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1- The Mind Robber

Hello everyone, the Historian here. New story begins tonight–and if Ketina allowed me to embed links, I might stick John Cleese saying, “And now for something…completely different.” Because it doesn’t get much more different than episode 5 of The Dominators and episode 1 of The Mind Robber! I’m very excited to be watching this along with Ketina, Ronelyn, Spoo, Photobug, Altair, Ezio and Cz. Can’t wait to see what they think! And now, let’s get to the episode. This episode first aired 14 September, 1968.

H = Historian
K = Ketina
Sp = Spoo
P = Photobug
A = Altair
E = Ezio
Cz = Cz

E: What the??

A: Welp, that looks like the entire end of the series ever.

R: The Type 40 TARDIS was recalled for its tendency to come apart at high speeds.

Sp: Tune in next week for Doctor Who and the Brown Acid.

P: Director to writer “What you go this week?”

R: Some black tar heroin apparently.

P: Writer to director “I got nothing.” Director “Well, make that work. Also, no budget for location scenes.”

H: Do you want to know how accurate you are? See, the Dominiators was original scheduled as a six parter and they cut it down to five parts..

R: Thank god.

H: And they realized that meant they had to come up with another episode from somewhere. So the story editor Derrick Sherwin said “huh. Um, why don’t I write another episode and put it at the beginning of the next story to lead into it more. But we’d only have the budget for the TARDIS sets, a big white room, and spray painting robots white that were used in another BBC science fiction program. That’ll work!” And actually, I think it really does. I love this episode. I think it’s cool.

A: I liked it too.

Sp: Theater… of THE MIND!

R: More like theater out of the mind. So mercury vapor, apparently, isn’t fatal.

E: Who would have thought?

A: Just wave it away. Also, sparkly suit!

H: I love the sparkly catsuit!

Sp: So did the director, apparently. “So miss, here’s how it’s going to work. You’re going to slide this on, and then you’re gonna drape yourself over this console thing and then we’re gonna slowly rotate ya.” long pause.

R: “Don’t worry, the hippy kid will be up there with ya.”

Sp: “Ratings!”

H: To counteract..

H & Sp & R: Budget cuts!

Sp: This is beyond budget cuts. This is another dimension of budget cuts.

Cz: Literally.

P: But the sound engineer was plenty busy.

Cz: And the editor had a great time with this.

H: What editor? This was filmed probably as live.

Cz: With the transitions and everything?

H: Different cameras.

Cz: I had to that once. I worked in an AV lab and had to switch manually instead of editing later.

H: That’s how Doctor Who was made for the most part for the entire length of The Project, except for filmed inserts.

Sp: So sirens, huh? Sirens exist in nothing.

H: Maybe.

R: <scottish accent> “Or at least the whiny, wee, screechy, siren song of the Scots.”

Sp: So Jamie was called to home.

H: Yeah.

Sp: Zoe was called to home.

H: Yeah.

Sp: The Doctor was called to Jamie and Zoe.

K: The Doctor was already home.

Cz: Awwww!

Sp: Or the Doctor has no home.

Everyone: Awwwww!

E: First of all, how dare you!

Sp: Find a home for Doctor!

E: Can I just say that pretty much the moment the Doctor said to not leave the TARDIS we knew they were going to go outside. Pretty much whenever the Doctor says “don’t do the thing” they do the thing.

Cz: Don’t you know how TV works?

Sp: The TARDIS travels in time and space?

H: Yes.

Sp: Withstands the vacuum of space.

H: Yeees.

Sp: Needs a special circuit to escape lava?

P: To escape reality.

Sp: Made of lava.

K: The TARDIS had a damaged fluid link. That was mentioned at the beginning of The Dominators. The mercury fluid link first established back in The Daleks. So the TARDIS couldn’t just take off until they fixed it. But the emergency dohicky would work with a damaged link…. Wait a minute. Why didn’t they use the emergency thingy in The Daleks?

H: Because it’s TOO perilous.

Sp: And it’s only Daleks. Doc’s seen like a billion of ‘em.

K: Not at that point.

Sp: He will have going to have been. Anywho, my objection is not about propulsion. It’s about hull integrity. The TARDIS can withstand travel in space and time.

R: It’s should definitely be able to withstand attack by an ice cream monster.

H: Well, the Doctor did say he believed it would be okay. The companions were.. well Jamie was the seriously panicky one.

Cz: If the TARDIS is bigger on the inside and there’s NOTHING on the outside, shouldn’t it explode.

H: Huh?

Cz: Because it’s nowhere. And it’s nothing. It’s like the opposite of the TARDIS. The TARDIS has more on the inside and outside there’s less. Isn’t it like infinite?

Sp: No, it’s just dimensionally perverted.

H: Dimensionally transcendental.

Sp: Tomato, potato. Alright, I’ll say it. Jamie was SUPER handsy this week. And his hands are HUGE! I mean, when the guy with the biggest issues with personal space in the room is the one to point this out…

H: No argument here.

Sp: Yeah. He was invading personal space all over the place. He was filling all that nothing with invading personal space.

P: With his giant hands.

K: I certainly wasn’t big on the shoulder grabbing, but if I was Zoe I’d totally be holding his hand out there in the nothing just to keep track of him.

A: Yeah. That one scene where you couldn’t see their feet Zoe was in the background and Jamie was in the foreground and they weren’t looking at each other, I half expected Zoe to keep receding and vanish.

P: A little forced perspective there. There was a whole lot of sound in this episode and they didn’t go well with each other, in my opinion.

E: Well, they had to make up for the lack of visuals somehow.

H: I think that the “not going well together” was an intentional choice, though.

P: Yes, I agree. Each one represented their own unique thing. And that made them not play well with each other. Pun intended.

K: <eyeroll>

H: I think that just added to the disturbing feeling that they were trying to create.

Sp: Disorienting.

H: Yes, thank you. Disorienting.

Sp: Not Patrick’s best work. <ducks>

H: Well. Um… As I pointed out last story, for most of us in the US all we had were most of these season six stories.

Cz: This one must have been awesome.

H: Actually, this one was probably my favorite of the season six stories that we had.

K: Only because of Zoe’s outfit.

H: Anyway. Again, this was more of our introduction to Troughton’s work. Until I started watching recons and orphan episodes, this was probably my favorite Troughton story because there was so little of it I had seen. So it’s by no means his best work, but it really does give you a feel for his Doctor in a way that the Dominators really didn’t. But that’s an assessment of this whole story, not just this first episode. It’s hard for me to just separate out this first episode.

K: It’s been long enough since I’ve see The Mind Robber that I can just separate out this first episode, and I gotta agree with Spoo. I did like his “I will fight you” moments, but the rest was really over the top.

Sp: Just as the Historian is having a hard time separating the whole story from just this episode, I think this stuck out to me as a subpar performance for Troughton because A) He had so little to work with and B) We’ve seen him show off what a great physical actor he is in so many other stories that 20 minutes of him fluttering his hands in front of his face and making the universal sign for “I has a headache” just didn’t grab me.

<off topic a bit… grabby hands is now the international sign for Jamie, apparently.>

H: Are we at final thoughts now?

Sp: Yes.

E: I had a feeling you were going to start with me. This was a really creative episode that really screwed with my head, as evident with my first comment.

H: Okay.

E: We did point out earlier that we did have a lot of sound, which makes up for the nothingness outside of the TARDIS. Which is clearly a giant white, empty room. Although I have to point out, at one point, when Jamie was calling out to Zoe… I don’t know. It sounded really awkward. It was just something I caught. My general thought on this episode, otherwise, can generally be summed up as “What the?” I have to say, I am looking forward to more mind screw from this story. This is fun so far.

A: Jamie has really nice teeth.

<laughter>

E: Yeah, he just kind of.. up on the monitor <blissful smile>

A: I enjoyed this story. I found it creepy. And the ending was very tense.

P: I liked the set. If you didn’t notice they made a mistake at one point, outside the ship you could see some sort of square thing that was not there later. I am not convinced they’re in the TARDIS, but that they are still in the world of the dream.

H: I’m going to take a poll when we finish the story. We’ll talk about this when we finish the fifth episode or the first episode of the following story.

P: I bet it was fun for the actors to really let loose with the emotions. Although someone’s throat must be hurting. Sort of a primal scream moment was given and appreciated.

H: Ah, Wendy Padbury screams.

P: It sort of reminds me of college during finals week.

R: Zoe was taking her stupid pills this week. I think the science of the curtain wearing morons last week has rubbed off on her. “I saw it, therefore it must be there. QED”

H: It’s that she was being lured. Clearly there was more going on that just the visuals.

Cz: She said she knew that it wasn’t real, but that it felt real.

K: It’s a “Mind Robber” It was in the title.

Sp: They didn’t see the title card.

Cz: They were doing a pretty good job of not going crazy, but eventually they failed their will save.

R: If you have to keep rolling to save over and over again eventually you have to roll a 1.

Cz: Well, the Doctor rolled a 20. Maybe… he only thought he rolled a 20 though.

R: I think the Doctor gets to take 10 on his will saves, or something.

K: We are such nerds.

R: And proud, damn it!

P: I liked the touch of the characters and anything that was outside turning white.

Sp: Buy the toy!

R: Yeah. The white TARDIS was really cool, actually.

P: I still haven’t figured out what was buzzing around inside the TARDIS or if there was actually something there. But that mystery will tantalize me until next week.

H: That was, in fact, a hell of a cliff hanger.

R: Literally.

Several people: Ho ho ho ho!

H: But… they weren’t hanging off a cliff. And they weren’t going to hell.. there’s nothing that lit… never mind.

Cz: Have we talked about the robots yet? I don’t remember what they looked like because all I could remember was the satellite dish coming out of their chest.

R: <robot voice> “My eyes are up here, jerk!”

<laughter>

Cz: But I particularly liked the white TARDIS, the white Jamie and the female of the week. That was quite the mind screw. I await for next week.

K: My gosh, Cz’s really joined the Project now that the pictures move.

Cz: My kind of episode.

Sp: I went to a liberal arts college, I’ve seen my share of black box theater. Little did I know that that experience then was to prepare me for this experience now. I see what they were trying to do this week, and it had the benefit of not having been tried before. There’s fun.

H: Ronelyn?

R: <Red Dwarf’s Kryten voice> “We can’t see anything. And you know why we can’t see anything? Because there are NO SETS to see!”

<laughter>

R: <Zoe voice> “The city. My home!” <Zoe Batman voice> “I know her every inch!”

<laughter>

H: What did you think of the episode?

R: I’ve got one more.

H: Okay.

R: “No! Bad horse dream!”

<laughter>

Sp: Please tell me I was not the only person in the room who, after Jamie clumsily, typically, in his own way, described what a fricken unicorn looks like, really expected to cut away to the Doctor looking like a unicorn.

P: He was rubbing his head.

E: I honestly expected there to be a unicorn sitting there in the TARDIS.

P: Nope, budget cuts.

E: Unicorns are too expensive these days. Too hard to find.

H: Ronelyn, what did you actually think of the episode?

Sp: You can’t stall forever, girl.

R: Hehehe. Doesn’t I?

<laughter>

R: Okay fine.

P: She’s got nothin’.

R: Well, the episode had nothin. Of the various kind of time wasting filler episodes that they have had on this show, this is definitely the most experimental. But I have to say, without irony, there really wasn’t much there, there.

P: I disagree.

H: Care to explain?

P: What made Hitchcock great was that he made horror without showing you the horror. Because it was the journey within the mind that is felt more than you see on the screen. But in this episode they are attempting, and I think mostly succeeding, in driving a story based on perception of sound and reactions of actors.

R: Well, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

P: I’m not glad that you did not.

K: My turn? I mentioned this earlier but didn’t type it up… I first saw this story as a kid, when I was about maybe 10 years old. And it frustrated me because, as from the perspective of a kid, I could tell that everyone… Jamie, Zoe, the Doctor, the TARDIS, the robots, were all within 30 feet of each other. So I was all like “Turn around! It’s right there! The TARDIS is right there! The Doctor is right there.”

H: Grabby hands are right there! No!

K: Anyway. As an adult I see what they’re actually doing. But I still can’t get over that silliness resulting from the tiny set and strange visuals. I did like what they were trying to do, but I think they feel short from achieving it well.

Sp: Reach… grasp.

K: Yes.

P: I, of course, was arguing “what are they breathing? What are they standing on?”

K: But breathing and gravity isn’t important when you’re a kid. Distance and visuals however, are.

Cz: You guys need to expand your imaginations. I was totally with this episode.

K: And I’m just saying that my experience was colored by my first experience of seeing it.

H: I fall more in the Photobug and Cz camp. But I also have to admit that my experience is colored by earlier viewings of this story. I was a little bit older when I saw it, I think. And I thought it was awesome then. And I just really love this episode now. I hope you guys like the rest of the story as well.

And, as I always say, there you have it! Confidentially, I have to write these intros and outros before we actually watch the episode (to make posting easier for Ketina), so I have absolutely no idea how the preceding discussion went. But I certainly hope you enjoyed it! Next week, things get a bit Completely different than this week, so I’ll look forward to seeing our Project members comments then too. Speaking of which, I’d love to see YOUR comments on this story. What did you think of the episode? Join in on our conversation…so I can have comments come in that aren’t simply spam for me to delete! Anyway, see you next week. Until then, I remain

THE HISTORIAN

NEXT WEEK: THE MIND ROBBER EPISODE 2


One Response to 1- The Mind Robber

  1. Historian,

    If you want to embed links feel free. Just do it yourself please. I’m having a difficult enough time getting the line spacing / white space correct with Word Press’s new editor. I hope to have the most recent two posts fixed soon, folks.

    -Ketina