|Index||5 reviews in total|
In 1999 Her Majesty the Queen created her youngest son Prince Edward
the Earl of Wessex. This serial, first broadcast 25 years earlier,
includes a character named Lord Edward of Wessex. Is this coincidence?
Or is it actually evidence that Her Majesty is a secret "Doctor Who"
fan? I think we should be told.
"The Time Warrior" represents a rare trip back into the Earth's past for the Third Doctor; historical serials were more common in the time of his two predecessors. It does, however, open in the present. Several scientists have disappeared from a top secret scientific research facility and UNIT are asked to investigate. The Doctor discovers that they have been kidnapped by a Sontaran warrior named Linx who is forcing them to repair his spaceship which has crashed on Earth. The problem is that the crash occurred during the Middle Ages; the resourceful Linx has been able to project himself forward several hundred years to the twentieth century, kidnap the scientists and then travel back in time with them. (There seems to be an inconsistency here with later serials. In "The Two Doctors" from the Colin Baker era of the eighties we learn that the Sontarans do not possess the secret of time travel, although they are desperate to acquire it; the Time Lords are equally desperate to prevent them from acquiring it).
Time travel, of course, is no problem to the Doctor, who is soon on the way to mediaeval England in his TARDIS. When he gets there he discovers two things. The first is that Linx has entered into an alliance of convenience with a ruthless warlord named Irongron. Their bargain is that Linx will supply Irongron with "magic weapons" (i.e. guns) which he will be able to use against his enemies in return for sheltering the crashed spaceship in his castle until it can be repaired. The second is that a young journalist called Sarah Jane Smith has followed him back to the Middle Ages by stowing away on board the TARDIS. Besides rescuing the captured scientists, the Doctor has to persuade Irongron's enemy, Lord Edward, to take action before the balance of history can be upset by the introduction of into guns the Middle Ages and Irongron can make himself king. He also needs to explain to Sarah Jane what has happened and to win her over to his side; she initially suspects him of being behind the disappearance of the scientists.
This serial was the first in the eleventh season of "Doctor Who". It also marked a number of other firsts for the programme. It was the first in which the name of the Doctor's home planet is given as "Gallifrey". It also introduced another race of enemies for him to fight against in the shape of the Sontarans. Like the Daleks and the Cybermen the Sontarans are an aggressive warrior race, but they probably have most in common with the Ice Warriors in that both place a high value upon courage and personal honour. (Personal honour would probably be a meaningless concept to a Dalek). Unlike those races, however, they are not seeking to conquer the Earth, as they are involved in a perpetual state of war against a people known as the Rutans.
This serial also marked the debut of Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane, who would serve as the Doctor's companion throughout the remainder of Jon Pertwee's term of office and well into the Tom Baker era. She was probably the first of the Doctor's companions I fell in love with- I was a teenager in the seventies and the good looks of the lovely young ladies who featured in the programme was a good reason to continue watching it. I found the independent-minded Sarah Jane a big improvement on her predecessor Jo Grant who always struck me as a bit of a bimbo.
"Doctor Who" serials tended to vary in tone. Some- the ones that had children cowering behind the sofa- could be seriously frightening. Others, of which this is one, were much lighter; there is a good deal of sly humour in the relationship between the blustering Irongron and the cunning Linx, or the "warrior from beyond the stars", as Irongron thinks of him, and in the way in which the mediaeval characters interpret their visitors from the future. (The Doctor is proclaimed by Lord Edward to be a "great sorcerer"). There is also a lot of humour in the relationship between the Doctor and the initially suspicious Sarah Jane. Even the appearance of the Sontaran Linx (like a mouldy potato, if that's not an insult to mouldy potatoes) seems to have been designed for laughs rather than to frighten. "The Time Warrior" is not the tensest of the Third Doctor's adventures, but it is one of the most enjoyable.
Review of all 4 episodes:
This marks the first appearance of a Sontaran in Doctor Who. A race of alien warrior that would become an icon in the show right up to the present day. The design and realisation of the Sontaran in this debut is absolutely superb. Kevin Lindsay puts in a great performance as Sontaran warrior Linx and the costume, make-up and original design are of top quality.
The story is a 'pseudo-historical' where much of it is set in England in the time of Richard I (1189-1199 AD) with Linx having been stranded there by his damaged spacecraft but able to drag scientists from 1970s England back to force them to help him fix his craft. The Doctor follows back to the 1100s in the TARDIS along with stowaway journalist Sarah Jane Smith who becomes The Doctor's long serving companion. Her debut is great, with Elizabeth Sladen's wonderful performance giving a taste of how she would become the most enduring and most loved companion The Doctor ever has. She manages to be strong and independent but gentle and feminine at the same time.
There is a lot of great fun, action and great scripting along the way with only a few less successful scenes. This is a brilliantly entertaining story with a great new companion and a great new alien menace.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the last greats of Jon Pertwee, and Sarah Jane Smith's first
story. We join them at a temporary shelter for scientists after a spate
of disappearances involving such people. Before long the Doctor has
detected an intruder from the past and is journeying back to medieval
England for his first (on-screen) encounter with a Sontaran.
This is a fine adventure. Not only is it a fast-paced story full of strong characters, it's a satirical take on the military and empire-building (the Sontaran Lynx puts a flag in the ground and claims the Earth for the Sontaran Empire in the style of British or US imperialists). Lynx himself is a brilliant and inspired villain (played as a character who happens not to look human rather than as a stereotype alien) and his design is superb. He is even introduced as a dark flip-side of the Doctor. After something strange falls to earth, an alien in a crippled vessel joins a military group as their 'scientific adviser' and starts helping them deal with their enemies.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Review Of All four Episodes - Some Spoilers
The Time Warrior is the debut story in season eleven of DOCTOR WHO . From the outset we're shown differences from the previous four seasons . We have a new title sequence inspired by the star gate sequence from 2001 . It's slick and impressive but one still misses the the diamond flame sequence , arguably the best title sequence the show has ever produced
We're also introduced to a new companion Sarah Jane Smith who would later go on to become the most popular and successful companion the show had ever produced , a fact reflected in that she was not only reintroduced to NuWhobut had her own spin off show THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES . One can't help thinking however that if there was an organised fandom in late 1973 a lot of fans would complain that an independent minded career journalist goes against the whole ethos of the Doctor/companion dynamic and that Katy Manning as Jo Grant should have been reintroduced . One can easily forget how popular Jo Grant bimboesque companion was missed when she left in the previous story
The Time Warrior also features the debut of the Sontarans , or rather A Sontaran singular . They still remain one of the most memorable creations for the show but unfortunately watching this story today the shock cliffhanger to episode one where Linx removes his helmet and we see true features is negated by the fact that we know Sontarans resemble turnip heads . Unforgivably this shock was diluted on its time of broadcast since both trailers and the Radio Times gave away the surprise . Promotion can often help a TV show but sometimes in the case of DOCTOR WHO it can also ruin a well constructed build up
The script by Robert Holmes is rather simple - Linx crashes his ship in the middle ages and uses an Osmic projector to kidnap 20th Century scientists to repair his ship . This leads to all sorts of questions such as how would he know where the scientists home address etc but you're not supposed to think too much about the plot . Instead Holmes creates colourful characters such as Irongron , Bloodaxe and Professor Rubeish . David Daker especially plays up the camp theatrically of his character which makes for a very entertaining story
Review of the Complete Story:
Being a big fan of the Jon Pertwee era, I was looking forward to watching this cheap but earnest attempt at a period-set adventure, which from the box offered scary alien warriors, plenty of sword-swinging action and a race-against-time plot. Unfortunately, the resulting adventure, while short, is not one of the Doctor's best and verges on the point of boredom at several moments.
The lack of budget is all too evident here, with minimal use of special effects. We can be thankful for this as those effects that do exist are pretty much hopeless - the melting of a sword by a laser is achieved with a sparkler, a spaceship is a glowing blob in the sky, etc. Where the episode succeeds is in recreating a medieval atmosphere, with location shooting in a real castle (instead of those wobbly sets we all remember) and detailed costumes, weaponry and use of ancient language, even if it does look like one of the cast members has come out of Robin Hood.
The story to this one doesn't really seem to go anywhere after the initial set-up. Lots of talk goes on about impending warfare but aside from a couple of wobbly ladders, this never happens. Instead the low-rent antics take place mainly inside a couple of rooms and are limited to a sword-fight, a swing across a chandelier and a couple of arrow shootings, with Jon Pertwee's stuntman doing all the hard work.
Pertwee himself is on form as the Doctor, this time favouring a horrendous pea-green smoking jacket as his choice of costume, and the episode marks the first appearance of new companion Sarah Jane (Elizabeth Sladen), a nosy reporter who sneaks inside the Tardis and finds herself in the middle of a life-or-death struggle. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart makes a small but welcome cameo appearance, although he doesn't take part in the proceedings.
The foes this time around are led by the exceptionally ugly Linx, who wears a natty suit of silver armour and whose hot-blooded personality makes him a baddie to be reckoned with. It goes without saying that he's the best thing in the movie. The only other monsters are a couple of suits of armour, supposedly robotic animations, but these don't do much and look a little clunky. The various medieval soldiers have a strong (if over-literal) script to play with, and the cast is littered with familiar faces, including June Brown (alias Dot Cotton in Eastenders). Not one of the greatest adventures in Doctor Who's history, but fairly engaging in a few places and the different setting might make it of interest to series fans.
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