Review: Doctor Who and the Brain of Morbius

Doctor Who and the Brain of MorbiusDoctor Who and the Brain of Morbius by Terrance Dicks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Back in the days of my obsession with Target novels, the novelization of "The Brain of Morbius" was one of the most sought-after and prized in my collection. It was one of the first "Doctor Who" stories I watched and one of my earliest exposures to Tom Baker as the Doctor. And I loved it.

To my young mind, it was one of the classics of "Doctor Who" and I just had to have the novel so I could experience the story again and again (this was in the days before videotapes were as affordable as they later became and before the commercial releases on stories).

I eventually found the novel and read it once. And I recall thinking that maybe "Morbius" wasn’t quite as great as I thought it was when I first saw it. My love for the serial has dimmed a bit since I first saw it over twenty years ago, but for a little while it was easily one of my top ten "Doctor Who" stories of all time.

Fast forward twenty plus years and I’m getting ready for a car trip and my local library has Tom Baker’s reading of the Terrance Dicks novel of the story on CD. How can I resist it?

Listening to the story again, I’m struck by how well Dicks expands the story. It’s not up to the work he did in "Auton Invasion" but Dicks is able to smooth over a lot of rough patches in the story and really make the world of Karn seem a lot more bleak and expansive that what we saw on-screen. (Again, the only budget limitation on the printed page is how far we let our imaginations roam.) Dicks even tries to bring some sanity to the never-ending debate of the faces seen during the Deathlock battle between the Doctor and Morbius (if you want to have some fun, just put two "Doctor Who" fans in a room and tell them to debate that scene.)

And while the story works well, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by Tom Baker’s reading in spots. His voice for Solon is a bit silly as is the voice he uses for Morbius. Early on, they took me out of the reading, though by the end of disc three I was used to them enough that it ceased to be as big an issue.

All in all, a nice trip down memory lane with one of the more interesting stories from one of the classic eras in "Doctor Who." It’s not a great, but it’s certainly enjoyable.

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