Enlightenment: Doctor Who: Season 20
The Tardis is being drained of power as the White Guardian weakly tries to warn the Doctor of impending danger and to set the coordinates for a race. Too late Turlough stops the message getting through and the Tardis seems to have landed below deck on an Edwardian sailing yacht.
The Doctor and Turlough mix with the crew before being brought before Captain Striker, Tegan is brought there seperately by his executive officer Marriner. They are not on a sailing ship at all but part of fleet of spaceships all designed after different periods in Earth history competing in a race around Earth's solar system.
They are crewed by humans and piloted by Eternals, etheral beings who have no existence but if the ship that wins the race will give that Eternal Enlightenment. One ship is destroyed and the Black Guardian threatens torment to his agent Turlough for failing to kill the Doctor.
Turlough leaps overboard but is rescued by the Buccaneer commanded by an Captain Wrack an eternal who fashions herself as a 17th century female pirate. Wrack is secretly destroying the other ships in the race at the behset of the Black Guardian and Turlough must decide which side he's really on before the race is won. Not even the Doctor can combat the Eternals power.
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Enlightenment CAST & CREW
Peter Davison (Fifth Doctor)
Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka)
Mark Strickson (Vislor Turlough)
Cyril Luckham — White Guardian
Valentine Dyall — Black Guardian
Keith Barron — Striker
Christopher Brown — Marriner
Lynda Baron — Wrack
Leee John — Mansell
James McClure — First Officer
Tony Caunter — Jackson
Clive Kneller — Collier
Production Staff for Serial 6H:
Writer - Barbara Clegg
Director - Fiona Cumming
Script editor - Eric Saward
Producer - John Nathan-Turner
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Yeah Kit Pedler was a bloke so that being the case Enlightenment is the first Who story written by a female writer.
So from the badly run down spaceships of the distant future to some sleek racing ship's from Earth's past and future racing through space.
This is a very good because it's so original, funny how they haven't actually made a script a woman's written before now. But the tone is set from the get go with this one. For once we have subdued lighting in the Tardis; setting a gloomy and atmospheric tone and that's before the White Guardian starts to drain the power to pass on messages to the Doctor. It's a real good conclusion to the Guardian trilogy and the only time we see them together, it's sort of like the long delayed confrontation we were probably all expecting at the end of season 16.
Like your theories Mr. Long and am inclined to believe that the BG wanted to have the Doctor offed before this whole Enlightenment thing and he didn't want to alert his opposite to what he was doing, thus dragged in Turlough. Suppose having an assassin just gun him down would be pointless plus he did want his revenge for the Key to time fiasco. Otherwise you think he would've just done the deed himself. Expect Enlightenment must be another universal artifact like the Key to time that can affect a lot of stuff at once. Doesn't it give the winner of the race anything they desire or ultimate power? Maybe the Guardians can only exist in this dimension when events like this occur? Would explain why they only pop up for these types of instances.
The actual setting on the ship and the lead up to the reveal that the sailing yacht is literally in a space race with Earth period ships is fantastic. For once Turlough and Doctor's costumes stand out as being in the right period too. The new dynamic of the three member Tardis crew works really well. The Doctor is trying to douse his suspicions of whatever Turlough may be up to by letting him prove himself. The latter is getting squeamish about being underhanded and devious as he really likes The Doctor and Tegan, our little air stewardess, has really mellowed out showing she really trusts the Doctor and is warming to Turlough. They all give great performances, especially Turlough, easily his best story as he goes from dithering to charming to devious to double dealing and whining you really not sure which way he's going to go - power everlasting or staying buddies with the Doctor.
The concept of the Eternals is really well done and again totally original. A race of beings that can only exist corporeally through the thoughts of others and have no imagination at all but great mental powers that can affect the physical world. Also explains what the Shadow was back in the Key To Time season. The Eternals as played by Keith Barron and company are perfectly portrayed and come across as very creepy, powerful and very callous. Especially the Captain, who didn't seem to care if any human crew were killed if it meant they could lose the race. Brown's Marriner was especially creepy the way he basically stalked Tegan and when it came down to it all he wanted was existence not love. The fact these guys just play around with your thoughts like turning on a faucet is just plain scary. Plus Tony Caunter plays the grizzled but now sober sailor really well, in fact all the sailors are well portrayed.
I'm a fan of Captain Wrack too, all glittering and bosomey bluster. It seems obvious that each eternal has taken a persona they thought they would like to try and the cunning lady pirate queen using the Black Guardian's power to destroy the other ships is a nice contrast to the cucumber cool Keith Barron. Pity her offsider can't act in any way but maybe this eternal was wanting to try being a pop singer who can't act from the 80's? Make sense he could have sourced Tegan's mind and if that's the case he's a better actor than we thought!
SO many nice scenes in Enlightenment from the dinner party where Davison finally replaces his worn out celery to the scene's between Marriner and Tegan and Turlough's double bluff or is it triple bluff between Wrack and the Doctor also the final meeting with the Black and White Guardians, nice they got the same actor to return and play the white one and their repartee against each other is really good. After all the carry on of the race we find out Enlightenment is the choice and not the actual power. Still this ethereal tale is one I could choose to watch over and over.
Thus does the Black Guardian disappear in flames for now and Turlough is finally confirmed as an out and out good guy. Excellent stuff mines a 10/10
The Guardian Trilogy draws to a close and once again its another ripper of a story. Enlightenment is such an untraditional Doctor Who story in so many ways and its cos of this it works so well. Its also the first Doctor Who story to be penned by a woman. And its directed by a woman too so I'm wondering that if it were directed by a male would any of Barbara Clegg's sexual undertones to the story have been so subtly realised (if at all?) Trust me; its there. From Marriner's strange obsession with Tegan's mind to Wrack's flirting with the Doctor "You are remarkable in other ways Doctor - for an Ephemeral!" and then Turlough. There's Marriner's line about wanting to clamp Tegan in irons and the White Guardian gasping "More! More!" as Tegan plays with the knob on the Tardis console.
Barbara Clegg also veers away from boring aliens trying to take over the universe and gives us a race of aliens who are totally lacking in any imagination whatsoever so they need humans to fuel their minds and keep them entertained. But its not just that, the eternals don't even give a shit about us. We are disposable in every sense. The Eternals are certainly helped along by the chilling and fantastic performances of the actors playing them. Keith Barron and Christopher Brown are amazing; the captain's determination to win the race no matter how many mortals he uses is very well realised, and Marriner's fascination with Tegan's tiny little door knob brain borders almost on stalking.
The same can't be said for the gang on the Buccaneer as Linda Barron hams it up in such a pantomime way that only JNT with his Light Entertainment bent could only appreciate. Likewise Leee Whatsit is equally dreadful but its more cos he can't act his way out of a bag of heroin than anything else. The sailors are also good, particularly Jackson who takes Turlough under his wing.
Like Terminus before it, Enlightenment's first episode really sets up the story with its rich atmosphere as you wonder what is going on on board the ship. And then you get THAT reveal at the end of it. Episode one's cliffhanger is certainly up there with the best of the "WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT???" endings. I don't know about you but I never saw that one coming. Striker's ship is certainly well realised with its panelled corridors and dark lighting and crew rooms. Again its Wrack's ship that lets things down. I mean c'mon; a big vacuum shield lever with ON and OFF written in large friendly letters!!! Which set designer was she channelling???? There is some dodgy modelwork and CSO on display - notably Turlough's rescue after jumping overboard and being saved by a large net although the first sighting of all the ships on the scanner screen at the end of part one is very good.
Enlightenment has to wrap the Guardian Trilogy up and like the mammoth Key To Time Saga whence we last saw them I feel that the conclusion is unsatisfactory. Okay, Turlough had worked out the Doctor was an okay kind of guy but all he did was swipe the Enlightenment crystal across the table at the Black Guardian who burst into flames. So what? Hardly a setback really. And there are a tonne of questions about Turlough yet to be answered like who he was and where he came from and why was he on Earth in the first place.
I enjoyed Enlightenment a lot and when I had my copy on VHS from the late night/early morning ABC repeats I watched it quite a number of times. Its got a great atmosphere and its an entirely different take on some aliens who (finally) don't want to take over the Universe or Earth. And I really love the ending to part one. Yep; its a 10/10 - again.
Was Kit Pedler a bloke? If so, I think Enlightenment might be the first story written by a chick. And I don't think there's an episode quite like this one in the Doctor's history.
Enlightenment is very different. I remember basically none of it from when I was a kid - and that could be because the dark and slow feel to it can maybe come across as being a bit dull... but subsequent viewings have been far from dull. It gets better with every watching I think - well that's only really been 2 (1993 and last night/this morning!) - but there really is a lot in both the script and the telling of it... even if the first episode is kind of ruined cos you know that they're on a race in space - which is what the bulk of the first episode builds up to... that and the pig joke... anyone get that?
Enlightenment is a nice culmination to the Guardian trilogy as it gives both Guardians a much greater platform than they had in the entire season 16. Although that said, are we supposed to think that the Black Guardian knew all along that the White Guardian would enlist his friend the Doctor to foil his plan to win "enlightenment", and that's why he enlisted Turlough's help? And hang on, isn't the prize of enlightenment being offered by the guardians - in which case, why can't he just give it to Wrack? Or is his plan to just use the race to lure the Doctor and then win control of him as revenge for costing him the key to time - or maybe even to go and collect the key to time for him once again?
Such is the interest in the story, Enlightenment does make you think - and you can't not like stories like this.
The telling of it is quite well paced - Enlightenment's certainly slow at the start, but it builds up quite well, and the introduction of Nurse "Wrack" Gladys in part 3 gives the story the kick along it really needs. She's excellent as the cackling space pirate - even if she is completely different to all the other eternals who seem dull and bored by their eternal existence. The concept of them is an interesting one - not only are they able to read minds, but they can also just make things happen - like Striker being able to store the TARDIS in his own mind... now there's a concept!
Say you're on the last night of the Sydney to Hobart and you're in front - would you really accept an invite to dinner from the boat that's coming second? I guess the Doctor was trying to rescue Turlough (who uses the Adric method of double bluff quite well), but it does seem a bit of a convenient way to get the jewel onto the shadow - they do pull it off well though. And we also get to see big power room, complete with it's big flashy sign that tells you if it's locked or not... handy that the eternals write in English as well as reading it! It does look great though.
These are all just small things though cos the story does hold up well - and the bluff ending with the Doctor and Turlough winning the race, and Turlough resisting the big prize to kind of destroy the Black Guardian (another hint of bigger things to come this season?) is very very good... as are all of the performances of the regulars. Tegan is a lot more subtle, and her little side story with Marriner is entertaining and kind a poignant way of looking at the bleak existence of the eternals.
All up it's a good solid 8.3/10 for me.
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