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Who set up this boat race? What happened to any of the participants? Did Doc know all along? We require enlightenment!

Just as the TARDIS is on the fritz, the Fifth Doctor and his chums are summoned by the White Guardian to participate in a space regatta alongside some cosplaying eternals. Apparently, it’s imperative that the right team win, as enlightenment itself is the prize.

However, Turlough’s still there, of course, so you can be sure that the Black Guardian isn’t far away either, and so a game of endless backstabbing commences. Will the android-like and arbitrarily good eternals win and learn about love? Or will the archetypically bad eternals take charge and claim enlightenment? Well. Erm. That’s what we’re about to discuss.


(Steven B’s Mega-Maxi Review will either be added to the blog or here below shortly. Stay tuned! :) )

Here's what we think of C128 Enlightenment

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken


Jim | @jimmythewho


Here's what we think of C128 Enlightenment

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken


Jim | @jimmythewho


Here's what you think 9 Responses to “C128 Enlightenment”
  1. Steven from Canada | @SAndreyechen

    This is one I’ve been looking forward to seeing for the first time and it does not disappoint.

    Ever since I started watching Doctor Who I’ve been enthralled with its merchandise, the art work on the Target Novel as well as the VHS for this story is one thing that has stuck out in my mind. The image of a sailboat adrift in space was a surreal and fantastical imagine that captured my imagination.

    The story lives true to that. A ship sailing on a sea of stars in search of knowledge on a crystal island. It’s ethereal, like the poetry of dreams.

    Thankfully the production lives up to its story potential. The cast is absolutely incredible, be it an eerie crewman or campy villains the actors are perfect for their roles.

    The effects are gorgeous. This would have made or broke this serial but they are above and beyond what was necessary. The models are amazing as are the explosions.

    The music is enchanting and perfectly matches the story.

    While I could ramble on about how great this one was I’ll just cut to the chase:

    This story earns the exceedingly less rare 5 Turlough-approved pirate BDSM sessions out of 5.

    Steven From Canada

  2. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Hi folks

    “You are a Time Lord, a lord of time. Are there lords in such a small domain?”

    Yes, this one. Definitely a favourite of mine. A wonderful mix of Edwardian sailing yacht and being in space is very trippy, and then we have those creepy Eternals. The Doctor’s exchanges with Captain Striker are brilliantly done and I feel we have Davison fully comfortable in role. Striker was originally going to be played by Peter Sallis, voice of Wallace in Wallace Gromit and Norman on Last of the Summer Wine. A delay in filming due to industrial action prevented this and I’m not sure I can really see Sallis in this role. Lynda Barron as Wack is fun with her being the opposite to Striker’s stone cold exterior.

    Wonderful music and great direction from Fiona Cumming. It’s Barbara Clegg’s only produced script, she submitted several others after this one but they were turned down (though two have been made in Big Finish’s Lost Stories range). Also seeing the Tardis in low lights is actually quite nice, even when the light is restored, it isn’t as bright as is normal and the set looks better for it. The Tardis is too overlit normally as are a number of sets in other stories.

    And we get a resolution to Turlough and the Black Guardian. And yes the White Guardian is the same guy as in The Ribos Operation. That feels a long time ago. And a tease at a rematch? Well, still waiting on that one.

    My highlight of the season 4.5/5



  3. Ed Corbet

    The White Guardian kindly shows up to tell the Doctor where the story is this week so he has an excuse to go there. Episode 1 is a slow-burner; we are introduced to a mysterious ship; we can tell something’s wrong, but we don’t know why. The ship sets look really good and get away from the corridor setting you often get on the budgets of this era.

    We are introduced to the Eternals; beings that can read any thought from a human mind (except for “Stay away from me you creepy weirdo!”). They have no emotions (except the Pirates, who seem to be having a great time). The Pirates seem to enjoy blowing-up their competitors for fun (as it turns out their ship was fast enough to have won anyway). Their Captain delights in telling the audience the Doctor is doomed (earning a 3.2 on the Soldeed scale).

    This is the first serial in a while where the companions get a fair amount to do and are not upstaged by the guest cast; I don’t know if this is a one-off yet though.

    As classic Who stories go this one is fine. The story builds at a good pace and with the reveal that we’re actually in space as the Episode 1 cliffhanger, we essentially get 2 establishing episodes for the price of one.

    While I generally enjoyed this serial, I can’t say there was really anything in it that would make me come back for more.


    Ed Corbet

  4. Peter Zunitch

    I’m sure many were wondering, and the answer is yes. The Doctor was aware Turlough was being influenced. From the moment he found the communication crystal in Mawdryn Undead. In order to save Turlough, he had to let it play out, even at risk of himself. Enlightenment is the choice, and the doctor’s deadpan stance when Turlough finally confronts his decision emphasizes his resolve and explains every move he crafted in playing a long game worthy of the seventh Doctor himself.

    Hate me if you will for saying this, but the concept of sailing ships in space is even more cool than the spacebattleship Yamato herself. The style and concepts in this story do not disappoint its role as climax to the three part arc. From concept to execution (for the time) everything here would have made an amazing new-Who story, only classic got there first. From space suits to blank stares, from fishing nets to rowdy crew the directing and performances are top notch. Tegan is wonderful. Turlough is perfectly scattered. Mariner is both enchanting and creepy, and when its explained in the end who is what and what they are there for it all just works so perfectly. The only answer missing is why the guardians host the race in the first place, but absence of an answer isn’t a flaw, it’s genius.

    I always walk away from this story wanting two things. Fresh celery and more of this story. Eternally rewatchable, delightfully ephemeral. A perfect journey. 5.0

  5. Andy Parkinson | @caffreys71

    Ahoy-hoy Chaps!

    Well shiver-me-timbers, splice the mainbrace and heave-to for a nautical adventure on the high errrrr space seas???

    The first story to be written and directed by women, Enlightenment is great story set against the backdrop of a space race with actual space ships.

    In something of a throwback to The War Games some super creepy Eternals have extracted seamen (uh huh uh huh) for different eras in order to take part in a winner-takes-all space race in order to live out the emotions of the ephemerals. It feels very reminiscent to the Star Trek story The Cage/Menagerie, and also the Q Continuum.

    With a cracking guest cast, Keith Barron is good as Striker and Christopher Brown as super stalker Marriner. All are upstaged by the wonderful pantomime villain Captain Wrack played by Lynda Barron. She all but slaps her thigh with every line delivery and sparkles throughout.


    • The lighting of the TARDIS in the opening scenes – beautifully atmospheric
    • The little touches of decoration in Tegan’s cabin like the photo of Aunty Vanessa and Nyssa’s clothing on the chair.
    • I don’t know if it’s the writing or direction, but Tegan is great as is Peter Davison’s Doctor, he actually is more authoritative and always in charge.


    • Why are the Guardians wearing dead birds on their heads? Did the costume designer get pooped on by a bird and is out for revenge?
    • When they first land on the ship the camera rolls to simulate the ocean – but they’re in space so there’s no tides?!

    Overall, this is a fun romp with a great guest cast and strong performances from the TARDIS team. It seems such a shame we only get one story from Barbara Clegg as it’s a good start. The story feels like an analogy for the ruling class and their detachment and the exploitation of the common people. The sets and effects are largely well done and the story is well set up although the ending feels a little rushed.

    I award this 4.3 salty seamen out of 5

    Andy Parkinson

  6. Tanz Sixfingers | @tanzsixfingers

    Hello Leon and Jim!

    In the conclusion of this trilogy of stories, the White Guardian enigmatically sends the Doctor to stop someone from winning a race, but who it is isn’t clear. Meanwhile, Tegan attracts an eternal admirer, and Turlough finds another agent of the Black Guardian.

    I liked the musical scores in this episode, and also how the setting and characters are slowly revealed. Both Captain Wrack and Mr. Marriner are delightful to watch when they are on screen, and I almost wish for them to return. Between this story and the last (Terminus) we have seen Nyssa’s, Tegan’s, and Adric’s (now Turlough’s) bedrooms; this implies that travel between their destinations usually takes a long time, like a steamer ship. In New Who, it seems travel is nearly instantaneous.

    Other likes:

    The Doctor exchanges his celery stick for a fresher one.

    The Doctor flips a coin to determine which way to go, but doesn’t like the answer and flips it again.

    While I liked most things about this story, everything about Wrack’s secret room is crap. First off, Wrack tells Turlough to follow her to the room to “find out what is going on”, but then she closes the door in his face, locking him out. Then, after he goes in on his own, and the vacuum shield is turned off, leaving it open to space, it takes an unbelievably long time to have all the air evacuated from it, whereas it should take less than a second.

    Since they are Eternals, and this was just a diversion for them, I would have thought their race should have lasted years, not days, although the idea of using the planets as marker buoys was good. I think this was a decent end to the trilogy, and the ending provided some closure for the Doctor to be able to trust Turlough.

    I give it 3.2 red crystals of destruction out of 5

    ~Tanz Sixfingers
    @tanz6fingers (Instagram) tanzsixfingers

  7. Paul Waring | @pwaring

    Enlightenment marks both the end and the high point of the Black Guardian trilogy. It’s satisfying to see Turlough finally make his choice and receive ‘enlightenment’ – there is only so long you can get away with having a companion who wants to kill the Doctor (something which I don’t think is repeated before or since).

    I love the concept of the Eternals – incredibly powerful yet they would wander aimlessly without mortals to entertain them. I particularly like the interactions between Marriner and Tegan as they clash throughout the story, with Tegan working out how to block Marriner from reading her
    thoughts, and his slow realisation that she is unlike any ephemeral he has met before.

    The guest cast is great, with one or two exceptions who seem to think they’re in a pantomime (Captain Wrack and Mansell spring to mind). The sets and outfits play to the BBC’s strengths – whatever the budget they can always be relied on to produce period drama costumes.

    If there’s anything wrong with this story, it’s how the Guardians and Eternals have seemingly limitless power, yet they can’t use it. The most obvious example of this is the Black Guardian threatening to kill Turlough, whilst saying he’s somehow forbidden (by whom?) from killing the Doctor. But it’s a minor issue in an otherwise fun nautical romp.

    Overall, I really enjoy this story, especially the nautical theme and costumes. 4/5

  8. Michael Ridgway | @bad_movie_club

    Enlightenment Reflections

    • This story is nuts. Love the hammy space pirate captain lady from Episode 3.
    • So the spacesuits are a bit pointless?
    • Turlough does some good Nicholas Cage crazy-eye impressions.
    • Someone says Borg/Vogon catchphrase ‘Resistance is Futile’!
    • The Doctor and Tegan seemed nonplussed at the reveal of Turlough’s subterfuge. He almost killed the Doctor a bunch of times, including with a big rock!

    Summary: #bonkers.

    Rating: 3.1/5 poor ethereals walking the space plank.

  9. Neil | @neilandrozani

    Wow, what a gem of a story!
    The opening Tardis scenes are very moody with the orange lighting.
    Turlough getting to know the ship’s crew of sailors is great fun.
    The direction, fantastic sets and music add to the palpable, odd atmosphere on the ship. Good costumes too (Hello Tegan’s dress!).
    The first 2 episodes are perfect with stunning cliff-hangers. There’s such a wonderful feeling of strangeness. Why are there wetsuits on an Edwardian sailing ship?!!!
    We get a beautiful scene between Tegan and Turlough as they realise that the cabin is full of Tegan’s possessions. It’s one of my favourite scenes in all of Doctor Who and this is easily my favourite Janet Fielding performance.
    The Eternals are such an interesting idea. Spooky, unfeeling mind-readers. And way the actors underplay them just adds to the terrific script. Striker in particular is fantastic and there is something heartbreaking about Marriner’s infatuation with Tegan.
    Parts 3 & 4 aren’t quite as strong as the first 2 and I’m not a fan of the final cliff-hanger. Lynda Baron and Leee John seem to be in a different show altogether but it’s all so weird and fun that I just go with it. Peter Davison’s Doctor is superb.
    Let’s just not mention the Black Guardian’s pantomime laugh and the birds on the heads and it’s a shame that Wrack and Mansell meet their end off-camera. There are a couple of dodgy effects but they pale in comparison to the gorgeous model work of the ships and the impressive scenes on Striker’s deck. As you can probably tell, I adore Enlightenment.
    Rating – 4.6

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