We come to the conclusion of the Black Guardian Trilogy this week as the 20th season continues. This four part story was written by Barbara Clegg and aired from 1 to 9 March, 1983.
Turlough (Mark Strickson) comes to a choice as the TARDIS finds itself involved, peripherally, in a race around the planets, with the prize of enlightenment promised at the end.
The Black Guardian (Valentine Dyall) wants the Doctor (Davison) dead. Though why he keeps trusting Turlough to do it, is beyond me. The White Guardian (Cyril Luckham) finally shows and warns the Doctor about the traitor within the TARDIS, and the great danger that is present. Will Turlough make the right choice?
So there are some interesting wardrobe choices which have been in play for awhile, but should at least be mentioned… The Doctor wearing celery on his lapel, and the Black Guaridan wearing what looks to be a dead vulture (?) on his head. That being said, I do like the space suits employed in this story.
Since I’m sharing things, I have to say, as much as I like Davison’s Doctor, I think I can honestly say I haven’t cared for any of his companions to date. None of them have been able to be an equal on any level to the Doctor, and the writing of their characters hasn’t been all it could be either. But perhaps that’s just me. And while I’m registering complaints, I don’t much care for the music either. A lot of the stories use music that actually undermines the dramatic impact of the story… But I suppose that’s a decision to keep the atmosphere lighter, and family-friendly.
I like that in this tale, we momentarily believe we are aboard a sailing ship in Edwardian times, with a crew of English men who have been belowdecks since they came aboard, but then we get the reveal that we’re aboard a sailing ship… in space.
Despite Teagan (Janet Fielding) finding her way into trouble (again), and Turlough acting cowardly, to the point of trying to jump overboard and commit suicide as opposed to dealing with the Black Guardian, this one ends up being a fairly fun story as ships based on those of various time periods race around the solar system. The officers on all the ships are known as Eternals, and they see humans as little more than playthings, and pose a bit of a threat, being telepathic the Time Lord and his Companions find it difficult to keep secrets from them, and they seize the TARDIS.
There are pirates, tall ships, fun costumes, and some enjoyable, if goofy model work that makes this tale pretty enjoyable… if only the Doctor had Companions who were a little more, well, fun.
Conflict between the Eternals causes problems, especially when it’s learned one of them is in league with the Black Guardian, but, as always, the Doctor sorts things out and is, in fact, offered the prize. Turlough is released from the Guardian, and the group prepares themselves for the last story of the season, The King’s Demons, which may see us travelling to Turlough’s home planet – and following that, there is one last celebratory event coming for the 20th anniversary!