In the classic Doctor Who serial “The Mind Robber,” in order to escape the destruction of the TARDIS, the Doctor and his two companions end up in a strange world where fictional characters seem very, very real. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.
APPARENTLY I RIPPED OFF DOCTOR WHO AND I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW IT.
Ok, so I really wanted to do NaNoWriMo in 2010, but since November coincided with the end of Mark Reads Harry Potter, my trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the launch of my fine new communities, suffice to say…I was busy. Really busy. Painfully busy. I did manage, however, to get about 10,000 words down on my novel. I WAS GOING TO WRITE A NOVEL!
Oh, I was so excited. I worried that my concept was too witty for its own good, that it was a giant gimmick, but it was such a good idea that it wasn’t hard to reach a thousand words that first night. I managed to put time aside a couple times a week, but by the time the end of November rolled around, I wasn’t done. That’s ok. I’d done so much else that I didn’t really bother me.
Inspired by the the final review I wrote for the Harry Potter series, I SWEAR TO YOU that my book was about a group of people accidentally transported to a world where fictional characters were real beings who were forced to live out their lives with only what their authors had given them. They were entirely controlled in language, behavior, personality, etc., by what had been written. Now, the details were different and what I planned for my outcome was not at all the same as “The Mind Robber,” but JESUS FUCKING CHRIST. NOT FAIR. Well, definitely not writing that book.
But you know why? Not because the concept is so similar, but because the execution of this story is SO GOOD. Like, now my story completely pales in comparison because I LIKE THIS ONE SO MUCH MORE. goddamn it how does this shit happen.
Ok. “The Mind Robber.” For a show filmed in 1968, I was shocked at the quality of the recording. “The Caves of Androzani” seemed to be in a much worse condition than this serial. On top of that, you can tell that the way that this particular serial was filmed is completely different from what we’re used to. First of all, their faces! The camera constantly framed a single face! This is not a complaint, by the way, because I actually felt that this episode was very intimate and small in size. In fact, I’d say most of this episode utilized claustrophobic spaces and small sets incredibly well.
Patrick Troughton is a FANTASTIC DOCTOR. I’ve only spent two serials with him, but I love his personality. He’s witty, kind, and seems to always be a billion steps ahead of everyone. This serial made me want to sit down and watch as much as the second Doctor as humanly possibly, but I don’t have a TARDIS so I can’t do such things. 🙁 guys where is my TARDIS 🙁 🙁
We also get a double dose of companions, too, in Zoey (Wendy Padbury) and Jaime (Frazer Hines). From what little I was able to glean from “The Mind Robber” was that this trio worked together extremely well. The chemistry between them was completely undeniable. Even for 1968, the dialogue moved quickly, was snappy, and laced with a lot of sarcastic humor. BASICALLY I LOVED IT. I don’t even really feel the need to point out what felt out of place in terms of cultural references or what didn’t age that well. I think a lot of that goes towards Derrick Sherwin and Peter Ling for writing such a fascinating story.
“The Mind Robber” is fairly eerie right from the beginning, from the whiteout images in the first part, to Medusa’s creepy fucking arm, to the hilariously unsettling concept of getting closed into a book and made “fiction.” I think it all comes to a rather terrifying moment when all those children surround the Doctor after he steps into the “fake” TARDIS and seriously….I don’t care that this episode is over forty years old. That is fucking scary as shit.
In all honesty, though, this episode is simply magical. It’s a trip through a land unlike anything I’ve seen before. (Am I correct in stating that it doesn’t exist in time or space in any normal sense?) I felt there was a subtext to this story, that to many people, fiction becomes real by virtue of time. I spent four and a half years with LOST and over eight years with The X-Files. And despite that I knew it was all fictional, it was hard to separate that fact from the idea that I’d been with these “people” for so long. They were a part of my life, once a week. This episode was weirdly prophetic in that sense. Doctor Who would come to be a huge cultural icon around the world and lord knows we all sort of wish the Doctor was real.
And that’s the real beauty of fiction. It can be so transformative and moving that we so desperately wish it were real.
- One of the initial things I really enjoyed about this serial was that it presented a complex mystery that, upon figuring out, made the story even better. I thought that this world was merely reading minds and creating them based on that, but having the reveal be that The Master (not THAT Master) was creating this all by mere virtue of writing it was a great twist.
- GULLIVER WAS MY FAVORITE. He was so proper!
- The only thing that really, truly did not make sense to me was Zoe’s insistence that she had to look at Medusa. Um, NO YOU DON’T.
- JAIME’S FACE CHANGED. Hilarious. Like…in continuing with the idea that this world was fictionalized for these people, the Doctor’s world is full of puzzles and riddles. BRILLIANCE.
- Who the heck is Karkus?
- You all, I start Matt Smith’s Doctor TOMORROW. I AM SO EXCITE.