Sunday, October 06, 2013



Once again, we delve into the Doctor's 50th anniversary by watching the classic DOCTOR WHO story "THE BRAIN OF MORBIUS" broadcast from January 3rd to January 24, 1976.  The story was written by Terrence Dicks and Robert Holmes but due to their displeasure at the story's realization they insisted a pseudonym be used:  Robin Bland.  That sobriquet is unfair, though, because this is indeed a rip-roaring gothic horror story which is obviously an homage to Hammer Horror.  This Frankenstein of a script has the Time Lords sending the Doctor and Sarah Jane to the planet Karn where the sacred flame which aids the Time Lords in their regenerations is dying.  The fire is kept by the Sisterhood of the Flame; a group of witchy priestesses who think the Doctor is trying to steal the last of the flame and capture him.  There is also a mad scientist named Solon ensconced in a spooky old castle who has possession of the brain of an executed evil Time Lord named Morbius.  Solon is planning to craft a new body for Morbius but he needs the proper head in which to place the brain. . . and since Lou Costello doesn't seem to be around it looks like the Doctor's it!

In Paul Cornell, Martin Day & Keith Topping's delightful "THE DISCONTINUITY GUIDE", they list all the myriad influences on this story:  "Frankenstein films. . .The Hunchback of Notre Dame. . .H. Rider Haggard's "SHE". . .The Island of Dr. Moreau, Donovan's Brain, They Saved Hitler's Brain, The Old Dark House, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Forbidden Planet (the name Morbius)..."  Indeed, the shadow of Hammer Horror films as a whole hangs heavy over this story.  There is a hunchbacked assistant Condo who looks very much like a similar character in Roman Polanski's "THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS".  And perhaps my favourite moment of all comes at the very beginning.  The Doctor and Sarah Jane make their way to Solon's castle through a torrential downpour; the rain is falling down in buckets as the door is opened and the Doctor asks if they can spare a glass of water! 

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