Monday, 30 September 2013

Mawdryn Undead

The Brig is back!
A story which plays a lot with time, Peter Grimwade was given a second chance and despite the story being complicated, he makes a much better fist of his second tale than his first. We see the return of the Brigadier after it seems like forever, which is nice, even though he was originally supposed to be in UNIT in the early 1980s (Sarah Jane once said she was from the 1980s) and yet in 1977 he looks a good 10-15 years older than when we last saw him. So if I was only interested in Doctor Who cannon I would have to give this story a big fail, but I’m kinder than that.
It is another loopy story with some nice touches in the scenes mirroring each other in 1983 and 1977. The idea of two Brigadiers, the way when they touch the day is saved, the build up is excellent. We have a new companion too in Turlough, the return of the Black Guardian, we have a lot in this one, and for the most part it works.
Strange that they wanted to go back to three companions, or indeed a male companion. Turlough seems very old for school, but is perfectly pitched by Mark Strickson and is clearly no Adric-replacement. Then we have the great David Collings (previously appeared in ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ and ‘Robots of Death’, another great piece of casting, as Mawdryn, a member of a race who cannot die stuck on a space ship going nowhere. I really like most of the elements, and for the most part they come together pretty well.
David Collings must have felt he was still on the Sandminer from ‘Robots of Death’, the space ship was decked out in Art-Deco and didn’t look too bad. Ok, the exterior was very poor and unbelievable but you can forgive that by choosing the new CGI effects on the DVD menu. They are a good idea because the 80s effects used are seriously distracting and garish, especially the pattern behind the Black Guardian, played by the returning Valentine Dyall. Apparently he didn’t know what was going on for much of the production, and I can see that but he is perfectly cast in a sadly two-dimensional villain. They might as well have used the Master, but I’m glad they didn’t. Does the Black Guardian storyline add a lot to the rest of the story? I don’t think so to be fair, it would have worked just as well without him.
David Collings as Mawdryn.

Mark Strickson, Valentine Dyall and those 80s special effects!
It is a little slow in places, there does seem to be an awful lot of shots of people wandering around the space ship watching the automatic lights pop on and off. I think a trick was missed too. Nyssa and Tegan find a man they think is the Doctor (it’s Mawdryn) burned in the capsule, and take him back on board the TARDIS. He says he is the Doctor and is regenerating. But then we see the Doctor in a different time zone conversing with the Brigadier. A great scene by the way – flashbacks to earlier adventures featured, which is rare. BUT what if the audience DIDN’T know either? Maybe we have a new Doctor? With spaghetti on his head….
Probably wouldn’t have worked but I think it’s a nice idea. This story is not perfect, but it is a nice idea. The aliens move around brilliantly in there strange foam costumes like Daleks – they don’t appear to have feet. I liked that. The design was pretty good too even with the spaghetti. It’s very timey-wimey, but in a good way, and if you over look the cannon-stuff, the plot holds together very well.
The original plan was to bring back Ian Chesterton, which I would have loved to see (instead of the Brigadier), but when he proved unavailable the script was altered to suit Nicholas Courtney returning as the Brigadier, and it worked very well. The Brig is a classic Who character after all.
All in all, it’s fun but could do with a bit of a snip here and there. And definitely opt for the new CGI effects on your DVD.


No comments:

Post a Comment