Friday, February 5, 2010

6F1 - Mawdryn Undead 1

Peter Grimwade follows up his previous writing assignment, Time-Flight, with a bang-up fun Episode One of Mawdryn Undead. Actually, Episode One of Time-Flight was quite good, too. Grimwade sure does know how to start a story well.

There's so much to like in this episode, despite all the puzzle pieces that Grimwade was asked to include - the Brigadier, a new companion, the Black Guardian, and so on. Mark Strickson starts off strong in this episode and is a very talented actor. He plays an indolent teenager stuck on Earth with remarkable ease. His disdain for Earthlings, especially his unwanted companion, Ibbotson, makes him seem so much more alien than any pair of prosthetic ears could ever do.

Paddy Kingsland also puts in his best work in the series with his rock and roll music score. His music is also omnipresent - it's rare that single second goes by without his music punctuating the scene. My particular favourite bit of music is for when The Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan wander around the seemingly abandoned space cruise liner that they almost crashed into a few minutes previously.

That scene is also another reason to watch Peter Davison again. In the previous story, Snakedance, he was all action, all ranting. Look at him as the three of them explore the ship. He doesn't say a word, preferring to remain silent while Tegan offers the vocal commentary. Instead, The Doctor playfully stumbles upon a lighted alcove, observing everything in the background while his companions concentrate on the obvious. When the three of them converge on a video game console, and The Doctor starts playing it, a generation of young children, who had put down their Atari consoles only long enough to watch Doctor Who in the first place, must have beamed a collective smile as wide as the horizon.


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