Ah, so that’s who the Sisterhood of Karn are! I was beginning to wonder. I’d gotten the gist from their recent appearances, but not the specifics. As usual, I’m glad to learn that there’s at least a vague scientific explanation for their magical powers – a lot of things in the Who universe only really make sense if you’ve seen their origins. I was amused to note that they were complete shits for the majority of the serial, before they came good and decided to be The Doctor’s mates.
They’re just one of a number of brilliantly-realised ideas that make yet another proper classic, to add to the staggering number that the Fourth Doctor has had already. I loved the Frankenstein elements to this story, and the always-reliable Philip Madoc was having the time of his life in the mad scientist role. Also a big fan of the monobrowed, hooks-for-hands Lurch equivalent.
And then Morbius himself was gradually introduced into the story, which progressed at pace that left me desperate to just mainline the whole serial in one go. Just expertly put together, and much like with Pyramids of Mars, it doesn’t make any sense as to how this can be the case when Robert Holmes had to completely rewrite it at the last minute. Maybe they should have made him work like that all the time.
It was also quite a grim and harrowing tale. We care so much about Sarah Jane at this stage, and seeing her being blinded, tied up and then enslaved is somewhat emotionally involving. Not to mention the borderline sexually assaults from Lurchio. I can see why Mary Whitehouse was affronted by this one, and as usual, I fail to see how that can be a bad thing.
The one thing I’m not comfortable with, however, is The Doctor straight up killing Solon. I’m not sure what his plan was, if his intention was to murder the person keeping him captive, whilst still being captive. I assumed that he was knocking up a gas that would make the laboratory uninhabitable, but in a harmless way, so that Solon would have to come down and get at the gas. That would have been far more Doctorish than just poisoning the fucker.