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Doctor Who: The Brain of Morbius

Tom Baker , Elisabeth Sladen , Christopher Barry    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent addition to the collection Feb. 4 2009
Everything about this DVD release, from the story restoration to the special features, is a boon to any Doctor Who collection
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Planet of the Modern Prometheus. July 10 2008
By Armchair Pundit - Published on Amazon.com
Season Thirteen.
Much to the Doctors chagrin the Time Lords have taken control of the TARDIS, sending the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith into very dangerous ground upon the stormlashed spaceship graveyard planet of Karn.
Sheltering from the rain in a castle atop a mountain, the Doctor encounters the surgeon Mehendri Solon, and his simple minded slave/assistant Condo conducting gruesome experiments on living flesh, but for what reason?
And now as a storm approaches, great evil from the depths of Time Lord history plots its return to the land of the living.
But can even the Doctor's mind, be a match for The Brain of Morbius.
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Four episodes of sumptuous gothic filled suspense, suspense that will suspend your everyday worries and cares, well at least for ninety minutes anyway. Mr Baker and Ms Sladen are on sparkling form, as is Philip Madoc, marvellously getting his teeth into a role he can go gloriously over the top with. Welsh born Madoc was a; "Who" semi regular, featuring in stories like The War Games as The War Lord, The Krotons as Eelek, and The Power of Kroll as Fenner. As well as the second Peter Cushing Dalek film. And with the passing of time, even writer Terrance Dicks no longer feels so bland towards this story anymore. For people like myself who finds the extras a nice touch, I did feel the extras were a bit on the weak side compared to some other releases.
Warning to the parents of little ones, the scene where Solon shoots Condo reveals a bit of blood, so a bit of parental discretion may be called for there.
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DVD Extras
Commentary by Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Philip Madoc, Philip Hinchcliffe and Christopher Barry .
Getting a Head:~ A new documentary about the making of the programme featuring Christopher Barry, Philip Hinchcliffe,writer Terrance Dicks, designer Barry Newbery, composer Dudley Simpson, and actors Philip Madoc, Cynthia Grenville, Colin Fay and Gillian Brown, with narration by Paul McGann
Designs on Karn: How the planet Karn was created, with designer Barry Newbery
Set Tour Take a walk around the studio sets with this 3D CGI reconstruction
Radio Times Billings: Listings from Radio Times on Pdf DVD Rom
Photo Gallery
Sketch Gallery
Coming Soon Trailer
Production Information Subtitles
Digitally remastered picture and sound quality.
Originally broadcast:~ 3rd January 1976 - 24th January 1976.
(Region 2 version now on sale at amazon.uk)
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Morbius's brain... on the floor!" Nov. 15 2008
By Jason A. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
I out-and-out love this story. I've taken the typical "Doctor Who" fan's path to this point of view, however. I was riveted at age 11, embarrassed at age 16, and now celebrate it in all its campy glory. When the disembodied brain of Morbius fell onto the floor with an audible "splat!" late in Part Three, I actually cheered.

What's most impressive about the DVD release is the Restoration Team's attitude to the story. Now that the classic series DVDs have been coming out for almost ten years, and the greatest of the great stories have long since been released, and the available remaining stories come from deep in the third tier (and now, with the imminent release of Doctor Who: Four to Doomsday (Episode 118), the fourth tier), it is hard to predict what editorial slant the DVD extra features will take. I've been surprised, for example, by the coldness toward Doctor Who - Black Orchid (Episode 121), and I nodded along to the wistful revelation that Doctor Who: The Invisible Enemy/K9 and Company: A Girl's Best Friend just hasn't aged that well at all.

Fortunately, the DVD producers appear to love Morbius, and for roughly the same reasons that I do. They're perhaps a little too enamored of Philip Madoc's Shatner-esque turn as this story's Dr. Frankenstein stand-in, Solon. But everyone loves the dimly heroic Condo, the one-armed manservant standing in for Igor. Even Terrance Dicks, who took his name off the final version of the story, seems to have warmed up to it considerably -- and we know from many other past DVD releases that Uncle Terry isn't shy about picking a fight with a 35 year-old bit of TV history.

All in all, "Brain of Morbius" blends two elements of "Doctor Who" greatness. First, a terrific script by Robert Holmes, full of memorable insults ("That palsied harridan!") and throw-away world building (the lone reference to "the silent gas dirigibles of the Hoothi", which 15 years later was resurrected for Love and War (The New Doctor Who Adventures). And second, there's that fearless 1970's mentality that "We're going to get away with putting a rubber brain in a fishbowl and mounting that on an ill-fitting costume with chicken feathers and an enormous lobster claw".

The only curiosity is that, while the text commentary accurately describes Terrance Dicks' novel-writing career as including the Past Doctor Adventure Warmonger (Doctor Who), the writer curiously fails to mention that it was in fact a prequel to this story. Just as well, however. Unlike this DVD, you might want to give that book a miss.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another gothic horror classic from the Doctor's golden age March 15 2012
By buckbooks - Published on Amazon.com
Producer Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes made gothic horror a signature theme of Doctor Who in the mid-1970s and attracted some of the largest television audiences in the show's history. Their riff on the Frankenstein story, "The Brain of Morbius," topped 10 million viewers every week at a time when the U.K.'s population was 56 million.

The Doctor and Sarah land on the desolate planet Karn where an arcane sisterhood keeps vigil over a dying flame that produces an elixir of life which their order relies on to survive. Elsewhere on the planet, a brilliant but deranged neurosurgeon named Solon pieces together body parts from crash victims into a patchwork creature to contain the disembodied brain of Morbius, a rebel Time Lord long believed dead. When the Doctor arrives at his mountaintop castle, Solon believes he has found the perfect head for Morbius' brain and drugs the Doctor in hopes of surgically removing it. Meanwhile, the Sisterhood of Karn thinks the Doctor has been sent by the Time Lords to steal their dwindling supply of elixir and tries to burn him at the stake.

Among many other fine actors, "Morbius" showcases the work of veteran character actor Philip Madoc as the mad scientist Solon, a role the show's producers had considered offering to Peter Cushing and Vincent Price. Madoc delivers a performance neither of these actors could have topped. The Welsh actor appeared in three other Doctor Who stories between 1968 and 1979, including "The War Games" in which he played the villainous War Lord. To give you some idea of Madoc's range, he also played the evil Huron Indian chief Magua in the 1971 BBC adaptation of "The Last of the Mohicans," later featured on U.S. public television as part of the Masterpiece Theatre series. Madoc appears in the making-of documentary included with this DVD but passed away in March 2012.

The plot of "Morbius" has one major flaw, however: why would Solon cut off the Doctor's head and attach it to the monstrous patchwork body he's created when he could more easily transplant Morbius' brain directly into the Doctor's normal body? This gap in the story's logic grew out of the way the original script, written by series veteran Terrance Dicks, was edited by Holmes to eliminate a robot character that would have been too expensive and technically difficult to bring to the screen. Instead, the robot is replaced by Solon and his Igor-like assistant, Condo. Dicks was so outraged by Holmes' extensive rewrite that he asked to have his name removed from the project, and the script was credited to a pseudonym.

The dark, brooding tone of "The Brain of Morbius" as well as its heightened gore and violence made it one of the show's most memorable stories, but these elements also contained the seeds of Hinchcliffe's downfall as producer. The blood exploding from Condo's chest when he's shot by Solon and the sight of Morbius' brain splatting on the laboratory floor first attracted the censure of right-wing television activist Mary Whitehouse of the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association, who viewed Doctor Who narrowly as a program for children. Hinchcliffe wanted to broaden Doctor Who's appeal to teenagers and adults, but Whitehouse's continued scolding, particularly of a drowning scene in "The Deadly Assassin," led to Hinchcliffe's eventual replacement as producer with instructions from the BBC to his successor to tone down the show's horror content.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What else can be said? Dec 4 2008
By Stephen Ressel - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Oddly memorable, perhaps not the best or worst of the Hinchcliffe-Holmes era, but filled with all the hallmarks that made Who such fun to watch.

I always enjoy the extras, having seen these episodes for decades. The restoration team/production team have been spicing up the extras on all DVDs very nicely. When Hinchcliffe, Baker and Sladen are on commentary it is always a treat. Philip Madoc also appears on the commentary, having made such a memorable performance.

"Getting A Head" is a nice little extra to illustrate all the ideas and work that went in behind the scenes. Poor Terrance Dicks describes his original idea which was put through the delectable Holmes sausage grinder. His original idea was actually quite solid, but too expensive or difficult to make, then rewritten by Holmes and labels as written by Robin Bland. Hearing all the main actors describe their experiences is many times quite humorous.

For $[...] this is a gem for anyone that enjoys the series, or anyone looking for a matinee entertainment. On Saturday afternoon PBS in the 80's it fell into a cultural null for any non-sports fan. These days it might look dated and clunky, but the writing of "Morbius" is still stronger than most TV in current broadcast, and it is more fun than most modern cinema since effects were limited and the actors and situations blazed forward.

Good stuff.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect example of 1970s Doctor Who May 9 2013
By Derek Donnell - Published on Amazon.com
The Brain of Morbius comes from the heyday of Tom Baker's years as The Doctor and epitomizes everything that makes the classic series so enjoyable. From a script begun by Terrance Dicks and polished by Robert Holmes, the story owes much to the Frankenstein legend and the Hammer film series of gothic horror tales. There's a haunted mansion, the mad scientist and his deformed servant, the coven of "witches" next door, wrecked spaceships and a large raving ungainly monster. Into this setting comes the Doctor and one of his most popular assistants, Sarah Jane Smith. The unfolding of the plot reveals machinations of Time Lords and war mongerers, wrecked spaceships and a potion that gives everlasting life.
The dialogue is very witty, sometimes with jokes and puns and other times deadly earnest. It's performed by a superb cast which includes Philip Madoc as the mad scientist in a stellar performance.

The dvd itself is excellent quality video and audio and includes several featurettes that go behind the scenes, as well as actor/producer commentary on the episodes themselves and a wealth of information in the form of production subtitles.

If you've wondered why there are so many rabid fans of the series as a whole, and the mid 70s era especially, you could hardly do better than to begin with The Brain of Morbius.
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