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on May 10, 2000
The second of a three story arc, finds the Doctor and his crew trapped on board of ship of lepers. As if that weren't enough, one of his companions, Turlough, is working for the Black Guardian, who wants the Doctor destroyed. Sadly, this story starts out great, but quickly turns into a mish mash as more and more plot elements are thrown in as a means to justify a four episode length. In the end though, there is not enough meat to make this story worth the effort. There are some good moments. We see the relationship between Turlough and Tegan develop, one that will make them realize they need to trust each other in future stories. We also see the departure of compnaion Nyssa in a very sacrificial manner. Worth a look, but not really worth owning in ones collection unless you are a diehard fan.
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on January 30, 2009
This one is considered to be one of Peter Davison's worst stories, but I can't see why. He made worse. I agree that it wasn't one of his best, but I still found it to be quite entertaining. It's better than people give it credit for, and certainly better than the previous story, "Mawdryn Undead".

Many poeple complain about the "bad" sets of the Terminus spaceship. They say they looked like rubbish. Well, da... Terminus is supposed to be an old and run down spaceship. That's the point! I noticed that the fancy starliner didn't have bad sets. But then the starliner wasn't supposed to be like Terminus. It was supposed to look like a nice passanger liner in order to lead the audiance away from it's true purpose - taking plague victims to their final resting place, which is Terminus. Although the starliner did have some very good hints of it's true purpose such as the eerie feel of the ship and the painted skulls on the doors. The first two parts are very eerie indeed. The story has a lot of mystery in it, and when everything does become clear towards the end of part three, then it's a race against time for the Doctor to save the universe. The Garm was one of the neatest looking creatures I have ever seen in the series, Nyssa's departure was handled very well, and the cliffhangers were all great - and that includes the conclusion of part four.

It does have some faults though. The space suits worn by the space raiders were ridiculous looking, some of the acting by the guest cast wasn't as good as it could have been, and the Doctor saves the universe way to soon, leaving about 7 minutes of the episode left with nothing to fill it with except mindless babble until the departure of Nyssa and the excellent cliffhanger ending.

In all, it wasn't the best story of them all, but certainly worth a look at. I sure did enjoy watching it.
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on June 27, 2001
"Terminus" is an episode that, at a casual glance, seems to have everything going for it. An atmospheric script aboard a dead space ship full of plague victims, with guards dressed in bone-like armor should have been a winner, right?
Unfortunately, "Terminus" is a prime example of how a director can make or break a script. When the blazingly bright studio lights shine down onto the set, everything is suddenly crystal clear. There isn't 90 minutes worth of plot, the sets look like they're going to fall over at any moment, and the costumes look ludicrous. You can't find yourself believing at any given moment that this is a plague ship instead of a BBC studio set, and that's something that this script demanded. (Writer Steven Gallagher's other Doctor Who script, "Warriors' Gate", is a prime example of how this could have been directed so much better.)
So when Tegan and Turlough climb through air ducts for an entire 22 minute episode, what could have been creepy becomes dull. The guards become a joke instead of a threat. In short, what atmosphere should have compensated for instead becomes painfully on center stage.
There is a good story lurking in "Terminus", somewhere. On one or two scenes where the lights are suddenly dim, you catch a brief glimpse of what "Terminus" could have been. Tragically, that just makes the reality of "Terminus" all the more disappointing. Sarah Sutton's departure from the show as Nyssa should have been as elegant and wonderful as Lalla Ward's (playing the role of Romana) two seasons earlier, courtesy of Gallagher. Instead, Gallagher, Sutton, and the viewers themselves are all shamefully let down.
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on July 4, 2005
This is in my opinion the single most under-rated story of the Davison years and in fact my personal favorite of the Davison years. In this review I will attempt to explain what I see in this episode that makes it so good.

But first a very brief dicription of the plot of Terminus the second story in the Black Gaurdian trilogy.Turlough with the help of the Black Gaurdian sabotages the Tardis and the Tardis nearly breaks up. The Doctor manages to get it under control but not before Nyssa's room is filled with dimensional instability. Nyssa is trapped and about to be killed her only hope a Tardis safety device that causes the Tardis to connect to the closest nearby ship. Suddenly a very sinister door appears in Nyssa's room a door with a very evil looking death's head painted on it. The Doctor tells her she must go through the door or she'll die and so Nyssa departs.

Now that the Doctor has regained full control of the Tardis it's time to find where Nyssa has gone the Doctor and his companions now set off in search of Nyssa. Only to find themselves on a very old very warn out spaceship with sinister death's head painting's everywhere.

Meanwhile the ship is boarded by two space pirates who believe the ship is a good target because it came from a rich sector. Things become even more sinister as the pirates confront the Doctor and his companions at gun point. Suddenly the pirate ship speads away leaving the two pirates stranded. The ship is now docking with a space station. Suddenly doors all over the ship begin opening and what appears to be hundreds of people who look like the living dead come shambling out. Now one of the pirates knows what is happening and is terrified they are on a plague ship filled with victims of Lazars desease headed to one of the most infamous places in the universe Terminus. And worst of all Nyssa is now infected.

Without giving away to much in the way of spoilers the mystery of Terminus now begins. Nyssa is now trapped with the Lazers the people who run Terminus claim there is a cure but is there? Or is it all a cruel hoax? And have they only been brought there to die? As Nyssa asks one of the people who are in charge as they decend in an elevator into what looks like the endless depths of this truely sinister looking station "What is this horrendous place?".

That is the mystery the Doctor and Nyssa must solve. And what is the sinister sequence of events of started on this station at the exact center of the universe that could create a second big bang? But unlike the first Big Bang this one won't create the universe like the last one but will instead destroy it. Can the mystery that is Terminus be solved before it's too late?

This is a story filled with moral ambiguity from begining to end. From the duplicity of Turlough who sabotages the Tardis at the begining of the story. To the people who run Terminus and the pirates. Who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys? What exactly motivates the people in this story too behave as they do? Who can be trusted? These are questions that can keep you guessing until the end.

Besides the strong basic mystery of the plot there is a true feel of danger in this story to the Doctor and his companions that you don't usually see as strongly in most Doctor Who episodes. There's the danger of the people on Terminus there's the danger of Turlough the danger of the Black Gaurdian the danger of the plague the danger of the end of the universe. If ever there was an episode with the omni-present feel of total overwhelming doom from all sides this is it.

This is a very dark episode and the feel of this episode is helped greatly by the excellent set design. The set interior of the space craft and Terminus it's self. The sets are darkly lit the sets look old worn out used up. Everythings grey metal and some how looks filthy like you'd want to wash your hands after touching it. If I were to do some word association on the vibe these sets give off the words that come to mind are, sinisterness,hopelessness,malevolence and doom. The sets really create a feel that adds to the darkness of the story. In fact I would say these are some of the most successfully atmospheric sets ever created for Doctor Who.

Another strong aspect to this episode is excellent costume design. Like the skeleton like gold radiation armor of the crew of Terminus. The costumes give off the same general vibe as the sets themselves

The excellent direction of Mary Ridge helps this episode a great deal. There is lots of unusual camera work in this episode wich is all well designed to create scale.Like camera shots showing Turlough and Tegan hiding beneath some floor grating then the camera slowly pans up to show people walking on the grating above their heads. Another excellent shot shows first one of the people who are hunting after the doctor he's standing there suddenly he stops he here's a noise and looks up. The camera pans up to the walk way above and shows the doctor walking through follows the doctor and then pans down to the guy who was looking for him. Mary Ridge makes excellent use of scale.

There's lots of camera movement wich is unusual for Doctor Who or television in general in this era. It helps add to the general sense of tension.

Also I feel it has one of the best companion departures since Romanna. Just like when Romanna stayed at the end of Warriors Gate to help free the enslaved Tharil's. Nyssa stays behind to free those enslaved on Terminus. And I can't help but think both Romanna and the Tharil's and Nyssa and Terminus both would have made excellent spin-off shows. And since I just picked up my copy of Warriors Gate I just realised both Warriors Gate and Terminus were written by the same guy Steve Gallagher.

Anyway if you prefer the darker side of Doctor Who this could be the story for you.
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Turlough was a brand new companion here. His fate as a companion was still quite uncertain. As an unlikely and mostly unwilling servant of the Black Guardian, his role after his introduction in the previous story (Mawdryn Undead) was as intended assassin of the Doctor. And as this story begins, Turlough is still in service of the Black Guardian.
Things couldn't have been more interestingly set up. As this semi-apocalyptic story unfolds -- with its wonderfully decadent atmosphere and doom-chiming score -- the high potentials of dramatic intensity set up in Mawdryn Undead for its follow-up are easily met and surpassed in each of the four episodes here.
And I don't know why "Terminus" is so rarely praised as the near-masterpiece of sci-fi intrigue and suspense that it is. Perhaps the fact that I've pretty much only ever been exposed to the movie-format of Dr. Who presentations as an American PBS-watcher-and-fan has something to do with it. I'm just not aware of any dull or slow periods in the run of this story that one who had only ever been used to waiting around through three whole weeks (instead of an hour and a half) for new stimulations might notice.
"Terminus"' rich atmospehere of universal malevolence... Universal malevolence? Well... anyway... there's a palpable sense... a dark sense ... that the whole universe was originated in error and misfortune (due to plot points that shall remain hidden here)... which is thoroughly unique to Doctor Who stories certainly -- and quite fresh in television sci-fi in general.
The ending, however, even including the very well-done and well-prepared departure of sweet (not too well-developed -- though still a good companion for the era) Nyssa (our mousey little Traken bio-engineer-ready-to-break-free), still manages to keep hope very much alive -- as well as the "Turlough"/Guardian 12-part superstory going quite strongly into its eventual finale in the following story, the brilliant "Enlightenment".
I would easily claim this to be the best story of season 20 -- though not by a whole lot ("Snakedance", "Mawdryn Undead", and "Enlightenment" are all magnificent). If I could give it four and a half stars out of five instead of five stars out of five, however, I would. It's great, yes, but it sure isn't perfect. There are production inadequacies of a very minor sort -- plus the wonderful dark atmosphere is a little more successfully accomplished than the plot itself -- but it still really works.
The author of this story also wrote season eighteen's almost-as-great (certainly as presentation-wise-ly and sci-fi-wise-ly compelling) "Warrior's Gate" (the final sub-story of the E-Space trilogy -- and K9 and Romana's last story until The Five Doctors). The author's name is Stephen Gallagher. One really should look him up -- he's clearly very good.
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on April 12, 2004
I too felt that this story was a dreary dissapointment for a long time, but when I bought the video and took a much closer look, I realised it is actually a subtle but very, very good story that is a vital part of season 20, which, after Arc of Infinity, becomes one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, atmospheric and mature seasons of Dr.Who ever made, rivalling Pertwee's Season Seven and Tom Baker's season 14.
Here, there is a truly exciting first episode as the Tardis almost gets destroyed by Turlough and his evil master, the Black Guardian and then arrives on a ship full of space-plague sufferers! Scary!
The next three episodes are then very low key and build up slowly to a truly amazing climax. As Turlough agonizes over whether or not to kill the Doctor and gets told by Tegan that he is "weird" (haha!), Nyssa sucumbs to the illness and is taken by the alien Garm, only to be cured. Meanwhile, the Doctor investigates the central mystery, that star charts indicate the ancient, ramshackle vessel of Terminus is at the very center of what the Doctor calls "the known universe".
With the help of a woman Space Pirate, the Doctor locates the dark, rusted and decayed control deck with a giant, long dead alien pilot at the helm. Here the Doctor theorizes that Terminus dumped a malfunctioning engine through a time warp and triggered the Big Bang which created the Universe. Suddenly, he finds himself faced with an ancient, out of control machine which is preparing to jettison a second engine, which may possibly cause a second chain reaction that could destroy the cosmos!
Far fetched? Yes! Mind bogglingly imaginative? Defintely! And it takes the help of a slave to stop the destruction of everything the Doctor knows and holds dear.
The final episode is truly gripping and there's a very moving farewell to Nyssa, before the evil Black Guardian tries one last time to pressure Turlough to "Kill the Doctor!"
No dodgy CSO, the Garm is not great, but only has a small role, and the whole thing has great atmosphere. Considering Mary Ridge directed this during a strike which reduced her shooting time to a bare minimum, the acting still convinces. All in all, damn good!
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That's what Nyssa asks as she encounters a mass of people suffering from Lazar's disease, something like leprosy. Lazar, Lazarus,... go figure. A moment ago, she was having fun synthesizing enzymes and using an abacus for her calculations. How did she get into this mess?
The second of the Black Guardian trilogy finds the powerful being using Turlough to sabotage the TARDIS. Dimensional instability lets letting the outside universe in. The blurry colours showed that effect isn't as interesting as the information that something like this could happen to the TARDIS. The TARDIS has seen its moments of crisis such as The Edge Of Destruction, Death To The Daleks, and going through an infinite series in Logopolis, but never something like this! The appearance of the door with skull emblazoned on it makes it more ominous.
The clue behind Terminus lies in the Doctor's discovery of a star chart. He finds out that Terminus is at the exact center of the known universe. He also has to contend with the Vanir, the employees of Terminus Inc., two raiders named Kari and Olvir, who mistake the leper ship for a passenger liner,
There is a scene that I wonder was necessary, and that was the ailing Nyssa removing her skirt before being captured by the drone.
The Vanir handle the Lazars, and are under the thrall of the company. They are apathetic like Aldo and Royce (Warrior's Gate), only less paid, and wearing bronze anti-radiation armour. With their exposure to Lazars and radiation, they need a synthesized protein called hydromel to survive. Who provides them with the hydromel? Terminus Inc. Part of the resolution is kind of similar to the one in The Sun Makers.
Tegan and Turlough don't get to do too much here. Either they are verbally throwing punches at each other or spending all of Episode 2 and 3 underneath the grating of the leper ship trying to escape so they can find the door leading to the TARDIS. Turlough picks up on Tegan's faults, saying she uses "sledgehammer tactics," being "so concrete in the way she thinks," and "reduced to shouting if you don't have your way."
The concept behind this story is interesting but the overall effect is somewhat disappointing. Also sad is that this sees Nyssa's farewell. John Nathan-Turner had no qualms on introducing and removing characters and I wonder if looks and favoritism played some part in it. I really liked Nyssa and thought she was the prettier of the two women. I wished she had been kept on instead of sour grapes Tegan, as Nyssa's more trusting, intelligent, and rational.
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on May 17, 1999
"Terminus" is a little dull, enjoyable, but dull. There's a nice creepy feeling when the crew of the TARDIS locks on to the Terminus ship. The Black Guardian/Turlough/"Kill the Doctor" sub-plot is a little intrusive , as it deserves to be its own story. Turlough and Tegan are left crawling through airducts most of the story, while Sara Sutton shines, she has a great send off(and some pretty panties). The Garm isn't that bad, but he moves too slow. The Direction and acting is a little lazy at times, but overall, an enjoyable and interesting script. There is one real hilarious scene, The Black Guardian: "Why have you not killed the Doctor?!" Turlough: "I haven't found him yet!" The Black Guardian gives him a stiff jolt of pain. Great design, love the Viking names.
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on May 1, 2003
This isn't the worst of the worst(that dishonor goes to all of McCoy's episodes combined) but it is pretty darn close. It is the worst of the Guardian Trilogy which have two other very good stories. This story is stupid, plain and simple. The sets are Ok in some places, but the acting and characters are stupid and the story lame. Even Davison, who usually does a good job was lacking in performance. The worst part of this whole Who disastar was Nyssa. And it was her finale too, she must've gotten tired. Her voice whined like an old woman through most of this. She was not her usual wise and collected self. The two worst were her and that Adric look-a-like guy with the gun(too lazy to go look at the tape for his name). He whined worse than Adric himself! This was not a good ending for Nyssa, and not a good center story to the Guardian Trilogy. The Center of the Universe being a dumpy base ship with Lazzars and the "engine" creating the Universe is probably the lamest, and lowest point in Dr. Who. If you want realism, sweep a floor and yell at teenagers in a department store all day,(reality TV) I want fantasy! The Doctor himself says the line "The Center of the Universe.." followed by a cut-scene of a grey corridor.(golly gee ma!) Warrior's Gate or Enlightenment being surreal and mysterious and more like I would have thought like the Center of the Universe. A Universe of possiblilties. Not a peice of metal with a few bumbs from the "company" running the place. Booring. Enlightenment is better. I only watch Terminus for continuety.
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on October 10, 1999
Highly entertaining, though there are a few dull sections. The ship's atmosphere is wonderfully dark and occasionally claustrophobic, then you get to its destination, and that place is even worse... The plot has some interesting twists, and it's fun to watch Tegan and Turlough snipe at one another, then have to work together to try to save themselves. Plus, this is a very important storyline for Nyssa. Yes, the monster walks so slowly, but it wouldn't be a Doctor Who episode if it didn't. <g> And you have to love those 80s outfits and makeup.
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