Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

VerityEpisode110It’s a classic-Who first! Join Deb, Erika, and Katrina as they talk about the first Doctor Who story written by a woman, Barbara Clegg’s “Enlightenment”. Not for the first time, Erika and Kat go against received fan wisdom and are lukewarm at best toward this story. Good thing Deb is here to balance things out.

What do you think of “Enlightenment”? Are you drawn in by its fascinating concepts? Or left cold by a lack of connection to what’s happening on screen? Let us know in the comments!


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Comments on: "110 – Mehnlightenment" (11)

  1. Reblogged this on Confessions of a Curator, Editor, Geek and commented:

    New Verity! Does not feature me, alas, since I LOVE this story. :glares at title:

  2. Yeah, I have to say that Enlightenment is not a story that lingers long in my memory. It’s got some interesting ideas and atmosphere, but the stakes don’t seem very high, or clearly defined. What exactly is Enlightenment, and why should we care who wins it?

    And Leee John’s appearance is a classic example of JNT stunt casting. To give him some context, here’s his band on Top of the Pops!

    • Tractators need more scripts for sustenance! said:

      Imagination! I had no idea about the popstar connection from this episode. (I always got Imagination mixed up with Fox the Fox… maybe I shouldn’t divulge too much.) Thanks to your comment and the great Verity chat, I’m having a better weekend.

  3. I enjoyed the show. (I first watched in back in the 80’s) I really enjoyed the immortals.

    The female villain in this show did not strike me as unique. I can think of other female villains (mostly from the Tom Baker years) The doctor faced off against: Vivien Fay in Stones of blood, Lady Adrasta from The creature from the pit.

    This of course was the show that redeemed Turlow who was pretty insufferable through most of the series finally had a real purpose in this show.

    I was someone who hated to see Tom Baker leave the show. I warmed up slowly to the “beige doctor.”

    I have been enjoying your female takes on the Doctor… keep up the good work.

  4. Paul Cornell said:

    I really *love* Enlightenment. Unlike almost everything else around it, it’s extremely well-crafted, an actual story, rather than just a bunch of things that happen.

    • Yes, strong agreement. Although that didn’t strike me at the time; when I first watched it, I thought it was one of the weaker stories of the season. I’ve come to like it more and more over time, until now, it’s up there with Snakedance as my joint favourite. I think the Eternals are great both in conception and execution – especially Marriner and Striker, who manage to be far more disturbingly alien than many non-humanoid characters. And that’s ‘alien’ rather than ‘evil’.

      The cliffhanger for episode one was a real ‘talk about it at school the day after’ one; rare for the era. And the general consensus at school was that this story harked back to the Tom Baker era, which among many of my friends was seen as a good thing.

  5. A thought I had while listening to this episode: Yes, Tegan was sad. It probably had a lot to do with Nyssa leaving. But it was probably also setup for Tegan’s own exit two stories later, as the story that would eventually be made as “Resurrection of the Daleks” was originally planned to be the season finale. Even then, it was meant to be Tegan’s final story. The strike alluded to in this episode knocked the schedule back, however, and so the studio time meant for “Resurrection” was instead used for “Enlightenment” so that it wouldn’t become a second “Shada”. (Filming had already been done before the strike. Fortunately, every actor used in the filming was able to return many weeks later for the studio sessions, which allowed for recasting of the actors who couldn’t be there fro the new dates.) This then meant, however, that “Resurrection” was put on hold for the next season, and Janet Fielding got to stay on the show for a few more stories, including “The Five Doctors”!

  6. Rob Shearman said:

    I genuinely adore Enlightenment. At a time when the show is wrestling with its emotions rather a lot, and is drifting at times towards cold brutality and cynicism, here is a story that has real heart and pathos – that is engaged with the imagination and imagery, that is engaged with the concepts of love and the *absence* of love. Marriner’s confused obsession with Tegan – or, at least, with what Tegan threatens to awaken in him – has a character profundity that is genuinely startling to me – and Keith Barron’s performance as Striker is one of the very best from a guest star in the eighties. It’s a story I find by turns charming, weird, and terribly moving. And as Paul says above – it’s actually *about* something, its plot rising from theme rather than the other way round.

  7. Andrew said:

    I was unaware that this story was supposed to be a fan favourite, but I always liked it. I thought the initial interactions between Tegan and Marriner in the darkened hold were very creepy and atmospheric. Later developments in their relationship were very interesting and provided the most in depth examination of what it was like to be an Eternal – as Kat pointed out, it would be hard to do much more than that outside of a book. This relationship was really central to the entire story and still stands up today. (Plus, of course, there’s the highly entertaining Captain Wrack – one instance where the stunt casting worked amazingly well.)

    I felt that one aspect of the Eternals was given short shrift in the discussion. Tegan clearly didn’t think it was a good thing that they could just pluck the details of a cosy personal environment from her mind – this is actually quite a horrific idea, that there are beings who can know all of your inmost thoughts and use them to manipulate you. The closest equivalent I can think of in the new series is Rose’s initial horror at the idea that the TARDIS is inside her head translating without her consent.

    While I can’t remember all of the differences, I would always prefer to watch the original episodes to the Director’s Cut. While it undeniably has its virtues, I remember that it left out some material I really enjoyed – I didn’t feel that the faster pacing and improved special effects were a sufficient substitute for that loss. Similarly, I have issues with the cut-down version of Galaxy 4 because it removes my favourite scene from the entire story. (Since the Director’s Cut of Enlightenment is in widescreen, I also spend a lot of time being very aware of the picture information that’s been sliced off the top and bottom of the original image in order to fit the format – converting a 4:3 image to 16:9 usually throws off the balance of the original visual composition. I know that there are some people who automatically zoom all such images to 16:9, but I don’t understand why they would do that to themselves.)

    Very late comment, but I had a long gap of falling behind on episodes and am trying to catch up while I have a long drive to and from my current job 🙂

  8. Paul B. =:o} said:

    I have fond memories of “Enlightenment”, from being struck by its change of mood and style from then-normal Doctor Who, via standing in a tent at Longleat while Malcolm Clarke talked about the process of composing the music and then demonstrated the endearingly old-fashioned method of synching it to the image; to sitting with my girlfriend (I actually had a girlfriend!!! =:oo ) at a friend’s house in 1988 rewatching the story, as it was one of a handful said friend had recorded off-air and kept on this fancy new-ish VHS format… (My home had been a Philips household, and I wasn’t allowed to keep *anything* ’til I could afford my own tapes!). The girlfriend passed the test! A while later, after I got my own VHS machine, she bought me “The Talons of Weng Chiang”, and we watched that together, too. =:o}

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