Number : Season 13, serial 5 of 6.
Which One : Sci-Fi Frankenstein’s monster.
Cast : The Doctor : Tom Baker
Sarah-Jane : Liz Sladen
Doctor Solon : Philip Madoc
Condo : Colin Fay
Voice of Morbius : Michael Spice
Morbius : Stuart Fell
Maren : Cynthia Grenville
Ohica : Gilly Brown
Sisters : Sue Bishop, Janie Kells, Gabrielle Mowbray, Veronica Ridge
Kriz : John Scott Martin
Written By : Terrence Dicks & Robert Holmes
Produced By : Philip Hinchcliffe
First UK Broadcast : 3 – 24 January 1976.
Length : 4 x 25 minute episodes.
Plot : The Doctor and Sarah-Jane, visit planet Karn and meet the sisterhood and Dr Solon. Solon is secretly attempting to create, his own patchwork Frankenstein monster; to resurrect an executed Time Lord; called Morbius.
Whats good : Frankenstein with a sci-fi twist. Morbius backstory. Solon.
Whats bad : The Sisterhood are a bit silly – in execution, at least.
Review With Spoilers : If producer Phillip Hinchcliffe’s main contribution, to Fourth Doctor – Doctor Who; was a dark undercurrent of gothic horror. Then The Brain Of Morbius, was the ultimately concentrated formula – of that intent.
Take a story which was – itself product of the Victorian Gothic-horror era; like Frankenstein and give it a healthy sci-fi spin.
We have the brilliant yet deranged creator; Professor Solon (who like Dr Frankenstein) – is obsessesed with breathing life back into a sown together – patchwork cadaver.
We have the monster, Morbius; which is the sum, single obsession of Solon’s work. We have the unfortunate accident, that damages the brain of the evil Timelord – to the point that Morbius, becomes deranged.
Of course, Morbius isn’t just pieced-together from human corpses. For this sci-fi riff – on Frankenstein; there are alien and robotic bits – in there too; due to the sci-fi setting. A symptom of what Dr Solon has to scavenge from, from the spaceships; crashes which litter planet Karn’s valleys.
Solon even has a hunchbacked “Igor”-type servant, called ‘Condo’. To assist in his vile, inhumane experiments. No more is this better realised, than Condo chopping the head off an unfortunate bug-alien survivor; which crashlands at the beginning of the story.
“When it is learnt that I, Morbius, have returned from the grave, my followers will rise in their millions!” Morbius
Just like the blind man befriending the Monster in Frankenstein, we have Sarah-Jane blinded by the sisterhood and pitched into a terrifying confrontation; with Morbius monster – in Solon’s lab. The latter, although done more for effect – than moving the story along; was a memorable moment from Brain Of Morbius.
The other residents of Karn are the Sisterhood, an ancient powerful female cult of Gallifrey; who moved to Karn – to worship the “Eternal Flame”.
The scenes of Condo being shot by Solon and producing a huge blood-splatter effect and the sight of Morbius’s brain squelching onto the floor; came in for particular criticism by TV moral crusader Mary Whitehouse. Looking at them now, the effect is no less diminished – and still rather bold.
The final scenes of Morbius being chased by the Sisterhood, waving lit torches. Seem to plug directly back into the Frankenstein movies, from the black-and-white era.
Specific praise, has to goto longtime Who supporting character actor; Phillip Madoc, as Solon. Who gives his tortured genius; Doctor Solon – an instant emotional resonance and backstory, with his uniquely tortured performance.
The writers also cheekily include, references to themselves; appearing as previous regenerations of the Doctor. During the Doctor’s mind-battle, with Morbius. Hinting at regenerations, prior to William Hartnell. Of course this idea was later abandoned, although we do also learn that the Doctor – is 749 years old.
In summary, when Tom Baker is remembered as the greatest Doctor – of all time. Some praise also needs to be levelled at the writers, producers and directors of this era; for bringing all of these elements together – in an inspired way.
Who would never reach these dizzying heights again after the Hinchcliffe era. This was the show, truly – at the height of its powers.
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