“The Mind Robber” is an adventure of the sixth season of “Doctor Who” classic series which aired in 1968. It follows “The Dominators” and it’s a five parts adventure written by Peter Ling and directed by David Maloney.
The lava from a volcanic eruption buries the Tardis, causing some damage. The Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) is forced to use the emergency unit to dematerialize it, but the result is that they’re also transported out of reality itself.
When the Tardis lands in a white void, Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) are lured outside and for them it’s the beginning of a strange adventure among literary, fairy tale and comic characters but also mythological creatures while the Tardis gets blown into pieces.
This DVD have few extras but two of them are long. There are typical contents such as production subtitles and a gallery of pictures from this adventure.
There are comments in the adventure alternative audio track by protagonists Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury, actor Hamish Wilson and director David Maloney.
The Fact of Fiction – The Making of The Mind Robber. A 30+ minute documentary on the production of this adventure.
Highlander – The Jamie McCrimmon Story. Actor Frazer Hines recalls his portrayal of Jamie and his work after leaving “Doctor Who” in this 20+ minute documentary.
Basil Bush. A 1975 sketch in which the Yeti also appears.
There is also an “Easter egg” but it’s not particularly interesting.
The previous adventure, “The Dominators”, was supposed to be 6 episodes long but at the last moment it was shortened to 5 because they didn’t have enough material. “The Mind Robber” was supposed to be 4 episodes long but it was decided to add the canceled episode to this adventure. As a consequence, script editor Derrick Sherwin rewrote its beginning and turned it into a full episode.
Because of the always limited budgets, there was the need to create the first episode using the existing sets adding as little as possible. The white robots were made for an episode of the anthology series “Out of the Unknown” and were recycled for this adventure. Another consequence of the restructuring of “The Mind Robber” was that the episodes were some minutes shorter than normal and the fifth episode is only about 18 minutes long, the shortest in “Doctor Who” history.
During filming, actor Frazer Hines contracted chicken pox and couldn’t be present in the second episode. Luckily, that kind of story made it possible to modify the script to have Jamie literally change his face and in the second episode he was played by Hamish Wilson.
Despite those problems and “Doctor Who” production limitations in the ’60s, the result was fantastic. “The Mind Robber” is a unique adventure with its surreal story. In the third season they already produced the adventure “The Celestial Toymaker” but “The Mind Robber” goes far beyond in imagination.
In this adventure there’s not a kind of game that sees the Doctor and his companions opposed to the intelligence who controls a sort of separate realm. Instead, there’s a non-place where the apparent reality is fluid, where characters and creatures from myths, fairy tales, literature and even comics appear. The Doctor must try to understand the rules but also who controls everything and what’s their purpose.
All those elements are combined in “The Mind Robber” in an excellent manner, creating an intriguing story full of literary references, especially from Gulliver, who speaks using only quotes from his adventures.
Apart from the first episode, which is slow in the manner typical of the adventures of the ’60s, in “The Mind Robber” the pace is rather fast. The Doctor and his companions go through various scenarios in which there are dramatic moments but also comedic ones. Both the regular and the guest cast offer high level performances. Many fans remember “The Mind Robber” for Zoe’s “B side” shown while she’s wearing a casuit and holds on tight to the Tardis console 😀 but there are several memorable moments.
“The Mind Robber” is one of the experiments that were tried during the first “Doctor Who” seasons but it wasn’t particularly appreciated by BBC executives so adventures of that kind weren’t produced anymore. Instead, its reputation among fans is very high and it’s become a great “Doctor Who” classic.
Unfortunately, today we have just a few Second Doctor’s complete adventures so in general it’s always worth buying the DVDs that contain them. In “The Mind Robber” case, the adventure is terrific and the DVD contains a couple of really good extras so more than ever I recommend buying it.