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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ivanwho, 29 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Doctor Who - The Time Warrior [1973] [DVD] (DVD)
A right merrie tale of robber rogues and stout yeomen, a fiery damsel never in distress, a toad-faced warrior fallen from the stars, and "a long-shanked rascal with a mighty nose" questing through Time - from Gallifrey! 5*

What Sir Walter Scott did with `Ivanhoe', Robert Holmes did here with `Doctor Who' - created an exhilarating medieval adventure with archetypal characters in an exciting new story. To add science fiction to the mix, he created the ultra-militaristic Sontaran commander Linx, crash-landed in England around 1200 A.D., a terrific costume, makeup, and performance by Kevin Lindsay. With his damaged spacecraft needing repair, Linx uses his `osmic projector' to kidnap scientists from the 20th century and offers alliance to Irongron, the local robber baron, to use his (stolen) castle as a base in exchange for new weapons. Linx simply wants to return to his war with the Rutans, he is recklessly unconcerned about changing Earth history - but the Doctor is determined to stop him. This story is also famous for containing the first ever mention of Gallifrey - just one of many facts about the Time Lords originally introduced by Robert Holmes in his various stories.

`The Time Warrior' has a brilliant script which is both exciting and often very funny, a great cast of actors giving it their all, reels of quality location filming in the greenwood and castles of olde England and superb sets and costumes. It was a marvellous opening story for Jon Pertwee's final season and he is on top form (with some help from his stuntman), playing our hero at his most dashing. He fights hand-to-hand with the Sontaran and Irongron, hob-nobs with the local earl "a courtly rogue!" and fights off an assault on his castle by using "superior stink-bombs", swings a broadsword and even swings from a chandelier in the best Errol Flynn manner.

Elizabeth Sladen is perfect as Sarah Jane Smith from her very first scene, a clever, independent character in probably the best storyline she was ever given. From being a stowaway on the TARDIS, convinced the Doctor is the villain!, she is right at the centre of the action throughout, shaping events and gradually coming to trust the Doctor completely - a new companion has arrived. There's a fun scene early on where she explodes when the Doctor says she can be useful by making the coffee! It's sometimes suggested this is the Doctor being sexist - but in fact he's deliberately winding Sarah Jane up because he knows she has gatecrashed UNIT H.Q. by impersonating her aunt Lavinia, a scientist whose work the Doctor respects. On the DVD commentary Elizabeth Sladen talks movingly about what a welcoming and generous actor Jon Pertwee was towards not only his new `companion' but to all the guest actors.

Equality is a running theme in this story, handled with Robert Holmes' trademark wit. We see it again with Edward of Wessex, an honest but rather `wet' nobleman (Alan Rowe) and his determined wife Eleanor (June Brown). He seems to despair too easily at his lack of knights, all gone to the Crusades except for Hal the bowman (Jeremy Bulloch). Eleanor is all for direct action against Irongron by any means: "Will you mix a magic potion and poison the dog?" she asks the Doctor hopefully.

David Daker and John Carney play Irongron and his henchman Bloodaxe with splendidly larger than life, sword-swinging shoutiness. Both scoundrels firmly believe that Irongron is a military genius, they're both wrong. Bloodaxe will never be mistaken for any kind of genius, a dim sidekick he is and like another dim sidekick of the future he even uses the phrase "a cunning plan"! The two human villains combine medieval menace and humour, with excellent writing and performances. The Doctor gets a second, temporary companion for this story in the shape of Professor Rubeish (Donald Pelmear), who seems remarkably unfazed about being kidnapped by a time-travelling Sontaran!

The only failings in this story when first broadcast were some of the special effects. There aren't many, it's a costume drama, but the arrival of Linx's spaceship and the final big bang were a tennis ball on a wire and stock footage of a quarrying explosion - and they looked it. I certainly didn't notice in 1973 but on the VHS they were all too obvious. Happily, the DVD production team have created excellent new special effects that give these key moments in the story the impact they deserve, and enhance the few other effects as well, mostly shots from Linx's energy weapon. Turn the new effects on from `Special Features'. The DVD restored picture quality is also much better than the VHS.

Verily, `tis a noble DVD and I bestow upon it the five stars of chivalry!

DVD Special Features:
The commentary is excellent, with Elizabeth Sladen, producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks, full of memories not only of this story but of the Jon Pertwee years and how the team prepared for the end of an era.
`Beginning the End' - a really good `making of' feature, filmed partly back on location and with a great set of contributors.
CGI Effects - some are subtle, some are major improvements, very well done.
Photo Gallery - an especially good photo gallery is provided on this release with many `behind the scenes' pictures.
Two `Easter eggs', both are enjoyable.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 Jun 2014 16:21:10 BDT
Excellent in-depth informative review, I like your reviewing style my friend very well documented info especially on the special effects.

Jeemy Bulloch went on to play Boba Fett In Empire & Jedi.

Great review number 13.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jun 2014 16:37:43 BDT
Number13 says:
Thanks Timelord, Robert Holmes' script put me in the mood for a bit of reviewing - I'd forgotten just how much fun this story is, brilliant writing and performances. It was the production subtitles and Barry Letts in the documentary that gave the special effects info.

Errm ... Boba Fett - that's in that *other* science fiction universe isn't it?(!)

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jun 2014 17:58:57 BDT
Last edited by the author on 30 Jun 2014 17:59:57 BDT
Yes it is Star something, As I too am a Robert Holmes fan this maybe of interest to you Robert Holmes: a Life in Words

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jul 2014 00:22:53 BDT
Number13 says:
Cheers for the suggestion Timelord - it is a great book, in fact his witty storyline proposal for 'The Time Warrior' was one of the highlights of it for me.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Aug 2014 22:17:07 BDT
I reviewed a couple of Third Doctor stories my friend.
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Location: England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 260