Mawdryn Undead SYNOPSIS:
When schoolboy Turlough is knocked unconscious after crashing a teacher's car his mind is transported to another dimension. There the Black Guardian makes an agreement with him, he will return Turlough to his home planet if he kills the Doctor. Upon agreeing Turlough wakes up.
The Tardis is forced to land on a deserted spaceship orbiting Earth. Unable to break free due to the ship's transmat beam operating the Doctor transmats to Earth to shut off the beam, the Tardis programmed to follow. However the Doctor has transmated to 1983 where he meets Turlough and the Tardis has instead landed in 1977. In this time zone Tegan and Nyssa find a burned body in the transmat capsule and assume it's the Doctor's. Tegan seeks help from a school teacher, Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart and in 1983 the Doctor is also reunited with his old friend still a teacher at the school who does not remember the Doctor but does remember a Tegan.
Mawdryn has regenerated back to his alien appearence in the Tardis and convinces Nyssa, Tegan and the Brigadier that he is the Doctor in regenerative crisis and they must get him back to the alien ship. Once the Brigadier's memory is restored, he, Turlough and the Doctor also return to the alien ship.
There Mawdryn has already revived his fellow undead mutants and wants the Doctor to give him his remaining regenarations so the they can die or he will not cure Nyssa and Tegan from an infection that prevents them travelling in time. Turlough awaits the chance to kill the Doctor and attempts to keep the two Brigadiers apart to prevent a cosmic disaster.
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Mawdryn Undead SERIAL DETAILS:
Viewership (In Millions)
Mawdryn Undead CAST & CREW
Peter Davison (Fifth Doctor)
Sarah Sutton (Nyssa)
Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka)
Mark Strickson - Vislor Turlough
Nicholas Courtney - Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
David Collings - Mawdryn
Valentine Dyall - Black Guardian
Angus MacKay — Headmaster
Stephen Garlick — Ibbotson
Roger Hammond — Dr Runciman
Sheila Gill — Matron
Peter Walmsley, Brian Darnley — Mutants
Production Staff for Serial 6F:
Writer - Peter Grimwade
Director - Peter Moffat
Script editor - Eric Saward
Producer - John Nathan-Turner
Mawdryn Undead REVIEWS
Mawdryn is a welsh word meaning dead so the title in full English should read:- Dead Undead. But enough of the Welsh, worry about them when we get to the new series 4.
After Buddism serpent weirdness in a studio we get back to the a rollickin' story with a new companion introduced, an old companion re-introduced and two companions who get split up over different time zones. Speaking of time zones this Peter Grimwade script is a million years better than his last one ie. Timeflight - especially when it incorporates all the elements described above and throws in the Black Guardian for good measure along with the concept of a 'traitorous' companion and a bunch of mutants who get stuck in different time zones constantly mutating into different forms.
Now with all those elements to incorporate plus the regular cast you think Mawdryn Undead would turn into absolute lumpy porridge but somehow it all works and ends up being a fairly intriguing and fast paced story. First we get introduced to the new companion straight away, Good old Turlough. Gotta hand it to JNT, he really broke the mold for male companions. Gone are the square jawed heroes and stiff upper lipped soldiers of the past and instead have come first an annoying bratty teenager and then this one, a shifty, slightly creepy red head masquerading as a teenager at school on Earth circa 1983, a school at which we find one of the square jawed soldiers of the series past is working as one of Turlough's teachers that is Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart. An interesting trivia fact is that it was originally going to be Ian Chesterton brought back, that now would have been something.
But it's good to see the Brig back, although even now I find it hard to swallow he just up and quit to become a maths teacher. He's the main nod to the past in this one…oh and there's the Black Guardian who pops up surrounded by some really hippy and outdated Graphics and a crow on his head (which isn't bad as I'd never seen him before this story) and offers a bargain to an unconscious Turlough to kill the Doctor and he'll return him to his original planet. Who could resist that?
Anyway Mawdryn Undead moves between two different time zones in 1977; where Nyssa and Tegan end up with the Tardis and 1983 where the Doctor ends up with the transmat thingy and meets Turlough and there's a version of the Brigadier in both! About time they did more time related stories that actually work and Nicholas Courtney also easily pulls off looking like the older and younger versions of himself seeing as it's only a six year gap. Courtney also pulls off looking more weary and insightful as the older Brigadier and adds a bit more to his character that was never there before. Ah there's continuity problems but as the plot flows and unfolds so well, from the reason of the current Brig's amnesia and a brilliant flashback sequence as he remembers who the Doctor is to the bits where Mawndryn almost convinces the young Brig and the girls he is really the Doctor, suffering from a regeneration crisis.
The reveal of the mutants who stole the Timelord device is well realised and shows them as sympathetic characters in the end, plus how the 5th Doctor is again ready to sacrifice himself yet again and give away all his regenerations to these mutants to save Nyssa and Tegan from the time infection they get from Mawdryn. The mutant's ship design is also well done.
Mawdryn Undead is a good romp and all the performances are first rate, from David Collings as Mawdryn down to Angus Mackay as the headmaster. Despite Nyssa wearing a mini finally and showing off her assets, she seems to be getting less to do and is just being reduced to Tegan's foil. Although Mark Stricksen is really good as Turlough, he doesn't hold back on the bargain trying to off the 'ol trusting Doc after knowing him for only about 10 minutes and his asides to the Guardian are really well done not OTT. Remember thinking why let this guy on the Tardis have you gone mad doc? Well directed, acted and written Mawdryn Undead is a fav of mine so giving it a 9.2/10
Mawdryn Undead is one of my personal highlights and faves from the Davison era. It actually joins two others from this season as personal favourites really. This is one of those rare stories in Dr Who which actually deals with the consequences of time travel; where the doings of the past actually effect the happenings of the future. The last story to try this was Day of the Daleks so its been a while.
The whole Mawdryn stuff with the offing of the Time Lord machine is a great idea and you do feel some sympathy for them. And although they look completely ridiculous like something out of - say - Mordialloc Theatre's production of MORT you do feel some sympathy for them (which is where our link to Mordi's MORT production now ends!) David Collings is fantastic as Mawdryn and you can see why he is potentially very good Doctor material if the part ever would have come his way. His badly burnt corpse was creepy to look at and the ending to part two was a great cliffhanger. Nice to see that for once the threat wasn't to take over the bloody universe (again) but to commit suicide - how creepy is that?
There is heaps of stuff I like about Mawdryn Undead; the flashback sequence is really good and as a kid I nearly fell off the couch when I first saw it cos the Second Doctor was in it and I'd never seen him at that stage! And there were yetis and cybermen and daleks. Even the little bit leading up to it with the Doctor mentioning Liz Shaw and Jo Grant and Sarah Jane was really good too. And Sergeant Benton is selling secondhand cars??? WTF???
I am a huge fan of the Brig and I thought Nicholas Courtney did a sterling job as both versions of the character - particularly his breakdown scene. Not recognizing the Doctor or even remembering him was a nice twist as well. The whole teaching scenario seemed to erk a few people but I think it was a nice idea for the Brig to be semi-retired and being a CO at a boys school. It was also interesting to see him in a pacifist and civilian role as well which was a nice progression from when we last saw him. He still has that look of total bewilderment about him as well when it comes to all things technical. Perhaps the biggest bonus of all was Mawdryn Undead was really about HIM and his character and as always Courtney was up for the challenge.
Also returning was the Black Guardian with his ever-faithful stuffed bird on his head. I guess being in charge of the darker side of the universe he can get away with it cos no one would laugh at him and live! Valentine Dyall really chews the scenery here and he is at is snarling, nasty, evil best. Great voice too. Although you do have to question some of his implementations of his plan. Seriously, would YOU pick the Ginger Whinger? Turlough starts out as an interesting and untried character, but he doesn't actually do much other than lift a boulder over his head then wander about looking over his shoulder. He was better at getting the better of Ibbotson than killing off the Doctor.
This however is a problem back at the production office cos - as always with Who companions - they start off really interesting but then degenerate later on. Mark Strickson is very good though and looks creepy, innocent, sneaky and charming all at the same time. Doctor-wise, I think our hero is a little bland in this one. He does a lot of running about and so forth like he always does but (it must be the costume) he really just fades against the background. Nyssa doesn't add much to the proceedings and I'm still not a fan of Tegan. Although for some reason, Nyssa looks kind of hot in her costume.
Anyway, I really loved Mawdryn Undead cos there was so much I enjoy about Dr Who in it; time travel, the Brigadier, creepy aliens who DON'T want to take over and a clever complex plot. 10/10
Mawdryn Undead should never have worked. For one, it was never in the original plan… this was supposed to be the whole Space Whale thing, where Turlough was going to be introduced as one of the colonists in the whale and kick off the Black Guardian trilogy. Then the Space Whale story got canned (but they still had to pay for it!). So they went to the bloke who's only writing contribution to date was Time-flight to pen something really quickly… and then his big idea to bring back Ian as a school teacher fell through when William Russell wasn't available… nor was second choice Ian "Harry" Marter! How the hell was this going to work? Who could they get to fill in the gap?
"Why, it's Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart of course!"
Somehow, it works brilliantly and Mawdryn Undead is one of the highlights of the Davison era for mine. And really, I couldn't see Mawdryn undead working with anyone other than the Brigadier! Although, because I'm the continuity nazi, I do have a bit of a problem with part 2… although Sarah's time is never really dated, she was supposed to be there in the 80s - so if the Brig has retired in 1977 (and Benton became a second hand car salesman in 1979), then that doesn't really gel… If only they'd set the "past Brig" in the present, and the "present Brig" in the future, then we would have been fine! Point off for that though… I almost want to take more off for that, but really, the rest of this is brilliant.
Except for the music when Turlough's driving the car… that's awful! But the rest of the music is some of the series best, so they can be forgiven for that! Moffat's in Dr Who must be a good thing, cos the direction in this is first rate. There is so much happening - you've got Turlough's story coupled with the Black Guardian's story, the 1977 story, the 1983 story and the Mawdryn and crew story (nice to have them suspended out of time!), and all of this flows brilliantly. I love the way the Brigadier remembers things just as they're happening in the 1977 story - it's clever, and realised very well… this is probably Courtney's best performance really!
The handling of the Mawdryn story is excellent too. While Mawdryn starts off kind of threatening, he (and his race) really aren't an "evil menace" alien at all… and it's nice that they're not in it to take over the world. Sure they're not good guys, stealing that machine for immortality, but you get the feeling that they've learnt their lesson, and they no longer want their immortality… hmmm, is this a theme that they're building on here for the end of the season? ;)
Luring the Doctor back through the infection of his sidekicks is another nice non violent touch - and while the finale with the two Brigs touching saves the day rather than causing everything to blow up (like the Doctor and the Black Guardian predict) is a bit convenient, I still think it works fine - and it's a finale that I still remember watching Mawdryn Undead 25 years ago, and still enjoyed it when I watched it last night - so for mine, it must be a good one!
All the performances are good from everyone here - David Collings is excellent as Mawdryn - but maybe they should have got someone else to play Ibbotson… that guy isn't fat! All the regulars are in good form too, and Turlough starts off at a level where Adric could only have dreamt of! Except there is one thing - Nyssa's screaming at the end of episodes is getting a bit ridiculous… she's not a good screamer… and the old Nyssa wouldn't scream that much I don't think… but the way Davison keeps moving her out of the way is funny.
Still, Mawdryn Undead is one of my favourites… 8.9/10
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