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"You Are doomed! Doomed! Ha-ha-ha!!!,
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This review is from: Doctor Who - The Black Guardian Trilogy: Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment [DVD] (DVD)
This sequence of stories was first broadcast while I was at university and out of the habit of watching, so they were new to me. On the whole I enjoyed them, but the flaws that would lead the show to termination are already visible here. Peter Davidson gives an engaging performance as The Doctor in all three stories. His characterisation, in many ways so different from Tom Baker's, is very good and in places he acts his socks off. The scripts themselves work with some very interesting ideas. The dialogue is generally good - with some exceptions I'll come to in a moment. I hate to say it, but the real problem with the Black Guardian trilogy is the Black Guardian. Poor old Valentine Dyall gets to play what is no more than a pantomime villain - I kept expecting his appearances to be accompanied by a cloud of sulphurous smole and the sound of small children shouting "Boooo!! "In the name of all that is evil....." Geez.
Mawdryn Undead seems to be regarded as something of a classic in some places. I actually think it's the weakest of the three. True, it does include an absolutely magnificent performance by Nicholas Courtney, who gives us two Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewarts and manages to convey the age-gap between them quite superbly. On the other hand, far too much time is spent on Turlough's conversations with Abanazar with the result that, apart from boring us, The Hooded Claw increasingly comes across as ineffectual - you can only threaten to destroy someone so often without following through on the threat. In general pacing is an issue - it plods dreadfully in places, and did we have to have quite so many long shots of an obelisk that had no function in the story? The lighting too is overly bright and this "flattens" things. Too little time was spent on Mawdryn and his fellows - we get no real sense of the desperation of their situation and the denouement is almost nonsensical.
Terminus, for me, is a much stronger story. The pacing is much better. Much has been said of Sarah Sutton's Nyssa losing her skirt. I for one am certainly not objecting. It's a measure, though, of how badly the character of Nyssa was handled that this has become such an issue - having to act as a foil to the bolshie Tegan, the writers seem to have made Nyssa so bland that she virtually blends into the Tardis interior. Characterisations in this story are well-rounded and it's good to have a story that actually has no villains - the Vanir and the Garm are as much victims of the Company as the Lazars. OK, the Garm is another in a long line of actors in duff monster costumes, but I can live with it.
Enlightenment too is enjoyable. The ideas are inventive - I especially likes the idea that the Eternals needed the imagination of Ephemerals. Keith Barron gives a somewhat concussed performance as Striker against which Lynda Baron's Wrack is a fine contrast. Mark Strickson begins to settle into his role as Turlough here and Janet Fielding's Tegan is also sensitively and believably portrayed. Indeed, if it were not for the Guardians this would have been much better.