?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
louisedennis
24 March 2019 @ 08:07 pm
The Mind Robber occupies a story-telling space with The Celestial Toymaker that is somewhat unique in Doctor Who. While there have been many "oddball" episodes since, there is something about these two stories with their overt invocation of other fictional characters/children's games as real within the story that makes them seem far more like each other than like anything else in Doctor Who canon. The Celestial Toymaker is frankly rather dull (although I reserve the right to change my opinion should the missing episodes ever be found), The Mind Robber on the other hand is quite highly regarded in Who fandom.

I'm sure I've seen The Mind Robber before and I've certainly read the novelisation but not a great deal of it rang any bells on this rewatch. The things I'd particularly recalled - that Gulliver uses only dialogue from Swift, that the trees in the forest are made out of words - didn't somehow seem as clever in situ as they were in my memory, though like all clever details the effect is undeniably reduced when you encounter it a second time.

The story was beset by production problems. Most notably the first episode had to be invented from whole cloth with no sets very late in the day. The result, while undeniably impressive under the circumstances, doesn't actually make a lot of sense and in retrospect feels very much like the filler that it is. Then Frazer Hines came down with chickenpox and had to be replaced for an episode (something that would have been difficult in most other stories but works in this context where the Doctor is set the task of assembling Jamie's face and gets it wrong).

All in all you've got a clever and inventive script with yet further inventiveness being used to offset the last minute problems. It is easy to see why fandom likes this.

On the other hand I felt it failed to really come to life. I'm not sure if this was over-high expectations or the very theatrical nature of a lot of the sets or just one of those things where some days, some stories don't particularly do it for you.

After all it has a truly impressive animated medusa, Zoe (rather improbably) demonstrating her martial arts skills, and the companions getting trapped in a giant book - really what more could you want from a Doctor Who story?

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/565622.html.