Wednesday 11 July 2012

596 Mawdryn Undead Part Three

EPISODE: Mawdryn Undead Part Three
TRANSMITTED: Tuesday 08 February 1983
WRITER: Peter Grimwade
DIRECTOR: Peter Moffatt
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 7.4 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Black Guardian Trilogy: Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment

In 1977 the Creature in the Tardis insists it is the Doctor and has the younger Brigadier, Nyssa & Tegan take it back to the ship in 1983. He exits the Tardis, insisting the others stay there but after a while the younger Brigadier follows him. The Doctor & older Brigadier catch up with Turlough at the transmat capsule. The device guiding the capsule on Earth is damaged but the Doctor jury rigs a replacement using the Tardis homing beacon that Tegan left with the Brigadier and, once the Brigadier has assured the Doctor he never went with the Tardis in 1977, they return to the ship. The Doctor & older Brigadier find a laboratory containing a regenerator stolen from Gallifrey which the Doctor condemns as being a very dangerous piece of equipment. The older Brigadier wanders off, narrowly missing his younger self, but when he returns he finds the creature from the Tardis who he mistakes for the Doctor and helps into the regenerator equipment. Under the Black Guardian's guidance Turlough finds a room with seven similarly mutated creatures in which awaken and proceed through the ship witnessed by the younger Brigadier. Finding the Tardis the Doctor goes inside but is angered to find Nyssa & Tegan brought the younger Brigadier with them. They go back to the laboratory, hoping to find either Brigadiers, but there encounter the creature who says his name is Mawdryn. He and his fellows stole the regenerator, hoping to make themselves into Timelords. Instead they were hideously mutated and trapped in a state of perpetual regeneration. Cast out by their race they are set on an endless voyage round the stars encountering a planet every seventy years where one goes down disguised, supported by the mental energy of the other seven. Six years ago Mawdryn went to Earth. But now the Doctor is here he can save them all by sacrificing his energy but this will mean the end of the Doctor as a Time Lord.

People narrowly missing people? People being mistaken for other people? This is a farce in the theatrical sense of the word. It might seem a lot of running around, so potentially a time filler/waster episode but the plot is advanced, we learn the identity of the creature, who was on the ship and why they're there. Throw in a nice reference here to the Blinovitch Limitation Effect, referred to several times in the past from Day of the Daleks onwards, as to why the Brigadiers meeting would be disastrous. And we get another good look at those fabulous ship sets. Third decent episode this story.

All the locations used in this story are in or near Trent Park in Middlesex, close to Cockfosters Tube Station. The house is now used by Middlesex University. Playing the creature now named as Mawdryn is David Collings who was previously Vorus in Revenge of the Cybermen and Poul in The Robots of Death as well as playing Silver in Sapphire & Steel.

Mawdryn Undead was a late replacement for another story, the Song of the Space Whale by 2000AD and former Doctor Who weekly comic strip writer Pat Mills. Space Whale would remain as a work in progress for another two years before being abandoned.

The Mawdryn Undead story that replaced it, based around the idea of a Flying Dutchman in space, always featured a teacher in a public school, but it wasn't always going to be the Brigadier. First choice was Ian Chesterton, the science master introduced in An Unearthly Child, who was one of the first Doctor's earliest companions. I'm almost glad he wasn't used because that would have meant us asking "Where's Barbara?" (Wright), a history teacher from the same school who travelled in the Tardis at the same time. They left together and the expectation of many fans was they went off and got married. The real reason Ian Chesterton didn't appear was a simple one: actor William Russel wasn't available. Neither was Ian Marter, former Fourth Doctor companion & UNIT Medic Harry Sullivan. The Brigadier was the third choice candidate: Nicholas Courtney had been sounded out about the possibility of reprising the role at Tom Baker's leaving do, was happy to oblige, and I think he works fabulously. I can see the Brigadier, post soldiering, settling down for a bit of Maths, bit of Rugger, CO of the school corp. And, thanks to the Three Doctors repeat during Five Faces, he would have been recognisable once again to many viewers.

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