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Black Guardian
After Christmas I bought a few of 2009’s Doctor Who DVD releases; I tend to buy them a little while after they are released, once the Amazon discount is larger than 50%. One of them was the Black Guardian trilogy, three Peter Davison stories from 1983. These introduced Turlough as a companion, saw the departure of Nyssa, and welcomed Nicholas Courtney back as Lethbridge-Stewart.

I’m not sure that I’d seen the three stories, “Mawdryn Undead”, “Terminus”, and “Enlightenment”, since they were originally broadcast. I remember particularly liking them, with notable enjoyment of the casting, the production values, and the ongoing story arc. I wondered how they would fare all these years on.

I wasn’t disappointed. There is much to enjoy here. Highlights included Courtney’s performance as Brigadiers six years apart (he achieves a distinct look and behaviour for each), Barron and Baron as ships’ captains, and one of my favourite companions, Turlough. Furtive, sly, cowardly, and laconically intelligent, he is sometimes Gollum-like in his cradling of the Black Guardian’s crystal.

“Mawdryn Undead” and “Terminus” have the option of viewing the modern digital effects replacing some of the original effects; these are mostly decent, and non-intrusive, allowing the story to be appreciated without one being overly aware of the limitations of television special effects in 1983. “Enlightenment” is supplied on two discs; one has the original four-part serial, and the other has a new re-edited version, shorter in length, with enhanced effects, a 5.1 soundtrack, and presented in widescreen. It works surprisingly well; I appreciate the reinvention and improvement of old Who, as long as the original versions are supplied as well.

Beth enjoyed them a lot. Next up is to conquer her aversion to black and white (she complains about it being ‘boring’, but then tends to like B&W Who when she starts watching it). Two of the other DVDs I bought this week are “The Keys of Marinus” and “The War Games”. Maybe next weekend for those.

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she complains about it being ‘boring’

I can sympathise. I think Troughton is probably my favourite Doctor, but despite that, experience shows I'm more likely to fall asleep watching a black and white story than colour.

I've always thought "Enlightenment" was a bit of an overlooked classic, and Courtney's performance in The Two Brigadiers was something that also impressed me.

Must go and check prices for "The War Games"...

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