The beginning of the Black Guardian trilogy gets underway with this four-parter written by Peter Grimwade which aired from the 1 to 9 February 1983. The celebration of the Doctor’s (Davison) 20th year sees the return of the Black Guardian (Valentine Dyall), last seen in the Key to Time season arc, and Nicholas Courtney’s return as Lethbridge-Stewart.
We also get a new companion in the TARDIS, Vislor Turlough (Mark Strickson), who is working with the Black Guardian!
Things get underway when a spatial phenomena, a warp ellipse, pulls the TARDIS off her course, and causes Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) and Teagan (Janet Fielding) to be separated from the Doctor in space and time!
Turlough is contacted by the Black Guardian, and promised an escape off Earth (apparently the school boy isn’t as human as he appears) if he kills the Doctor.
And in the middle of it all is Lethbridge-Stewart teaching at a public school who, for some reason, has no memory of the Doctor.
While Teagan and Nyssa try to find their way back to the Doctor, the Time Lord restores the Brigadier’s memory, all while Turlough schemes with the Black Guardian. It seems the Companions aren’t so much separated from the Doctor in space as they are in time. It seems Lethbridge-Stewart remembers Teagan from years ago, giving the Doctor the clue that his friends and his TARDIS are close by, just in a different time.
But that isn’t all that’s going on, a being named Mawdryn (David Collings) has found his way aboard the TARDIS and has schemes of his own… even as he poses as the Doctor.
Mawdryn, it seems, is just one creature of a few, who have a ship in orbit of Earth, and stolen technology from Gallifrey to extend their lives, for devious purposes, they wanted to turn themselves into Time Lords, and are now stuck in an existence between life and death.
They want the Doctor to sacrifice his regenerations to them, and infect Nyssa and Teagan with their disease to keep the Doctor trapped. Unfortunately, almost no one outside of the Doctor has accounted for the fact that there are two Lethbridge-Stewarts to account for, and when they meet, it shorts out everything, saving the Doctor and everyone else, and releasing Mawdryn and his fellows from their undead state, once and for all.
The Black Guardian throughout the episode continues to blackmail Turlough but the young lad seems unable to find an opportunity to off the Time Lord, and amazingly, despite the fact that no one seems to trust him, he tags along in the TARDIS!
My favorite part of this tale was the fact that the Brigadier returned and was central to the story, and it was wonderful to see Courtney return to his role.
The so-called Black Guardian trilogy continues next week with Terminus!