The Brain of Morbius, from the latter half of Tom Baker's second season as the Doctor, marries the popular pairing of the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith with a production team gleefully grave-robbing from Frankenstein and numerous Gothic horror films. Doubtless suffering somewhat from being shot entirely within the confines of the TV studio, it is a story that nonetheless manages to both entertain and terrify in equal measure, and has rightly been a fan favourite since its debut in early 1976.
Originally recorded on 2" quad videotape, The Brain of Morbius was a straightforward restoration and cleanup job undertaken by Jonathan Wood, SVS, and Mark Ayres as usual. There was, however, one little mystery to be solved along the way...
Off-air audio recordings made by fans at the time clearly feature a piece of incidental music playing as Sarah emerges from hiding near the end of episode one. However, on every video release, subsequent transmissions, and indeed on the BBC transmission masters for the episode, the music and added sound effects fade out at this point for about ten seconds, before reappearing as Sarah comes into the lab. Further investigation reveals that the 2" quad master is actually a protection dub, so it seems highly likely that the original transmission master was damaged at some point after the first transmission. A repair was made from the studio tapes that presumably still existed at that point (or perhaps from the BBC Enterprises master which mistakenly had clean studio sound rather than the final mix), but for reasons unknown the music and effects were not added back in. Mark Ayres was able to patch the section back in from off-air recordings, so the DVD presents the original transmission version for the first time in over thirty years.
The extras package for this release consists of:
A commentary with actors Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen and Philip Madoc, director Christopher Barry and producer Philip Hinchcliffe.
Brendan Sheppard has produced four features for the disc. In Getting a Head (dur. 32' 04"), cast and production team recall the making of the story. Featuring director Christopher Barry, producer Philip Hinchcliffe, writer Terrance Dicks, designer Barry Newbery, composer Dudley Simpson, actors Philip Madoc, Cynthia Grenville, Colin Fay and Gillian Brown. Narrated by Paul McGann.
Designs on Karn (dur. 6' 08") features designer Barry Newbery talking about his work realising an alien planet in a Gothic style.
Based on the story's studio floorplans, Set Tour (dur. 2' 10") offers a unique look inside the TV studio in the form of a 3D CGI tour of TC1 at Television Centre, showing how the various sets were constructed and arranged.
The Sketch Gallery (dur. 2' 22) showcases original design sketches plus new concept artwork used in the DVD features.
And as usual there's the Photo Gallery, Coming Soon trailer, Radio Times Billings PDF, Programme subtitles and Subtitle Production Notes, plus a couple of goodies to keep you Easter Egg hunters happy.
Copyright Steve Roberts, 22 May 2008. No reproduction allowed without written permission.