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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Black Guardian Trilogy - The 5th Doctor's greatest hits!
This trilogy falls in the middle of Peter Davison's penultimate season as the Doctor. By now he has fully settled into the role and puts in a corker of a performance here.

The three stories here are a loose story arc linked by the involvement of the Black Guardian, portrayed by Valentine Dyall in villainous form, and his attempts to get the Doctor killed. As...
Published on 19 Aug 2009 by Victor

versus
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "A Lord of Time? Are there Lords in such a small domain?"
Common knowledge and perceived wisdom has it that the Peter Davison era was when things started to go wrong for Doctor Who, but while he never made as much of an impression in the role as his predecessor Tom Baker and was saddled for most of his tenure with the deeply obnoxious `mouth on legs' Tegan, many of his stories were no worse - and some were considerably better -...
Published on 19 May 2010 by Trevor Willsmer


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Black Guardian Trilogy - The 5th Doctor's greatest hits!, 19 Aug 2009
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - The Black Guardian Trilogy: Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment [DVD] (DVD)
This trilogy falls in the middle of Peter Davison's penultimate season as the Doctor. By now he has fully settled into the role and puts in a corker of a performance here.

The three stories here are a loose story arc linked by the involvement of the Black Guardian, portrayed by Valentine Dyall in villainous form, and his attempts to get the Doctor killed. As well as the welcome return of Dyall, these stories are notable for the return of the Brigadier and the introduction of Vislor Turlough, one of my favourite companions.

Davison's era was poorly served by his companions, I always found Adric and Tegan to be really annoying, and while Nyssa was a watchable and likeable character, the scriptwriters made her so bland she never really made an impression. Turlough, the wily, untrustworthy sneak, was just right. Character flaws aplenty so he made an impression, but still likeable. And never better than here, struggleing with some rather large moral problems.

Mawdryn Undead is a decent bit of hard-core Sci Fi. There are several story strands which come together nicely into one complete whole. First there's the Black Guardian's scheme to coerce seeming schoolboy Turlough into killing the Doctor. There's the reintroduction of the Brigadier from two time periods (the older and younger Brig both played to perfection by the ever dependable Nicholas Courtney) running around and who must never meet. Then there's the story of the attempts of Mawdryn (played by David Collings, another star turn as one of Who's more sympathetic aliens) to finally find release, which may well cost the Doctor all his lives. There's a lot going on here, but some excellent script writing, attention to detail (time paradox plots are often full of holes, but not here!) and the very welcome return of the Brigadier makes this Who of the highest quality.

Terminus is a slightly patchier affair. The Black Guardian persuades Turlough to sabotage the Tardis, just before she breaks up she docks with a seemingly deserted ship. The Tardis crew get split up and we follow their various adventures as the ship docks at Terminus, the centre of the known universe, where the leprous like Lazars who have been concealed on the ship have come to find a cure. There are some good ideas on show here, especially the Vanir, who resemble Vikings, and the explanation for the origin of the Big Bang. However, the scripts aren't quite strong enough, and some of the special effects (the Garm must surely be the silliest Who monster of all time) let it down a little. This series will forever be remembered as the one where Nyssa starts taking her clothes off for no good reason, and where she leaves the Tardis crew. 4 stars for this story.

Enlightenment is a return to form. After a warning from the White Guardian, The Tardis crew land on what appears to be an Edwardian racing yacht. Not all is as it seems however... It's really a space yacht, involved in a race, the first prize of which is enlightenment. In this series Turlough really comes into his own. AS Nyssa has left he manages to get a fair chunk of screen time. He and the Doctor really work well together for the first time, especially in the scenes where Turlough is turning coats. There are some excellent guest actors here - as well as Valentine Dyall there is Lynda Baron as a wonderful Buccaneer captain, a part she attacks with some relish. Keith Barron, as the Edwardian captain, has some particularly good scenes. Lots of twists and turns here, leading to a satisfying conclusion where Turlough and the Doctor face the Black Guardian, and Turlough has to make a decision.

The DVD's are the usual excellent quality from 2Entertain. The picture is a decent quality, nicely restored. There is a wealth of extras on all the discs, and Enlightenment is a 2 disc special edition, with a 75 minute edit of the series with new CGI's and 5.1 surround sound on the second disc.

A great package, the best of the Davison years, with some great scenes from one of the best ever companions. Definitely one to get.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Funny Collection of Stories, 27 Feb 2014
This review is from: Doctor Who - The Black Guardian Trilogy: Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment [DVD] (DVD)
1983's Black Guardian Trilogy is an odd batch of serials. Some work better than others. Namely Mawdryn Undead and Enlightenment. I don't think it needs stating that this trilogy features as its main villain The Black Guardian, who returns here after his 2 minute spotlight appearance at the end of 1978's Key to Time season. I find it strange that this 12 episode mammoth was given over to one foe that I bet 90% of the viewing audience knew nothing about. Now, a trilogy of Dalek, Cybermen or Master serials might have been more akin to the celebratory seasons trappings, but, I fear that would have been pushing the boat a wee bit too far.

Anywho, we got the Black Guardian, who, whilst not the greatest, is played with great aplomb by stalwart actor Valentine Dyall. This is an old-school actor who has been given 12 ham scripts and told to have a good old go at it. Which he does, with charm. Had he played the Black Guardian totally straight, I think we all would have grown tired of the character by the 2nd episode. So, with a trilogy of stories to play about with, what did the team at BBC TV centre decide to lavish us with;

Mawdryn Undead

The trilogy begins in style with Peter Grimwade's timey-wimey tale of Mawdryn and his undead crew seeking death at the hands of our Time Lord. Obviously, the main thrust of this tale is the return of the Brigadier, who, as played by the truly superb Nic Courtney, is given the lions share of this tale. Thankfully. Its one thing to bring back an established icon like Nic, but really, respect must be given to Grimwade for incorporating the character so well into his story. The Brig doesn't just pop-up and wave and then disappear, no, he is the plot. I love the fact that the Brig is given such emphasis here, as it makes him so much more important as a real person instead of just some old relic from the 70's.

Peter Davison is quite obviously loving the nostalgic feel of this tale as well as looking to the bright future, although season 20 is poor, and it is, and Peter agrees, this tale is pretty solid and ranks as one of his best. Season 21 saw a dramatic shift in quality, but unfortunatly, Peter had decided to hang up the Cricket bat after such atrocities as Arc of Infinity, Terminus and King's Demons. Still, here, he is given plenty of good material to work with an excels as the Doctor. I have always loved Davison's more Human Doctor, blasphemy I know, but after 7 years of an alien Tom, I needed a break!!!

The companions are used well here, Tegan is useful to the plot and doesn't whinge much, which is good. Nyssa enjoys some nice touches, especially with Tegan and the Brig. But the real star here is of course the man {boy} this tale was written to introduce, Mark Strickson's Turlough, by far my favourite 80's male companion, limited choice aside. Here, Turlough is introduced as a most promising talent, and although as ever his talents will be wasted by lesser writers later on, here, Grimwade makes the boy shine. With such a great actor as Valentine to play off of, Mark is on fine form. Never before have we had such a villainous companion on the show, and I applaud producer JNT for the bold decision to throw a new dynamic into the TARDIS. Turlough certainly is watchable, which becomes a God send in the next tale, "Terminus", and finally reaches its satisfying pay-off in the final chapter of the trilogy, "Enlightenment".

Other aspects of this tale are wonderful also, David Collings is fantastic as Mawdryn, the immortal being longing for death, the location shoot is very English and Peter Moffatt's direction perfectly adequate. Set design is good and overall the production sparkles. The incidental music is also fresh and vibrant, and a wee bit dark. Overall, fair play to Grimwade for writing a script that contains oh so many elements that could have caused it to slide down the bottom of fan rankings, but, sits proudly high amongst.

Terminus

Oh, Terminus. What went wrong. Well, not to put too fine a point on it, alot. Few Doctor Who stories depress me like this, in fact, only Love and Monsters comes close. This is really a poor effort from all involved. If only this tale had been scheduled to be made at the end of the recording block, we would have lost this in the strikes and got Eric Saward's The Return instead. Unhappily, that did not occur and so we are stuck with what must stand as 4 episodes of Doctor Who that the junking process should have been reinstated for. Don't blame Steve Gallagher, his script is not too bad, although the idea of The Big Bang being created from one of Terminus's unstable engines does not sit well with me, the rest of the tale stood a chance at being interesting. Unitl, that is, it was given over the the production team. The burden of who is to blame for this tale is hard to determine, could it be script editor Eric Saward? director Mary Ridge or good old producer JNT? Well, having collated all the evidence, I think its fair to say all three. Any one of them could have stepped in and said, what the hell are we doing to this guys script?

Unfortunatly for us and the 7 or so million who tuned in back in '83, they decided to keep shtum and carry on. And so we are left with Terminus. Interminable Terminus. I'm not even going to whittle down what works and doesn't in this tale. Well alright, I suppose Nyssa's departure scene was well done, but that's about it. Take it from me, avoid like the proverbial plague.

Enlightenment

Things thankfully get back on track here. Enlightenment is quite a charming tale, not to heavy to follow I grant you but coming as it does after Terminus, one should be grateful that the BBC is still airing Doctor Who! Tegan's tale, this be. Although Mark Strickson's Turlough is still the centre of attention, Tegan benefits for the first time this year since "Snakedance" from actually being part of the show. Her interactions with Marriner are superb, the two actors really convincing in the scenes they share. In fact, the whole production features some impressive performances. Davison as ever shines as the Doctor, Keith Barron is superb as Striker and although most disagree, I love Lynda Baron as Wrack. Leee John let's the acting side down a bit, but, since this is his first TV, we ought to forgive him, if only a little. Production wise, although this is another tale beset by stikes and the like, it is brilliantly made and very convincing. The model shots of the ships in space were, for the time, remarkable, especially on Who. Inside, the sets do nothing but fail to convince and the lighting is perfect. Costumes are great also, Janet Fielding actually looks passable here, which says alot due to that boob tube she's been forced to wear for the last 3 stories. Enlightenment comes highly recommended.

The whole Black Guardian trilogy is brought to a satisfying close in Enlightenment. Turlough has been tortured by the Black Guardian for 12 episodes now and so, to cease the prospect of it becoming stale, Turlough resolves the situation by ridding himself of the Black Guardian and his evil intentions. It's quite well handled and Mark Strickson impresses with his conviction. Davison stands smugly observing Turlough's immenent choice but I have always idly wondered what the Doctor's face would have looked like had Turlough said yes to the Black Guardian, now that would have been interesting!!!

The BBC DVD Release of this trilogy is very impressive. It features all 12 episodes beautifully restored and remastered and complete with their own 25 minute making-of doco's. Lots of other tit-bits are thrown in for good measure so that any fan's tastes and requirements of this box set are met. "Enlightenment" features a special edition. Now, it's been universally panned by the fans and with good reason I feel, it's totally unnecessary. The original looks great and doesn't drag, so to cut 25 minutes out and replace all the stunningly shot models with 90's cheapo-looking CGI defeats the point of the tale. Remember this when you come to make your choice - Enlightenment was the choice! - {The Original Choice} ;}

Many thanks for your time.

M.B.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At last!, 17 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Doctor Who - The Black Guardian Trilogy: Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment [DVD] (DVD)
Mawdryn Undead

Watch the version with the new CGIFX, it's much better; back in 1983, someone was in a tearing hurry.

Dispensing with the dating question (it could so easily have been the Royal Wedding of 1981) this is a jolly good story. The twin times work very well, and the two brigadiers and the poor eponymous guy, who just wants to die - well, it's David Collings - he would be good, wouldn't he?

Is it credible that he's a post regeneration Doctor? Well, just about, if you squint. Is it credible that the Black Guardian picks on Turlough, or that (for that matter) that he's been moved from another planet and hidden here by a very peculiar lawyer? Well, truth is often stranger than fiction. Credible that those two little girls are really Nyssa and Tegan? I wouldn't bet money on it.

But it is a good, intelligently written story. It's very well acted; Angus McKay is very good as the Head, with a nice cameo from Roger Hammond as Dr Runciman, and Mark Strickson makes a fine debut.

And Valentine Dyall is wonderfully nasty, and a real old trouper with a very fine voice (I do a credible impersonation if any casting directors are reading); his new frock looks very fine, even if he has got the remains of a dead raven on his head - it does *not* make him look like Granny Longbottom.

The new CGIFX are a *big* improvement - I'd almost forgotten how poor the original ones are - the new flame effect behind the Black Guardian especially, and the re-created spaceship in flight shots, and most especially the new 'Brigadier regains his memory' sequence, recreated with considerably thought and artistry. It really is a high point of the story. Of course there's then two episodes to go, and only Mawdryn and his rather dull chums' wish to die being all the plot has really got to keep it going, and 'we want to die' is never going to be as - literally - vital as 'We *don't* want to die'. It's a very good job that it all fits together so well, and that the denouement is so neat - well done Mr Grimwade (Timeflight best forgotten, eh?)

One little note from The Making Of, the mutants are all wearing upholstery foam, and they all have globs of string on their heads. I think I'd guessed that, but it's nice to have it confirmed. 4/5 (just)

Terminus

It's a bit like the Sisters of Plenitude, but instead of cats, there's this enormous dog.

Even in 1983 it had got off to a good start, but now the VFX have been improved, so it looks miles better, but even with Liza Goddard and Dominic Guard having such silly uniforms that it suggests the Raider captain has a Rocky Horror fetish, the last moments 'We're on a leper ship!' and Tegan getting grabbed by leper arms was quite enough for LEPRA (the charity that began its work by trying to help lepers) to protest quite loudly, and with reason, though I don't think that my own feelings regarding lepers have been particularly affected by the story.

It's an intelligent script, possibly more like a Series 3 Blake's 7 than a JNT Dr Who, and it hasn't really got a proper villain - the most negative force in this is *misunderstanding* (and apathy) - most people are trying to do the right thing, but often at cross-purposes, and with very little energy. Even the profiteering Company seems ultimately tractable.

If it weren't for the need to provide a dramatic climax, all the 'shove the switch back or cataclysm' stuff could be binned for the nonsense it is, and to be honest if the switch bends a little lever out of shape GET A BIGGER LEVER! Physics.

There's a nice Norse thing going on with names like Sigurd, Bor, Valgard, the Garm, Olvir, Kiri, and even if the Vanir armour is more Sutton Hoo than Viking it looks good - it's a shame it doesn't work!

It doesn't protect the joints - that stuff is meant to be radiation proof, but the wearer's going to get cancer of the elbows! And you can't make yourself heard with your visor down, and it makes an annoying clacking noise, and it really annoyed Andrew Burt. And the idea that Bor can use it to make a radiation shield is laughable.

And the violence is silly. There's no reason why Valgard hits people - he seems too gloomy to be credibly aggressive - but at the same time it makes no sense for him to get chinned off one of the tinsel-toed space pirates. The rest of the story does such gritty realism that the fights really do look fey (they both got trained by the same not-very-good-at-fighting NCO...)

And the Garm, well, at least we're watching it from the outside - I pity R J Bell, who had to wear the damned thing. If he comes after you, just run, one thing he ain't built for is speed. 3.5/5

Enlightenment

It was a very satisfying story back in 1983; it clearly had it's head on right, and there's some lovely acting and a tip top script.

And Lynda Baron in a corset, and Janet Fielding in black PVC. Well, there is - I was just saying.

And they've done the CGIFX with this too, and it looks even better than the first two, with proper sailing ships and everything.

It is a very good, highly improbable, well considered story (with some nods to Carnival of Monsters), the human crew are well drawn and well played, and Keith Barron and Christopher Brown do signal duty as the officers, but there's good work from the supernumeraries too - I love the guy playing the silent helmsman.

Lynda Baron is clearly having great fun, and the pirates are a jolly bloodthirsty crew - particularly when forcing those two Chinese to walk the plank - but Mansell - Leee John??? They could at least have him singing a shanty, cos he's really not an actor (though I'm sure he's very nice).

There is a very welcome sense of birds finally coming home to roost in this; when the Guardians finally arrive, the whole Deus Ex Machina story can finally be put to bed, at long last, and really not before time. It is very good that they got Cyril Luckham again, because he's very good- and a fitting match for the Man in Black.

'Enlightenment was the choice', very very well done. 4/5
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A box set will real linking stories, 16 Jan 2011
By 
Mr. R. G. Prizeman "Dickie 1" (croydon UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - The Black Guardian Trilogy: Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment [DVD] (DVD)
I always felt Peter Davidson was never role of the Dr long enough. Season two was not only a disappointment to him but to also fans ending early due to strikes. Anyway these three linked stories stand up quite well. The first uses that concept from Back to the future Part 2 of erasing your past and the story works very well although it does make you question past explanations as to when Who' stories were set (Pertwee stories were set five years in the future, so the Brig in 1977 would still be in UNIT). With the introduction of Turlough who you really don't like at first and its nice that the viewer knows more about him than the Tardis crew,however, how long can you sustain the idea that he is trying to kill the Dr?, Its nice to see Brigadier back, even if you need to forget past stories with the two incarnations, it is defiantly the best of the three stories. Terminus is Sarah Sutton's last story and a good yarn, but I always felt was the weakest of the three, and the idea of Turlough still trying to kill the Dr gets a little predictable and unbelievable as you know it can never happen anyway. Enlightment is bound to get the most attention here as it is available in two versions. The original as broadcast and a special 75 min 6.9 ratio with 5.1 sound re edited by Fiona Cumming the original director.In some ways it is a difficult story to follow but this is the climax and has to tie all the loose ends together. There are a lot of good extras on all the discs making This makes this a four disc set. Its very interesting when you are presented with a different look at an old story which is not a replacement to the original. This is a great edition to the DVD and a good price now to buy.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hmm, Its Good but..., 1 Jan 2011
This review is from: Doctor Who - The Black Guardian Trilogy: Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment [DVD] (DVD)
Mawdryn Undead:
This story is pretty good i find its an enjoyable way to introduce a companion and re-introduce an old enemy
Mark Strickson portrays a troubled young man, far far away from home, desperate to get off earth brilliantly
The return of the black guardian is aso worth mentioning with Vlentine dyall performance of the most evil being in the universe is stellar.
Peter Davisons Fifth Doctor is on top form again and puts across an innocence, completley oblivious of his new companions ties to the black guardian
Sarah Sutton's Nyssa is As usual gorgeous,intelligent and caring looking after who she thinks is the doctor and showing she'll do anything to help him
Tegan...what can i say? Janet Fieldings Tegan isn't my favourite more so in this set of stories because of her tendancy to moan and panic but she shows a more "been around the block" attitude in this story questioning Mawdryn's claims to be the doctor and there intentions.
Oh and We have the return of the Brigadier,after 8 years away, showing his implicit trust of the doctor and the friendship they share.
Damn good story

Terminus:
This is good story but it does tend to lull in parts where they do nothing or there is something going on but no plot expotition
Mark Strickson and Janet Fielding spend an enjoyable time crawling round air ducts together but it gives the characters of tegan and turlough a chance to gain a little trust.
Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton show how their characters of The Fifth Doctor and Nyssa have grown closer to each other by their need to find one another and that cute little hug in episode one!
speaking of Nyssa theres another moment,the dropping of a certain skirt,which can be desrcibed as....interesting
The black Guardian is somewhat in the background in this story and is sort of only there to keep turlough in agony over his choice
The only disapointing thing about this story is that Nyssa leaves! especially since the story is seen as a bit rubbish but the deparure seen is both sad and memorable and makes you wish that Nyssa would stay (and possible boot out tegan!)

Enlightenment:
For me there is a hole i this story as Nyssa is no longer there but apart from that it's an enjoyable romp with the return of the White Guardian and the introduction of The Eternals
The Final installment of the trilogy shows Turlough finally begining to break under the pressure of the Black Guardians demands and with his choice at the end shows the beginings of a trustworthy companion( if they could stop locking him up in the tardis!)
Tegan is a bit better in this story with less moaning and the little sub-plot of and eternal taking a deep interest in her
The Doctor is Brilliant in this story showing the couragous fifth doctor in the light he is always set in the brave but in someways tragic hero

Whilst having some problems with the stories they are overall pretty good eighties stroies
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "A Lord of Time? Are there Lords in such a small domain?", 19 May 2010
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - The Black Guardian Trilogy: Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment [DVD] (DVD)
Common knowledge and perceived wisdom has it that the Peter Davison era was when things started to go wrong for Doctor Who, but while he never made as much of an impression in the role as his predecessor Tom Baker and was saddled for most of his tenure with the deeply obnoxious `mouth on legs' Tegan, many of his stories were no worse - and some were considerably better - than the latter season Baker efforts. Mawdryn Undead is an example of the latter, an ambitious plot-led story that sees the Doctor and his companions separated in two time zones - 1977 and 1983 - with two Brigadier Lethbridge Stewarts and a new addition to the TARDIS' company in the form of Turlough, who's being bribed by one of the Doctor's many old enemies, The Black Guardian (previously seen in The Key to Time sequence that made up the show's 16th season), to nobble the Time Lord once and for all. With one of the Brigadiers unable to remember the Doctor, a group of aliens who've stolen Time Lord technology in a botched attempt at immortality and a threat to our hero's ability to regenerate (and therefore his existence as a Time Lord), it's a surprisingly clever little number that manages to fill in most of the potential plot holes without insulting your intelligence too much (even if it does take one Deus ex Machina to do it) and looks rather stylish doing it. Even Tegan manages not to be annoying for a change.

Thanks to a bit of TARDIS-sabotage from Turlough, Terminus sees the Doctor and his companions stranded on a leper ship run by alien slaves based on Norse gods, albeit drug-dependent ones. To make matters worse, the ship may have caused the Big Bang that created the universe and is gearing up for a repeat performance that might destroy it... Written by Stephen Gallagher, who also wrote the strikingly ambitious Warrior's Gate, the production was plagued by technical problems, there's a nice balance of ideas and character, with Turlough's discussion of the relative merits of charm versus brutal honesty with Tegan showing that at least someone on the show was aware of her limitations as a character. But it remains perhaps more interesting than successful, though it does include a nice and touchingly compassionate send-off for one of the companions who finds a much better reason than mere homesickness to take their leave of the Doctor, and the audio commentary - particularly when Nyssa sheds her skirt - is enjoyable.

Enlightenment is one of those rare cases of a silly idea that's done rather well, in this case a race between various sailing ships from periods throughout human history, from Greek galleys and pirate ships of the Spanish Main to an Edwardian schooner, that takes place not in the sea but around the Solar system, with Enlightenment the ultimate prize and the Doctor despatched by the White Guardian to make sure the wrong group of `Eternals' doesn't win it. Not that he knows which group that is... It shouldn't work: Disney's Treasure Planet wasn't able to pull the idea of tall ships sailing the solar winds off with a budget a thousand times higher, but the quality of the writing - by Barbara Clegg, the first solo female writer in the series' history - carries it. The Eternals are a particularly interestingly uninteresting bunch, used up by time and relying on the imagination of `ephemerals' for diversion, not simply existing between dimensions but beyond morality. Neither good nor evil, merely bored, they just are, and there's a dark ambiguity that hangs not just over them but over the look and feel of the whole story as it unfolds to the creaking of the ship's hull. The Black Guardian/Turlough plot is also finally played out, though by this time it feels almost like a distracting side issue so it's no wonder that the promised third encounter with him has yet to materialise. It's not a great story, tending to lose traction at times, but it is a good one. Unfortunately, the re-edited and much shorter director's cut also included with the original TV version doesn't improve the faults so much as magnify them, and isn't helped by cropping the original fullframe image to widescreen.

As usual, there's a good range of extras on this three-disc set from audio commentaries, documentaries and featurettes to outtakes. The Black Guardian may not be the most interesting foe the Doctor encountered - and in Valentine Dyall's melodramatic incarnation he's like a hammy music hall pastiche of The Master for much of the time - but it's a decent collection of stories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Davison's greatest hits., 28 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Doctor Who - The Black Guardian Trilogy: Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment [DVD] (DVD)
Excellent set of stories, linked by a nice arc. Although I'm well versed in classic doctor who, the Davison era was still a bit of a mystery to me prior to buying this boxset. If you haven't seen them yet, I envy you - the tales are spellbinding, and the final story (Enlightenment) is one of Davison's best. A great way to immerse yourself in the fifth doctor.

P.S. The extras, as always, are fabulous.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enter Turlough, Exit Nyssa, 7 July 2014
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This review is from: Doctor Who - The Black Guardian Trilogy: Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment [DVD] (DVD)
This box set consists of the three stories in Doctor Who's 20th series that featured the Black Guardian, who first appeared at the end of the Key to time series (series 16). These three stories were undeniably eventful: Turlough was introduced as the Black Guardian enlisted him to kill the Doctor, Nyssa departed, the Brigadier returned as did both the Black and White Guardians.

Peter Davison is on top form throughout, Mark Strickson shines as the tormented Turlough and Valentine Dyall is wonderfully malevolent as the Black Guardian.

In the first story of the trilogy, 'Mawdryn Undead', Peter Grimwade proves that he is a decent writer after all, redeeming himself after the catastrophic 'Time Flight' from the previous series. 'Mawdryn Undead' is a good script although it is a bit technobabble heavy in places which is frustrating.

Nicholas Courtney's performance is outstanding, he does a fantastic job of playing two Brigadiers from different times and the make up and costume departments really help to make the two look different.

David Collings is superb as the villain Mawdryn. Mawdryn is a very interesting villain since, refreshingly, his motivation is purely that he wants to be allowed to die and he is not interested in killing or conquest. On the downside Mawdryn and the other mutants' appearance with part of their brains exposed is a bit comical and their bright multi-coloured outfits don't exactly help.

There's a lovely scene where the Brigadier regains his memories of UNIT and the Doctor, aided by some stock footage.

There is also the infamous 'UNIT dating controversy', the Brigadier is stated as having started work at the school in 1977 when, according to previous stories, he was still a member of UNIT. This has been described as the worst continuity error in Doctor Who, but really it's just an insignificant mistake.

The extras for 'Mawdryn' include 'Who wants to live forever?' which is the 'making of' documentary. 'Liberty Hall' is a 7 minute long interview with the Brigadier about his time with UNIT and his career as a Maths teacher. There's also a handful of deleted scenes and outtakes. There is the option to watch the story with some new CGI effects some of which are good.

'Terminus' was written by Stephen Gallagher whose only other Doctor Who writing assignment was the glorious 'Warrior's Gate' from 1981. 'Terminus' fails to reach those standards but it is nowhere near as bad as some would have you believe.

Admittedly, the story is quite visually dull and the script is rather depressing; plague, drug addiction, the end of the universe. This is grim stuff.

The Vanir costumes look impressive and imposing but Olvir and Kari's costumes look ridiculous, at least they quickly dispose of the goldfish bowls they were wearing over their heads. The Garm would have been more of a success if, as the script intended, he had stayed in the shadows and only his red eyes had been visible.

The 'Turlough tries to kill the Doctor' plot isn't really advanced in this story. Indeed, Turlough spends the whole story separated from the Doctor. He and Tegan spend the whole thing crawling through ventilation shafts. Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson work very well together with the characters' antagonistic, tense relationship.

There is a lot to like about 'Terminus'. Peter Benson is the star of the guest cast with a portrayal of madness to rival that of Simon Rouse's in 'Kinda'. The story moves along at a nice pace and there are some interesting characters. There is also virtually no annoying technobabble, the plot is explained in simple, comprehensible terms.

The plot twist that the explosion of Terminus caused the Big Bang is either genius or utterly ludicrous. Why does the Valgard spend the whole story getting beaten up by everyone (The Doctor, Olvir, Nyssa)?

The story has a fairly upbeat conclusion and Nyssa's departure is quite touching.

The extras for 'Terminus' include 'Breaking Point', the making of documentary. They explain the troubled production of the story, they lost an entire studio day, they lost another two hours due to power failure and there was further trouble when one of the sets was erected in the wrong position. 'Origins of the Universe' features interview footage of Sir Patrick Moore and Dr John Mason explaining the 'Big Bang' theory. It's six minutes long and fairly interesting. There are some original storyboards and unused model shots.

As with 'Mawdryn Undead' there is the option to watch the story with new CGI effects, there's a lot of new model work much of which is impressive. There's also an Easter Egg which provides a few pieces of trivia about the story.

'Enlightenment' is easily the finest story of the trilogy, it is perfect in almost every way. It is truly one of the glittering diamonds in Doctor Who's crown.

Right from the very start, with the opening shot of the chess board and the first notes of delightful incidental music, it just seems so magical. Even the TARDIS set is better lit here than in all other classic Doctor Who stories. The story seems especially fresh after the grimness of 'Terminus'.

The idea of sailing ships in space does seem too ambitious and doomed to failure but they manage to pull it off. The model work for the ships is rather good. The sets and costumes look wonderful. Director Fiona Cumming, one of Doctor Who's best directors, does an excellent job here.

The first episode is a great exploring episode ending with a stunning plot twist cliffhanger (shades of 'Carnival of Monsters').

The Eternals are a wonderful creation and the actors playing them manage to provide interesting performances while showing no emotion. Keith Barron is the star of the show, with a creepy, cold, emotionless performance as Edwardian ship captain Striker. Although Lynda Baron also excels as the brilliantly over the top Pirate ship captain Wrack.

All three regulars get great material and give strong performances; the subplot of Marriner's fascination with Tegan is engrossing, it certainly isn't the filler you get in a lot of Doctor Who stories. Mark Strickson is superb at portraying Turlough's conscience and torment and his suicide attempt makes for a memorable cliffhanger.

'Enlightenment' also sees the return of the White Guardian, who had last been seen in the opening episode of 'The Ribos Operation' in 1978. This return was a good idea since the end of 'the Key to Time' season didn't even make it clear if the White Guardian really existed or not.

It's hard to fault 'Enlightenment', the only poor performance is Leee John as Mansell and he isn't in it much, other than that the story is pretty much faultless.

There is 'Winner takes all' a very thorough 23 minute 'making of' documentary. 'Single Write Female' is an interview with write Barbara Clegg about her life and career. 'Casting off' is about the guest actors on 'Enlightenment'. 'The Story of the Guardians' goes into the Guardians' history in Doctor Who and into the live and careers of Cyril Luckham and Valentine Dyall.

This box set includes a special edition of 'Enlightenment', introduced by director Fiona Cumming. A lot has been edited out and new CGI effects have been added. The new CGI isn't all that good. You may wish to watch this once, but thereafter I'd stick with the original four part version, it's better.

Extras on the special edition disc include 'Original edit comparison' which shows 33 seconds of extra footage from the start of part three that was cut from the broadcast version. There are two interview features in which Mark Strickson and Sarah Sutton talk about their lives and careers. 'Re-enlightenment' features Fiona Cumming talking to various people about what she wants in the special edition. 'Russell Harty Christmas Party' is a mildly amusing pantomime clip featuring Peter Davison and his then wife Sandra Dickinson.

After watching these three stories I was once again left wondering why 1980's Doctor Who is regarded so poorly by so many.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Happy days, 20 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Doctor Who - The Black Guardian Trilogy: Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment [DVD] (DVD)
This was a Christmas present, which raised a smile for a Peter Davison fan. Back to back Doctor Who over Christmas it was then :)
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5.0 out of 5 stars For all doctor Who fans, 22 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Doctor Who - The Black Guardian Trilogy: Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment [DVD] (DVD)
What is not to like it is Doctor Who. A good box set for all those Doctor Who fans out there. It was well packed and arrived on time.
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