Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Second Doctor Revisited: "The Mind Robber"

As TJ and I work through Classic Doctor Who and while we wait for the Fifteenth Doctor’s first season, I still have plenty of thoughts about the Second Doctor’s era to ramble on about. So for this installment of revisiting the Doctor’s stories, I’m talking about “The Mind Roober”. 

So like many Classic Who stories, the first episode was quite slow. Par for the course with Classic Who, but I can’t imagine being pulled into the story like this back in the 1960s. I feel like I have to binge the whole 2-10 episodes (depending on the story) for it to hold my attention. It’s one of the reasons I’m glad Doctor Who is 40-60 minutes in Modern Who. It’s more like a mini-movie every episode. 

I just had to chuckle at the temporary recasting of Jamie in the land of fiction. Looking into it, Frazer Hines had contracted chicken pox from his nephew, so they had to continue the story without him. What a clever way to keep the show moving along even without the full cast present. Reminds me of when William Hartnell was on vacation so they used a silent stand-in for his hand during “The Celestial Toymaker”. Doctor Who has always kind of been clever about how to use their cast to work around illness and the actors’ personal lives. 

Being the father of little children, the land of fiction reminded me of my toddler’s imaginative play (also reminded me of fan fiction I’ve written too, I guess). To whatever extent, what geek wouldn’t want to put themselves in the middle of their favorite stories, even for a moment. It makes me wonder which works of fiction I might encounter if I were pulled in like the Doctor and his TARDIS team.

This would have meant nothing to viewers back when the story first came out, but every time there was a mention of “the intelligence” or “the master” I had to stop myself. For viewers of Modern Who (or anyone who has seen later Classic Who after this point), references to “intelligence” or “master” will likely bring to mind a couple of recurring Doctor Who villains. Even having seen this story before, I had to stop and check the TARDIS wiki to make sure I hadn’t forgotten a Great Intelligence or Master story.

Let’s close out these ramblings with a question for you guys. Which books/stories/movies do you think would be included if this story had been done with one of the modern Doctors? The first things that come to my mind are some kind of sitcom spoof, Harry Potter, or a generic superhero (I suppose they had that in this episode).

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