Monday, October 26, 2009

4K3 - The Brain of Morbius 3

Things take a shocking and gruesome turn late in this episode when Condo knocks the jar containing Morbius's brain over, sending Solon into a wild rage, pull out a gun, and shoot his trusty servant. As if the gloppy brain and its preserving fluid being spilled onto the floor wasn't enough, but the explosion of blood out of Condo's chest from Solon's gun shot. is still stunning today.

Very rarely has blood even been shown in Doctor Who up until this point, let alone spilled in such a violent and savage way. It's a testament to what was becoming allowable for most on television screens around the world by 1976, and, while Mary Whitehouse and the National Viewers Association were beginning to make a stink about such things, a similar sequence in the final episode of Blake's 7 in 1981, a show intended for older viewers, elicited an even stronger reaction at the time.

While I feel Doctor Who is at its best when it pushes the boundaries of normal television programmes, and I am wholeheartedly behind some of the more graphic and grisly aspects of mid-1970s Doctor Who, I can also see the Visigoths come over the hill, ready to sack the Roman Empire that is brilliant, edgy Doctor Who whenever I see scenes like the shooting of Condo. With each successive gruesome sequence, more attention was paid to it, which means more people were expecting to complain about the next time such a scene occurred.

On a completely different topic, joining the ranks of fine acting performances in this episode is Michael Spice, who is finally "seen" in this episode as a brain in a jar. Credit to Spice for making his dialogue so chilling and alive, and also for both he and Philip Madoc for raising a scene consisting of a man talking to a prop brain in a jar to something worthy of high art.


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