The Brain of Morbius

Doctor WhoOn the planet Karn, the Doctor and Sarah happen upon a castle, home to a driven scientist named Solon and his disfigured manservant Condo. Though the time travelers are welcomed at first, the visit quickly becomes less cordial when Solon poisons the Doctor and Sarah’s wine; he intends to use the Doctor’s head to house the brain of his latest experiment in life extension. The being Solon is trying to keep alive, however, is Morbius, one of the most feared renegades ever produced by Time Lord society. Even without the interference of Solon, Condo, and the enigmatic Sisterhood of Karn (quietly planning to put an end to Solon’s experiments), the Doctor may be no match for Morbius’ evil power.

Order the DVDDownload this episodewritten by Robin Bland (pseudonym for Terrance Dicks)
directed by Christopher Barry
music by Dudley Simpson

Guest Cast: Philip Madoc (Solon), Colin Fay (Condo), Gilly Brown (Ohica), Cynthia Grenville (Maren), Michael Spice (voice of Morbius), Stuart Fell (Morbius monster), John Scott Martin (Kriz), Sue Bishop, Janie Kells, Gabrielle Mowbray, Veronica Ridge (Sisters)

Broadcast from January 3 through 24, 1976

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green

Review: It’s hard for me to be really objective about The Brain Of Morbius, for it was the first Doctor Who story I ever saw, somewhere around the age of seven or eight, and I was hooked immediately. (I think having a huge crush on Elisabeth Sladen probably helped cement that fixation, though I stuck around even after she left the series.) Yeah, Morbius “borrows” quite heavily from Frankenstein, but as always, that Gothic horror feel works particularly well in Doctor Who.

This episode is infamous within the BBC, and in fan circles, for its psychic wrestling match between the Doctor and Morbius. As the two do battle telepathically, the faces of their past lives flash briefly across a screen as each combatant summons the strength of the sum of his parts. Members of the behind-the-scenes crew got in on the fun by donning goofy costumes to provide Morbius’ past regenerations, and then got their own smackdown in the form of a fine from Equity, the actors’ union, who reprimanded them for not hiring proper actors to sit there for a still photo. And why do the fans care? Because the question floated around, up until The Five Doctors definitively pegged the Hartnell/Hurndall Doctor as the first and Peter Davison as the fifth, that some of the mystery faces might be the Doctor’s past lives as well, regenerations we’d never seen. (My only response to anyone thinking that: where’s the Peter Cushing Doctor?)