|The Brigadier. Awesomeness.|
Mawdryn Undead holds a special place in my heart. When I was much younger, I'd run downstairs at dawn and watch the omnibus of Classic Who on UKGold. Mawdryn Undead is the first complete story that I remember. Fittingly enough, it's actually a very dark story, as well as one that has to juggle a lot of elements and doesn't always suceed. However, its quality does live up to my memories of it and it's a thoroughly enjoyable- and intelligent - watch.
One day, John Nathan Turner gave editor Eric Saward a set of intructions for a story to introduce the character of Turlough, an alien masquerading as a public schoolboy. Saward decided to combine this plot with a script he received from writer Peter Grimwade as a consolance for his previous story, Time-Flight. In order to provide something interesting, the team decided that Turlough would be influenced by the entity known as The Black Guardian, who was last seen in Tom Baker's "Key To Time" season. Also, because of the Anniversary Season, JNT also insisted that an old companion be brought back.
The story initially follows Turlough as he meets The Black Guardian, who offers him the chance to return home in return for his service in killing The Doctor. The school is also home to The Brigadier, who has retired from UNIT and now works as a mathemathics teacher. The Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan end up on a strange ship on a fixed orbit, passing Earth for six years at a time. The ship has a dimensionally transendental pod attatched to it that just happens to be near Turlough's school.
Mawdryn is soon revealed to be part of a race that stole technology from the Time-Lords, intending to give themselves eternal life. Instead, the eight beings now undergo constant mutation and change, in constant agony. They ask the Doctor to give them his remaining lives in order to end theirs. The Doctor tries to refuse, but they have infected Tegan and Nyssa with a disease that will kill them if The Doctor tries to escape. He prepares to give up his lives, thus killing him, but the two Brigs meet and the resulting energy burst is enough to allow the mutants to die. Turlough, still affected by The Black Guardian, joins the Tardis crew.
This story's costumes aren't very good. The mutants' costumes appear out of nowhere, Turlough's shoes are for some reason bright red, the Black Guardian has a dead bird on his head and Mawdryn's spaghetti-like head dress is... odd. However, that didn't do a lot against the story, where the focus is very much on the twisting turning plot.
|The Black Guardian controls Turlough.|
Mawdryn Undead is quite dark for what it was - an effective juggling of many, many different plotlines and aspects that by rights shouldn't have been there. But despite this hodgepodge, the story is really enjoyable and hits on a lot of thematic levels - about change, for better and for worse. It's got a lot of visual problems on the surface, but beneath that there's a lot to enjoy.
NEXT WEEK: Nyssa... leaves? Let it not be so.