Say Something Nice – Doctor Who: The Mind Robber

In an effort to find something quick that can be written as part of Daily Doctor Who, we are continuing with Say Something Nice, where I look back at each of the Doctor Who stories and pull out one or two cool things about it.

(Daily Doctor Who #355)

Read the previous entry here. Today, we continue with the second story of the show’s sixth season…

The Mind Robber

The story stars Patrick Troughton as the Doctor and Frazer Hines as Jamie McCrimmon, and Wendy Padbury as new companion Zoe Herriot. For parts of two episodes, Hamish Wilson takes over the role of Jamie due to Frazer Hines’ being unwell.

The serial is written by Peter Ling (although he had little to do with the first episode, which was put together by the production team), and directed by David Maloney.

Say Something Nice…

(Named for Missy–aka the Master–and her catchphrase from her first full appearance in Dark Water).

The whole story is full of imagination and zaniness and fun. Having Jamie temporarily played by another actor is a brilliant solution to Frazer Hines’ unavailability, and it also gives the opportunity for some very fun interaction between the Doctor and Zoe–both Patrick Troughton and Wendy Padbury are delightful throughout the story. The idea that Gulliver can only speak in the words that were given to him by his author is also very clever.

But because we’re equal-opportunity fans here, we’re not going to only be sycophantically complimentary.

You craven-hearted spineless poltroon!

(Another cry from the Master, but not exactly a catch-phrase, this time from The Deadly Assassin)

The first episode was added to the story late in the process, which is why it basically doesn’t employ any sets beyond the TARDIS and just a bit white void space. Many people consider it to be a masterpiece but I have always found it to be a little duller than the rest. Zoe doing Mrs. Peel-style martial arts against the Karkus is a bit hard to believe. The fact that what ultimately is going on in the story is left rather ambiguous (with the TARDIS splitting apart and then back together again at the end…is it all in the Doctor’s imagination, etc) is unnecessary, I believe, and just a bit distracting at the end.

Catch you next time!

4 thoughts on “Say Something Nice – Doctor Who: The Mind Robber

  1. My first encounter with a reality-warping story. It blew me away.
    I also liked the touch that Zoey’s era has its own pop culture — a lot of TV just assumes everyone’ll keep reading 20th century stuff.

  2. That’s a good point, about how Zoe has pop-culture touchstones that she really likes. I hadn’t thought about that but I agree it’s a nice touch.

  3. If you think The Mind Robber was reality-warping for a Doctor Who story, wait until you see Flux 3: Once Upon Time.

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