C084 The Brain of Morbius


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Despotic Time Lord Morbius is resurrected as a Fishbowl-Claw-Monster to… take over the universe?



An insect-like humanoid is crawling across the planet Karn and doesn’t seem to be in a good way. Things take a definite turn for the worse when a man with a hook for a hand catches up with the poor creature and cuts its head off! Why would he do such a thing? To bring it to his Frankenstein impersonating master, Dr Solon, of course who is hell-bent on reanimating the evil despotic Time Lord, Morbius. He just needs to get his hands on an empty cranium to complete the pick n’ mix monster he’s been creating to house the Time Lord’s disembodied essence.

The TARDIS team appear on Karn shortly afterwards, even though they were meant to be taking Sarah Jane back to London. Again. The Doctor is convinced the Time Lords have brought them off course, but perhaps the Sisterhood of Karn has something to do with that. Whatever is going on, the Doctor and Sarah Jane better keep their wits about them if they’re going to get off the planet and not lose their heads in the process.

5 Responses to “C084 The Brain of Morbius”

  1. Paul Fauber | @wordsmithpaul

    Dim lighting and in studio storms with wind, rain, and lightning created a spooky atmosphere for a story dealing with witchcraft and paying homage to Frankenstein.

    The Sisterhood of Karn zealously guarded a life extending elixir their sacred flame helped generate. With telekinetic powers they created a spaceship graveyard to which the Time Lords diverted the TARDIS, according to the enraged Doctor. A headless mutant insect from ‘the Mutants’ ejected from a wrecked ship to be killed by neurosurgeon Solon’s hook-handed assistant, Condo.

    The planet Karn, near Gallifrey, was where Morbius had been executed long ago. Solon, his rumored associate, secretly kept the Time Lord criminal’s brain alive while constructing a body which only lacked a head. Solon planned to use the Doctor’s head and pleaded with the sisters to save it after they burned him at the stake. They had taken the TARDIS and the Doctor, believing he had come to steal their elixir. While rescuing him, Sarah Jane was temporarily blinded. Solon told the Doctor only the elixir could save her sight. Upon learning of the Doctor, Morbius rejected Solon’s plan to use the Time Lord’s head, insisting on quickly employing a brain case instead.

    After the operation, the Doctor and Morbius had a Time Lord wrestling match during which Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton, and Willaim Hartnell’s faces appeared. Morbius’ past incarnations were controversially portrayed by crew members to avoid paying actors. This contest was more interesting than the story’s ultimate conclusion.

    The original script featured a robot building a monstrous body, but writer Terrence Dicks left London and was unavailable after turning it in. Upon his return, the dismayed Dicks asked to be identified by a “bland pseudonym”. So, Script Editor Robert Holmes renamed the story’s writer Robin Bland.

    ‘The Brain of Morbius’ explored gothic horror themes for which this era of DOCTOR WHO is known. Setting the story near the Time Lords’ home world further developed the Doctor’s race, showing how they get along with their neighbors, punish criminals, and compete with one another for sport. These aspects elevate a familiar tale, making it both more enjoyable and fascinating.

    Reply
  2. Kristaps Paddock

    Hello Podcasters,

    This. Serial. Is. Fantastic.

    The gothic horror aspect here is just amazing. Unlike you, I will not be running through this to poke little holes in the story, but this is just so much fun. Visually, this is a hot mess of weird 1970s tropes about mad scientists and witch cults, and I will eat this particular hot mess with a spoon and fork, thank you.

    Additionally, maybe it’s me, but Tom Baker’s face does phenomenally well in shadowy lighting – he’s all angles and protuberances, and looks very omnious if you light him correctly.

    Lastly, the Time Lord aspect here is great. After this story, the Time Lords are pulled into a very senatorial, deliberative, rule-bound role, but up until now, they have been rife with dangerous renegades – the Doctor, the Meddling Monk, the War Chief, the Master, and now Morbius…. I wish they’d developed this version of the Time Lords more.

    Four Point Seven.

    Reply
  3. Michael Ridgway | @Bad_Movie_Club

    Mini reactions

    Episode 1:

    – Do the Timelords have a Section 31 that uses and abuses the Doctor for their dirty work?
    – The Sisterhood of Khaaaaaaaan!

    Episode 2:

    – Funniest bit – “sacrifice my servant instead!”
    – The Sisterhood of Khan are TOTAL FUCKING IDIOTS. How did you all not notice Sarah blatantly freeing the Doctor and the Doctor escaping from a flaming stake that you were dancing around?
    – That’s right Doctor, just leave blinded Sarah with a scary sexually repressed murderer with a metal claw for an arm. #dutyofcare

    Episode 3:

    – Soot was blocking the Flame of Life (?). The Sisterhood of Khan are TOTAL FUCKING IDIOTS.
    – Wow. Condo taking a bullet in the gut was brutal gory. This is still a kid’s show right?

    Episode 4:

    – If Morbius dies, does he regenerate with a new body, or just a new brain? If the former, why doesn’t he just do that instead of looking utterly ridiculous.
    – Did the Doctor just gas Doctor Solon to death!?
    – Did Maren just climb into The Flame of Life? How did she fit? Why wasn’t she screaming in agony as she horribly burned to death?

    Summary: whilst entertaining enough, the first three episodes built high expectations of Timelord lore around Morbius’s villainy that Mr grumpy fishbowl-head fails to meet.

    Rating: 1.9/5 odds and sods, bits of lobster & a fishbowl equals a legendary Timelord war criminal. Supposedly.

    Reply
  4. Trenton Bless | @trentonbless

    The Brain of Morbius is probably the closest Doctor Who ever got to being a Universal or Hammer Horror film. You got probably the most creative monster to ever come out of the show and even a guy’s bloody guts being shot out! That has never happened in a Doctor Who story before or since.

    Though written by Terrance Dicks, I think the writing credit should really go to Robert Holmes. Holmes reworked the script so heavily that Terrance Dicks didn’t want his name on it. He thought Holmes had made the script bland. So, it’s funny that the writer’s credit on the episodes is in fact Robin Bland.

    This story is far from bland, though. Like I said, the Morbius creature is probably the most creative monster to ever appear on the show. It looks like they tried to pick one monster but they were like “screw it. Use ‘em all!” It works brilliantly here!

    The dialogue is steeped in morbid humour. The Doctor: “Talking of heads, or their absence, we found a headless body lower down the mountain.” His capture by the Sisterhood is hilarious, too. In full Time Loon mode he just fires off funny lines left and right.

    Overall, this story is great for a horror movie night. It’s dark, gothic, has great monsters and gore, and it doesn’t even involve the likes of Boris Karloff or Peter Cushing! So, this serial definitely earns it’s score of 4.0/5 brains in jars.

    Reply
  5. Peter Zunitch

    A Doctor Who take on a classic story resulting in nothing less than a classic Doctor Who Story. Referenced as inspiration by countless future talent and producers, the acting is over the top, the characters are beautifully crafted, the music sympathetic, the sets pure eye candy, the art direction intriguing, and of course the story superb. The ultimate evil genius however is the directing, which sets such a wonderful atmosphere, and treats the entire presentation not like a television show, but as a theatrical stageplay.

    We can only nit-pick, and just for laughs. These are truly minor points:

    The chandelier drop – Really, just smash it properly. Or does the sisterhood like to haunt with a respect for antiques?

    The lock on the sacred flame – The prop voted most likely to be made two minutes before the scene is shot.

    The scorch marks on the inside of the door – those mineral deposits look a lot like spray paint.

    The soot remover: Really? The Doctor keeps one tucked behind his ear?

    Oheca appearing in the flame – what, she climbed in there? What just happened? Old woman burning!

    The final shot of the last scene – Explain and shoot it better or scrap it.

    Well that’s it. The rest is endlessly re-watchable (I should know). It lays the groundwork for one of the best Who shorts ever. This story keeps the sacred flame alive. I’ll give it a rating of (and yes, it counts as a castle) 4.8

    Reply

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