Monday 27 June 2011

217 The Mind Robber: Episode Three

EPISODE: The Mind Robber: Episode Three
TRANSMITTED: 28 September 1968
WRITER: Peter Ling
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Derrick Sherwin
PRODUCER: Peter Bryant
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The Mind Robber

The Doctor gets his friends to believe that the unicorn doesn't exist and it vanishes. "The Master" of the land watches them. They find a house, but the human soldier is there guarding it and he shoots Jamie who once again becomes a picture with no face. This time the Doctor solves the jigsaw puzzle correctly and puts the right face back on Jamie. They find themselves in a maze with a ball of twine that Jamie unwinds to mark their tracks. Zoe thinks she has solved the maze using an arithmetic progression but instead takes her and the Doctor to middle of maze, filled with bones. They hear a roaring sound as the Minotaur steps out the shadows. Jamie has run out of twine and lagged behind. He's attacked by one of the toys soldiers which he delays by throwing his jacket over the light on it's head blinding it's camera. The Doctor & Zoe the Minotaur's existence and it, like the Unicorn, vanishes. Jamie has disappeared: Zoe finds his jacket. The Stranger turns up, he hasn't seen him but says he has had audiences with the master. The Doctor recognises him as Lemuel Gulliver: he's been peaking in dialogue the characters uses from the book Gulliver's Travels. Jamie climbs a cliff to escape from the toy soldier. He's thrown a rope to climb up which turns out to by the hair of Rapunzel, who is a little disappointed to find he's not a prince. Jamie climbs in window and finds himself in a room filled with technology: books are displayed on a screen and a reading of a children's book plays. He discovers a device printing out the Doctor & Zoe's story: They encounter Medusa in the caves. The Doctor denies Medusa's existence as her snakes writhe as she approaches them....

The episode's backbone is built on having the fictional characters interact with the Tardis crew. It's obvious this all being played out for the Master's amusement. I like the device of having Gulliver only speak in lines from the book but having only read Gulliver's Travels once (inspired by the Barry Letts/Terrance Dicks classic serial adaptation) I can't recall any of it so the hints dropped in the previous episode would have been lost on me. Although the Doctor doesn't know it yet the Minotaur does exist and he'll meet him in the Time Monster in a few years time. The Minotaur has also inspired an entire race of Doctor Who monsters, the Nimon.

While watching this episode I thought that the rocks Jamie was clambering up looked a little familiar.... So I got out Richard Bignell's Doctor Who on Location and discovered that this sequence was filmed at Harrison's Rocks in
Birchden Wood near Groombridge, East Sussex
. The same location with it's distinctive rock formation also appears in Castrovalva which I've seen a few more times than Mind Robber and was where I recognised them from.

This was the last episode for which Telesnaps were produced for, which we used extensively in the last two seasons when a story was missing from the archives. Although there's no documented reason why this was the last episode to be recorded in this manner we know that John Cura died of cancer in April 1969 so we can only assume that his illness prevented him working from this point onwards.

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