THE BRAIN OF MORBIUS

Part One

The Brain of MorbiusSue: Who’s Robin Bland?
Me: Robin Bland doesn’t exist.
Sue: Not again! So what happened this time?
Me: Robert Holmes rewrote a Terrance Dicks script and Terry told him to take his name off it. He told him to replace his credit with a bland pseudonym.
Sue: So this is a bad one, then? Was Terry ashamed of it? Is it really bland?
Me: Don’t worry, this is anything but bland.

On the planet Karn, an alien creature is crawling through some spacecraft wreckage.

Me: Do you recognise that thing?
Sue: Yes, but don’t ask me what it’s called.
Me: It’s a mutant from The Mutants.
Sue: Is this a sequel? I liked The Mutants.

The Mutt is intercepted by a man with a hook for a hand. He decapitates the creature and delivers its head to his master.

The Brain of MorbiusSue: So, cannibals, decapitations and mad scientists, eh? It’s not for kids, is it? It sounds like the synopsis for a video nasty.
Me: Do you recognise the mad scientist?
Sue: His voice is very familiar. Was he in The Mutants?
Me: No, it’s Philip Madoc.
Sue: Is he related to Ruth Madoc from Hi-de-Hi!?
Me: Ex-wife, actually. Now, can we please get back to The Brain of Morbius? Or should I switch the DVD’s production subtitles on? I’m sure they’ll cover it. They’ll probably include details of the divorce settlement in Part Four.
Sue: No, it’s all right. I’ll live.

The Doctor is furious with the Time Lords for dragging him to Karn.

Sue: He’s basically an arsey James Bond. He can be very petulant when he wants. I like the set, though. You can tell it’s a set, but it’s been nicely lit, so it’s very atmospheric. And it means we won’t be skipping between video and film all the time. I actually prefer it when they do it like this.

When it starts to rain, the Doctor and Sarah seek shelter at a nearby castle.

Sue: Have they turned on the studio’s sprinkler system?
Me: No, the rain has been superimposed over the image.
Sue: I knew that, really. I’m not stupid.

The Brain of MorbiusMeanwhile the Sisterhood of Karn are worshipping a sacred flame (sacred fire).

Sue: I love their costumes. This looks like a believable culture for a change. Like Peru crossed with Bulgaria.

Their leader, Maren, starts talking about silent gas dirigibles.

Sue: Oh! I thought she was a man. So is this a lesbian sect or what?

We learn that Solon cut Condo’s arm off, and he won’t sew it back on again until their work on Karn is finished.

Sue: Condo would work a hell of a lot faster if he had two arms. Solon didn’t think this through. He should have cut off something else instead.

When the Doctor and Sarah arrive at Solon’s castle, he’s extremely pleased to see them.

Sue: Ha! “What a magnificent head!” That’s brilliant. How did he say that line with a straight face? I bet that took a few takes.

The Brain of MorbiusCondo serves the refreshments.

Me: It’s Mrs Overall from Acorn Antiques.

Solon was a famous surgeon who left Earth under a cloud. He claims his colleagues were jealous and drove him away.

Sue: Bloody academics.

The Doctor’s drink has been poisoned and he slips into unconsciousness. Sarah, on the other hand, only pretends to be drugged.

Sue: Sarah Jane is great. She’s the perfect companion. She’s always rescuing the Doctor. Always. This is why the Doctor doesn’t travel alone – he’d run out of regenerations within a week.

Solon inspects the Doctor’s magnificent head.

Sue: Is he going to cut it off with a plastic knife? He’ll be there all night.

The Doctor is spirited away by the Sisterhood, and the episode concludes with Sarah encountering a creature without a head.

The Brain of MorbiusMe: Didn’t that do anything for you?
Sue: Not really. It was all a bit…

Sue does a passable impression of a headless monster with its arms flailing around like an idiot.

Sue: Do you know what I mean?
Me: Not really, no.
Sue: I liked the episode, though. Frankenstein in Space. It’s fine.

 

Part Two

Condo tells Solon that the Doctor has disappeared.

Sue: Condo looks like the lead singer of Showaddywaddy. If Showaddywaddy were in a zombie apocalypse, I mean.
Me: You always think the bad guy looks like the leader singer of
Showaddywaddy. What has Dave Bartram ever done to you?

Solon refers to Condo as a “chicken-brained biological disaster”.

Sue: Never get into a slanging match with Robert Holmes. He’ll wipe the floor with you. How does he come up with this stuff?

The Doctor wakes up to find himself surrounded by women.

The Brain of MorbiusSue: The Doctor thinks he’s woken in a brothel. No wonder he’s got a big smile on his face.

The Sisterhood are convinced the Time Lords have sent him to steal their precious elixir of life, so Maren sentences him to death. They tie the Doctor to a stake and build a pyre around him.

Sue: He’s going to be Joan of Arc in Space.
Me: Very funny.
Sue: Come on! I never would have made a joke like that a few months ago. You should be happy, Neil.

The Sisterhood dance around the Doctor.

Sue: It’s turned into The Wicker Man. You know, I bet Kate Bush loved this episode. I could imagine Kate Bush in one of the Sisterhood’s costumes.

But Solon interrupts the ceremony.

Sue: He wants to borrow a cup of sugar.

Solon lets it slip he wants the Doctor’s head.

Sue: Don’t burn the head! Ha! Oh, it looks like the Sisterhood already know about Solon’s head fetish and they’ve shrugged it off. How bizarre.

Solon leaves empty-handed and the Sisterhood set fire to the Doctor (Sue loves the special effect, which almost killed Tom Baker, if you can believe Cynthia Grenville).

Sue: Sometimes a lax attitude to Health and Safety can actually work in your favour.

The Brain of MorbiusSarah disguises herself as one of the Sisterhood, so she can rescue the Doctor from the sacred flame (sacred fire).

Sue: How many times does the Doctor owe Sarah his life, now?

However, as they make their escape, the light from Maren’s ring blinds Sarah. Sue reacts to this by singing Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s ‘Blinded by the Light’ (which was a hit record in 1976, pop-pickers).

Sue: I feel sorry for Condo, even if he is a cannibal who goes around decapitating plane crash survivors. But I do have a problem with the idea that people with learning difficulties, or missing limbs, are automatically serial-killing psychopaths. It’s not a good message for the kids.

Solon is taken aback when he finds the Doctor and Sarah waiting for him in his living room.

Sue: Awkward.

Solon tricks the Doctor into believing Sarah will only regain her sight if he returns to the Sisterhood and retrieves the elixir of life. And then the episode concludes with Sarah blindly walking in on Morbius, who, it turns out, is just an excitable brain in a jar.

Sue: Great cliffhanger. That was fun.

 

Part Three

The Brain of MorbiusSue: I like the way Morbius does a little brain fart when he stops talking.

Morbius is an enemy of the Time Lords.

Sue: Why do all the bad Time Lords have names that start with the letter M? Is that significant?
Me: What?
Sue: You know, Master, Monk, Morbius. I’m naturally suspicious of anyone whose name begins with the letter M, now. Thanks for that.

And then Sue stumbles into a rather large plot hole.

Sue: Why doesn’t Solon just stick the brain in Condo’s head? Why would you want to walk around looking like a dog’s dinner when you could be a hunchbacked version of the lead singer from Showaddywaddy? I know it’s not ideal, but you have take what you can get.
Me: You’re missing an even more obvious flaw. Why is Morbius obsessed with sticking the Doctor’s head on that mess of a body when he could use the Doctor’s body as well? Eh?
Sue: Oh yeah, that is a bit silly. Is this why Terry took his name off the credits?

The Brain of MorbiusNot only does Sarah successfully escape from Solon’s laboratory, she even manages to lock the door behind her.

Sue: Even when she’s blind, Sarah Jane is still better than Dodo.

However, Sarah is intercepted by Condo.

Sue: I don’t like the rapist subtext very much. We haven’t had much of that since the 1960s.

When Morbius discovers the Doctor is a Time Lord, he panics. In fact, he panics so much he agrees to wear a plastic helmet if it means he can leg it. Solon agrees, because if the Time Lords turn up, then all those years of isolation will have been for nothing.

Sue: All those years of isolation on a planet populated by hot women. Yeah, it must have been awful for you.

Solon drains the liquid from Morbius’ tank.

Sue: He could have put it over a sink first!

Solon and Condo carry the brain to the lab. Solon yells at Condo, urging him to be more careful.

Sue: If you’d sown his bloody arm back on, you wouldn’t be having this problem. Just saying.

The Brain of MorbiusCondo discovers the human arm that’s been sown onto Morbius is actually his own. He doesn’t take the news well and Solon has to shoot him in the stomach. Blood and guts fly everywhere, and Morbius’ brain hits the floor with a sickening squelch.

Sue: Bloody hell! There was no need for that.

I pause the DVD.

Sue: I can’t believe they got away with that.
Me: There were a few complaints.
Sue: I’m not surprised.
Me: So, Mary Whitehouse had a point, then?
Sue: Don’t put words into my mouth.
Me: Would you let a six-year-old child watch that at 6pm?
Sue: Probably not. No.

And this is coming from a woman who let her daughter watch The Breakfast Club when she was five.

Sue: You can’t win. If you don’t make it realistic, people will criticise it, and if you make it too realistic people still complain. They probably went a bit too far this time, though.

Sue tries to identify Morbius’ body parts.

Sue: Chewbacca must have swung through here, once. And he has the hand of Manos, too.
Me: What?
Sue: You know, the hand of Manos.
Me: I think you’ll find that it’s the claw of a Macra.
Sue: Yes, that’s what it is. It’s a complete mess.

The Brain of MorbiusSarah staggers around blindly as Morbius creeps up behind her.

Sue: Nice cliffhanger. Scary.

As the credits roll, Sue notices something.

Sue: There are a lot of Barrys in Doctor Who. Barry Letts, Christopher Barry, Barry Newbery (very nice design by the way, Barry). Why are there so many Barrys?

 

Part Four

Sue: It’s an unforgettable monster. The design is… unique.

She didn’t notice the zipper. Phew.

Me: Morbius gave me nightmares.
Sue: I bet.
Me: I would wake up in the middle of the night screaming my head off. Mum threatened to ban Doctor Who if I didn’t pull myself together. In fact I wasn’t allowed to see the next story, which traumatised me even more. I had to move to New Zealand in 1979 to see that.

Morbius goes apeshit, but Condo arrives to save the day.

Sue: How long does it take for this guy to die? He’s already been shot in the stomach four times.

Condo and Morbius wrestle to the death.

Sue: He’s still going!

Condo eventually drops dead.

The Brain of MorbiusMe: Poor Condo.
Sue: Yeah, he was nice, for a dim-witted, decapitating cannibal.
Me: There’s a great audio spin-off that features him. We should listen to it one day.

Solon pacifies Morbius with a tranquilliser dart…

Sue: Right in the arse!

The Doctor leaves Solon in peace so he can dismantle his creation.

Sue: What’s he doing? You can’t leave him! The Doctor’s just done to Solon what the baddies always do to him. He really should know better.

Sue’s right, of course, and Solon locks Sarah and the Doctor in the basement. If only the Doctor had his trusty sonic screwdriver with him.

Sue: Since when does the Doctor leave the TARDIS without his sonic? It’s all gone a bit ridiculous now.
Me: You can hear the gears crunching a bit, but stick with it, love.

Ohica offers to help the Doctor.

The Brain of MorbiusSue: Is that Josie Lawrence from EastEnders?
Me: No.
Sue: Her performance is a bit strange. It’s her eyes, I think. Every time she widens them, she looks like she’s being sarcastic.

The Doctor rustles up some cyanide gas and knocks Solon out cold.

Sue: Hang on a minute… How is this supposed to get them out of there? He just killed his only means of escape.

Morbius is unaffected by the cyanide (he has the lungs of a Birastrop, you see) and he challenges the Doctor to a mind-bending contest.

Sue: And they just happen to have a mind-bending machine. That’s handy.

The contest begins.

Sue: Oh look, ex-Doctors. I like it when you see ex-Doctors.

Then…

Sue: Who the hell is that?

And then…

Sue: Is it Kenneth Branagh?

Morbius wins the contest and the Doctor collapses. I pause the DVD.

The Brain of MorbiusMe: So what just happened?
Sue: Well, if Morbius won the contest, they must have been the Doctor’s faces. So does this mean William Hartnell wasn’t the first Doctor?
Me: That was the intention, I believe. But it also contradicts everything that comes later.
Sue: Yeah, but that hasn’t happened yet, so this is correct right now, which means Matt Smith is the 17th Doctor, or something like that. So that’s interesting.
Me: Only if you’re completely insane.
Sue: Of course, they could be Morbius’ faces, I suppose.
Me: Yes, let’s go with that theory instead.
Sue: I’m not really bothered either way, to be honest. But someone should probably get Kenneth Branagh on the phone to discuss a prequel.

The Sisterhood throw Morbius off a cliff. He falls straight into the camera, but Sue decides to ignore this.

Sue: The Doctor didn’t save the day. In fact, he made a right pig’s ear of it. He did persuade an old woman to die, though, so it wasn’t a completely wasted journey. But it definitely wasn’t his finest hour, and I’d be surprised if the Time Lords sent him on another mission after that. Maybe that was the Doctor’s plan all along?

 

The Score

Sue: I liked that. Some of the dialogue was priceless. The performances were really strong, too, and I loved the sets. The plot was a bit mad in places, and the direction could have been a lot better, but it didn’t outstay its welcome and I enjoyed the story’s atmosphere.

8/10

Me: Go on, give it a nine.
Sue: No.
Me: Please? It’s The Brain of Morbius.
Sue: It isn’t worth a nine. I’m sorry, Neil. The plot let it down. Maybe Terry was right to take his name off it. Now shut up before I change my mind and give it a seven.

 

93

Comments

  1. Lewis Christian  May 7, 2012

    “I like the way Morbius does a little brain fart when he finishes talking.”

    News just in! Series 7, episode 6 will be called ‘The Brain Farts of Morbius’.

    • Lewis Christian  May 7, 2012

      Episode 7 will be a sequel, ‘The (Many) Barrys of Morbius’.

  2. John S. Hall  May 7, 2012

    Wot, no lurve for Stuart Fell’s declamatory hand-acting as Chop-Suey the Galactic Emperor??! 😉

  3. Lewis Christian  May 7, 2012

    I’m with Sue on this, though I’d probably give it a 9.

    I’m glad you questioned her on the extra faces; it’s quite cool that you’ve started pausing and just outright asking her opinion like that. I can’t wait for her thoughts on the next one!

    • robert dick  May 8, 2012

      I think he always was pausing, I think he just makes sure he points it out now as some people were giving him a hard time.

  4. Zestray Lo  May 7, 2012

    I never liked this one quite as much as everyone else, I must admit. Frankeinstein in space just seems a little too easy… never really bought into the ones that “do” another story pretty much wholesale. It’s fine, but I never got the classic status.

  5. Alex Wilcock  May 7, 2012

    Ah, back to Sue’s Hinchcliffe / Holmes reaction: “cannibals, decapitations and mad scientists, eh? It’s not for kids, is it? It sounds like the synopsis for a video nasty.”
    Why I loved it as a kid, of course. That and it being the first one I ever saw on a colour telly, because I was in hospital. Just the thing to make you warm to surgeons, was this.
    “Would you let a six year-old child watch that at 6pm?”
    I was four. It did me no end of good. Grown-ups are just too fussy. I have to remember that with our nephews and nieces.

    “Condo would work a lot better if he had two arms. Solon didn’t think it through. He should have cut something else off instead.”
    Statistically 49% (but I’m willing to bet actually about 90%) of your readers clasp themselves protectively.
    Look, at least he doesn’t go around with a great big box over one arm, then at the last minute fling it away, crying ‘My arm was there all the time!’

    “What a magnificent head! That’s brilliant. How did he manage to say that line with a straight face? I bet that took a few takes.”
    I still think this is one of the funniest Who stories going. People just ignore that for the horror, but it has me in stiches. As it were. You see? Sue has excellent taste as long as it’s rude.
    “Never get into a slanging match with Robert Holmes. He’ll wipe the floor with you. Where does he get this stuff?”
    “The Doctor thinks he’s woken up in a brothel. No wonder he’s got a smile on his face.”

    “I can imagine Kate Bush wearing one of the Sisterhoods’ costumes.”
    There’s enough fanboy-fetish-feeding here as it is.

    “Why do all the bad Time Lords have names that start with the letter M? Is that significant? …You know, Master, Monk, Morbius. I am naturally suspicious of people whose names begin with the letter M, now. Thanks for that.”
    There’s another one, isn’t there? Oh, what’s his name? Oh, I can’t think of it… Oh! Mega.
    Sorry. I’ll get my coat.

    Best Sue observation, though:
    “What is he doing? You can’t leave him! The Doctor has just done to Solon what the baddies always do to him. He should know better.”

    “Oh look, ex-Doctors. I like it when you see the ex-Doctors.”
    “Then…”
    “Who the hell is that?”
    I just laughed. Oh, Neil, I love your ‘There’ll be questions at the end. Or in the middle.’ And that Sue now answers them!

  6. Frankymole  May 7, 2012

    Evil Time Lords have an “M” because it is the “W” of Who, inerted.

    (Not really. Though it is how Ohm/Omega was arrived at)

    • Frankymole  May 7, 2012

      ^ inverted.

      • PolarityReversed  May 7, 2012

        You don’t half get an education round here – first Bland now OHM, keep it up guys!

        If I recall it right, Solon mentions that the Mutt’s bonce isn’t palatial enough for Morbius’ grey stuff – presumably Condo’s noggin is a bit on the pokey side too. Haven’t seen this one recently, but is it also possible that Solon’s breathless admiration of Tom’s nut doesn’t mean he *isn’t* planning to keep the whole package?

        Great turn from Madoc here – nice that Tom doesn’t get the screen all to himself for a change.

        • Frankymole  May 8, 2012

          Yes, it’s probably just an interesting coinkidink that Bob Baker and Dave Martin originally made the first ‘Time Lord’ be called “The Great God OHM”, and then the new series made the last Time Lord the “Lonely God” (Doctor WHO). The symmetry of the names was intentional, but probably not the symmetry of their places in Time Lord history (and mutual admiration, since Omega ended up going after the Doctor for his body…)

          Lance Parkin’s “The Infinity Doctors” is a great read, too 🙂

          • PolarityReversed  June 6, 2012

            There must have been some resistance to that idea.
            Coat.

  7. Alex Wilcock  May 7, 2012

    I had such a Who-villain scheme. You’d come up with perfect timing; I was drafting my own reviews of this and UNIT Files, one to go with my post celebrating Philip Madoc, one as one of my follow-ups to Seven Days To Noon. I could publish in sync, make terrible Terrance Dicks jokes and explain my theory that this is the Doctor Who version of Kessler.

    Instead, I’m stuck in the middle of an ear infection that makes me feel like I’ve got a massive throbbing one of Styggron’s, I’m mostly deaf and swooning dizzily about, and whenever I look at my notes I think ‘Either this is gibberish or I’m hallucinating’.

    Which is all by way of saying, please, Dr Solon, if you’re reading, can you book me in for your next head transplant on the NHS, please? Ta.

    • PolarityReversed  May 7, 2012

      Clear Ear Clinic, Cavendish Sq. You’ll feel like a new Kraal.

      • Alex Wilcock  May 8, 2012

        Thanks – on a course of antibiotics (and trying not to climb the walls). If they don’t work and I can’t get an NHS appointment to follow, I’ll give them a call…

  8. Dave Sanders  May 7, 2012

    “How did he manage to say that line with a straight face? I bet that took a few takes.”

    Phillip Madoc had just got through with the South Africa episode of The Goodies. If he could get through that one without his jaw hitting the floor, then this was no trouble, 🙂

  9. Lewis Christian  May 7, 2012

    You know, Master, Monk, Morbius. I am naturally suspicious of people whose names begin with the letter M, now…

    MOFFAT!

    • Dave Sanders  May 7, 2012

      Lawrence Miles.

      • Lewis Christian  May 7, 2012

        Paul McGann… *whistles innocently*

        • BWT  May 8, 2012

          Sylvester McCoy…? (I’ll get me coat)

          • Dan  May 8, 2012

            Obviously, Michael Grade.

    • Chris Too-old-to-watch  May 9, 2012

      What about the lovely Rani – does that mean her real name is something like Maureen or Mavis?

  10. Ian Marchant  May 7, 2012

    He not only has the hand of Manos but the legs of Torgo

    • Jeremy Phillips  May 7, 2012

      “I am Condo. I look after the place while the Master is away.”

  11. Marty  May 7, 2012

    I laughed very much about the Morbius Doctors discussion and Neil just asking questions and then shoving them under the rug of Doctor Who questions that like to be asked and their answers ignored.

    Neil you shouldn’t be trying to influence Sue’s rating, the stories that deserve a 9 or a 10 will get those rating. If this is an 8 story it’s an 8 story.

    Sue, I never noticed that several of the evil Time Lords start with M, she may be on to something.

    Was Barry a very popular name…whenever all those Barrys were born?

    In this story, it’s really Sarah and the Sisterhood who do all the work, the Doctor and all the other males in this story just don’t really do anything useful, well except Condo who manages to get shot several times and keep on kicking for a bit.

    Sue didn’t notice any of the nice carpentry of Solon’s house.
    Or what about the flame which tastes like apricots (or something)?

    • Alex Wilcock  May 8, 2012

      I like the carpentry of Solon’s house. Those pillars / internal buttresses have always been intriguing.

      And I love the dusty Queen Victoria sphinx.

  12. Dave Sanders  May 7, 2012

    Neil didn’t have the heart to tell Sue that ‘Kenneth Branagh’ was actually Douglas Camfield.

  13. Suzysue  May 7, 2012

    Not to turn this into a competition but I was only three when I saw this – any advance on that? Likewise, I had nightmares and my parents tried to ban me from watching it, but it never did me any harm – unless you count an irrational fear of offal.

  14. Simon Harries  May 7, 2012

    Will we have to wait til you start watching series 17 before we hear about New Zealand?

    The Brain of Morbius is my guilty pleasure… and I’m secretly thrilled that it has been given an 8. If the next one doesn’t score higher, though, I may not answer for my actions.

  15. Dan  May 7, 2012

    I wonder if this era would do better if it had come straight after the b+w, reconned sixties. No problem with the lead’s approach to the part, lots of nice four parters, more consistent and less patchy etc..

    Watching this over the weekend I thought the brain on the floor one of the best bits. And most of the plot holes can be easily explained Solon being entirely mad. Except for the Doctor leaving Solon by himself. He does something similar at the end of Genesis, but as Neil says it’s just the gears crunching a bit. As long as there’s enough to make up for things like that it doesn’t matter so much.

    Having said that about the brain, it might have freaked me out at the age of four when I must have seen it.. but I’m now wondering if I was banned from seeing some of it. I will have to ask. If I was, I’m not happy. Anyway we’ll see what happens to Doctor Who when the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association (as much to do with listeners and viewers as the Taxpayers’ Alliance has to taxpayers) actually win (and it’s not all bad by any stretch, just very different).

    I’m surprised to note that I was five when this, my favourite era of Doctor Who, ended.

    • PolarityReversed  May 7, 2012

      Mary Whitehouse was far more disturbing than anything Hinchcliffe ever chucked at me… And NVLA seems the perfect acronym for a fascist paramilitary outfit.

      • Dan  May 7, 2012

        I think Monty Python might have felt the same, which is handy because I forget to mention how Pythonesque that brain moment is. It’s in a tradition of brutal Peter Cook-esque humour, just brilliant when Morbius and Solon take themselves so seriously. You could almost feel sorry for Solon. (Actually maybe you should.)

      • Andrew Bowman  May 7, 2012

        A better acronym, according the 2008 docudrama starring Julie Walters, Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story, the original name for the NVLA was Clean Up National Television. Can’t think why that didn’t catch on 😉

  16. Jazza1971  May 7, 2012

    I share the same surname as the writer of this story (Bland, not Dicks) and so I have never really liked the word “bland” being used as an adjective!

    Anyway, my name issues aside, shouldn’t the paragraph that states “The Doctor and Solon hunt for Morbius with a tranquilliser gun. Morbius almost rips the Doctor’s head off when Morbius shoots it -” read “The Doctor and Solon hunt for Morbius with a tranquilliser gun. Morbius almost rips the Doctor’s head off when SOLON shoots it -“, or does Morbius shoot himself in the arse with a tranquilliser dart? If so, I don’t remember that happening. 😀

    • Neil Perryman  May 7, 2012

      Sorry, that was a typo that has been fixed.

  17. Chris Orton  May 7, 2012

    The Hand of Manos is an adventure that I want to see now! What a truly authentic Doctor Who story title!

    • Richard Lyth  May 7, 2012

      She was probably thinking of Manos: The Hands Of Fate – possibly the worst movie ever made, and if she could sit through that it’s no surprise she made it through all those recons…

      • John G  May 10, 2012

        And of course, if you translate Manos literally the title is Hands: the Hand of Fate…

  18. Matt Sharp  May 7, 2012

    ‘Why doesn’t Solon just stick the brain in Condo’s head?’

    I always assumed that it wouldn’t fit in there…

    ‘You are missing an even more obvious flaw: why is Morbius obsessed with sticking the Doctor’s head on that mess of a body when he could use the Doctor’s body as well? Eh?’

    Because he’s a Hammer-type Frankenstein obsessed with making the ‘perfect’ body, and like many obsessives he’s lost sight of the bigger picture and is concentrating entirely on the details. This is also why he hasn’t stuck the brain in the ‘imperfect’ plastic brain case as a temporary measure until a better head comes along, even though sponge envier Morbius is begging him.

  19. Noodles  May 7, 2012

    I’m glad Sue noticed Josie Lawrence’s weird eye-widening and resemblance to Josie Lawrence. Those two things combined allow me to giggle my way through this story every time.

  20. Philip Ayres  May 7, 2012

    We love Manfred Man’s Blinded by the Light. The album version with the trippy instrumental parked in the middle is fab.

    I’m forced to point out that it was originally a Bruce Springstien track though!

  21. Richard Lyth  May 7, 2012

    It took me about five minutes to realise that the Henchman Chronicles wasn’t a real Big Finish series! (But I bet it will be before long…)

    • Dave Sanders  May 7, 2012

      I see Clayton Hickman’s Photoshop skills have improved too.

  22. encyclops  May 7, 2012

    Just about everything I wanted to comment on has been covered — the Hands of Fate reference, Why Not Condo’s Head?, Why Not the Doctor’s Body?, and the question of whether this story is too grim (hell no! bring it on!) — but that won’t stop me from commenting anyway.

    Great story, great post. I never recall this as one of my favorites, but it really is terrific when discussions like this remind me of everything that’s in it. There’s no real reason why Morbius had to be a Time Lord, or that the Sisterhood should have been connected to them, but I’m the kind of fan who loves that stuff. I’m all for episodes where the Doctor doesn’t solve everything himself and where he’s an alien from a more technologically advanced civilization rather than a lonely god.

  23. James C  May 7, 2012

    When first broadcast in Australia this went out at about 9 PM, having defeated our notorious censors. So of course I missed out, leaving me for years with the belief hat this was the most awesome thing ever. It was nice to learn, a long time later that it actually is pretty good.

  24. MWholahoop  May 8, 2012

    Wasn’t Terrance Dicks objection that he had written a story where the “bits and pieces” creature was creating a perfect body for Morbius, in a none too subtle inversion of the Frankenstein genre.

    For reasons I never heard, probably budgetary as I suspect this was the time of galloping double digit inflation in the UK, Robert Holmes tweaked it so that the inversion was inverted, at which point the “bland psuedonym” comment was spouted by TD eventually becoming immortalised in fandom mythology – or some such tosh

    • David Brunt  May 8, 2012

      Dicks had written the story with a robot surgeon, who had no understanding of how humans should look – so it just made a ragbag body out of available bits. Hence Condo’s arm.

      When it was decided that they couldn’t afford to make a convincing robot, Holmes rewrote it to make it a human figure and a fair bit of the “why’s he doing that?” problems then came in, because they related to the robot version and wasn’t changed.

      The robot wouldn’t think of using the Doctor’s entire body because it only needed the head for his own cobbled-together creation.

      • Chris Too-old-to-watch  May 8, 2012

        It’s probably too much of a cliche, but isn’t Solon just stark staring bonkers, with little or no judgement, or logic?

        • Dave Sanders  May 9, 2012

          You’re all forgetting that as far as Solon is concerned, this exercise is all about *him*. If you’d spent however many years stitching together a workable body out of next-to-nothing in the most apalling work conditions, you’re going to be a bit pissed off when the perfect host just happens to turns to turn up on your doorstep and render it all for naught. An ego the size of Solon’s isn’t about to let all that effort go to the wall, is he? No, he’s going to carry on as planned and show the universe just how much bloody hardship he’s gone through, and sod Morbius’ appearance.

      • MWholahoop  May 8, 2012

        Cheers for that

      • encyclops  May 8, 2012

        I think it’s actually more plausible with a bonkers human thinking “why would you want a boring old human leg when you could have a Pzarkoid leg instead? Those things can jump forty meters straight up!” than a robot that’s somehow competent enough to stitch incompatible tissues and nerves together but can’t figure out what a humanoid looks like.

        I have a similar problem with “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances,” but next to questions like “how in the world would Weeping Angels evolve?” it seems a little petty.

        • PolarityReversed  May 10, 2012

          Weeping Angels must have evolved through internet dating using avatars, sex with the lights off and nurture entirely through games of grandmother’s footsteps. And Big Finish.

          “Table for two please. Facing away from each other and the band.”
          “Our eyes avoided each other across a crowded room… We knew it was the real thing. Then I wound up marrying her uncle by mistake.”
          “Now listen, young man, you’ve reduced your mother to tears and – don’t look at me when I’m talking to you.”
          “What do you mean, you’re not as good-looking as the other angels? How do you know?”
          “Dad! Turn off the Blind Man’s Buff results. I want to not watch Strictly Come Ignoring.”

          • encyclops  May 10, 2012

            Nice.

            Are we going to find out that the Silents and the Angels are related? Both are monsters can only be kept at bay if you don’t take your eyes off them.

          • PolarityReversed  May 10, 2012

            But it all went terribly wrong. They had such high hopes, that first day they didn’t clap eyes on each other and agreed that they probably didn’t look anything like their pictures. FF twenty years and she caught him listening to implicit porn. It was the final straw. She just couldn’t bear to not look at him anymore…

            Who are these Silents of which you speak? I’ve never heard of em.

  25. Paul L  May 8, 2012

    8/10 is a fair assessment.

    “Sue: Why doesn’t Solon just stick the brain in Condo’s head? Why would you want to walk around looking like a dog’s dinner when you could be a hunchbacked version of the lead singer from Showaddywaddy? I know it’s not ideal, but you take what you can get.

    Me: You are missing an even more obvious flaw: why is Morbius obsessed with sticking the Doctor’s head on that mess of a body when he could use the Doctor’s body as well? Eh?”

    Why? Because Solon is stark raving mad, that’s why!

    • DPC  May 8, 2012

      I thought her comments on Condo’s lack of two arms being even more poignant, but some of Solon’s technobabble does suggest why the Doctor made the best choice… but, yeah, nothing was said specifically of Condo’s that I recall…

  26. Chris Too-old-to-watch  May 8, 2012

    So glad it got 8/10: one of my (admittedly many) favourites.
    To answer the “why not Condo’s head” or “Why not put the Brain into the Doctor’s body”, Sue already gave a perfectly good reason – “Bloody Academics!”
    If there was a Condo(minium) spin-off, it would probably have to star Kirstie Alsopp……

  27. wholahoop  May 8, 2012

    Did I get modded for changing my name to MWholahoop?

    • Neil Perryman  May 8, 2012

      Yes, we don’t trust names that begin with an ‘M’.

      • DPC  May 8, 2012

        Looking forward to “Meglos”, hehe… 🙂 🙂 🙂

  28. BWT  May 8, 2012

    I can’t really isolate only one quote from this for a T-shirt but…

    “is this a lesbian sect?” has got to be up there…

  29. gangnet  May 8, 2012

    Why does Sue keep calling Condo a cannibal? Did I miss something?

    • Neil Perryman  May 8, 2012

      Solon calls Condo a cannibal in the very first scene he shares with him.

  30. Lewis Christian  May 8, 2012

    News just in: There’s a line of dialogue in the show which explains why the Doctor’s head is needed.

    But I’m not gunna tell you. Go find it 🙂

    • Lewis Christian  May 8, 2012

      Oh, go on then. Just click my name to find out 🙂

  31. DPC  May 8, 2012

    Two things (quoting source followed by my response in parentheses):

    1. Sue: Condo would work a lot better if he had two arms. Solon didn’t think it through. He should have cut something else off instead.

    ((Sue, you rule!!))

    2. Condo discovers that the arm on the Morbius creature is actually his. He doesn’t take the news well and Solon has to shoot him in the stomach. Blood and guts fly everywhere. Morbius’ brain falls onto the floor with a sickening squelch.

    Sue: Bloody hell. There was no need for that.

    ((As with other recent stories, I’m starting to form an opinion… But I think I am going to enjoy everything you’re going to be saying for the remainder of the show’s run to be sure… 🙂 ))

    As always, GREAT site and GREAT reviews. Thank you both, much!!

  32. fromEssex  May 9, 2012

    I’ve always loved this story. I would’ve been five when I first saw it.1975? Nearly 6.
    Philip Madoc is great, Condo is great and the Dr and Sarah are great. I always was disappointed with The Sisterhood.
    It wasn’t Josie Lawrence was it? She would’ve been 10/12? or something at the time.

    Oh and I misread John Hughes for Jon Holmes and figured that Sue was a very very liberal mum..

    • fromEssex  May 9, 2012

      Jose Lawrence was born in 1959 according to Wikipedia.

    • John Callaghan  May 9, 2012

      I thought it was John Waters!

  33. Neowhovian  May 9, 2012

    Late to the party this time (stupid Real Life), so again, most of it’s already been said. Further thanks for continuing The Experiment, as it always makes me smile.

    Anywho, I’m also with Sue on this one. It’s pretty good, but from my newbie’s perspective, I’ve never taken to it as the monolithic classic that seems to be its reputation. I suppose a lot of T.Baker’s era strikes me that way…

    At any rate, I love Sue’s perspective. It often aligns with mine, and when it doesn’t, it makes me think. I like that.

    • encyclops  May 9, 2012

      I’m curious: which era / stories are your favorite(s)? I’m assuming from your handle that you’re a bigger fan of the new series, so I guess I’m primarily asking about Classic Who. I’m not trying to challenge you in some way — the one rule about this show is that quality is highly subjective. I’m just interested in hearing more about where you’re coming from.

      I’m harboring a suspicion that for Sue, the reasons why so many fans appreciate this era will become much clearer in hindsight, though she still might not concur (hell, at least two of my top ten Classic stories are Davisons, so I’m not a hardliner here either).

      • Neowhovian  May 9, 2012

        My handle (and blog) come from the fact that I only recently discovered Doctor Who, and came to it through “Nu Who” (or, as I personally prefer, “post-Hiatus Who,” since it’s all one show, of course!). 🙂 Once I was caught up to what was then current, I had to go back and see as much of the “Classic” (or pre-Hiatus) stories as I could get my grubby little protuberances on.

        I have a hard time pinning it down to one era that’s my favorite, because there are things I love/appreciate about all the Doctors. When I did the 30-day challenge last year, I listed my top 3 as Inferno, City of Death, and Castrovalva. I might have to move Remembrance of the Daleks higher up the list, because I just adore Seven and Ace in that. And, of course, a lot more stories have since been released on DVD in R1 (where I am), so I’ve seen more since. Some of those I liked a lot, and some I thought were kind of duds. ~shrug~

        I hope that at least sort of answers your question, encyclops. 🙂

        • encyclops  May 9, 2012

          I can hardly believe our luck sometimes that NuWho and Classic Who are as continuous as they are — that so far the showrunners have been respectful enough that we CAN regard them as one show with a big hiatus in the middle. I do think “NuWho” rolls off the tongue and fingers easier than “Post-Hiatus Who,” and there are enough differences to make it worth talking about the two phases as distinct, but I definitely appreciate your preference there. 🙂

          Those are great choices in my book; I’d put City of Death and Castrovalva in my top 10 for sure, and would be hard-pressed not to at least seriously consider Inferno too. My other favorite Davisons are Kinda, Snakedance, and Enlightenment (I respect Androzani more than I love it, but I’d still rate it very highly). What’s the 30-day challenge?

          • Neowhovian  May 10, 2012

            The 30-Day Doctor Who Challenge is something that I first saw when Paul Greaves posted that he’d be tackling it on his blog goldfish & paracetamol. It involves answering one question about your favo(u)rite/least favo(u)rite aspects of the show each day for 30 days, starting with Favourite/Least Favourite Doctor and going from there.

            I immediately decided it sounded like fun, and proceeded to complete my own version on Confessions of a Neowhovian. 🙂

          • encyclops  May 10, 2012

            The challenge looks fun! Maybe I’ll do it when I get my site back up and running.

  34. Matthew Marcus  May 9, 2012

    “I am naturally suspicious of people whose names begin with the letter M, now.”

    I don’t know WHAT Sue could possibly mean by this…

    Great review!

  35. Tristan Alfaro  May 9, 2012

    Glad I got no Ms in my name. Matt Smith on the other hand…

    Brain of Morbius is a lot of fun, and I always love that Tom Baker found the “Sorry, Morbius” brain-dropping scene hilarious. That’s a point. Maybe Neil, you should show Sue The Tom Baker Years vid and let her see Tom’s reactions to his own shows?

    • robert dick  May 11, 2012

      >>” Maybe Neil, you should show Sue The Tom Baker Years vid and let her see Tom’s reactions to his own shows?”

      That’s a great idea! Probably the only thing of that type Sue might enjoy. You can probably even do it in two halves. First cassette after the Invasion of Time and then the other after Logopolis. Mind you, I still think you should do Shada after Nimon.

  36. Paul Mudie  May 9, 2012

    I love this one. It’s a tasty blend of gothic horror and science fiction, with wonderfully quotable dialogue and some great performances. The plot is pretty insane, but that just adds to the pulpy charm of it all.

  37. CJJC  May 9, 2012

    All the Josie Lawrence stuff, but nothing about 1970s John Peel.

    Maybe Solon was also behind The War Machines: http://readersrecommend.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/john_peel.jpg?w=500

  38. encyclops  May 9, 2012

    Oh yes, so what was that about letting Nicol watch John Hughes films at six? From the context I’m assuming the idea is that they would somehow scar a six-year-old, but I’m having trouble imagining how. Most of them are relatively cuddly, aren’t they?

    I suppose one might develop unfortunate Asian stereotypes from Sixteen Candles, or learn disrespect for authority from The Breakfast Club, or get the idea that Duckie’s behavior in Pretty In Pink is a natural expression of affection and not the creepy proprietary pathology of a stalker. So there’s that.

    • encyclops  May 11, 2012

      (Not that anyone asked, but I do love John Hughes films.)

  39. Tiggs  May 9, 2012

    Yay! Finally caught up. Morbius is one of my favourite episodes. For all the reasons that have been mentioned above. I would never have been able to watch this as a child though. I would also have had nightmares.

    This has to rate in my top ten Classic stories (bearing in mind I’m only up to City of Death in my Classic Who Watch).

  40. Jet Simian  May 10, 2012

    Not Josie Lawrence, but fo some reason I get her (not Josie, do keep up) and Dawn Porter mixed up. Must be the fringe.

    Oh, Neil! Tell us about New Zealand! Morbius was my entry into Who at the very same time as you were watching it because, well obviously I’m typing this from New Zealand. It too gave me nightmares and it too nearly had me barred from watching the series through parental intervention, although they could never win over the kids next door and their colour TV. I shall love Brain of Morbius until I die.

    Also, I hope you’ve given the commentary for this one a spin as it’s a real cracker.

  41. Tom Wake  May 10, 2012

    And my new favourite out-of-context quote is…

    “He did persuade an old woman to die, though, so it wasn’t a completely wasted journey.”

  42. BWT  May 10, 2012

    Just noticed this: “Is this a sequel? I liked The Mutants.”

    Bless you, Sue – and I thought I was alone in liking this rather unfairly villified serial. “The Mutants” rocks…

    • Neowhovian  May 10, 2012

      You’re definitely not alone, BWT. I liked it, too. 🙂

      (My review, in case you are interested…)

  43. John G  May 10, 2012

    Sue makes a good point about all the Barrys, but there are even more Bakers involved in Who! Just a shame there wasn’t a Barry Baker…

    Another great post, but this story leaves me a bit cold if I’m honest. You can’t argue with Madoc’s excellent turn or the impressive production values, but it does feel a little too close to pastiche for my liking. I’m inclined to agree with Sue that the violence does slightly overstep the mark, although I think in this case (unlike, say, The Two Doctors) it is justified by the story context.

    • Noodles  May 11, 2012

      I think it’s on a DVD extra somewhere where they show Condo being shot to Hinchcliffe and, IIRC, he says something like “that’s a bit strong”. He then justifies it by saying that it was going out at half 7 (or something). He’s then quite surprised to hear that it actually went out at quarter to six.

      I think in hindsight, he thought it went too far, too.

  44. MWholahoop  May 11, 2012

    “Never get into a slanging match with Robert Holmes. ”

    I know you hate it when the We foreshadow future programmes, but if Sue loves this I can’t wait until she watches Caves of Androzani and their fescinine bags of slime (or something like that!)