As I said in my review of The Dominators, Patrick Troughton does not do bad stories – and I suspect that assessment will remain upright until the recovery of The Space Pirates! That said, The Mind Robber is undoubtedly a very odd story, and one that had to grow on me before I learned to enjoy it.
For one thing, the story was meant to begin with episode 2, with the TARDIS already arrived in ‘The Land of Fiction’ where the story is set. Production issues with the preceeding story, The Dominators, meant that the producers had to add a clumsy additional episode to the front of The Mind Robber. It is handled so well however, that you would never have guessed if it had not been first pointed out – the TARDIS appearing to land in ‘nowhere’ and then exploding, in what surely must have been a very dramatic cliffhanger.
I fear I must bring in a spoiler at this point – with no reference made to the adventure in the following story The Invasion, it is heavily implied that the adventures of this story occur in some sort of fantasy world, rather like in the Matt Smith adventure Amy’s Choice. Certainly, the principal baddy who rules over the Land of Fiction while called ‘The Master’ has no connection with the evil Timelord of the same name. For a first time viewer I was more than a little bemused, if not annoyed, by the completely zany and nonsensical direction of the story, and the seeming absence of any plot. I think however, once you embrace the absurdity of proceedings, it is much easier to go along for the ride and enjoy it as the light-hearted nonsense it was intended to be.
Viewers used to the modern series ought to note a few words of warning – while great for their time, the graphics and special effects are obviously dated – not least the rather horrendous rubber suit with painted muscles for the comic-book hero ‘The Karkus’. But if you remember this is 1960s television, you will enjoy it much better – and not least the imaginative recasting of Jamie for one episode when Frazer Hines was severely ill – what could have been awkward to work around became a very interesting plot dynamic in the story, and a source of comedy as Patrick Troughton manages to forget what Jamie ought to look like!
You do need to view this story through rose-tinted spectacles and suspend a certain amount of disbelief, and you certainly should not expect any kind of logical conclusion! But so long as the viewer bears this in mind, you will certainly enjoy this story!
I’m away with work this week, so my next review will not be until Friday – will check in then!