Doctor Who - The Time Warrior  [DVD]
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The Doctor is on a mission, travelling back to the middle ages to locate some missing scientists. He is, however, seriously inconvenienced when he meets a Sontaran warrior. Jon Pertwee stars.
Dating back to the mid-1970s, and starring Jon Pertwee in the title role, The Time Warrior is a superb part of Doctor Who's back catalogue, and is every bit as enjoyable today as it was back then.
Notable as much for introducing Elisebeth Sladen's iconic Sarah-Jane Smith to Doctor Who, The Time Warrior finds UNIT investigating the disappearance of a number of their top scientists. Soon, it appears that it's a Sontaran (surely one of the classic Doctor Who villains) to blame, who has been kidnapping said scientists and dragging them back in time. And it's up to the Doctor and his new companion to get to the bottom of it all.
Thus the scene is set for a Doctor Who adventure in the midst of medieval Britain, and a rollicking good one it is too. In spite of the fact that it was their first story together, the crackling chemistry between Pertwee and Sladen is there for all to enjoy, and courtesy of a cracking, twisty script, there's plenty to enjoy here. It's all aided by a supporting cast who more than do it all justice too, with Nicholas Courtenay's Brigadier aided by the likes of June Brown and Bella Emberg!
With a glimpse into the back story of the Doctor, and plenty of rewatch value too, The Time Warrior is an unmissable adventure in Doctor Who's heritage, and one that would be real folly to miss. --Jon FosterSee all Product description
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** NOTE: You can buy this story as part of the Sontarans four story box set 'Bred for War', which offers good value if you don't already have the four individual DVDs.
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.
Sarah Jane poses as her aunt DR. Lavinia Smith to gain entrance to a top secrete area of U.N.I.T where the Brigider (Nicholas Courtney (may he rest in peace)) and the Doctor (Jon Pretwee (may he rest in peace)) are investigating the disappearance of U.N.I.T scientists whom the doctor soon deduces that they are being abducted through time to help Commander Linx (Kevin Lindsay) under hypnosis to repair his crashed space ship while he (Linx) must content with a want to-be king by furnishing him with fire arms
The doctor heads back and Sarah Jane stows away on the TARDIS and suspects that the doctor is anlage with Commander Linx.
At the time the Script editor (Terrance Dicks) gave the serial’s writer Robert Holmes the task of writing a story set in a medieval castle which he (Terrance Dicks) considered a difficult task but in 1977 the roles were reversed and Holmes gave Dicks the task of writing a serial set in a light house which became the episode “Horror of fang Rock” which for the First time introduces the Rootan’s the mortal enemy of the Sontaran’s and who Commander Linx was fighting when he crashed on earth.
Even though it was made in the 70’s and can’t stand up to the effects and prosthetics or todays T.V. once you get past these facts it is a great story involving history, modern day (well then and limited) and the introduction by Robert Holmes of the classic series’ most beloved companion its worth £6 for more than an hour of fantastic TV.
The writing of this four-part story is excellent. Most of the action takes place in the middle ages where our rather handsome Sontaran friend has managed to crash land and from where he is intent on growing his collection of 20th century scientists and equipment. He manages to sweet-talk Irongron (a local troublemaker and obviously an ancestor of Michael Elphick's mate Harry in 'Boon') into allowing him a place in which to repair his ship unhindered in return for weapons and the secrets of his skincare regime. Or something like that. Every scene with Irongron is a delight, even if his sidekick Bloodaxe is rather a wooden one. Irongron is supposed to be one of the bad guys yet, given that he is infinitely more likeable than Linx, not to mention the fact that his main earthbound protagonist is a rather miserable pre-Dot Cotton June Brown, I think he's rather misunderstood. He's got Boba Fett out there intent on killing him for one thing, as well as the very real threat of getting splinters from his mate Bloodaxe.
The Brigadier makes a brief appearance in episode one, and he's as suave as ever. There's a scientist called Rubeish who is brilliantly entertaining in his own right as well as having a surname Jon Pertwee consistently manages to make sound funny. Mr Pertwee himself is on fine form throughout, no doubt down to the immense amount of humour that can be found throughout the story. He isn't playing it for laughs, not by a long stretch. Maybe he was more relaxed in this series, knowing it was to be his last and perhaps allowing himself to actually enjoy the role without feeling too much responsibility. His hairstyle seems to have doubled in size since 'The Green Death' and he wears in this story a pair of incredibly clicky shoes which, for some reason, I find amusing. Tell me I don't at least have a better sense of humour than Linx...?
Last but not least of course, 'The Time Warrior' is a wonderful introductory episode for the very feisty Sarah Jane Smith. Right from the off, it's clear that this lady is taking no nonsense. You half expect her to start singing karaoke to Aretha Franklin's 'Respect' on numerous occasions. Elisabath Sladen was a superb choice to play her and really does contribute a massive amount to the appeal of this story.
Linx himself is 'nasty, brutish and short', according to the Doctor, who is in turn described by Irongron as 'a long-shanked fellow with a mighty nose'. As I said, this is some great writing. This story is hugely entertaining and is a worthy addition to any DVD collection.
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