Doctor Who: The Black Guardian Trilogy (UK - DVD R2)
The Wilson Bros (one good, one evil) check out this Doctor Who box-set...
Everyone loves a loosely interconnected series of stories—well, producer John Nathan-Turner certainly did, anyway. Paving the way with the decidedly less-than-stellar E-Space Trilogy, JNT did it again when he suddenly decided that there was going to be three stories based around the return of the Black Guardian, who had not been seen in Doctor Who since the Key To Time season.
As well as having three related stories, JNT also kept the writers on their toes by suddenly announcing that there was going to be another young male companion in the TARDIS—Who fans across the world sighed collectively; the pain of Adric still fresh in their minds. Thus, it was with a ridiculously thinly-sketched character outline that Turlough came into being.
Opening in the year 1983, young public schoolboy Turlough (Mark Strickson) steals the beloved antique car of the maths teacher at the public school where he is being educated. Promptly crashing the car and having his life hanging in the balance, he is visited by the menacing Black Guardian (Valentine Dyall), who makes him a bargain—he will be allowed to live if he kills his mortal enemy…. The Doctor!
Turlough agrees and awakes to find his understandably annoyed maths teacher standing over him—this is no ordinary maths teacher, he just happens to be Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, now retired from UNIT and settling into civilian life.
When the TARDIS materialises aboard a vast, ornately-decorated spaceship that is stuck on autopilot in a fixed and endless voyage, the Doctor (Peter Davison) decides to investigate. The Doctor discovers that the signal that drew the TARDIS to the ship is for a transmat capsule that is programmed to materialise on Earth—he decides to get in the capsule and discover where it ends up, leaving Nyssa and Tegan to follow him the TARDIS.
Something goes awry and the Doctor finds himself in the year 1983 at the school where the Brigadier is eking out a living. Tegan and Nyssa find that a badly-burned figure staggers into the TARDIS and they assume that it is the Doctor. The TARDIS materialises in the same location as the Doctor, but in a different time—1977, to be exact and they must convince the Brig to help them.
It becomes clear that the burned figure is not the Doctor, but Mawdryn a member of a race that dabbled in immortality and have been cursed to walk in eternity in a state of living death. They have plans for the Doctor that involve exploiting the fact that he has a certain number of regenerations left…
Nicholas Courtney is the star of the show here, allowing him to breathe more life into the Brig than had previously been allowed. Showing what happened to him after the glory days of being in the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce makes for a slightly depressing experience, seeing him reduced to living in a glorified hut and having to put up with cheek from kids, but it is fairly representative of the struggle than former members of the military have when returning to ‘normal’ life. Courtney also gets to play what is essentially two roles in this story—the Brig from 1977 and the same person six years later; the differences are subtle (OK, the moustache is not-so subtle), but you can see that the older version of the Brig is more laid-back and a little less regimented in his attitude. The climax of the story involves trying to ensure that both incarnations of the Brig don’t meet each other, as it could bring about a cataclysmic event that might end all life in the universe…
Valentine Dyall is on good form as the Black Guardian, even if all he really gets to do is pop up now again and tell Turlough to kill the Doctor. Dyall had a truly unique voice that was gruff and booming, yet almost velvety in a manner than Brian Blessed could only have dreamed of having. Dyall’s on-screen form of villainy might be considered almost pantomime, but such an embodiment of absolute evil can afford to be a little theatrical.
Peter Davison is his usual chipper self, but is given a little more chance to stretch as the Doctor is forced to weigh up the pros and cons of granting life to his adversaries by sacrificing his own future incarnations. Also of note in this trilogy are Davison’s sideburns, which are more noticeable than ever—Davison’s look changed subtly throughout his three years on the show, but probably not as much as Jon Pertwee and his increasingly bouffant hairdo & Baker’s alarming aging over seven years.
Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding provide solid support, as ever, with Fielding being given more interesting things to do than usual by having to contend with a somewhat bewildered Brigadier in 1977. The fact that a very human companion, with all of the wonderful flaws and touches of realism that Fielding and the writers brought to the part, is the one that has to deal with the Brig is lovely in its execution. Both of them know the Doctor, but they are both in need of his help, but he is not currently in their time period.
Mark Strickson is good as Turlough—he is more focused here than in the story that follows, because his character is simply there to try and kill the Doctor, and is relatively free from the moral conflicts the character eventually experiences and also that he is not sidelined or separated to suit the needs of the story.
There have been some cries from hardened Who fans that this story breaks from established Doctor Who continuity because the Doctor’s exile on Earth and officially joining UNIT started in 1980 (when it was actually filmed in the early 70s), and having some of this story set in 1977 whilst establishing that all of the events of the Pertwee & early Baker years had already taken place was something of an anachronism. OK, whilst this is certainly true, it’s such an entertaining romp and everyone concerned is obviously having such a good time, that one should be prepared to overlook such a detail.
The biggest problem with Mawdryn Undead is that the whole idea that Tegan and Nyssa could mistake the burned Mawdryn as the Doctor is absolutely ridiculous; even Mr Magoo could have been realised that he wasn’t everyone’s favourite Time Lord. This stretches suspension of disbelief to breaking point and hurts the story, but it’s not fatal.
Audio Commentary: This is a fun listen, with an always-on-form Peter Davison being joined by Nicholas Courtney, Mark Strickson and script editor Eric Saward. Davison is his usual semi-serious self, with Strickson complaining about the dye used in his hair and the wire that ran down
Who Wants to Live Forever?: This documentary covers the making of Mawdryn Undead, with contributions from most of the main cast (except Janet Fielding) and members of the cast, including another beyond the grave contribution from late director Peter Moffat. Folella Benjamin takes us through the square roundel as she narrates this bouncy making-of.
Liberty Hall: This is a fun little mockumentary that has retired Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart being interviewed about his life and times at Liberty Hall. This is great fun, as it could be one of the last times that Nick Courtney could play the character—a friend of ours met Nick recently and he was alarmed at how ‘tired’ he looked, so our advice is to savour every second of this little pseudo-documentary.
Deleted and Extended scenes: Whilst there’s nothing particularly new or revelatory here, it’s nice to see these included (especially seeing Janet Fielding running around in something skimpy), even if Turlough's whining schoolchum features heavily in the first couple of sequences.
Film Trims: The same as above, really, but it’s nice to see glimpses of the production team hard at work, as well as being given a little insight into how members of the cast gear themselves up for a take.
Outtakes: There’s some funny stuff here, as our intrepid cast of professionals show that anyone can fluff a line or crack up unexpectedly. Mark Strickson may be a dab hand at trying to kill the Doctor, but he sure as hell has trouble driving the Brig's vintage car and speaking of the Brig, in 30 years of acting, he has probably never encountered a line that was harder to deliver than the one in these outtakes....
CGI Effects: There may not be anything as elaborate as the new effects on the two stories that follow Mawdryn Undead, there are some nice little touches here and there that really give the story a fresher edge. The effects added to the transmat capsule are simple but devilishly effective, making it easier to sell to kids who have been brought up with all of the razzle-dazzle of New-Who.
Continuity: You know the drill here—many of you reading this will get nostalgia pangs when watching this section, as memories of a simpler, gentler time will come flooding back; a time when credits weren’t squashed and viewers weren’t talked at as though they had the memory spans of the average goldfish.
Set Photo Gallery: This deviates a little from the standard photo gallery, in that it concentrates on the sets constructed for Mawdryn Undead. Running for around a minute-and-a-half, this is shorter than most, but no less welcome.
Isolated Score: This presents you with the option of listening to hear Paddy Kingsland’s incidental music without the hindrance of dialogue or sound effects.
Production Subtitles: You know the drill—‘more info than you could wish for’… ‘someone’s really done their homework’… ‘indispensable’—all good stuff.
PDF: Radio Times Listings: Slip this baby into your PC and you'll have access to the original listings, along with CGI storyboards and the studio floor plans. There's also a very nice RT feature on Mawdryn Undead, too.
Mawdryn Undead looks pretty spiffy in this remastered edition; the videotaped material looks clean and bright—this would partly be because most Beeb shows were so brightly lit at that time (Davison moans about this constantly…)—and the film sequences have been cleaned up and look great; it’s a pretty safe bet that the original film elements survived because of the amount of filmed material included in the extras. In short, this is another sterling effort from the Restoration Team.
Another fine-sounding disc—there really isn’t much that we can say about the audio on Doctor Who releases that hasn’t been said before. It sounds great and it is obviously a labour of love from the RT guys.
Mawdryn Undead is arguably the best entry in the Black Guardian Trilogy. It’s lovely to see Nick Courtney back as the Brig and the production values are most impressive. It’s a concept that will make some fans chuckle—elderly beings close to death stuck on a luxury vessel traveling endlessly—they’re merely on a cruise! Mawdryn Undead is more than just the first part in a trilogy—it’s a Saga!
After leaving the Brigadier behind on Earth, the Doctor, Nyssa Tegan (with Turlough tagging along, still under the influence of the Black Guardian) are forced to make an emergency materialisation after Turlough sabotages the TARDIS. They find themselves onboard a plague colony that treats people with the notorious Lazar’s disease.
It is not long before the group are split up, with Nyssa becoming infected with the disease; Turlough and Tegan spend much time crawling through ducts and the Doctor meets up with a couple of space looters who are trying to get rich quick. Eventually, the Doctor realises that one of the two engines on the station is about to explode—the other one detonated back in the mists of time and became the Big Bang that created the universe, so what effect would the second engine have on all known life? As if all this wasn’t bad enough, there is another race against time to save Nyssa not only from the deadly disease, but from the mysterious Garm, a hulking creature that is roaming the space-station...
Terminus is a story that tries to put a positive spin on terminal illness. There’s not much scope for an exciting romp here, but its heart is in the right place, with an attempt to educate viewers that having a life-threatening condition is not necessarily the end of the line. Lazar’s disease is a thinly-veiled leprosy and at the show was produced, there was a massive publicity drive to demystify the illness and change public perception of what was once thought to an incurable condition.
Regardless of the good intentions, there is no way around it— Terminus is a mess. The story is slow-paced and there is a melancholic feeling to the proceedings that isn’t all that fun to sit through. Returning scribe Steve Gallagher (the author of E-Space trilogy story Full-Circle) draws from Norse mythology, especially when coming to the concept of the Garm (which was originally conceived as being just a pair of eyes in the darkness—after what appeared on-screen, most would have wanted to have seen that character appear as the author intended…)
If we’re going to put the boot in the Garm, then we’ll use both feet here. The idea was sounds, but the execution seriously struggles to reach even the lowly description of ‘pathetic’. The Garm was played by Canadian actor R J Bell, who would probably hit the peak of his career the same year when he appeared in Superman III as the unfortunate recipient of a free holiday to South America during an unexpected monsoon. Bell was a portly, hulking chap and in Terminus he is merely required to walk around in a very bored fashion and say a few lines of dialogue here and there. The Garm costume was just terrible; a mutant dog that looks like a football mascot—things weren’t TOO bad when he was just lurking in the background, but when he was required to be in close-up and had to speak with the most minimal of movement in the lower part of the face, things became laughable.
Terminus was a troubled production, with industrial action taking its toll on the cast & crew; the costumes designed for the Vanir were impractical, as the designer was unaware that they had to be durable because fight scenes were called for in the script (we happen to really like the design of the outfits, especially that hollow plastic clatter they make when the actors move). There were other problems that occurred, but these are not mentioned in the featurettes nor the audio commentary (Janet Fielding’s breasts popping out after being grabbing by a background artist is the highlight of the bunch).
The cast do what they can with the material they’re given, but they can’t lift things out of the mire. Peter Davidson is as engaging as ever, bringing his youthful enthusiasm to the part; Janet Fielding is suitably mouthy and truculent as Tegan; Mark Strickson gets little to do, other than be purposefully kept away from the Doctor to avoid an opportunity to kill him; Sarah Sutton gets to say farewell to her fans in her own unique way by steadily shedding her togs as the story unfolds, but in terms of her performance, she gives it her all as this was to be her final Doctor Who story.
If there was a piece of casting that really serves to bugger up any sense of mood to the story, it's having Liza sodding Goddard as a tough and ruthless space pirate. She literally looks like she has stepped foot off the set of Give Us a Clue and just popped into a space-suit, silly frizzy hairdo intact. This was another perfect example of John Nathan-Turner's stunt-casting, whereby television personalities who weren't really associated with serious acting (or in some case, acting in general) were brought in to simply provide familiar faces to lure in casual viewers. Almost everything about Goddard being in this story just screams ‘wrong’—why couldn't she have kept nobbing Alvin Stardust rather than ruining Terminus?
Same thing to report—the Doctor Who Restoration Team have done their job and it looks very nice indeed. Seeing as this whole story was shot on videotape, there are no sudden jumps to film, so there is no jarring drop in quality. Colours are nice and strong, with a very clean look about the thing. Good stuff.
Also very similar—some work has been carried out to present the soundtrack in as good a form as possible and the effort is much appreciated by long-term Doctor Who fans.
Audio Commentary: Peter Davidson, Mark Strickson, Sarah Sutton & writer Steve Gallagher are on hand to talk us through the four-part story. They make for a nicely-balanced bunch, with Gallagher’s northern charm really lightening the gloom of the story. All of them put the boot into The Garm, which is not surprising, but Davison also tells of the jealousy he felt back in the day when one of his drama school contemporaries, Martin Potter, was picked to star in a Pasolini movie—this actor happened to turn up in this Doctor Who story, so appearing with Italy’s most controversial moviemaker was no guarantee of international stardom. Strickson also mentions his appearance in George C Scott's A Christmas Carol (a movie we watch every Christmas).
Breaking Point: This 22 minute documentary looks at the troubled production of the story, with contributions from Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton & Mark Strickson, amongst others. Enlightenment Director Fiona Cumming also gets to contribute, speaking up for late director Mary Ridge. This is a pretty engaging extra, which spends much time trying to explain why it turned out the way it did. This documentary, like the other main ‘making-ofs’ in the Black Guardian trilogy, is narrated by the one and only Floella Benjamin.
Origins of the Universe: This six minute documentary is a rather dry look at how the universe could have been created. The seemingly immortal Sir Patrick Moore rattles off his theories at a rate generally indiscernible to the human brain, and other scientific luminaries also speak about the scientific specifics behind the Big Bang theory.
Original Storyboards: A selection of storyboards are presented for your perusal, showing you the way that the shots were originally envisioned before the effects crew carried them out on the budget they were allocated.
Unused Model Shots: Sourced from a timecoded production copy, this presented many of the effects shots in their unedited form, along with numerous shots that were not included in the finished show. This makes for an interesting look at how such shots were achieved before the advent of CGI.
CGI Effects: Terminus, like the other two stories in the Black Guardian Trilogy, gives the viewer the option to watch the story the way it was originally intended, or with all-new CGI enhancement. Terminus benefits greatly from the new effects shots, giving the Terminus station a sense of scale and grandeur that was not present in the original version—some of the new shots would not look out of place in New-Who. The interior of the TARDIS is expanded in a couple of shots that will seriously bring a smile to the lips of many-a long-term Who fan, as it give you a glimpse of how vast and cavernous the inside of the Type 40 time & space capsule.
Continuity: All of the trails and voiceovers that were associated with the original broadcast of Terminus are here for your delectation. Ah, those were the days…
Isolated Score: Roger Limb’s incidental music can be heard uninterrupted when you select this handy little option.
Photo Gallery: The Blade-Runner-like incidental music of Roger Limb plays over an extensive series of stills from Terminus.
PDF Radio Times Listing & CGI storyboards: Your PC can access the original Radio Times listings, along with the storyboards for the new computer-generated effects for the story.
Coming Soon: It's the Twin Dilemma. Run for your lives!
Terminus is most certainly the weak section of Black Guardian trilogy—it could be argued that this represents the saggy bit in the middle. There are certainly some good ideas, but some of the production values (The Garm being the best example), coupled with one or two questionable casting choices (Liza Goddard being the best example) serve to weigh the thing down. More than the story on its own terms, Terminus is mainly remembered for Sarah Sutton taking off most of her clothes before being ushered off the show in a very hasty fashion.
Immortality is a curious thing—it was said in The Five Doctors that those who crave immortality the most should not have it. This is the same with any sort of power—like the kid of pub-mentality morons who use the phrase ‘if I was Prime Minister, I would soon put the world to rights’. Immortality must be a terribly tedious concept; walking in eternity, with only fleeting relationships with mortals and the endless path of existence stretching into bleak infinity before you.
Enlightenment concerns the efforts of a group of beings who are cursed with immortality, Eternals, to amuse themselves as they go about their never-ending existence in the universe.
After leaving Nyssa on the Terminus space-station, The Doctor, Tegan and the still-homicidal Turlough find themselves aboard the SS Shadow, an Edwardian sailing ship, but investigation reveals that all is not as it appears. The captain of the ship, Striker, and his fellow officers, are Eternals, but their crew are very much mortal (known to the Eternals as Ephemerals) and have been kidnapped from Earth, doing more than just normal duties on the ship, their thoughts, memories and emotions provide fodder for the bored Eternals.
It is revealed that although the ship they are on appears to be sailing at night, it is actually competing in a galactic sailing race, with other Earth sea vessels from different time periods also trying to win the prize of Enlightenment. This is not as straightforward as it seems because the underhanded pirate Captain Wrack is using underhanded tactics to knobble the competition and win the prize for herself.
In the midst of all this, Turlough is still torn between his increasing attachment to the Doctor and his mission to eradicate him for the Black Guardian. Things come to a head and he must ultimately decide where his loyalties lie…
There are sterling performances all round, with Janet Fielding being particularly good, allowing the Mouth-on-Legs to develop a little more. The guest cast are impressive, with Keith Barron delivering an appropriately other-worldly performance as Captain Striker (Barron was a replacement for Peter Sallis, who had to bow out when the story was bumped in the schedule and other commitments clashed). Christopher Brown is great as Marriner, the Eternal who becomes fascinated with Tegan; her emotions provide so much sustenance for him that at times he appears to be almost intoxicated. Linda Baron is incredibly OTT as Captain Wrack (given the phenomenal cleavage she has, she should have been called Captain Rack), but her larger-than-life portrayal, complete with big eyes and grand, theatrical gestures seems to suit the character, in much the same way that Brian Blessed’s totally bat-shit crazy performance in the Colin Baker story Mindwarp suited that actor.
The inimitable Valentine Dyall (he truly IS inimitable—just try impersonating him!) returns as the Black Guardian, along with Cyril Luckham as his opposite number, the White Guardian; Luckham hadn’t been seen in the role since The Ribos Operation, the opening story in Tom Baker’s Key to Time season. Dyall gets to produce what is quite possibly the most theatrical, evil cackle ever heard in television history—it might sound over-the-top, but Dyall’s timbre gives it a resonance that brings a joyous smile to the lips.
There is an almost Hitchcockian plot device in Enlightenment, where Tegan unwittingly becomes the instrument of destruction for the crew of the Shadow after becoming mesmerised by Wrack and an explosive device planted in her tiara. The audience is aware of what could happen, but those on-screen are not, heightening the tension and leaving the audience screaming at the screen for the Doctor to realise that things could turn very nasty.
Being the final part of the Black Guardian Trilogy, matters that began in Mawdryn Undead and continued through Terminus are resolved at the end of Enlightenment. Turlough is finally forced to confront the dilemma that has been plaguing him and eventually has to choose between the darkness and the light. Mark Strickson turns in a great performance, with more anguish than in the previous stories as he realises that he has to finally pick a side and stick with it. The interaction between Strickson and Peter Davison begins to flourish here, and they spark off each other rather nicely.
As broadcast, Enlightenment shows the BBC at its very best and very worst; the period costumes really add to the production values of the show, as period detail was always something they did well; the fabulous set design of the interiors of the Shadow and the Buccaneer (well, apart from ONE set on the Buccaneer…) and the wonderful costumes on display during the banquet on Captain Rack’s ship are really help to sell the scenes. As well as the period costumes, the design and execution of the space-suits prominently seen in the show are most impressive. Sadly, this is counterbalanced by the fact that the effects were rudimentary to say the least; the effects people did the best they could with money and resources they had, but they were fighting against thunder.
Enlightenment is a story that was too grand and too sweeping for the sort of budgets that Doctor Who was kept alive on at the time. The production did everything it could to bring Barbara Clegg’s inventive script to life, but what finally ended up on screen was something that had good performances and made use of the BBC’s period costume department, but when it came to the effects for the show, it failed.
For this DVD release, the idea of a special edition of Enlightenment was mooted; director Fiona Cumming saw that the story and the performances were still perfectly good and she set about making revisions to turn the four-part story into a taut movie version with all-new CGI effects. This version of Enlightenment is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, meaning that each shot has been carefully cropped to present the story in widescreen. A new Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix has been included, opening the soundstage up to provide the viewer with an enveloping aural experience.
The results are impressive—free from the constraints of having to keep to a rigid four-part structure, Cumming has trimmed the fat from the script and the result is a very lean version of the story that clocks in at a mere 75 minutes. There are times when it genuinely reaches the kind of production levels that New-Who has; some of the new CGI work is most impressive, with the anachronistic sailing vessels being carried through space on solar winds looking almost majestic. Ideas and concepts that simply couldn’t be executed back when early eighties Doctor Who budgets were barely capable of covering the catering on a New-Who shoot
The original version looks very nice, with all of the usual clean-up duties undertaken. The image is pretty sharp, as it was still in the time when Doctor Who was being filmed on 2’ Quad videotape.
The Special Edition suffers from being cropped, losing some of the fine detail, but once you get used to it, it’s perfectly fine. With the cropped, widescreen image, there are times when your brain thinks that you are actually watching a movie—this is mainly when the sequences shot on film are on screen, but it’s still pretty cool when these moments happen.
The original version is presented in mono and sounds fine, but the Special Edition has been remixed into Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds wonderful; the discrete sound-mix really drops you into the middle of this epic race across the galaxy, with spot-effects coming at you from all directions. Your subwoofer will get something of a work-out when the low frequencies of ships exploding in space will have things on shelves rattling.
Extras: Broadcast version
Audio Commentary: Actors Peter Davidson and Mark Strickson are joined by director Fiona Cumming and writer Barbara Clegg; Davison, as he usually does, tends to dominate the track, but director Cumming is very chatty and has a pleasing personality. Strickson wades in now and again to offer some amusing observations, but writer Clegg is somewhat sidelined, possibly due to the two strong personalities who dominate this particularly commentary. Once again, Janet Fielding is not present, but it’s a fairly safe bet that she would have whinged about the sequence where Tegan is duped into carrying the explosive device in her tiara. The highlight of this commentary track comes when Strickson recalls an incident that comes perilously close to a ‘do you know who I am?’ moment—it’s really funny…
Winner Takes All: This 23 minute documentary takes a look at the making of Enlightenment. Former Playschool presenter and hardened Tory Floella Benjamin is your cheerful narrator of this account of the epic struggle to bring such an ambitious project to the screen. Many of the cast and crew pop up to share their memories—Imagination star Leee John gives a couple of amusing anecdotes about the very generous Lynda Barron, but it’s a pity that Barron herself was not able to contribute to the special features created for this release—surely someone could have persuaded her to Come Inside and get in front of the camera?
Casting Off!: This featurette is essentially looking at the show from the actor’s point of view. Casual viewers will be pleased to hear that this does not soar into the lofty pretentiousness of ‘luvvy’-speak, where actors talk about their trade as though they were bomb disposal experts. Janet Fielding pops up briefly in this one; though she is outspoken and overly-opinionated on almost any subject, it’s always nice to see her in front of the camera.
Single Write Female: Ah, we always love those pun-tastic titles for featurettes! This short takes a look at the career of writer Barbara Clegg; there’s nothing particularly revelatory, but it’s fascinating to see how a woman was able to get her feet under the table at a time when it was VERY difficult to get into the industry.
The Story of the Guardians: This is wonderful stuff, looking at the actors who played the galactic demigods. Though Cyril Luckham and Valentine Dyall are both sadly long-since gone, they are represented by their children, who talk fondly about their fathers. The highlight of this featurette comes when Dyall’s daughter, Sarah Leppard, recalls how her father used to read her bedtime stories and even the most innocuous ones would terrify her because of her father’s rich, deep timbre.
Storyboards: This is a nice little addition to the extras, because it makes use of that rarely-used DVD feature, the multi-angle function. Effects supervisor Mike Kelt talks the viewer through the effects process, whilst storyboard images of the shots appear on-screen; the multi-angle function allows the viewer to switch between the storyboard and the final shots.
Isolated score: What more needs to be said? By selecting this option, you can hear Malcolm Clarke’s music score without the hindrance of dialogue or effects.
Subtitle Production Notes: As ever, a blizzard of notes about the production are presented when you select this option. We’ve compiled trivia tracks before and can appreciate the amount of effort that goes into them—our caps are doffed to the guys who do this stuff once again.
Coming Soon: The final story from the Colin Baker era to be released on DVD is previewed here. Our twin dilemma will be whether or nor we can make it through the whole thing without vomiting violently.
Photo Gallery: This presents a series of images taken during the production, many of which are in black & white. There are some nice shots of Janet Fielding in that dress, along with set design photos and pics taken during the filming of the effects.
PDF Radio Times Listings: Pop this disc into your PC and you can see the original listings for each episode of Enlightenment as they appeared in the BBC’s listing magazine and you can also access the extensive series of storyboards for the special edition of Enlightenment.
Extras: Special Edition
Re- Enlightenment: This consists of a Trans-Atlantic conference between director Fiona Cumming and some of the people who would be responsible for the production of the special edition of Enlightenment. What is interesting is the balance that can be seen between accommodating what Cumming wanted to include in the new version, and the ideas that the younger people behind the new version wanted to incorporate; Cumming is very gracious and enthusiastic when given suggestions—not every director is as open to advice.
Original Edit Comparisons: This is a quick look at the differences between the original edit of episode three and the version that was transmitted; the differences are minimal, but nice to have them presented here for the sake of comparison.
Film Trims: Much as you would expect, this presented a series of stuff that was lopped off the beginning and end of shots that were captured on film. The shooting of the scenes on the deck of the Shadow really gave them a cinematic look, and in a bizarre way, watching these trims enhances this look.
Finding Mark Strickson: This entertaining featurette has the alter-ego of Turlough talking about his life before, during and after Doctor Who. Strickson is a charming and engaging guy, who speaks fondly of this time in the TARDIS and also talks about his move into wildlife documentary filmmaking.
Finding Sarah Sutton: This companion piece (no pun intended!) to the above featurette has the enthusiastic Sutton talking about her time on Doctor Who. The most interesting part of this interview comes when Sutton regrets not staying on at drama school to hone her craft.
Russell Harty Christmas Party: Oh, how audiences were easily pleased back in 1982—variety was still alive, albeit hooked up to a life-support machine and then-husband-and-wife Peter Davison and Sandra Dickinson perform a song-and-dance routine that’s so cheesy that you can actually feel your teeth itch as you watch.
Enlightenment is a story that was full of imagination—this was the only classic Doctor Who story to be written and directed by women, and this shows in the writing, with some very interesting subtle nuances—but the budgetary restrictions prevented it from being properly realised. The Special Edition really makes for a fun experience, transforming the story into a fun, fast-paced romp, but for those curmudgeonly completists out there, you still have the original version to treasure.
Overall: The Black Guardian Trilogy
Certainly the trilogy is an uneven one— Mawdryn Undead is undoubtedly a fun, nostalgic romp, but things take something of a nosedive with Terminus, despite the good intentions of the story, but the final act perks up by the costume design and performances in Enlightenment, with the special edition elevating the story to a level never thought possible.
The Black Guardian trilogy is an enjoyable piece nostalgia, with the special edition of Enlightenment showing you what might have been possible if budgets were no option as far as special effects were concerned. Valentine Dyall may be long gone, but you can almost hear his unique rich, gravely tones commanding you to buy this box-set.
Review by Wilson Bros
General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
Release Date: 10th August 2009
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Extras: Featurettes, Audio Commentaries, Deleted & Extended Scenes, Outtakes, Music-Only Option, Production Subtitles, Radio Times Listings, Photo Galleries, Coming Soon
Easter Egg: No
Director: Peter Moffat, Mary Ridge, Fiona Cumming
Cast: Peter Davison, Mark Strickson, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton
Length: 295 minutes
Follow our updates
OTHER INTERESTING STUFF
Mood Indigo US - DVD R1 | BD RA Kino Lorber Studio Classics November US - DVD R1 | BD RA The Guest UK - DVD R2 | BD RB Lord of Illusions US - BD RA Dead Snow 2 US - DVD R1 | BD RA
Hot Easter Eggs
Bedazzled US - DVD R1 Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Complete Season Two UK - BD Terminator 2: Judgment Day US - DVD R1 Christmas Story, A: 20th Anniversary Special Edition US - DVD R1 Brass Eye UK - DVD R2
Doctor Who: Planet of Giants UK - DVD R2 Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competative Eating US - DVD R1 Nymphomaniac UK - DVD R2 The Exorcist & House of Wax US - BD Legend of Hercules, The US - BD RA