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This is a five-part serial, first broadcast between 14th September - 12th October 1968. A brief and somewhat spoiler-ish summary of the plot: when the Tardis is being engulfed by boiling lava the Doctor pulls the emergency switch and our heroes find themselves… nowhere. Or, rather, nowhere real. Lost in a world of fiction the Doctor gets pinched by a group of riddling children, Zoe vanquishes a comicbook superhero and Jamie fights the British all over again, only to find that this time they're toy soldiers. In the end, the Doctor and his companions have to engage in a battle of wits with an evil brain to find their true selves again.
Very few Doctor Who serials have had so many problems during production. The preceding serial turned out one episode shorter than planned, which meant that 'The time robber' had to have five episodes and start a week early. It also meant that the first episode had to be made on a sixth-episode budget, with no extra money for new sets or props. As if that wasn't enough, Frazer Hines, who played Jamie, got chicken pox and a temporary replacement had to be brought in. (Luckily, this is the kind of story where it seems quite possible that a character suddenly has a different face.)
Miraculously, in spite of these problems, 'The mind robber' is simply very, very entertaining. The added-on first episode is terrific. Patrick Troughton, whose clownish Doctor doesn't quite seem to fit the more straightforward science fiction stories that I've seen from this era, is simply wonderful in this. The story is excellent, with good pacing and many clever little details, and both companions are used well. The sound effects are marvellous and the visual effects, even when pushing the boundaries of what was possible at the time, come off well.
The serial has some weaker points. The robots, which had been 'comical robots' in another series and were reused in Doctor Who to save money, never become menacing. The bird's eye view of the forest of letters isn't convincing. None of this matters, however.
A marvellous fantasy tale in the tradition of Lewis Caroll and L. Frank Baum.
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