A must watch for a Who fan, introduced a new companion, and showcases the loss of another. The Black Guardian character is from teh other box set 'the key to time' and should be viewed in conjunction to this box set for full understanding of his hatred for the Doctor.
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The 5th Doctor is one of my faves (and I only started with 11) and the introduction of Turlough as played out over these 3 loosely connected stories is probably my favourite period for this Doctor. Turlough was a great idea for a companion that while never fully relaized still plays up an interesting dynamic in the TARDIS. The 3 stories vary a bit in quality with 1 & 3 being the strongest but they're great genre-hopping fun worhty of any WHO fan's collection.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Two Strong Stories, One OK Story.Dec 15 2009
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For the 20th season of "Doctor Who," producer John Nathan Turner wanted each storyline to feature a callback to the past of the show, whether it be a returning villain or monster or a familiar face or two coming back across the Doctor's path. In addition, Nathan-Turner wanted a new face to join the TARDIS crew-a school boy with a mysterious past and possibly an alien heritage.
Those two elements led to the creation of a three-story arc during the twentieth season, loosely referred to as The Black Guardian trilogy. The overarching theme saw the Black Guardian seeking revenge on the Doctor for denying the Guardian the Key to Time at the end of season 17. Out for vengeance, the Guardian procured the services of an English school boy named Turlough, who in exchange for killing the Doctor would be suitably rewarded.
Released on DVD for the first time, this loosely connected arc of stories makes up the latest box set of classic "Doctor Who."
The first story, "Mawdryn Undead" sets up the Turlough storyline in the midst of one of the more insightful looks at time travel and its implications the classic series ever did. Multiple time zones play a factor as do the intersecting time lines of returning favorite Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. Visually stunning (even without the CG updates) and featuring a catchy and driving musical score, "Mawdryn" is the highlight of the set and may be the best story from the twentieth anniversary season.
Next up comes "Doctor Who" wrestling with the creation of the universe and saving us from the next big bang with "Terminus." Much derided by some of the "Who" community, the story is probably best remembered for companion Nyssa living the TARDIS crew and, in episode two, shedding her skirt. It's a shame that the story is probably only remembered for these moment and not for some of the more interesting ideas its trying to put forward on screen. Unfortunately, the story is let down by a the famous "Doctor Who" cliche of running around a lot of corridors and a ton of technobabble. It's also the story that feels the most forced into the trilogy concept once the first episode is complete (Turlough sabotages the TARDIS to get the TARDIS crew to the station).
Finally there's "Enlightenment" which is one of the most unique stories from the classic run. The TARDIS comes aboard a racing ship in space where immortal beings called the Eternals are racing for the ultimate prize-enlightenment. The story has a lot of nuances to it and it's easy to see why it's a fan favorite from the season. It's got a lot to offer from the ideas of the Eternals who exist as almost vampires on the emotions of the human crew to the superb direction on the serial itself.
It's also interesting that on the new set that this story is the one that gets the biggest extra treatment-namely in the form of a new director's cut. On several recent commentaries, various participants have wondered if classic "Who" could work under the guidelines of new "Who." The most obvious point being-could you tell a classic "Who" story in the 45 minute time slot?
"Enlightenment" decides to try and answer that question with a new edit that was supposed to be under an hour but ends up being a bit longer. It's probably due to the complexity of having to set up some things for the final leg of the trilogy, but it could also be that the story is a rich one that fully utilizes the screen time across four episodes. Whatever the case, the new shorter edit is a fascinating experiment and it looks and sounds great (they pull out all the stops with new CGI of the space race). And while it's good, it may not be something classic "Who" fans return to time and again along the lines of the extended cuts of "Battlefield" and "Curse of Fenric" we got as extras on those releases.
As for the rest of the extras, they're up to the usual standard of that the "Doctor Who" restoration team is known for. The biggest is the new CGI effects for all three stories. Since the team began tackling these for certain stories and projects with "Ark in Space" years ago, the quality has risen with each release and what we see here is no exception. The new effects and exterior shots on "Mawdryn Undead" alone are worth a look and may be the new way that some classic "Who" fans watch the stories from now on.
There's also commentaries on each episode, anchored by Peter Davison and Mark Strickson. It's interesting to hear the two discuss the character of Turlough and the limitations placed on him early by having him being opposed to and trying to kill the Doctor. The two, along with script editor Eric Saward, agree that having a companion whose chief goal is the death of the Doctor limits how you can use the companion-either he's failing or locked in a room away from the main action. As always with stories from this era, I wish that producer John Nathan-Turner was around to offer some counter-point and his motivtions for decisions made during his tenure.
The set also includes a documentary on each story, though a lot of the anecdotes tended to crossover from the commentaries. But if you're a classic "Who" fan, it won't take away from the enjoyment of any of these extras.
Were it not for "The War Games" release during the same month, this latest set would be in the running for one of the best classic "Who" releases of the year. And it's still a good one with two solid stories, one a bit dodgy one and a wealth of great special features. What else could a classic series "Who" fan want?
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Don't Miss This One!!!July 28 2009
David W. Curry
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I am sure many fans of the clasic series were hoping these three episodes would be released together and sure enough the Doctor Who Restoration Team did not disapoint us. The three episodes in the box set hail from Doctor Who's 20th aniversary Season (5th Doctor Peter Davison's 2nd season). While that season seemed a bit dis-jointed at times it did have one of those "moments" that reminded you why you loved Doctor Who in the First place. I am of course talking about the real "Gem" of this box set...Mawdryn Undead. This episode is so cleverly executed from start to finish. The writing, the direction and the acting are all top shelf! The story revolves around a group of alien immortals deperatly trying to escape the curse of immortality. The doctor is flung into the middle of their struggle by the bent on revenge "Black Gaurdian" and his emotionaly twisted and unwilling assassan Turlough (sounds like ter-low). The Doctor is aided in this episode by the returning Brigadere Lethbridge Stewart who is now retired from UNIT and teaching at an all boys school. This is truly the Brigadere's finest hour in the program's history as Nicholas Courtney returns to the role and plays the aging veteran to perfection. The episode also features a brilliant plot twist that has the doctors companions Tegan and Nyssa sent back in time some nine years or so and yet they are still able to aid the Doctor as events unfold. Other highlights are the brilliant set designs on Mawdryn's ship, the music score and a nice little "flashback" during episode two...But I'll say no more to protect first time viewers. The other two episodes in the box set, Terminus and Enlightenment, have their moments but fail to come up to the level of Mawdryn Undead. That being said this box set is worth every penny. If you have seen it buy it again and relive the magic of Mawdryn if for no other reason than to remeber how you felt after you viewed it for the First time ( I would imagine most Doctor Who Fan's can remember exactly where they were the first time they saw this episode.)If you have never seen Mawdryn Undead (and I envy you) buy it as well and enjoy One of Doctor Who's finest hours....or hour and a half. Celery anyone???
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"This is the sort of excitement that makes eternity bearable."Nov. 21 2009
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In a way, it's a bit of an overstatement to call the three stories included in this set a trilogy, for each is very distinct in both style and substance. Thankfully so, since variety is the spice of life. Linking the three ever so loosely though is the introduction of Turlough and his Faustian bargain with the Black Guardian, a cosmic being with a grudge against the Doctor. In a way, saddling the Doctor with a "rubbish" companion (well before Adam in 2005's "Dalek" & "The Long Game") is an inventively risky idea, and having a thoroughly unpleasant and devious character among the Tardis crew adds a suspenseful twist to the stories on the one hand, while on the other it often devolves into Turlough repetitively stepping not quite but almost out of earshot and hissing into a glowing crystal for instructions from his erstwhile Mephistopheles. Be that as it may, something beyond the bounds of the tried and true is laudably being attempted here. The trilogy as a whole also happens to transpire roughly during the middle of Peter Davison's tenure as the Fifth Doctor, a moment when his approach to the character seems to have become comfortably established while still retaining some of its initial freshness. On that score, then, these three stories amply demonstrate in both their significant strengths and minor pitfalls a good deal of what "Doctor Who" was capable of in 1983.
"Mawdryn Undead" is a particularly strong story that unusually makes the most of the potential for time paradox in the show's premise and even more unusually features an antagonist whose ambition is not to conquer nor destroy but to die. The reappearance of the Brigadier along with other references to the show's history are rather skillfully woven into the plot, although the resolution is a bit of a let-down, taking place not through the Doctor's own cleverness nor even the bravery of his companions past and present but limply through a credulity-straining coincidence. Likewise straining one's credulity in "Terminus" is the idea that a load of starship fuel could set off a chain reaction destroying not just a planet, a solar system, or even a galaxy, but the entire universe (!). One can't help but suspect that the writer's concept of cosmology and its scale is a bit uninformed. That said, the story deftly balances the grim imagery of drudgery and disease with resonant mythological motifs while confronting the contradictions between the profit motive and medical care in a way that coincidentally seems unusually relevant more than two decades later. Finally, "Enlightenment" is the real gem of this trilogy. There is something indescribably eerie about it. And yet it's also just an incredibly well-written science fiction tale juxtaposing impeccable expertise in historical detail with an utterly surreal context. The tone can pitch dramatically in range from hauntingly mysterious, boisterously campy, firmly moralistic, and strangely romantic--and yet the tale as a whole, while marred a bit here and there by some overacting, holds together wonderfully and verges on the profound without losing its sense of fun and adventure.
Come to think of it, then, on a deeper level certain rather weighty themes do in fact run through these three stories after all: temptation and redemption, death and regeneration, time and eternity, order and chaos, not to mention the unsuitability of dead birds as headgear.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Davison deserves more recognitionOct. 27 2009
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The Fifth Doctor deserves more recognition!!! There, I've said it. Coming after the immensely popular Tom Baker, Peter always seems to get the short end of the stick. Everyone talks about Tom, and Collin's portrayal is a lightning rod for conversation. Peter did some wonderful episodes, and this storyline is among his best. No, it isn't up there with Kinda(one of my favorite episodes), but this is well worth the investment of time and money. The Guardian is such an interesting character, introduced during Baker's tenure and reintroduced here. The first and last episodes really shine. Just well plotted and acted. Torlough is a vastly underrated character, and here he is at his best. Just a really fun ride, full of Whovian turns that will captivate you and your kids. This one is great Sunday family time. Enjoy!!!!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Black Guardian wants his revenge against the DoctorJan. 5 2010
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The Doctor encounters his latest companion Turlugh. What he doesn't know is he is the latest pawn of the Black Guardian. The Black Guardian wants the Doctor gone at any cost. Along the way the Doctor encounters an old friend, says goodbye to another and has the chance to win enlightenment. Now that part is out of the way this is one of the best special feature loaded set to date. Each episode has the standard commentary by the actors and producers, behind the scenes of the episodes footage from various shows related to that episode. Oneof my favorites is new cgi effects. This was the one set of Peter Davidson stories that needed them the most. Also an additonal disc with a better cut of enlightenment along with new cgi that makes the episode so much better. So for Doctor Who fans this is a must have.