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Doctor Who - The Brain of Morbius

episode 84

UK 1976
produced by
Philip Hinchcliffe for BBC
directed by Christopher Barry
starring Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Philip Madoc, Colin Fay, Cynthia Grenville, Gilly Brown, Stuart Fell, Michael Spice (voice)
written by Robin Bland (= Robert Holmes, Terrance Dicks), script editor: Robert Holmes, music by Dudley Simpson

TV-series
Doctor Who, Doctor Who (Tom Baker), Doctor Who (classic series), Sarah Jane Smith

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Doctor Who (Tom Baker) and Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) are somehow drawn to the planet KArn by the Doctor's people the Timelords ... and on the planet they are warmly welcomed by scientist Solon (Philip Madoc). But Solon does indeed have another plan but to play perfect host: He wants the Doctor's head, so he can finish a new body for Morbius, an once all-powerful Timelord-villain, who has since been executed and whose brain Solon keeps in a jar.

Before Solon can get hold of the Doctor's head though, the Doctor is teleported away to the Sisterhood of Karn, whose leader Maren (Cynthia Grenville) thinks the Doctor has come to steal there elexir of eternal life, and now he is to be sacrificed - but Sarah Jane saves him the very last minute, even if she loses eyesight by doing so.

Not knowing where to go - especially since the Sisterhood has gotten hold of the Doctor's time machine -, the Doctor and Sarah Jane return to Solon ... who tricks the Doctor into returning to the Sisterhood while he ties up Sarah Jane. He wants to kill her, but ultimately, his dim-witted assistant Condo (Colin Fay) falls in love with her - and ultimately, Solon has to kill Condo, which means he now needs blind Sarah Jane as an assistant to revive Morbius, putting the brain in the body of a monster with a human hand and a claw and a glass globe in place of a head ... and Morbius almost immediately goes berserk.

The Doctor meanwhile has formed an alliance with the Sisterhood after he reignited their dwindling Eternal Flame, and now he helps Solon to capture Morbius, and forces him to destroy the monster ... but Solon tricks the Doctor and repairs Morbius so he is no longer a hulking brute but a thinking man in a monster's body - and he's all the more dangerous for that.

The Doctor challanges Morbius to a form of mind-wrestling - and is actually defeated and left dying ... but the women of the Sisterhood arrive with torches just in time to drive the Morbius-monster, still weakened from the mind-wrestling, down a cliff to its death.

And in the end, Sisterhood leader Maren gives up her share of the elixir of eternal life to revive the Doctor, even if it means her certain death.

 

A funny little episode from Doctor Who's gothic era: While deeply rooted in science fiction, this episode also owes much to the Universal Horror classics, Hammer's gothics and especially the Frankenstein myth. And while its story is basically silly and does feature quite a few plotholes, it also has a few very interesting aspects to it. Add to that a monster that looks hilariously bad (though it must have looked gret in design), an atmospheric directorial effort, and a bunch of great actors ... and you are left with a piece of enjoyable trash that you don't even have to feel too guilty about liking.

The only real downturn is actually the makeup of Condo, the dim-witted assistant, whose hairdo looks way too much like Sarah Jane's.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD