Mawdryn Undead

Chase - Posted on 08 July 2009


Almost all of Davison's stories have links the previous story and this one is no exception. All the TARDIS scenes with Tegan, Nyssa and the Doctor are well done, acted, and directed. And I must say they FINALLY got Nyssa's look and outfit so perfect, it's a pity she leaves so soon after this. Her new dress is so much better than her Traken outfit and also better than the horrorible thing she wore in SNAKEDANCE. She looks stunning in this story and the Doctor almost seems to notice (a small subplot that went missing in SNAKE DANCE was the Doc's ignoring Nyssa, note in SNAKE DANCE prt 4 or so, he helps her down and she coldly tell shim it was unnecessary.") Sheesh, was she deliberately trying to get him to notice her? That's how it looked. yet JNT wouldn't even let them hold hands (with Tegan too) in TIMEFLIGHT.

The interior of the alien spaceship looks grand and great and colorful, despite Tegan's protests (doesn't she always) but the exterior in this ep looks shoddy, almost like a cartoon and with no outside detail. The idea of this ship is an interesting one. I'm not sure about why the TARDIS couldn't leave at first but whatever, it set up the situation.

The location work is rather good too and Janet and Sutton are in top form here, as is Davison. And the Brig, played by Nick Courtney, can do no wrong in this (or in most things). He's splendid.

The big problem with this story is a huge one (well, aside from the sniveling BLACK GUARDIAN). It's Turlough. As the the Brig says, "You've got a rotten one there."  I can see the idea behind him but...honestly how are we meant to like a "boy" who 1-doesn't look like a boy but like a married 30 year old and 2-in that hat he wears upon his entrance and who 3-deliberately steals a car, lies to his "friend" immediately and who 4-crashes a car nearly killing the other boy and himself (he even says, "I wish I had died"). I mean you get the idea. Nearly everything Turlough says in this, his first ep, is something designed to make us or rather me, hate him. He contemplates wanting to die, wanting to get off Earth (a sort of opposite to how Tegan was when she first joined--wanting to go to Earth), lies that the other boy was driving when the car crashed, lies to the boy that he told him it was he who drove, etc etc. He also totally gives himself over to the Black Guardian, just to get off Earth, not even to save his own life. He's a first class jerk and I hated him in this story and never really got over that.

The cliffhanger is pretty good but as Mark says, "There's never been a  companion that set out to kill the Doctor at first before...."  when in fact, Sara Kingdom did try to kill him at first but some don't count her as a companion. I also think Bret Vyron may have threatened to kill the Doctor, too.

In any event, Turlough and his friend's appearances are "graced" by some of the most horrid, fake "jolly (I want to refrain from saying "gay") music" ever heard. Odd that, because most of the rest of the score of this ep and the rest, if I recall correctly, is pretty good, better than most.

I also don't really buy the Brig as a school teacher to be honest and not in 1977 or in 1983 and he seemed a bit too into things to retire. Then again the entire UNIT dating thing is not for debate here but really, to have this story so mess it up further and get it so wrong, more or less, is annoying.

Originally the teacher was to be IAN CHESTERSON and then maybe HARRY SULLIVAN (Harry would make even less sense than the Brig) but neither actor was available. Ian would make the most sense. That said, I wonder why they didn't do something similar when Barbara could have been brought back in MEGLOS or even Ian there.

Not a great start to a story but not awful but then again if you only watch the Turlough stuff, THAT stuff IS awful. The boys behind Turlough and Ibbotson all look  like school boys. Mark Strickson doesn't at all. This story has many parts and it would be nice to see how they all converge together...               


The guy who plays Silver in SAPPHIRE AND STEEL appears in a loin cloth but dn't let that put you off, he's a good actor who puts acting to good use here, fooling Nyssa and almost Tegan into thinking he's a regenerated Doctor...actually no one mentions regeneration until part 3 but the girls see him with a diffrent face and still think he's the Doc wthout mentioning regeneration.

Still, this is the best ep of this schlocky story. The bits that take place in 1977 show some urgency thanks to Janet Fielding and Nick Courtney and they seem to take place at the same time/different time as the bits in 1983. Davison and Courtney also do a good job in relating the Doctor's first meeting with the Brig since TERROR OF THE ZYGONS and, for once in this story, the music is really really really great as the Brig remembers Yeti, Daleks, Cybermen, and Zygons as well as the faces of the other Doctors. It's odd seeing it from this end, now and here as opposed to not seeing any of those stories except ZYGONS before seeing this one. In fact, I saw ZYGONS and dthen saw this and then saw all the others, INVASION last (as a good deal of it was missing--now there are only two eps missing)! I also like the Doctor reminding the Brig of his companions, assistants, Jo Grant, Sarah Jane, and Liz Shaw, recalling them in that order. Too bad no flashbacks went along with those. The Doc seems to think The Brig should surely remember Liz Shaw.

Turlough: another problem: his whole background. The headmaster says he deals with a solicitor (I think from London) and that Turlough has no parents. As far as I know we never hear of this solicitor again and never find out anything about that at all. So in the style of THE POWERS OF MATTHEW STAR, Turlough, it is later revealed, is a prince of some sort of some alien planet, though he doesn't act like it at all. Hiding. Here on Earth. Okay. Poorly plotted and poorly done. Anyway there's a strange "dream" undream scene whre the Black Guardian acts like the headmaster. Turlough shrieks like a first grader. I REALLY dn't like him.

Anyway the cliffhanger is pretty creepy and scary to boot but not really that scary. The make up with the alien head is odd and the "doctor" still has scars on his face.

Anyway the best ep of this flat story.        


A few notes before the main thing: once again Nyssa and the Doc leave the TARDIS doors open TWICE in this story. Turlough has one moment of greatness here as he is laughably impressed by the Doctor's skill. other than that he's a terror and a terrible companion. The Doc does have his hands full with all that's going on in this story but still, he should have noticed how awful Turlough is. The Brig, Nyssa and Tegan do. The two Brigs meeting and solving the problem for the Doctor is interesting, however conveient. As the Doctor said briefly, perhaps all this is being influenced by some cosmic ---uhh, influence. Certainly not the Black Guardian? I mean he wouldn't want the two Brigs to meet and solve this as he so much as says to Turlough. The BG communcation thing is cracked is it? I guess that meant Turlough thought he would be free of the BG, the BG being pretty effective visually if not as a villain who can't do anything himself, besides blustering to Turlough that he will destroy them all...he really can't. His face in the painting is interesting as is his takeover of Turlough's dream earlier in the story.

I don't really get all the technobabble as to why Nyssa  and Tegan should age and more inappropriately why they should go back to their younger selves. I used to think this rined the story and in doesn't as I watched it recently. In fact, the entire thing is not as bad as I recall save it does get a bit confusing. The Brig, at one point, is on his way back to Earth in the transmat. I guess he decided to return himself to the ship.

Ahh yes the Ship. When watching this, this time, I thought this is what the TARDIS should look like...all luxury and equipment mixed together rather than just bland white walls with roundels. I mean I like th TARDIS in and out but this ship is really nice and the TARDIS should like more like this inside and bigger than it is now. I also tend to think of the ship from the movie version of HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, a nice white, comfortable ship.

Anyway the Doc is willing to give up everything for Nyssa and Tegan and even the Brig. He does forget and leave Turlough on the ship, that's ready to blow up...did I miss something or did that auto destruct come on without anyone knowing about it except Tegan later on or were we the viewers given some advance notice of it? If not, that's bad. We should have had some idea and the tension would increase. If yes, then I just didn't hear it or missed it somehow. Either way, too bad Turlough didn't get blown up. I guess they were going for a comparision to EARTHSHOCK's ending.  Even Tegan felt they had to get Turlough off there. But to leave the Brig flat on his back in 1977 on the grass is a bit...stupid for Nyssa and the Doc to do.

I'm not sure there's much more that could have been added to this story but for some reason I felt more drama could have been gotten out of the Brig's nervous breakdown thing or Turlough's just coming on board but maybe not? 

Well, watching it this time, I realize the story is not as terrible as I thought it was. There are a alot of badlly placed musical cues. I don't think Mawdryn and his crowed are terrible theats but I'm VERY glad they are not rampaging monsters with laser weapons again nor mutant creatures as the script keeps saying they are and the others say they are. Basically they are mutated humanoids  but not monsters in the DALEK-CYBERMAN sense, thank goodness. For that this is  a nice change of pace and DW should do this kind of thing more often it seems. I guess looking at back then, made me angry that the Doctor would "sacrifice" everything for Tegan and Nyssa and never even batted an eyelash to go back and help Adric off the freighter. Then he takes on Turlough as if he helped a great deal. 

The Doc's a jerk.      

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