Nicol joined us for the first episode. Let’s listen in as Sue attempts to bring her daughter up to speed with the Black Guardian trilogy:
Sue: So the Doctor’s companions are Tegan – she’s Australian – and…
Nicol: I know who Tegan is.
Sue: And an alien called Turlough. He looks like a public schoolboy. It’s complicated. Anyway, Turlough is trying to kill the Doctor, but the Doctor doesn’t actually know that yet.
Nicol: How long has that been going on for?
Sue: Eight episodes.
Nicol: And he still doesn’t know? He can’t be trying very hard.
Sue: No. Anyway, Turlough is employed by the Black Guardian. He’s like the Devil. Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll pick it up in no time.
Barbara Clegg’s name appears.
Sue: A woman. That makes a change.
Me: She’s the first woman to write for Doctor Who.
Me: Yes, it only took them twenty years.
Sue: I can’t believe I didn’t notice that before.
Nicol: I just hope she isn’t related to Nick.
The story begins on the TARDIS.
Sue: I love the lighting. It reminds me of a plane when it’s flying at night. They should light the TARDIS like this all the time.
Nicol: Peter Davison’s hair is longer than I expected it to be.
Sue: He should get it cut. Another month and he’ll have a mullet.
Nicol: Why does the Doctor walk around with dead leaves on his coat?
Sue: That’s his celery.
Nicol: Okay, so why does he walk around with a stick of celery on his coat?
Sue: How the hell should I know?
The Doctor is visited by…
Sue: That’s the White Guardian, Nicol. He’s God in the Doctor Who universe.
Nicol: Why is a stuffed bird sitting on his head?
Sue: Ask Neil.
Me: It’s a dove. It’s a symbol of peace.
Nicol: It’s dead. Did somebody shoot it?
The Doctor makes it abundantly clear that he doesn’t trust Turlough.
Nicol: If Turlough is so bad, why does the Doctor hang around with him? Why doesn’t he just kick him off the TARDIS?
Sue: Because he’s a half-decent actor.
The Doctor follows the White Guardian’s garbled instructions and he finds himself exploring what appears to be a sailing ship.
Sue: I like this story already. It’s full of atmosphere and lit beautifully. Who directed this?
Me: Fiona Cumming.
Sue: Another woman? See, this is what happens when you put some women in charge of the programme for a change. It’s great.
Tegan is left to brood in the TARDIS. Unbeknownst to her, a Peeping Tom has popped over for a visit.
Nicol: For a horrible moment there, I thought he was going to be the Hoff.
Sue: Is he a dwarf?
Sue: He must be really small.
Me: Where do you think the TARDIS scanner is situated?
Sue: Where the ‘Pull to Open’ sign is? Or maybe in the windows.
Me: Really? I’m sure the programme has already established that it’s in the lightbulb on the top. Hasn’t it? I’m not sure. God, I don’t know anything any more. It’s all a blur now. I’m turning into you.
Sue: Oh, I guess that would make sense. Let’s go with the lightbulb idea.
The White Guardian gives Tegan a warning: Winner takes all.
Sue launches into a spirited rendition of the Abba song. I think about the ITV game show fronted by Jimmy Tarbuck. It’s a miracle that we’ve stayed together this long, frankly.
The face on the scanner slips away.
Sue: He’s fallen off his step-ladder.
The Doctor and Turlough enter the ship’s forecastle (or fo’c’sle, if you are a nautical pedant).
Sue: (Singing) In the Navy!
Nicol: Shhh, mother.
The Doctor picks up a newspaper dated 1902.
The Doctor: First British submarine launched.
Sue: This is far too big to be submarine. If this turns out to be a submarine, I’ll knock five marks off.
Tegan leaves the TARDIS so she can deliver the White Guardian’s warning to the Doctor. In the ship’s hold, she finds a chest with the word Striker stencilled on it.
Sue: That must be where the captain keeps his football magazines.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Turlough are introduced to the ship’s crew.
Sue: It’s Roy! Pat’s husband!
Me: Tony Caunter to his friends. That’s 10 points to Sue. More EastEnders actors still to come, Nicol, so you can still catch up.
Nicol: Be quiet, I’m trying to listen to this.
In the ship’s hold, Tegan runs into the mysterious Mariner.
Mariner: You’re a stowaway and I shall put you in irons.
Sue: He’s a bit creepy.
Ha! She hasn’t seen anything yet.
Meanwhile, in the forecastle.
Sue: That sailor with the mangy beard reminds me of a Jehovah’s Witness who used to visit us. Do you remember?
Me: How could I forget? They were banned from coming to our place after a while because we were a bad influence on them. I hope he’s okay and he wasn’t too upset when the world didn’t end.
Nicol is far more interested in Turlough’s eyebrows.
Nicol: Why doesn’t the Doctor know his companion is an alien? How many humans do you know with eyebrows like that?
Me: He might know. It’s not very clear.
Sue: I don’t think he knows.
Nicol: So the Fifth Doctor is stupid? Right.
Mariner flirts outrageously with Tegan.
Sue: She could do a lot worse than him.
And then we meet Keith Baron as Captain Striker.
Sue: Oh, it’s him.
Sue: It’s on the tip of my tongue.
I’m hoping she’ll say Nigel Barton, but of course she doesn’t. No, Keith is.
Sue: The guy from Duty Free!
Sue’s actually more interested in the wood that surrounds him.
Sue: This story had a great carpenter working on it. The panelling is gorgeous and those chairs are beautiful. It all looks fabulous.
Turlough and the Doctor discuss tactics in a corridor.
Nicol: He’s alone with the Doctor right now. Why doesn’t he just pull out a knife and stab him? What’s he waiting for? What kind of assassin is he?
Sue is becoming very suspicious.
Sue: Something’s not quite right about this ship. I think they have been transported into the future, like an Edwardian Philadelphia Experiment.
Tegan notices that the ship is equipped with wetsuits.
Sue: Maybe we’re on a submarine after all. A really big submarine.
The Doctor consults the ship’s navigational charts.
Tegan: It doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Sue: They are stars and planets, chick. They’re on a spaceship, aren’t they?
Less than thirty seconds later, Sue’s theory is proved correct.
Sue: Excellent. That was a great start. I can’t wait to see what happens next. What about you, Nicol?
Nicol: Yeah, it wasn’t bad. I can imagine the new series doing something very similar, only a lot quicker.
With Nicol in bed – one of us has to hold down a proper job – Sue and I continue our journey towards Enlightenment.
Sue: Sailing ships in space. It’s the sort of thing Monty Python might do.
Me: I don’t think it’s meant to be funny.
Sue: It’s bonkers.
Tegan retires to her cabin with a bad case of space sickness. Mariner gives her something to drink.
Sue: Don’t! I bet it’s laced with Rohypnol.
The camera pans across Tegan’s cabin.
Sue: Hey, that’s the chair from Tegan and Nyssa’s bedroom. That’s lazy set decoration.
I almost agreed with her, but then I remembered that it’s a plot point. The room even includes a photograph of Tegan’s Aunt Vanessa.
Sue: Did she ever visit her grave? Or is she still on the run for her murder? We need to know.
Back in the wheelhouse.
Sue: I’ve spotted another EastEnders actor.
Me: You have?
Sue: Yes, the man steering the boat is Derek Branning.
The Doctor verbally attacks Striker for using the humans as playthings.
Sue: Peter Davison is excellent is this story. I take it all back, he can be angry when he wants to be. It helps that the script is this good. A woman, you see. Just saying.
Turlough attempts to make contact the Black Guardian.
Sue: He never answers his phone when you need him.
Later, the Black Guardian terminates his arrangement with Turlough.
Sue: You can’t say that Turlough wasn’t warned. Throttling him will be frowned upon by the HR Guardian, but he did give Turlough several chances before he fired him.
Tegan doesn’t understand how her cabin can be filled so many personal mementoes.
The Doctor: They can make anything they see in your mind.
Sue: God help them if they ever make a bedroom from the contents of your mind, Neil.
Turlough and Tegan decide to sit out the rest of the adventure in the TARDIS.
Sue: The Doctor is really disappointed. They’ve let the Doctor down, they’ve let the audience down, and they’ve let themselves down.
Unfortunately for them, the TARDIS has disappeared and our heroes are rounded up by the ship’s officers.
Officer: Please, Doctor, resistance is futile.
Sue: The Borg nicked that line from him.
Mariner persuades Tegan to slip into something more uncomfortable.
Tegan: I’m not putting that suit on!
Sue: You don’t need to be a mind reader to know what his game is.
Mariner escorts Tegan to the ship’s deck. She is awestruck, supposedly.
Sue: Tegan wouldn’t be that impressed given everything she’s seen on her travels. I don’t buy it.
And then we reach Sue’s favourite moment in Doctor Who so far.
Sue: Peter Davison in latex. Sigh.
Tegan and Mariner are joined by Turlough and the Doctor.
Sue: This looks brilliant. This is one of those times when the switch from video to film actually works. It makes feel even more strange. And I’m loving the big, dramatic close-ups, too. The women are doing themselves proud.
She even praises the special effects.
Sue: They are trying their best. The concept should be a non-starter but it works.
The Black Guardian decides to taunt Turlough. Just for a laugh.
So Turlough kills himself.
Sue: Excellent cliffhanger. Let’s keep going. I want to know what happens next.
Sue: I really like the music in this story. It’s even got a choir in it.
Me: It’s by Malcolm Clarke. You’ve always liked Malcolm Clarke. You’re that kind of woman.
Turlough throws himself off the ship again.
Sue: This looks amazing.
A pirate ship called the Buccaneer catches the suicidal companion in a net.
Sue: That doesn’t look so good, but they are trying their hardest.
Turlough has been recused by the lead singer of…
Sue: Boney M.
I pause the DVD.
Sue: He’s definitely a singer.
Me: Well, he’s definitely not an actor.
Sue: I can see him on Top of the Pops. Now, what was the name of that song.
Me: Would you like me to sing it to you?
Sue: No. It’s a one-word band. Begins with an I. Illusion. Something like that.
Me: Imagination. They had a hit with ‘Just An Illusion’. His name is Leee John and he was a last-minute addition to the cast when an actor had to pull out.
Sue: Did he wander onto the set after he’d recorded a Top of the Pops one night, and the production team said, “He’ll do. He’s even brought his own costume”. Is that what happened?
Speaking of singers…
Sue: She’s famous, too. She’s been in loads of Carry On… films.
Me: No she hasn’t. She’s been in one (but it barely counts).
Sue: Who is it then?
Me: Think sitcom. Or, if you are feeling really perverse, think EastEnders.
Sue: Oh yeah, it’s Christian’s mum.
Me: Most people know her as Nurse Gladys Emanuel from Open All Hours.
Sue: Which one was that again?
Me: You know. N-N-N-N-Nurse G-G-G-G-Gladys Em-
Sue: Oh, that. I never saw much of that.
Give me strength!
Sue: She’s also been in two episodes of Doctor Who. Do you remember the Matt Smith episode with the Cybermen in the department store?
Me: Well, she’s in that. She also sang the song in The Gunfighters.
Sue: Did she really? Does she sing in this one? A sea shanty, perhaps? What’s her real name?
Me: Lynda Baron. No relation to Keith.
From that point on, Sue refers to Lynda as the Baroness.
Leeee John takes the wheel.
Me: Like I said, he’s not a real actor.
Sue: No shit, Sherlock!
Up on the deck, Mariner is probing Tegan’s mind.
Sue: I wouldn’t do that if I were you. It’s full of snakes.
But Tegan doesn’t want to know.
Sue: So, these Eternals… Are they like the Guardians?
Me: I think they are probably one tier down. If the Guardians are gods, the Eternals are angels.
Sue: He’s not very angelic. I bet he’s thinking some very dirty thoughts right now.
Tegan changes for dinner. The Doctor completely ignores her new look.
Sue: Aww, she looks lovely. And look at that cleavage!
I don’t respond. I know it’s a test.
The ship navigates its way through an asteroid storm.
Sue: Is the other ship chucking oranges at them?
Leeeee John is still at the wheel.
Sue: (singing) Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ah-ahh.
Me: Like I said: not an actor.
Sue: What is he doing in this scene? What is he gawping at?
Me: Nothing. He’s using his imagination.
At Wrack’s buffet reception, the Doctor seizes an opportunity to replenish his celery supply.
Sue: How does he make it stick to his coat like that? That’s what I want to know.
Turlough investigates Wrack’s ship. He comes across a room that contains an eye-shaped hole in its floor. Turlough moves in for a closer look.
Sue: I spy with my little eye, something beginning with ‘S’.
Turlough is locked in the room. He panics and turns to the Black Guardian for help.
Sue: Oh, that is very disappointing. I thought we’d gone beyond that, now. Don’t be a dick, Turlough.
The Black Guardian refuses to help his ex-employee. He prefers to gloat instead.
Sue: That man has a horrible laugh. I suppose a reference is out of the question?
Turlough freaks out.
Sue: You couldn’t accuse the actor of not going for it. I really like him. He’s my favourite male companion since Ian. I hope he comes good in the end. I think he will. Do you think the Doctor knows what’s going on with Turlough? Do you think he’s setting Turlough a test, or do you think he’s blissfully ignorant?
Me: I honestly have no idea.
The episode concludes with Wrack placing a red gem in Tegan’s tiara when she isn’t looking.
Sue: It’s the kidney bean of death. Couldn’t they get their hands on a jewel that sparkled a bit? Never mind, it’s not the end of the world.
Wrack delivers the final line straight down the camera lens:
Wrack: You’ve lost. All that awaits is your ultimate destruction. Bwahahahahahahaha!
Sue: Okay, we could have done without that.
Mariner continues to woo Tegan.
Sue: Isn’t she sick of people poking around in her head by now?
And then I notice Sue humming along to Malcolm Clarke’s Edwardian Cocktail Party theme.
Me: If we ever renew our wedding vows, this is the music we should play at our reception.
Sue: Over my dead body. And the same goes for the music.
Mariner is acting like a love sick puppy dog.
Sue: So Tegan has copped off with an angel who can make her dreams come true. Like I said earlier, she could do a lot worse.
Leeeeeeeee John, however, is beginning (beginning?!) to get on Sue’s wick.
Sue: Is he taking the piss or what?
Me: The way I look at it is this: the Eternals are bored so if it looks like he’s taking the piss, it’s because he’s taking the piss. Does that make any sense?
Sue: Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ah-ahh.
At one point, Turlough looks like a rabbit caught in headlights.
Sue: Is it really true that they asked the actor to shave his head for this part?
Sue: It’s a bloody good job he didn’t. He would have looked like the man from The Hills Have Eyes. It would have been too scary for the kids.
At last, the finishing line is in sight.
Sue: A giant chandelier. Okay, then.
Once again, Leeeeeeeeeee John takes the wheel.
Sue: He’s looking directly into a mirror, and he’s thinking to himself, “Am I really wearing that?”
Sue is biting her nails as the two remaining ships vie for supremacy. Wrack, with the help of the Black Guardian, prepares to destroy Striker’s ship.
The Black Guardian: Focus. Focus. Focus. Focus. Focus. Focus.
Sue: Is the worst DIY company ever.
The Doctor smashes the gem that Wrack placed in Tegan’s tiara, but that turns out to be a really stupid idea.
Sue: Just pick up the rug and take that! You’ve left loads behind.
The Doctor reaches the upper deck and he tosses the debris over his shoulder into space. It explodes.
Sue: I expected him to bowl it like a cricket ball. Oh well. And Tegan’s cabin must be on fire, they left so much of it behind.
The Doctor travels to Wrack’s ship in his TARDIS.
Sue: And he lands it on a sixpence. If he was William Hartnell, he would have wet himself.
Wrack threatens to throw the Doctor into space – with a little help from Turlough.
Sue: He’ll never fit through that hole. They’ll be lucky if they can get his leg through it.
Tegan watches helplessly as two figures are ejected into space. She mourns her fallen comrades.
Sue: Is she mad? They just disappeared into thin air so they must be Eternals. It’s not that hard to work out, chick.
In the Buccaneer‘s stateroom, two Guardians are bickering.
Sue: It’s an interesting argument but it’s very black and white.
The Doctor and Turlough arrive to claim their prize. The Black Guardian sends Striker and Mariner back to the echoing void for coming second.
Mariner: Tegan, help me.
Tegan: I can’t.
Mariner: I need you.
Mariner fades away.
Sue: Awww, that was really sweet. Still, it’s probably more effective than a restraining order.
Turlough has a tough decision to make: a huge diamond or the Doctor.
Sue: Yay! I knew he’d come good in the end.
The Doctor: Enlightenment was not the diamond. Enlightenment was the choice.
Sue: Exactly. I couldn’t have put it better myself.
The White Guardian warns us that as long as he exists, the Black Guardian exists.
Sue: He’ll be back. I don’t think he’ll be any real threat, but he’ll be back.
The story ends with Turlough requesting a lift back to his home planet.
Sue: The Doctor’s thinking to himself, “Oh no, not Earth again”.
Me: I’m sure he knows that Turlough is an alien.
Sue: Prove it.
Sue: That was excellent. The script, the acting (well, apart from you know who, obviously), the direction, the design, the music – everything came together. I loved it. It dragged a bit in Part Three, and the Black Guardian subplot was a bit silly, but if this story teaches us anything, it’s this: Hire More Women.
Me: Would you like to see some the special edition of Enlightenment?
Sue: Special edition?
Me: Yes. It’s got new special effects, a 5.1 surround sound score, and it’s in widescreen. Oh, and there’s less Leee John in it.
Sue: And why didn’t we watch that in the first place?
Me: Because fandom would have lynched me.
Purists should look away now.
Sue: I love the 5.1 theme tune. All those extra whooshes. Marvellous. And it’s in widescreen, too! This is brilliant.
We skip to the part where the cliffhanger to Part One would have been.
Sue: That looks so much better. Not only that, I think it lasts a little longer so we can really take it in.
I skip to the bit where the ship almost collides with a planet.
Sue: That was a lot clearer. In the original, I thought they’d actually hit the planet. This is easier to follow. And it looks very nice. It’s not Avatar but I’m guessing that the fans just did it off their own backs. And it works. And I love the music. The 5.1 surround sound pulls you into the action. And because the director had a say in this edition, I think it deserves to be taken seriously.
We skip to Turlough being rescued with a CGI net.
Sue: If I’d watched this version, I would have given it a 10.