Shows - Review
Doctor Who (1963-1989)
Episode: Mawdryn Undead (Part 1)
Review by: Michael Hickerson
The twentieth annivesary season of Doctor Who was one for celebration and reflection. The series took a chance to not only celebrate it's past, but also re-examine it. In some cases, it worked well, in others it left me cold.
Mawdryn Undead is one of those stories that worked extremely well. In fact, it's not going out too far on a limb to say it's probably the best story of the twentieth anniversary season.
The story features a lot of nods to the series continuity (or lack thereof!) to keep long time fans happy while not having the nods be so intrusive as to take away from casual fans's enjoyment of the show. With subtle homages such as Mawdryn using the fourth Doctor's coat as a blanket to the return of the TARDIS homing device as well as the Brigadier's trip down memory lane, it's a wonderful piece of nostalgia for the fans.
But it's also got one of the stronger more rich plots of season twenty. Indeed, my one biggest complaint is that it seems to wrap up too quickly. But it's not for a lack of interesting ideas on the way. One of the best being a group of passive-aggressive villains who don't force the Doctor do help them by violence but rather by giving him no alternative.
Add to a gripping plot some strong performances: Davison turns in one of his better performances as Doctor in this one, and I don't think it's going too far to say that this may be Nicholas Courtney's finest performance as the Brigadier. He is effortlessly able to create two distinct versions of the same charcter as well as infuse the older Brigadier with intensity and sympathy from the viewers as he struggles with the events that happened in 1977. Finally, there is David Collins as Mawdryn. I think his performance is one of the more underrated in all of Doctor Who. One wonders if he might not have made an intersting Doctor.
Finally, I'd be remiss without drawing attention to some fine direction (I especially love how Mawdryn's group appears to float around their ship, almost Dalek-like when they move!) and, once again, a great soundtrack. If you're keeping track, this is yet another story's soundtrack I'd love to see released on CD. Especially the theme for Mawdryn and his crew as they move about the ship.
If nothing else, this well crafted story serves as an apology by Peter Grimwade for his horrific season 19 offering of Time Flight.
Last Updated: 10/25/2006
Other Reviews by Michael Hickerson
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