Two boys are admiring a vintage car that’s 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, I suppose.
Ibbotson tells his friend, Turlough, that the car is a classic.
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 takes the car for a joy ride.
Sue: What the **** has happened to the incidental music? Even the Chuckle Brothers would have had second thoughts about 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 land by an imposing figure dressed in black. He claims to be 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’s he got on his head? That isn’t a dead bird, is it? Surely not…
The Black Guardian offers to give Turlough his freedom if he kills the Doctor. Turlough agrees, just as long as he isn’t sent back to Earth.
Sue: Eh? What?
Meanwhile, at the scene of the motor accident, a man surveys the damage that’s been inflicted 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, in the TARDIS, Tegan is still trying to come to terms with Snakedance. I know exactly how she feels.
Sue: Is she still going on about that bloody 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 of the mess she was dressed in last week. That’s 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.
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, and the headmaster deals with a very strange solicitor in London.
Sue: 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 five out of 10.
Sue: What kind of name is Turlough? It’s a bit daft. And I can’t believe we’re going to end up with three companions again. Unless they kill Nyssa off. It won’t be Tegan they get rid off because they would have done that last week when they had the chance.
Me: Doctor Who doesn’t suddenly make a habit of killing off the companions, you know.
Sue: Doesn’t it? Oh, that’s a pity.
The TARDIS is forced to materialise on a spaceship that’s heading straight for it.
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 when I was a bairn.
Turlough follows the Black Guardian’s instructions and arrives at 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.
And then the music kicks up a gear.
Sue: It reminds me of Muse. 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 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.
Sue: Tegan’s not that fussed about Turlough, but I think Nyssa may have the hots for him. She’s funny like that.
The episode concludes with Turlough preparing to smash the Doctor’s brains in with a boulder.
Sue: Good cliffhanger. It’s an interesting introduction for a companion. If I didn’t know any better, I’d never have guessed he was one of the good guys.
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 Fifth Doctor and the Brigadier are reunited, but the Brig fails to 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: Oh yeah. Fair enough, then.
Tegan and Nyssa walk in on a burns victim in the transmat capsule. Nyssa immediately assumes 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. Then Tegan proclaims that it’s too risky to move him again.
Sue: Too risky? You just dragged him across the floor like a sack of potatoes!
The Brigadier and the Doctor settle down to discuss old times. Sadly, the Brig still doesn’t remember any of his adventures with the Doctor.
Sue: 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, too.
It turns out the Brigadier is currently working as a maths teacher. I pause the DVD.
Me: The Brigadier wasn’t the first choice for this story. They were going to bring a companion 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: Wouldn’t it have been better if he taught PE instead?
Me: The other thing this story is famous for is the UNIT dating controversy, because Sarah Jane told us she came from 1980 in Pyramids of Mars, which implies 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 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. There’s a Trumper…
Sue: Trumper? Trumper? Is that his real name or his nickname? What kind of school is this?
But no 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, because he’s definitely a mature student.
Back at the infirmary, Turlough ties some bed sheets together.
Sue: Is he going to hang himself? Are things really that bad?
In the TARDIS, Tegan decides the wounded person may not be the Doctor after all.
Sue: No shit, Sherlock!
But that raises another question:
Sue: Is it the Master?
Me: Are you serious?
Sue: He’s regenerating, and only Time Lords can regenerate so it could be him. They’re throwing everything else at the screen, so why not him?
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, he just wants to be a Time Lord? Is that it?
Sue: Well, he’s wearing Tom Baker’s coat so that’s a good start, I suppose.
The episode concludes with a meaty 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, Neil, I bet Steven Moffat really likes this one.
Tegan isn’t convinced that Mawdryn is the Doctor, because the last time he regenerated he turned into a human being.
Sue: Yeah, he certainly didn’t end up with a bird’s nest on his head. Hey, maybe this is 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 they might think it’s the Doctor at first; he is a bit like the Doctor, I suppose. He’s basically William Hartnell gone wrong. Or gone wronger, somehow.
The Brigadier is convinced that Mawdryn is the Doctor.
Sue: What? He just told you that he wasn’t! Are you deaf? And if you aren’t entirely sure, ask him a question about the Yeti or something. Ask him what Benton’s first name is. Go on.
The Doctor warns of the dangers of two Brigadiers interacting with each other.
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 where Michael Gambon gives his younger self a cuddle. When I saw it for the first time, I was convinced the universe would explode.
Sue: I like the idea of the cuddle better. Sod the Blinny-whatsit.
Mawdryn shows us what he’s got on under his coat.
Sue: It looks like something Nyssa might wear. It’s dreadful.
And they still think Mawdryn is the Doctor.
Sue: They 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.
When the Brigadier orders Tegan to remain on the TARDIS, she calls him a chauvinist.
Sue: That’s rich coming from a person who described herself as a mouth on legs. And the Brig might be a sexist pig, but I still love having him around. He makes me feel safe.
With the threat of the Brigadier touching himself hanging over the story, Sue finally puts two and two together.
Sue: I bet meeting himself is what triggers his nervous breakdown. It’s very clever, this. The Moff would be proud.
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 completely different league.
Turlough releases Mawdryn’s people from a hidey hole in their 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. Now they long for death, not that the Doctor is sympathetic to their plight – it is the result of their criminal ambition, after all.
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 surrenders his remaining regenerations.
Sue: A moral dilemma for a cliffhanger – you don’t get many of them to the pound. I’m loving this so far. Let’s finish it off.
The Doctor tells Tegan that he can only regenerate 12 times.
Sue: That means he’s only got two bodies left after Matt Smith. I hope they don’t waste them on shit actors.
Sue can’t understand Mawdryn’s problem.
Sue: Can’t they just chop their heads off? And if that doesn’t work, why don’t they just fly into the sun?
Even the Black Guardian is worried about two Brigadiers running around the ship. 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.
Sue: Ask him what he meant by that! Don’t just walk away! Oh, that is very frustrating.
Meanwhile, Turlough is still wandering around the spaceship.
Sue: This is the only ship I’ve seen where I keep expecting to spot 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 the ship, it’s Nyssa and Tegan who suffer the consequences as they rapidly age to death.
Sue: That’s horrific. Although at least Nyssa’s outfit now matches the pallor of her skin.
The Doctor reverses the polarity of the neutron flow, but this results in his companions becoming younger and younger.
Sue: I didn’t know Tegan used to be a boy…
When it’s Nyssa-as-a-child’s turn to speak, I pause the DVD.
Me: I’ll do the washing-up for a month if you can tell me the name of the EastEnders character she grows up to play.
Sue: Okay, don’t tell me. I can do this… I recognise her eyes. It’s on the tip of my tongue…
And that’s when 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, Neil. 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?
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 has to make a difficult decision.
Sue: It would be a good way to go, saving your friends like that, but he won’t do it. We’re only halfway 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 massive explosion sorts everything out.
She’s right, of course.
Sue: So the Doctor survived because Turlough is totally 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 suddenly defective.
Sue: Did he just say “crack”?
Sue: Oh, for a moment there, I thought he was going to smoke it.
The Doctor returns the Brigadiers to their respective time zones.
Sue: Does he ever come back again?
Me: Wait and see.
Sue: So that’s a yes, then.
The story ends with the Doctor welcoming Turlough to the team.
Sue: The TARDIS is very crowded again. I like him, though. He’s interesting.
Sue: I really enjoyed that. It’s nice to see a story where the villain doesn’t want to take over the universe for a change, 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 a mark off because the direction wasn’t anything special. But it was still very good.