Serial Review: The Brain of Morbius (Season 13)
Set design, in many cases, can turn an alright story into a pretty good one. Although watching Doctor Who I have learned to suspend my disbelief, it makes for just an overall more pleasurable viewing experience when the stories have settings that look vaguely realistic. I don’t mind if the explosions and lasers look ridiculous, but I just adore good sets.
“The Brain of Morbius” is sort of a mix between a story about a fanatic religious cult and an obvious inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with a bit of Doctor Who lore jammed in for good measure. The cultists in the new series episode “The Fires of Pompeii” were apparently inspired by the soothsayers in this story, and I find them equally irritating in both. That isn’t to say that story isn’t without its merits.
As I alluded to earlier, this story has really good sets. I never felt like I was watching painted posterboard while seeing this serial, and it makes it a much more enjoyable experience. I like the story of Frankenstein, so I didn’t mind seeing its influence here, and I think this story has a lot more good about it than bad.
The best part of the story, especially early on, is Philip Madoc as Solon. He plays the part perfectly, and Elisabeth Sladen is very sharp in the serial as well, despite being relegated to the unfortunate part of constant screamer. It is well known that I’m not a particularly big fan of Tom Baker, and he kind of continues to be the same for me here. He wasn’t distractingly bad and was hardly as charming to me as everyone else seems to think he is.
In the end, this story is a bit too jumbled at times for me to think it is one of the best. That said, I like the ambition in the story and there are enough good parts working together to make “The Brain of Morbius” another firmly above average Season 13 serial.