Saturday, 14 January 2012

418 The Brain of Morbius Part One

EPISODE: The Brain of Morbius Part One
TRANSMITTED: 03 January 1976
WRITER: Robin Bland (pseudonym for Terrance Dicks and Robert Holmes)
DIRECTOR: Christopher Barry
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Brain Of Morbius

A ship has crashed on a barren planet and it's insectoid occupant drags it's body across the rocks only to be brutally murdered by a man with a hook for a hand who takes it's head. Condo, the servant, takes the head to his master Solon who tells him it won't do and he needs someone warm blooded with a central nervous system. The Tardis materialises on the planet with the Doctor emerging and shouting at the Time Lords who he believes have dragged them off course to do some dirty work for them. Sarah finds the crashed ship and when a bolt of lightening illuminates the landscape she sees many more. The Doctor obstinately refuses to investigate and sits playing with his yo-yo until he hears Sarah scream when she finds the headless corpse. The Doctor recognises the star patterns as being close to where he was born. Seeing a castle on the horizon they make for it. Solon is experimenting on the insect head when the lightening takes his power out. Elsewhere a group of women have noticed the Doctor & Sarah's arrival and believe they have come to take the elixir of life, a substance they guard which is no longer being produced from the flame of life which is dying. They have shared the elixir with the Time Lords and believe that the Time Lords have come to steal that little which remains. Solon finds Condo who has been looking for his missing arm which Solon has promised to repair. A bell sounds announcing visitors as the Doctor & Sarah arrive. Solon immediately is drawn to the Doctor's head. He tells them that they are on Karn, a name the Doctor recognises. One of the head statues in the room catches the Doctor's attention which he thinks he recognises. They are bought wine by Condo, who Solon explains he rescued from a crashed Drahvidan starship. The sisterhood form a chanting circle, locate the Tardis and transport it to their sanctuary. They recognise it as a Tardis, the vessel of the Time Lords. They form a circle again and attempt to locate the Doctor. The Doctor remembers that Solon is neuro scientist who disappeared, rumoured to have joined the cult of Morbius. A wind sweeps through the castle throwing the doors open and revealing the statue. The Doctor wonders if the Sisterhood of Karn are responsible and recognises the bust as being that of Morbius, a despicable Time Lord criminal before both he & Sarah collapse drugged by the wine. Solon plans his operation using the Doctor's head and orders Sarah's death but Condo hesitates. Before he can complete the task he's ordered to take the Doctor to the laboratory. Solon discovers from the Doctor's secondary cardiovascular system that he is a Time Lord. Sarah explores the castle but as Solon & Condo repair the generators the Doctor is teleported away by the sisterhood. Sarah finds the lab but while searching for the Doctor discovers a hideous headless creature made from an assortment of body parts......

Huzzah! It's Doctor Who does Frankenstein with all the trimmings: a mad scientist, a castle, a deformed servant, a castle and even lightening everywhere. Very atmospheric and top stuff. Yes that's a Mutant costume in the opening moments of the show, as later confirmed by the Doctor. Our old friend John Scott Martin is inside it (apparently the character is named Kriz). We also get references to the Time Lords and the Drahvidans, as seen in the story Galaxy Four!

So "Robin Bland". Terrance Dicks wrote the first draft of this story with Morbius having crashed on the planet and a robot trying to rebuild him using the parts he found there. He then went away on holiday as which point Philip Hinchcliffe became worried about realising the robot for the screen so had Robert Holmes rewrite the story. Terrance Dicks read the revised scripts on his return from holiday and disagreed with the changes arguing that while you could understand a robot coming up with this patchwork body surely the galaxy's greatest neurosurgeon could do better. He's got a point: why doesn't Solon immediately want to transfer Morbius' head into the Doctor's body? Or, for that matter, Condo's? So Dicks ordered Holmes to take his name off the script and replace it with "some bland pseudonym". Holmes took him at his word and came up with the writer's name that this story went out under.

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