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Doctor Who- The Black Guardian Trilogy


The Black Guardian trilogy DVD set is impressive, but unfortunately the three episodes are rather mediocre.







“Mawdryn Undead” is the first entry in the Black Guardian trilogy. The story begins with a troublemaker student named Turlough who is visited by the evil Black Guardian. The Black Guardian wants the Doctor dead and in exchange he would give Turlough the chance to leave Planet Earth. Wanting off of Earth, Turlough accepts the deal. Shortly after, trouble begins brewing for the Doctor when he becomes separated in a different time (but in the same place) as Nyssa and Tegan. The Doctor hooks up with Turlough and the Brigadier to help correct things. To make matters more complicated, Tegan and Nyssa encounter an alien named Mawdryn (and his fellow scientists) who is stuck in a continual state of mutation/regeneration after trying to discover the secrets of the Timelords. Their only hope of survival is for the Doctor to give up his remaining regenerations.

As you can see, ‘Mawdryn’ has a little TOO much going on. While the 4 parter flies by, there’s too many story arcs going on at once. It’s a busy, complicated episode that would have actually benefited from being longer.

Another nit pick I had is that the Brigadier is sadly wasted in this story (even though actor Nicholas Courtney does a fine job in dual roles).

On the bright side, I quite like the idea of villainizing a companion (like the writers did with Turlough) as it is a refreshing change of pace. Unfortunately, the arc is a bit drawn out and Turlough really doesn’t do very much aside from whine and converse with the Black Guardian via a crystal.

The plot of “Terminus”: After Turlough sabotages the TARDIS, the TARDIS materializes aboard a spaceship that is about to dock aboard a space station known as the Terminus. As it turns out, Terminus not only contains a leper colony, but it also created the Big Bang. However, the station is on the verge of possibly exploding which would destroy the universe itself.

While the concept of the Terminus station is no doubt intriguing, this is arguably the weakest of the trilogy. This just isn’t a very eventful story overall. The characters wander around (or crawl) endlessly and eventually (and predictably) stop the space station from exploding. That’s about all that happens.

“Enlightenment,” the final part of the Black Guardian trilogy, has a superior plot to “Terminus,” but it doesn’t quite live up to its potential. The story, which involves a space race between Eternals, felt like a rushed, anti-climactic ending to the Black Guardian story arc. Note: The Enlightenment 2-disc set contains both the original cut and a new special edition cut in widescreen and featuring new CGI effects, and a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.

Overall, “The Black Guardian Trilogy” deliver has its moments, but as with most Davison era episodes, it’s rather forgettable.


All 3 episodes are presented in 4:3 fullscreen. The prints are good for their time. The real treat here, however, is that the special edition version of “Enlightenment” is presented in widescreen! I wish all eps. were presented in widescreen as it gives the show more scope.

The Dolby Digital Mono audio tracks are about what you’d expect from a Mono track. They’re sufficient at best. Fans will be happy to know that the special edition version of “Enlightenment” contains a  Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. After comparing the original Mono track to the 5.1 track, there’s no question that the 5.1 track has more oomph to it. Just listen to the sounds of the TARDIS if you want an example of the 5.1’s superior sound quality.


Mawdryn Undead Extras:

* CGI Effects option, photo galleries, info text, Radio Times Listings, CGI Storyboards and studio floor plans, isolated score, easter egg, continuity announcement, and a coming soon trailer for “The Twin Dilemma.”
* “Film Trims”- 3 minutes of location shooting footage.
* 5 minutes of out-takes.
* “Who Wants To Live Forever?”- A fun 24 minute making of containing interviews, discussions about the development of the story, the character of Turlough, etc.
* 4 minutes of deleted and extended scenes.
* “Liberty Hall”-A fictional short film in which Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is interviewed at the Brendon School.

* A lively, funny, and talky commentary by Peter Davison, Mark Strickson, Eric Saward, and Nicholas Courtney. Discussion topics include Turlough, the script, locations, the goofy elements of the story, etc.

Terminus Extras:

* Easter egg, continuity announcements, photo gallery, isolated score, CGI Effects option, Radio Times Listings, CGI storyboards, unused model shots, coming soon trailer for “The Twin Dilemma,” and original storyboards for the spaceship scene.
* “Origins Of The Universe”- A 6 minute featurette about the Big Bang.
* “Breaking Point”- A 21 ½ minute making of including the usual interviews, story/production stories, the direction, etc.
* A good commentary by Peter Davison, Mark Strickson, Stephen Gallagher, and Sarah Sutton. There are plenty of jokes and conversations about the plot, Turlough’s story arc, Janet Fielding’s bottom, the fashion, 80’s television, and so forth.

Enlightenment Extras:

* Isolated score, photo gallery, storyboards, info text, continuity announcements, Davison’s appearance on the Russell Harty’s Christmas Party, 5 minutes of set footage, coming soon trailer for “The Twin Dilemma.”
* DVD-ROM extras: Radio Times Listings, CGI storyboards, Radio Times Doctor Who Twentieth Anniversary Special and Doctor Who production bible.
* “The Story Of The Guardians”- A 10 ½ minute featurette on the Guardian characters in ‘Who.’
* “Single Write Female” (4:00)- Screenwriter Barbara Clegg talks about her life and career.
* “Casting Off!” (10:00)-Actors and actresses talk about working on “Enlightenment.”
* “Winner Takes All”- A 22 ½ minute making of.
* Commentary (on the original version only) by Peter Davison, Mark Strickson, Barbara Clegg, and Fiona Cumming. The group talks about the Tardis lighting in the opening scene, the script, radio work, effects, etc.
* Interviews with both Sarah Sutton and Mark Strickland talking about their life and career.

* “Original Edit Comparison”- A scene comparison of the original edit and the transmitted version from part 3.  

* “Re-Enlightenment”- A 14 minute behind-the-scenes look at how director Fiona Cumming and the CGI team created a new version of “Enlightenment.”

“Doctor Who: The Black Guardian Trilogy” is now available to buy:


November 13, 2009 - Posted by | 1 | , ,

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