Doctor Who: The Time Warrior

"A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting."

'The Time Warrior' was the first story of Season 11, Jon Pertwee’s last as the Doctor. It introduced a trippy new 2001-ish title sequence; enduring potato headed bad guys, the Sontarans, made their first appearance; and the Doctor’s home planet was finally given a name: Gallifrey. But all of that is irrelevant, because this is the story that first introduced us to the fantastic Miss Sarah Jane Smith, played by the wonderful, irreplaceable Elisabeth Sladen.

Just as everyone has their favourite Doctor, everyone has their favourite companion. And mine was, and always will be, Sarah Jane Smith. After three years of the loveable but ever so blond Jo Grant, the arrival of Sarah Jane was the kick up the arse the series really needed. Unlike her predecessor, Sarah Jane was not one to take the Third Doctor’s patronizing attitude lying down. Her attempts to bring women’s liberation to the Middle Ages may not have been as successful as she would have liked, but it just made me love her even more.

Most Third Doctor stories are often too po-faced for their own good. But 'The Time Warrior' is a breezy adventure where Robert Holmes once again demonstrates his master of dialogue and character. It's the Third Doctor's only historical adventure and Holmes approaches it with relish. This entire story is practically his application for the script-editors job. It’s a comic book caper that sends the Doctor into the Middle Ages and mixes knights in armour with spacemen, lasers and robots. Pertwee is enjoying himself immensely as he gets to open a can of Venusian whoop-ass on unsuspecting guards and mischievously chuck stink bombs over the castle walls.

The story also benefits from a pair of great villains. I've always enjoyed Kevin Lindsay's Linx, even though Sontarans have never been one of my favourite recurring villains. I became even less enthusiastic about them after Russell T. Davies insisted they do all that pointless chanting. Yet it is David Daker who steals the show as Irongron. It helps that Holmes gives him all of the best lines.

Notes and Quotes

--This is the first pseudo-historical adventure since 'The Absorbable Snowmen' in 1968.

--Because I instinctively associate Sarah Jane with Tom Baker, it is always a little weird seeing her teamed-up with Jon Pertwee. Baker and Pertwee played very different Doctors, so the dynamic between the characters is a lot different.

--April Walker was originally cast as the Third Doctor's new companion. The story goes that Jon Pertwee didn't think she was right for the role and she was unceremoniously dropped and replaced by Elisabeth Sladen.

--The majority of the location work for this story was done at Peckforton Castle, in Cheshire.

--During this story, the Doctor gets to meet both Dot Cotton and Boba Fett. Now there's a sentence you don't get to write often.

The Doctor: “I never lie. Well, hardly ever.”
--Rule 1.

Sarah Jane: “Galactic ticket inspectors? Oh, I could murder a cup of tea. You're serious, aren't you?”
The Doctor: “About what I do, yes. Not necessarily the way I do it.”
--That's him in nutshell.

Sarah Jane: "You're talking as if you weren't human."
The Doctor: "Yes, well, the definition of the word 'humanity' is always a rather complex question, isn't it?"

Irongron: "I'll chop him up so fine not even a sparrow will fill its beak."
Bloodaxe: "Yours is indeed a towering intelligence."

Irongron: “A longshanked rascal with a mighty nose!”

Irongron: "She'll not get far before one of my guards grabs her taille!"

Irongron: “That narrow hipped vixen!”

A genuine classic and one of my favourite Third Doctor stories. Four out of four Galactic Ticket Inspectors.
--
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

3 comments:

Billie Doux said...

This is another that I've actually seen! And I liked Sarah Jane immediately. I get why so many fans loved her so much. Lovely review, Mark.

Patryk said...

"(...) she unceremoniously dropped and replaced by Elisabeth Sladen."

I think there is a "was" missing in there somewhere. :)

Mark Greig said...

Thanks, Patryk.