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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What to expect, 9 May 2011
This review is from: Doctor Who - The Black Guardian Trilogy: Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment [DVD] (DVD)
Featuring the stories that saw the 1983 return of The nefarious Black Guardian to Doctor Who; this box set sees The Fifth Doctor, as played by Peter Davison, take on board a new companion; and one who is hiding something from the Time Lord.

Something of a celebration for the 20th anniversary season of the time travelling series; the set kicks off with `Mawdryn Undead', a story which introduces laconic alien schoolboy Turlough, played by Mark Strickson - who is clearly in his twenties even at this point but never mind - and also sees the welcome return of The Doctor's old UNIT friend Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge Stewart, now retired from the army and working as a Maths teacher at a private boys' school. Nick Courtney is as superb as ever as the gruff old soldier with a heart of gold. Valentine Dyall is well cast as the eponymous `super villain'; one half of a cosmic pairing that keep order and balance and who were last seen in 1978's Key to Time season, where the Black Guardian was thwarted by Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor. Dyall's sonorous tones and brooding presence are somewhat undermined by what appears to be a dead crow as a headpiece, but he still makes a menacing and potent threat for The Doctor and his travelling companions Nyssa and Tegan. Sarah Sutton's Nyssa, by this point nearing the end of her tenure on the show, seems to be getting more like a stereotypical female Doctor Who companion - all short skirts, thigh-length boots and a tendency to scream when danger rears its head. Tegan is her usual stroppy self, and by this point is also becoming pretty tiresome and less involved in the storylines.
It's easy to carp about this story and wonder why on Earth the Black Guardian pops up to attack The Doctor at this point in time; although the show's continuity could no doubt explain it away. That minor quibble aside, this story's show, like 1989's `Battlefield', is resoundingly stolen by Nick Courtney's Brigadier; in fact he's twice the value as the rather convoluted plot features two versions of the old soldier, who must on no account ever meet!

DVD extras for this story are: `Who wants to live forever?', `Liberty Hall', a series of Deleted and extended scenes, continuity announcements, Out-takes, Film trims, the obligatory Photo gallery, and 2 Easter eggs.

Second up is Terminus; in this story The sabotaged TARDIS has to make an emergency landing on a ship that docks with a derelict space station at the centre of the known universe. However, it turns out that the station is not as derelict as it appears. It is Terminus, the last stop and receiving point of the ship's cargo of lepers. And as the saying goes, nobody returns from Terminus...

Under the Black Guardian's control, new TARDIS companion Turlough has sabotaged the ship and the crew find themselves about to become victims of the second `big bang'. The frankly bizarre `Garm', a dog-like biped who is a slave of The Vanir; an ancient warrior caste who control events on the space station. Mute, hairy, and with glowing red eyes; the Garm is unfortunately up there with The Myrka and The Taran Wood Beast as the worst realized aliens in the programme's long history; the fact that he turns out to be benign almost makes things more laughable! Apart from that, this is another solid if unspectacular story; although for me it's the least watchable in the Black Guardian trilogy.

This serial is also memorable for showing Nyssa in her underwear; it's no wonder that she decides to stay on and help The Garm instead of continuing on in the TARDIS; how could she ever look Tegan in the eye again?
With The furious Black Guardian giving a cowering Turlough a final ultimatum - kill The Doctor or be destroyed - the scene is set for a the overgrown schoolboy to choke down his admiration and respect for the Time Lord and finally do the dirty deed.

DVD extras for `Terminus' are as follows: `Origins of the Universe', `Terminus - unused model shots', `Breaking Point', and 2 Easter eggs.

To round things off we have Enlightenment; a tale of a space race between the enigmatic Eternals, using Earthmen to steer their retro ships. We finally meet the Black Guardian's polar opposite, when the White Guardian appears in the TARDIS and warns the Doctor of great danger; the TARDIS crew find themselves on an Edwardian sailing ship in deep space participating in a race around the planets. The weasely Turlough finally has to decide whose side he is on; as the bored Eternals race to win the ultimate prize - Enlightenment. This last story is my favourite out of the three in this set; good fun, great costumes, Gladys Emmanuel as a feisty flame-haired pirate, and no issues with continuity or attempts to be self-referential; what more could you ask for?

DVD extras for `Enlightenment' are also the most impressive of the three and include a behind the scenes making-of, `Winner Takes All', `Casting Off', `Single Write Female', `The Story of the Guardians', storyboards, photo gallery, and 2 Easter eggs.
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