside of space and time, so there it is.  The thing about this story is that it was originally supposed to be four parts instead of five.  The story before it was going to be five parts instead of four.  That was changed at the last minute, so the first part is kind of filler.  Also, they had no budget for it, so it took place entirely in the TARDIS control room and a strange, white, outside of time and space netherworld.  This was so they wouldn't have to spend money on sets.

The second part gets to the meat of the story.  The three travellers have arrived in a very strange place.  It's a land of fiction.  Jamie climbs what they think is a tree.  When he gets to the top, he looks down and sees that the trees are instead words in a book.  They run into Gulliver from Gulliver's Travels, the Minataur, a unicorn, Rapunzel, and Medusa, among others.  I really like what they did with Gulliver in the story.  He only speaks in lines from his book.  The Doctor says that because Gulliver is fictional, he can only speak the lines that were given to him.  It's very clever.  

The actor who played Gulliver, Bernard Horsfall, has an interesting history with Doctor Who.  This was his first appearance on the show, but he would be on three more times.  The next time was in another 2nd Doctor episode, "The War Games," in which he played a Time Lord.  This was the first time any Time Lords other than the Doctor were seen in the show.  His third role was in a 3rd Doctor episode, "Planet of the Daleks."  His final appearance was as another Time Lord in the 4th Doctor story "The Deadly Assassin."  Horsfall played four excellent parts in four strong episodes of Doctor Who.  (Okay, many Whovians think "Planet of the Daleks" isn't that great, but I like it.)  

Something very characteristic of the 2nd Doctor is demonstrated in the above screenshot.  He is always doing something with his hands.  It can be seen in the screenshot below, too.  The 2nd Doctor can be a bit fidgety.  He can also come across as not having a handle on the situation, but many of the Doctors are like that.  There is a scene in which Jamie is frozen still and his face becomes a blank slate.  The Doctor has to choose from different sets of eyes, noses, and mouths to get Jamie's face back.  He chooses wrong (he chose...poorly), so a different actor plays Jamie for a little while!

I haven't said much about the plot of this episode.  I don't want to say there isn't much of a plot, but there really isn't.  They need to get back to regular time, the Doctor wants to find out what's driving this land of fiction, and that's pretty much it.  The fun of this episode is the interaction with the fictional characters.  

I like "The Mind Robber."  It's unusual.  I'm an avid reader, so the idea of fictional characters coming to life is intriguing to me.  I'd like to meet some fictional characters myself.  

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