It’s all Chesterton’s fault of course.
No, not really. But it is a theory.
If William Russell had been able to take part in this weeks Classic Capitology addition Mawdryn Undead as intended there wouldn’t exist one of the thornier problems in all of Who-dom, the “UNIT Dating Controversy.” Instead in the continuity obsessed Season 20 JN-T turned to Nicholas Courtney to play the retired Brigadier-turned maths teacher that things started to get needlessly sticky. The problem of course has nothing to do with Courtney’s performance, as he fell back into character easily and fulfilled all that was required from him in Mawdryn Undead, and of course this furthered the notion that Courtney could, indeed should, work somehow with every Doctor in some way. But the dueling time-zones baked into Mawdryn Undead, especially 1977, refute much of established (albeit weakly) continuity that the UNIT stories took place in the 1980’s.
Many a fan think piece of retroactive continuity contortion has been spilled attempting to marry these disparate story threads.
But Mawdryn Undead also starts a couple things which are more noteworthy, namely the Black Guardian trilogy, and Turlough as a companion. Although the presence of the Black Guardian in Mawdryn is more heavy-handed than in Terminus or in Enlightenment it is altogether in keeping with the story. Turlough in the other hand is a trickier (quite literally) subject. There’s a somewhat strange dichotomy with Turlough’s all-too-easy acceptance by the Doctor and what the audience knows of his duplicity. As the series first ‘untrustworthy’ companion there’s a delicate balance to be struck here, and for the most part Mark Strickson carries it off. This would continue, even be perfected, by the time he leaves in Planet of Fire.
The new caps for Mawdryn Undead carry the usual pronouncements regarding both their increased quality and quantity. They also technically close the door on another Wing of the Tour as all the stories have now been fully capped. But it’s not quite the end for the Davison stories as that moment has not been full prepared for. That’s a story for another day.
The stories remaining to the Classic Capitology section are narrowing down to a precious few. When Classic Capitology next convenes they’re going to get their pepperpots wet. That’s never a good idea.