Production Code: 6F
1 - 01/02/1983 18:50
2 - 02/02/1983 18:45
3 - 08/02/1983 18:50
4 - 09/02/1983 18:45
The Black Guardian recruits a young man named Turlough to assassinate the Doctor. Although outwardly an ordinary pupil at a boys' private boarding school, Turlough is in fact an alien who believes that the Guardian will return him home if he succeeds.
The TARDIS meanwhile has its instruments jammed by a mysterious signal and is forced to materialise on board a massive spaceship in a fixed orbit. The Doctor discovers that the signal - a beam to guide the ship's transmat capsule - is being transmitted from Earth. He travels down to the planet in the capsule, leaving Nyssa and Tegan in the TARDIS with the co-ordinates pre-set to follow.
Things go wrong, however, as the Doctor arrives in 1983 but the TARDIS materialises in 1977. Tegan and Nyssa encounter a man with a badly burned body and think that this could be the Doctor.
Tegan goes for medical aid and runs into the Doctor's old friend the Brigadier, now retired from UNIT and working as a maths teacher at the school. They join Nyssa and, at the mysterious stranger's urging, use the TARDIS to travel up to the spaceship.
The stranger is actually Mawdryn, one of a group of alien mutants travelling endlessly in a state of perpetual regeneration brought upon themselves through the use of a stolen Time Lord device.
The Doctor takes Turlough and the 1983 version of the Brigadier up to the ship in the transmat capsule. He reluctantly agrees to supply from his own body the energy needed to end the mutants' ordeal, even though this will mean the loss of his remaining regenerations.
In the event, however, the energy comes not from the Doctor but from an explosion caused when the two Brigadiers meet.
Turlough, responding to the Black Guardian's exhortations, picks up a large rock and prepares to smash it down on the back of the Doctor's head.
Tegan, Nyssa and the Brigadier enter the TARDIS control room. Mawdryn, now wearing the Doctor's old coat, turns to face them. The top of his skull is missing, revealing his pulsing brain. Nyssa screams.
The mutants take their places in the regeneration room and Mawdryn pleads with the Doctor to help them die by giving them his energy. The Doctor refuses, explaining to Tegan that if he does so it will be the end of him as a Time Lord.
The Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan deliver the 1983 version of the Brigadier back home. Turlough is in the TARDIS control room when they return. He asks if he can join them, and the Doctor comments that he already has. In space, Mawdryn's ship self-destructs.
The Flying Dutchman.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
Star Trek's The Alternative Factor.
Tegan : "Maybe the capsule's malfunctioned. I hate those transmat things. Like travelling in a food mixer and just as dangerous. I'd be afraid of coming out puréed."
Mawdryn : "Perpetual regeneration."
Nyssa : "Regeneration? You don't mean it's happening again?"
Mawdryn : "Life without end or form. Changing. Changing."
The Brigadier : "Are we stuck on this ship?"
The Doctor : "I wonder... if I reverse the polarity of the neutron flow..."
Turlough is clearly not of Earth, and the headmaster says that his parents are dead. He deals with a 'very strange' solicitor in London (see Planet of Fire). Turlough seems to wish to return home (see The King's Demons, Planet of Fire). He enters into a pact with the Black Guardian, seen for the first time since The Armageddon Factor.
The Brigadier talks of 30 years of soldiering, and has a photograph of himself from his UNIT days. He says that Sgt. Benton left the army in 1979 to sell second hand cars, and that Harry Sullivan had been seconded to NATO and was last heard of doing something 'hush hush' at Porton Down.
The Brigadier left UNIT in 1976 and started teaching at a public school. Shortly after, he appeared to suffer from a nervous breakdown, actually caused by meeting his future self, and many of his memories of UNIT were temporarily lost. The Brigadier states on two separate occasions that he has seen the Doctor regenerate twice [but this isn't strictly correct as he only witnessed the effect of the second Doctor's regeneration].
When people from two different time zones touch there is a large explosion of energy as the time differential is 'shorted', known as the Blinovitch limitation effect (see also Day of the Daleks, where it is described in different terms). Presumably Time Lords are immune to this (cf The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors, The Two Doctors).
The transmat capsule shares certain properties with the TARDIS, most notably dimensional transcendence, and the transmat beam interferes with the TARDIS workings. [Although not explicitly stated, the action on Mawdryn's ship towards the end of the story must take place in 1983, or else there would be no spacecraft for the Doctor to avoid at the beginning, and no capsule for Turlough to discover.] Tegan, for some reason, has a graphic knowledge of the potential danger of transmats [an untelevised adventure?].
Tegan takes a TARDIS homing device with her (see Full Circle, The Visitation), and mention is made of the fact that the TARDIS no longer has a Zero Room (Castrovalva). Despite that, the atmosphere of the TARDIS helps Mawdryn to stabilise (see the Doctor's comments in The Power of the Daleks).
Mawdryn stole a metamorphic symbiosis regenerator, used by Time Lords in cases of acute regenerative crisis, but it induced a perpetual, deathless mutation. He and his fellow scientists were exiled from their homeworld, but their research could come up with no cure. Every 70 years the beacon guides the ship to within transmat rage of the Earth, and one mutant travels down to Earth to see if help can be sought.
The mutants felt abandoned by the Time Lords. If the Doctor were to sacrifice his remaining regenerations their plight could be ended. The Doctor states once more that he can only regenerate 12 times, and has done so four times already (see The Deadly Assassin). The power to save Mawdryn and the others from their undead existence and to cure Tegan and Nyssa of the viral equivalent that rendered time travel impossible eventually comes from the Blinovitch limitation effect, although a line of dialogue indicates that the TARDIS had a role in this as well.
Mawdryn's ship .
Brendon School, 1977 and 1983.
The Doctor's reaction is remarkable when Nyssa enters the TARDIS control room in Part One. Presumably it is because of her new outfit...
A flashback sequence of clips from earlier stories is shown when the 1983 version of the Brigadier, who has been suffering the effects of a nervous breakdown, regains his memory of the Doctor.
Former producer Graham Williams, the creator of the Guardians, did not know about their return in this season and learned about it only years later during an on-stage interview at a Doctor Who convention.
Lots of stuff about Mawdryn's ship being trapped in a warp ellipse, little of which makes sense 'Could it have been effected by a tangential deviation coming out of the warp ellipse?' 'Not with the dead reckoning alignment in the coordinates.' The Doctor talks about reversing the polarity of the neutron flow.
When talking to Turlough in the TARDIS in the fourth episode the Black Guardian appears to spit on himself.
Cast & Crew
The Doctor - Peter Davison
Nyssa - Sarah Sutton
Tegan - Janet Fielding
Turlough - Mark Strickson
1st Mutant - Peter Walmsley
2nd Mutant - Brian Darnley
Black Guardian - Valentine Dyall
Doctor Runciman - Roger Hammond
Headmaster - Angus MacKay
Ibbotson - Stephen Garlick
Matron - Sheila Gill
Mawdryn - David Collings
The Brigadier - Nicholas Courtney
Director - Peter Moffatt