It’s Black Guardian Week on the Wife in Space…
The story begins…
Sue: On film, on location, and on Earth. That’s a good start.
Two boys are admiring a vintage car that has been parked in the grounds of a school.
Sue: Is this story going to be about upper class toffs? Oh well, that’s the BBC for you.
Ibbotson: This car is a classic, Turlough.
Sue: Turlough? I know that name; I’ve heard you mention him before so he must be a companion. But that means we’ll have three companions again! Did Adric die in vain?
Turlough decides to take the car for a joy ride.
Sue: What the **** has happened to the music?
If you aren’t familiar with Paddy Kingsland’s haunting ‘Turlough and Ibbotson go for a ride’ theme, here’s a short extract:
Sue: **** me. Even the Chuckle Brothers would have balked at that.
The car crashes and Turlough has an out-of-body experience.
Sue: Meanwhile, on Top of the Pops…
The schoolboy is joined in this electronic limbo by an imposing figure dressed in black. He says he is Turlough’s ‘guardian’.
Sue: Is it the Black Guardian?
Sue: Seriously? It’s really, really him?
Sue: I’d almost given up on him. It’s about bloody time. Hang on, what has he got on his head? Is that…? It’s not a dead bird, is it? Surely not…
The Black Guardian makes a pact with Turlough: murder for freedom.
The Black Guardian: You will be destroying one of the most evil creatures in the universe. He calls himself…
Sue: …the Master.
The Black Guardian: …the Doctor.
Turlough will agree to anything, just as long as he isn’t sent back to Earth.
Sue: Eh? What? So he wants to die? Make your mind up.
At the scene of the accident, a man surveys the damage to his 1929 roadster.
Sue: It’s the Brig! Blimey, it’s all go today, isn’t it? Hey, what happened to his moustache?
Meanwhile, on the TARDIS, Tegan is still trying to come to terms with Snakedance. I know how she feels.
Sue: Is she still going on about that snake? Get over it, chick.
Tegan wants to know why Dojjen didn’t just destroy the Great Crystal in the first place…
Sue: You can’t discuss the plot holes now. It’s too late for that, you had your chance to explain it DURING THE ACTUAL STORY.
Nyssa enters the console room.
Sue: Yes, she’s changed out the mess she was dressed in last week. That is so much better; it’s almost trendy. She’s gone overboard with the make-up, though. I think she’s subconsciously trying to compete with Tegan. I suppose it depends on whether the Doctor goes for the slutty look or not.
Turlough is recovering from his accident in the school’s infirmary when he finds a strange object under his pillow.
Sue: I hope they don’t expect him to provide a sample in that.
The school’s matron tells Turlough to rest.
Sue: Does Turlough have learning difficulties?
Me: What makes you say that?
Sue: Well, he’s about 25 years old and he’s still at school. He must be very slow.
Incredibly, Sue is warming to Paddy Kingsland’s incidental music.
Sue: It’s very rocky, this. That’s quite a good riff he’s got going, there.
The Brigadier discusses Turlough’s actions with the school’s headmaster.
Me: Are you surprised to see the Brig in a school?
Sue: I assumed he was there to give a talk to the boys about serving in the military. Why?
We learn that Turlough’s parents are both dead. The headmaster tells the Brig that he deals with a very strange solicitor in London.
Sue: Yes, he’s so strange, he walks around with a dead bird for a fascinator.
Me: No, that’s a completely different strange man. I think. Actually, now that you mention it, maybe he is referring to the Black Guardian…
Sue: I’m confused.
Me: I know, you gave Snakedance 5/10.
Sue: What kind of name is Turlough? It’s a bit daft. And I can’t believe we are going to end up with three companions again. Unless they kill Nyssa. It won’t be Tegan they get rid off because they would have done it last week when they had the chance.
Me: Doctor Who doesn’t suddenly make a habit of killing off companions.
Sue: No? That’s a pity.
The TARDIS crew are forced to materialise on a spaceship that is heading straight for them.
Sue: Is it a hotel in space? I love the Rennie Mackintosh art nouveau feel. It reminds me of an old Odeon cinema I used to go to as a bairn.
Turlough follows the Black Guardian’s instructions and walks to an obelisk near the school.
Sue: Turlough is very odd, but I like the actor who plays him. He’s very good. There’s something about him.
Suddenly, a spherical object appears out of thin air…
Sue: It’s the Sontarans! I can’t keep up with this. It’s too much to take in.
The music kicks up a gear.
Sue: The music reminds me of Muse a bit. Prog rock with some electro funk. Do you think Matt Bellamy is a Doctor Who fan?
Me: Have you actually heard the song ‘Uprising’?
Incidentally, Sue and I are both learning how to play the guitar at the moment (Sue on lead and me on bass), so if anybody has the tabs for the Mawdryn Undead soundtrack, we’d be really grateful. You can skip ‘Turlough and Ibbotson take a ride’, though.
The Doctor and Turlough meet for the first time…
Sue: I liked the way they looked up at the same time to notice one another. That was a very nice scene.
Tegan and Nyssa give Turlough the once over.
Sue: Tegan’s not fussed but I think Nyssa may have the hots for him. She’s like that.
The episode concludes with Turlough preparing to brain the Doctor with a boulder.
Sue: Good cliffhanger. It’s a very interesting introduction for a companion. If I didn’t know better, I’d never guess he was one of the good guys.top
Sue: The only problem I have with this story is the naff MTV effect behind the Black Guardian’s head. I keep expecting him to introduce a song by Soft Cell.
I take the hint and I switch the DVD to the new CGI effects option. Sacrilege, I know, but sod it.
Sue: That’s much better. Thanks.
The transmat unit explodes and this stops Turlough from committing murder.
Turlough: What’s happened? Could it have been affected by tangential deviation coming out of the warp ellipse?
Sue: What are they teaching them at that school? I thought he was thick.
The Fifth Doctor and the Brigadier are reunited, but the Brig doesn’t recognise his old friend.
Sue: He’s displaying the early signs of Alzheimer’s.
Me: He hasn’t met this incarnation of the Doctor yet.
Sue: Fair enough.
Back at the transmat capsule, Tegan and Nyssa walk in on a burns victim. Nyssa assumes that he must be the Doctor.
Sue: He looks nothing like him! That is definitely not Peter Davison’s crotch…
Tegan and Nyssa take the injured man back to the TARDIS.
Tegan: It’s too risky to move him again.
Sue: Too risky? You just dragged him across the floor like a sack of potatoes!
Tegan: It’s all right, Doctor. You’re safe inside the TARDIS.
Sue: That is NOT PETER DAVISON!
The Brigadier and the Doctor settle down to discuss old times. Sadly, the Brig still doesn’t remember his adventures with the Doctor.
Sue: See! I told you he had Alzheimer’s.
It turns out that Benton is now selling used cars for a living.
Sue: WHAT? I’m sorry, but WHAT?
The Doctor triggers the Brigadier’s memories.
Sue: Ooh, this is nicely done…
We are treated to a sepia toned celebration of the Brigadiers greatest moments. Sue gives the first three clips – Yeti, Cybermen, Troughton – a hearty cheer.
Sue: I’m cheering and I’m not even a fan.
The transition back to the present day is very nicely done.
The Brigadier is now working as a maths teacher. I pause the DVD.
Me: The Brigadier wasn’t the first choice of companion for this story. They were going to bring someone back who was already a teacher.
Me: Well done. Anyway, it didn’t work out and that’s why the Brigadier is suddenly teaching maths.
Sue: What a shame. Wouldn’t it have been better if he taught P.E. instead?
Me: The other thing this story is famous for is the UNIT dating controversy, because, as I am sure you will remember, Sarah Jane told us that she came from 1980 during Pyramids of Mars, which implied that the UNIT stories of the 1970s were set in the future. However, this story clearly states that…
Sue: Oh, not this bollocks again. I really couldn’t care less. Play the DVD, please.
Tegan arrives in 1977, where she meets a younger version of the Brigadier, complete with moustache.
Sue: Oh, this is very clever. It’s gone all timey-wimey. Hey, I bet Tegan was the person who gave the Brig his nervous breakdown.
The 1977 version of the Brigadier checks the school register for Turlough’s name.
The Brig: Let’s see. S. T. Trevor, Trumper, Turner…
Sue: Trumper? Trumper? Is that his real name or his nickname? What kind of school is this?
But there’s no sign of Turlough.
Sue: Really? Are you sure he hasn’t been studying there for the last 15 years? Maybe he was expelled from several schools before he got there. He’s definitely a mature student.
Back in the infirmary, Turlough ties some bed sheets together.
Sue: Is he going to hang himself? Are things that bad?
Back on the TARDIS…
Tegan: The wounded thing in the capsule, maybe it isn’t the Doctor after all.
Sue: No shit, Sherlock.
But that raises the obvious question:
Sue: Is it the Master?
Me: Are you serious?
Sue: He’s regenerating and only Time Lords can regenerate so it might be him. They’re throwing everything else at the screen, so why not?
The creature calls himself Mawdryn.
Sue: Oh, so he’s Mawdryn! I thought Mawdryn was the name of the school. You know, like Mawdryn College, Oxford.
Reader, this is why I married her.
Sue: So he isn’t a Time Lord but he wants to be a Time Lord? Is that it?
Sue: Well, he’s got Tom Baker’s coat on; that’s a good start, I guess.
The episode concludes with a close-up of Mawdryn.
Sue: His brain is falling out of his head! It’s moving and everything! We have to put the next episode on. Go on, I bet Steven Moffat really likes this one.top
Tegan isn’t convinced that Mawdryn is the Doctor.
Tegan: It wasn’t like this before. When he changed, he turned into a human.
Sue: Yeah, he didn’t end up with a bird’s nest on his head. Hey, maybe this where the Black Guardian’s dead bird comes into it…
Mawdryn is the victim of a terrible mutation.
Sue: I just about buy the fact that they might think it’s the Doctor at first. He is a bit like the Doctor, I suppose. He’s William Hartnell gone wrong. Or gone wronger.
The Brigadier is utterly convinced that Mawdryn is the Doctor.
Sue: What? He just told you that he wasn’t! Are you deaf? And if you aren’t sure, just ask him a question about the Yeti or something. Ask him what Benton’s first name is.
In 1983, the Doctor warns of the dangers of two Brigadiers interacting with each other.
The Doctor: If the two of you met, you’d short out the time differential. Don’t you see? The Blinovitch limitation effect? Oh dear.
Sue: So, you can’t touch your other self?
Me: Well, that used to be the case. But then Steven Moffat made A Christmas Carol and there’s a scene when Michael Gambon gives his younger self a cuddle. When I saw it for the first time, I was convinced that the universe would explode.
Sue: I like the idea of the cuddle better. Sod the Blinny whatsit.
Mawdryn shows us what he’s wearing under his coat.
Sue: It looks like something Nyssa might wear. It’s dreadful.
And still they think Mawdryn could be the new Doctor.
Sue: They really should be asking him more questions. Like: why are you wearing a dress? And: are you always going to be this stroppy? Because if you are, I’d like to go home now, please.
The Brigadier orders Tegan to remain on the TARDIS.
Sue: That’s rich coming from a person who described themselves as a mouth on legs. And the Brig might be sexist but I still love having him around. He makes me feel safe.
With the threat of the Brigadier touching himself hanging over this story, Sue finally puts two and two together:
Sue: I bet meeting himself is what triggers his nervous breakdown. It’s very clever. The Moff would be proud of this.
Turlough ambles down a corridor, begging the Black Guardian to dispense his usual advice and threats.
Sue: Can you imagine Matthew Waterhouse in this scene? This guy is in a different league.
Turlough releases Mawdryn’s people from their hidey hole in the spaceship.
Sue: Roller skating aliens. Spooky.
And then the Doctor discovers the truth: Mawdryn’s people stole technology from Gallifrey in a desperate bid for immortality. And now they long for death, not that the Doctor is sympathetic to their plight.
The Doctor: It’s the result of your own criminal ambition.
Sue: Yeah, like you never stole anything from Gallifrey, you hypocrite.
The only way the Doctor can put these aliens out of their endless misery, is if he gives up his remaining regenerations.
Sue: A moral dilemma for a cliffhanger – you don’t get many of them to the pound. I’m loving this. Let’s finish it off…top
The Doctor tells Tegan that he can only regenerate 12 times.
Sue: That means he’s only got two bodies left. I hope they don’t waste them on shit actors.
Sue doesn’t understand Mawdryn’s problem.
Sue: Can’t they just chop their heads off? And if that doesn’t work, why don’t they fly themselves into the sun?
Even the Black Guardian is worried about two Brigadiers running around the ship.
The Black Guardian: The instability could destroy everything.
Sue: Or they might have a cuddle, which would be nice.
When the Doctor leaves Mawdryn to suffer his fate, the alien makes a veiled threat against him.
Sue: Ask him what he means! Don’t just walk out… Oh, that is frustrating.
Meanwhile, Turlough is still wandering around the spaceship.
Sue: This is the only ship I’ve seen where I keep expecting to find a concierge around the next corner. I like it, though. I’d rather have decor like this than grey steel flats any day.
However, when the Doctor tries to leave this ship, it’s Nyssa and Tegan who suffer the consequences…
Sue: That’s horrific. Although Nyssa’s outfit does match the pallor of her skin, now.
The Doctor decides to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow. Sue tuts.
But this results in his companions becoming younger and younger.
Sue: I never knew that Tegan used to be a boy.
When Nyssa as a child speaks, I pause the DVD.
Me: OK, I’ll do the washing-up for a month if you can tell me the name of the EastEnders character she will grow up to play.
Sue: OK, don’t tell me. I can do this. I recognise her eyes. It’s on the tip of my tongue…
At this point, Nicol walked into the living room.
Nicol: It’s Lisa. She shot Phil Mitchell.
Sue: So it is! Ha! You have to do the washing-up for a month. Thanks, Nic.
Me: Hey, that’s not fair…
The Black Guardian threatens to kill Turlough if he doesn’t buck his ideas up.
Sue: Why doesn’t he just kill the Doctor himself? Why does he need Turlough anyway?
Me: He can’t be seen to be involved.
Sue: Why not?
Me: He’ll get into trouble with the Guardian police. I don’t know.
Sue: It’s ridiculous.
The Doctor makes a very difficult decision…
Sue: It would be a good way to go, saving your friends, but he won’t do it. We’re only half-way through Peter Davison, or at least that’s what you’ve told me. You could be lying, I suppose.
The Doctor prepares to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Sue: I bet the other Brig walks in and the explosion will sort everything out.
She’s right, of course.
Sue: So the Doctor survived because Turlough is inept. If he’d kept his eye on the Brig, that never would have happened.
On his way back to the TARDIS, Turlough makes a startling discovery: his crystal is defective.
Sue: Did he just say “crack”?
Sue: For a moment there, I thought he was going to smoke it.
The Doctor returns both Brigadiers to their respective time zones.
Sue: Does he come back again?
Me: Wait and see.
Sue: That’s a yes, then.
The story ends with the Doctor welcoming Turlough to the team.
Sue: It’s too crowded. But I like him. He’s interesting.top
The Final Score
Sue: I really enjoyed that. It’s nice to have a plot where the villain doesn’t want to take over the universe, he just wants to die. I enjoyed the time-wimey aspect, too. They don’t do enough of that in the old series.
Sue: I’m taking one mark off because the direction wasn’t anything special. But it’s still very, very good.
The experiment continues…
Next update due: Friday 12th October.
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