Fair warning, with the series 8 premier on Saturday, I’m going to be focusing on Doctor Who for the next couple of days. Starting with today’s Netflix Pick.
If you’re new to the series, you probably haven’t seen much of the classic series that aired from 1963 to 1989. And it’s high time you changed that. Now, Netflix doesn’t have a lot of the classic series episodes (Hulu has a whole bunch more, but most of them are under Hulu’s premium service.) But they do have some classics like City of Death, and today’s Pick The Mind Robber.
The Mind Robber is a trippy piece of work. It starts with the Crew of the Tardis landing in the middle of a big white void, and it only gets weirder from there, especially when fictional characters like Rapunzel and Gulliver from Gulliver’s Travels start showing up and helping the crew out. Eventually the Crew finds their way to the Master of the Land (as opposed to The Master) who controls all the strange goings on in the Land of Fiction. This particular master wants The Doctor to take over the control of the Land of Fiction as he’s getting old. I won’t spoil how the Doctor gets out of this one, because it’s arguably the best (and in some ways the silliest) part of the episode.
Like I said, this one’s a bit trippy. There’s a whole surrealist feel to the episode that works really well in context. Random castles, clockwork soldiers, it kind of feels like the Tardis crew have fallen down the rabbit hole and ended up in Wonderland, a really dangerous Wonderland at that. There’s also a lot of humor in this episode, which also works well with the surreal setting. Now, the acting is a tad stilted, but that’s normal for an early TV show like this. But the writing does make up for that on the whole.
There are a few things to be aware of; first of all, this is old TV. Early Who and other shows like it had miniscule budgets to work with, and the effects technology of the time was extremely limited. That said, the effects do have a certain charm to them. At least, I think they do. The other thing to be aware of is that while I call this a single episode (and it is, in terms of the show) it’s really more of a short serial. There’s four episodes in all, and they clock in at about twenty minutes each. So again, not a big time investment. But the parts of the serial were meant to be watched with a week in between each part, which makes binge watching a bit of a trial at times. Especially when there’s a long recap of what happened at the end of the last part at the beginning of the next one. But if you can look past those slight faults, this particular episode is a lot of fun; and well worth watching for anyone who’s looking to watch some Classic Who.
Overall rating: 7.5/10