Monday, October 26, 2009

4K1 - The Brain of Morbius 1

It's funny how one's initial perception of a story can be marred so easily by something so trivial, and how that perception can change over the years and make one realize how silly it was to think that story is anything other than brilliant.

My first viewing of The Brain of Morbius in the late 1980s was of a flawed copy sent to many PBS stations. It was flawed in the sense that Episode One contained no music soundtrack or sound effects, which, being watched by an impressionable 13-year-old boy like me who needed the bells and whistles (sometimes in a literal sense) to keep him riveted to the story, was a criminal failing. At the time, I thought Episode One of this story looked and sounded like cheap, abstract, artsy crap.

Of course, any story set entirely within the confines of the BBC Television studio and shot on videotape is bound to look cheap, especially the scenes meant to take place outside. While the surface of Karn, and the vast graveyard of crashed spaceships supposedly seen off in the distance, never look anything close to convincing, the sets of both Solon's castle and the dwelling of the Sisterhood of Karn are both ornately realized, and the actors portraying the inhabitants of these buildings are nothing short of brilliant. (About whom more later...)

Tom Baker's Doctor continues his dark and grumpy turn away from the more docile Doctor seen in the first season of the Fourth Doctor. In Pyramids of Mars, he was seen to not suffer fools gladly, admonishing Lawrence Scarman on many occasion when the latter repeatedly refused to admit that his brother, Marcus, was no more. In the first Doctor scene in this story, The Doctor is downright temperamental and childish, angrily sulking and allowing Sarah to wander off into trouble while he remains perched on a rock, refusing to go along with whatever mission the Time Lords have directed him towards. Baker's performance in this adds another layer to the increasing alien-like Doctor that we are becoming used to, and it's fascinating to watch.


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