The Mind’s Eye: The Doctor finds himself alone in the jungle of a distant world, discovered by security officers from a human expedition which has arrived to examine the planet’s plant life. One particular specimen is of great interest to the expedition’s leaders: a plant which can infiltrate the dreams of animal victims before it consumes them. One side effect of even the most fleeting exposure is memory loss, and only now does the Doctor remember that Peri and Erimem were with him. Erimem is discovered in the jungle, and the Doctor has to use an experimental technique to enter her dreams and lead her back to reality. When Peri is found, however, she is in a more advanced state of the process – the plant has enveloped her body and begun to feed. The Doctor is ready to go into Peri’s dreams to save her, but he discovers that some members of the expedition have a vested interest in studying Peri as she dies.
Mission Of The Viryans: In an attempt to bring Peri to a destination free of strife and tragedy for once, the Doctor takes her to a planet renowned for its relaxed social gatherings. But even there she can’t escape trouble – and if she can’t figure out what the Viryans are up to, she may not escape at all.
The Mind’s Eye Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Caroline Morris (Erimem), Owen Teale (Hayton), Rebecca Front (Major Takol), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Kyle), Richard Laing (Ukarme), Nicola Weeks (Andree)
Mission Of The Viryans Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Peter Sowerbutts (Lawrence), Philip Childs (Chris)
Timeline: between Son Of The Dragon and The Bride Of Peladon
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: It’s easy to argue that there really isn’t much that’s original about The Mind’s Eye; there’s a laundry list of SF “been there, done thats” to get through, from the artificially-induced dream that will kill the dreamer if they imagine their own death, to the planet where nighttime brings out the worst in the local fauna, to a second character inserting themselves into another character’s lucid dream. Even the treachery of some of the guest characters isn’t a huge surprise; that much seems, at least, like textbook ’80s Doctor Who, which is after all what The Mind’s Eye is, to some degree, emulating.
Where The Mind’s Eye succeeds, then, isn’t a matter of a groundbreaking plotline, but the strength of its performances. Nicola Bryant and Caroline Morris get to carry their characters over into invented realities where they’re still the same people, but dealing with more mundane (in Peri’s case) or even more fantastic (in Erimem’s case) circumstances. Peri’s dreams bring her firmly down to Earth, where she’s practically living a soap opera chain of events, while Erimem finds herself in a setting that combines her native ancient Egypt and the futuristic intrigue she has seen in the Doctor’s company. Both actresses sink their teeth into this material and make the most of it; also listen for Thomas Sangster, fresh from playing the pivotal role of Tim Latimer in the new series episodes Human Nature and Family Of Blood, as Peri’s angsty teenage stepson.
The guest artists each double/triple up, both as characters in the futuristic colony setting, and as different characters in Peri and Erimem’s dreamscapes. That they’re able to convincingly adopt different accents and, in Owen Teale’s case, such significantly different personas that you’d swear there was another actor playing that part, is a testament to their skill. Perhaps not the most inventive storyline, but an entertaining three-part adventure thanks to its cast.
Filling out the second disc is a single-part story, Mission Of The Viryans, which follows up on previous one-parters Urgent Calls and Urban Myths by introducing us to the Viryans, who apparently use engineered viruses to do their work, both dirty and otherwise. The supplemental material on the CD makes it clear that all of these single-part stories have only been put in place to set up the Viryans for a later full-length story of their own, so I’m still not sure what to say. Mission does have one interesting gag to recommend it, in which the end credit music rolls and then we get more story: the conclusion we thought we were getting was, in fact, a red herring. Nicola Bryant is definitely in center stage for Mission, effectively carrying the entire story.