Friday, 28 September 2018

217 The Mind Robber: Episode Three

EPISODE: The Mind Robber: Episode Three
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 28 September 1968
WRITER: Peter Ling
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Derrick Sherwin
PRODUCER: Peter Bryant
RATINGS: 7.2 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The Mind Robber

"What are we doing here? What do they want with us?"

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....

3y 3z

Another series of encounters with familiar figures enables the Doctor to get an idea of what's going on here. First they run into a figure from Greek mythology:

ZOE: Doctor, it's moving. It's coming closer! It's going to attack.
DOCTOR: But Zoe, it's a legend. Another mythical beast, like the unicorn.
ZOE: But it's there!
DOCTOR: No! The Minotaur is a mythical beast. Say it.
ZOE: The Minotaur is a mythical beast. It doesn't exist.
3h Doctor Zoe 3g Minotaur

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.

Then we meet again the stranger we saw last episode:

DOCTOR: Of course. This, er, this person who controls this place, the Master?
STRANGER: The Master, yes.
DOCTOR: Have you seen him?
STRANGER: Upon occasion he has been pleased to grant me an audience.
DOCTOR: Where might I find him?
STRANGER: The Master's palace is no ordinary edifice, but a citadel, a walled town at the top of a hill or cliff, which is reckoned the highest in the kingdom.
DOCTOR: Yes, now I think I understand. May I ask, sir, where you come from? Would it not be Nottingham?
STRANGER: My father had a small estate in Nottingham, sir. I was the third of five sons. He sent me to Emmanuel College in Cambridge at fourteen years old, where I applied myself close to my studies, learning navigation and other parts of the mathematics
DOCTOR: Useful for those who intend to travel
DOCTOR + STRANGER: As I always believed it would someday or other, my fortune to do.
DOCTOR: Now I know who you are, sir. Your name is Lemuel Gulliver.
GULLIVER: Your servant.

3c Doctor Zoe 3d Gulliver

ZOE: Gulliver?
DOCTOR: Yes, yes. Oh, I'm looking forward to a long talk with you one of these days.
GULLIVER: I should like that above all things, but it would not be proper at this juncture to trouble you with the particulars of my adventures.
DOCTOR: Oh, I wouldn't dream of detaining you.
GULLIVER: Having been condemned by nature and fortune to a restless and active life, I must take my leave of you. Farewell.
DOCTOR: Farewell.

ZOE: Why does he talk in such an extraordinary way?
DOCTOR: Well, he can only speak the words that Dean Swift gave him to say.

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 Gulliver in Lilliput, I can't recall any of it so the hints dropped in the previous episode would have been lost on me!
ZOE: But that's ridiculous. I mean, there never was such a person as Gulliver. He's a fictional character.
DOCTOR: Of course he is. Don't you understand? This world that we've tumbled into is a world of fiction. Unicorns, Minotaur, Gulliver's travels, they're all alive here.
ZOE: Then what are we doing here? What do they want with us?
DOCTOR: I'm not sure I understand that yet.
The episode's backbone is built on having the fictional characters interact with the Tardis crew. We meet two more before the episode is out: Princess Rapunzel, from the children's story that Jamie wouldn't have heard of, played Christine Pirie and another figure from Greek Mythology the Medusa played by Sue Pulford.

3a Rapunzel 3b Medusa

It's obvious this all being played out for the mysterious Master's amusement but Jamie's discovery at the end adds an extra level of weirdness as he finds the Doctor & Zoe's story being written in front of him by a machine!

3i Machine 3j Script

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.

3e Location 3f Location

Mr Bignell's book also usefully tells me that the only other actor needed on location was Jamie actor Fraser Hines' brother Ian Hines who played the Clockwork soldier. We saw him previously in The Enemy of the World episodes 2 & 3 as a Central European Guard.

3l 3k

One of the other clockwork soldiers is Richard Ireson who'll be back in the Krotons as Axus and can be seen heard in Star Cops:Conversations with the Dead as the voice of Mike. A third soldier is played by Paul Alexander who although he's not popped up in anything I own on DVD has had a long and regular TV career.

There's quite a bit packed into this episode so it's a surprise to discover that it's only 19m29s long, which makes it the shortest episode of Doctor Who so far, beating the previous shortest time of 20:29 held by Fury from the Deep episode 3 and becoming the first sub 20 minute episode of Doctor Who.

Change Episode # Episode Name Time
1 1 An Unearthly Child 1 25:55
2 2 An Unearthly Child 2 23:24
3 12 The Edge of Destruction 1 22:24
4 14 Marco Polo 1 22:11
5 69 The Space Museum 2 22:00
6 191 The Enemy of the World 6 21:41
7 200 Fury from the Deep 3 20:29
8 217 The Mind Robber 3 19:29

The record will change hands 2 more times this story!

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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