|With Sophie Aldred. Written by Terrance Dicks.|
A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 12/10/98
Mindgame was a rushed piece of work and it shows, but this isn`t necessarily a bad thing. Terrance Dicks has proved that he can write quality rushed drama, the most obvious example being Horror of Fang Rock. The plot is essentially a very simple one: a Sontaran,a Draconian and a Human merecenary are trapped in a cell with no idea as to why they are there.
The storyline, in this case, deals with the themes of manipulation and survival in very easy-to-follow way. Nothing new is added to the backgrounds of the characters, but they are played to their strengths: the Sontaran`s bloodlust, the Draconian`s pride and the Human`s cunning. Production values are generally high--the cell being cathedral-like, complete with smoke to match. The Sontaran is the design of that in The Two Doctors, and the Draconian is more rubbery in the face. The Human comes off best, being slightly reminiscent of Bernice Summerfield.
The only thing that lets Mindgame down is the predictable ending, but this can be ignored, given that the script was rushed. Reeltime Pictures' latest offering proves you don`t have to be a Doctor Who fan to enjoy spin-offs of this nature. At thirty minutes, Mindgame is just the right length and, coupled with a behind the scenes documentary, is nothing less than entertaining.
A Review by Reuben Herfindahl 18/11/98
This is hands down the worst professional Doctor Who related video I've ever seen. It runs a hair over half an hour.
Here's the plot. A Sontarian, a Draconinian and a Human are transported into an isolated cell and forced to deal with paranoia and the wishes of their captor to have them fight to the death with each other. Sounds like a bad joke. Unfortunately, that's the first thing Sophie Aldred's charecter says when she is beamed into the cell.
Granted it has some bright sides, Sophie and the guy who plays the Draconian can actually act. But that's it.
The guy who plays the Sontarian has a dreadful mask, he also is one of the worst actors I've ever seen (and I'm a regular watcher of MST3K). To make things worse, the lines Dicks (did I mention Terrance Dicks wrote this mess) wrote for him are horridly off base for a Sontarian. Even his actions are all wrong. At one point he attempts to attack Sophie's charecter, and Sophie and the Draconian easily overpower him, bringing him to his knees and basically forcing him to say, "Uncle".
To make things worse the baddie behind the whole thing is a guy in a gorilla mask with horns. After the beautiful Draconian mask, we are treated to an old guy with a Gorilla mask, whose mouth doesn't even move.
Ohh yeah, the great escape. The escape via pretending to fight, and then pretending to have one prisoner emerge victorious and then finally sneak attack the captor when he goes into their cell. Wow, Star Trek anyone?
Okay. This was bad. But it got a few laughs. But now comes the really awful part. There's a 45 minute documentary about the 1/2 hour film. Basically the whole time is spent by everyone trying to deny the fact that this was a horrid film made just so everyone can make money off of us. Well, okay, not everyone denies it. Sophie says this is the only type of work she's been able to get since Doctor Who and claims to enjoy it. She also mentions that she thinks she'll keep doing it as long as the suckers (opps... I mean fans) are willing to plop down their hard earned cash.
The behind the scenes stuff reveals a project falling apart, even the narrator comes right out and says this at one point.
Terrance Dicks can be seen in a near state of shock while on set. He seems unable to comprehend the sheer state of unreadyness going on around him. But after a while, he admits, he got into it. Snipping giant segments of the plot, cutting out 10 full page of charecter development (afterall, it's a story about 3 people trapped in a small cell, who needs charecter development [/end sarcasm]), and generally hacking up a hack script.
Then there's a really odd part where the actor that played the Draconian starts talking up this wierd bit about how he was ticked they couldn't develop the sexual side of his and Sophie's character. Huh? The closest they get to this is the Draconian leaning close to Sophie. And this happens when there is a countdown going on. The actor talks about a sexual relationship and the intresting issues brought up with cross species breeding. Huh?
In the end it was much like watching a car accident. It was awful, but you just couldn't turn away.
What shall be the fate of my $20 purchase? Well let's just say it's getting shipped off to a certain fellow UW River Falls drop out. ;-)
A Review by Richard Radcliffe 19/9/04
Once there were these 3 characters. One was a Sontaran, another a Draconian, another a human. They found themselves in a cell, with only each other for company, and not a blind clue where they are, and why they are there. That's Mindgame, and over the next 35 minutes we live with these 3 mismatched characters as they strive to come to terms with their predicament.
Spin-offs can take the DW fan on great adventures with some characters that didn't receive enough attention on the parent show, eg the new Sarah-Jane dramas from Big Finish. They also can be focused on something or somebody we were glad to see in the background of Doctor Who. This drama will largely be enjoyed by those who enjoy the characters on offer, I found them ordinary and predictable.
The human is played by Sophie Aldred. As much as this actress can strive to be something else, she is the ultimate typecast person in all Who. She's Ace, and as much as she tries to make her into something else (and Sophie really does try her best), she can't get away from it - especially when the product is directed at DW fans. She's okay in this, but the dialogue is hardly sparkling.
The Sontarans are pretty one dimensional. You don't learn anything new about them in this drama, and the actor isn't the best either.
The Draconian is full of honour, like in Frontier in Space. I was one of the few who was glad that the Draconians were limited to just one story on Doctor Who - so I was hardly going to embrace this lone ranger here very much. That said though Miles Richardson is the best actor, and the mask is excellent.
And so we go through isolated hell with these three. Sontaran aggression is mixed with Draconian pride. And then human nature is thrown into the mix too. I'm not that keen on this psychological probing whoever it is - and it certainly isn't that interesting with these three. When we meet the jailer it's a major disappointment. Bad pantomime mask, and so easily overcome too. And so our three characters are on their way again. I wasn't that fussed about meeting them again to be honest - but DW has the power to surprise for good and bad. 4/10