C070 The Time Warrior


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Lots of firsts and the best Venusian Aikido to date!



An serial full of firsts, this Classic Doctor Who story marks the introductory appearance of:

  • The legendary slit scan title sequences
  • Companion Sarah Jane Smith
  • Alien foes, the Sontarans
  • The name Gallifrey
  • Pseudo-historicals in the Pertwee Era (or historical, rather, as this was his only one)
  • Etc…

Speaking of firsts, join us in welcoming Jim to the wonderful world of Classic Who reviews! Whoop Whoop!

(Yes, he’s still labelled as a “guest” here below, but that’s just because I haven’t had a chance to update the site yet, sorry…)

So what’s this serial all about?

Irongron the magnificent, a medieval lord, sees a falling star which turns out to be a giant Sontaran golf ball. Out of it steps Linx, a Sontaran commander who offers Irongron an exchange of resources. Linx will provide him with modern-ish weaponry and Irongron will provide him with shelter, while he repairs his golf ball.

You can’t repair a golf ball with a bunch of medieval brutes, though, so off Linx plops to the 1970s to kidnap some scientists under Doc’s nose and despite UNIT’s expert supervision. Doc won’t stand for it, though, and together with stowaway Sarah Jane Smith embarks on a pseudo-historical adventure.

 

9 Responses to “C070 The Time Warrior”

  1. Paul Fauber | @wordsmithpaul

    DOCTOR WHO’s transitional eleventh season, Jon Pertwee’s last, ironically delivered several firsts The first serial replaced the familiar title sequence, a colorized version of something the show might have used with William Hartnell or Patrick Troughton, with the time tunnel famously used for most of Tom Baker’s era featuring Pertwee instead, As the calendar turned from 1973 to 1974, we saw Pertwee’s Doctor pilot the TARDIS into Earth history for the first time since “The Highlanders” in 1969. This Robert Holmes story, which Terrence Dicks novelized for Target books, though, is no pure historical.

    Medieval warlord Irongron led its strong cast of characters and brought Sontaran Commander Linx’ damaged spaceship to his castle. Unable to return to the Fifth Sontaran Space Fleet without repairing his ship, which looked like an enormous, silver golf ball, the alien officer reached into the future for help and kidnapped scientists. Sarah Jane Smith, the Doctor’s new, well defined companion was a journalist impersonating her aunt to infiltrate the scientific enclave UNIT set up to protect scientists and investigate their disappearances. Both the Doctor and Professor Rubeish saw through her charade. When Rubeish vanished. Sarah Jane looked for him in the TARDIS while the Doctor pursued him to the Middle Ages.

    There, or perhaps then, Linx offered Irongron weapons, with which he planned to attack his enemies as they formed an alliance, in exchange for assistance. Both the Doctor and Sara Jane encounter Linx, after she saved Irongron from Hal the Archer. The alien’s warrior race was new to the audience, but not the Doctor and everything was new to Sarah Jane. She engineered the Doctor’s capture and only trusted him upon learning he was with UNIT. Then, she helped him use trickery instead of violence to defeat Irongron’s attack, to Linx’ disgust. To prevent Earth history from contamination with advanced technology the Doctor vainly offered Linx help in exchange for returning the kidnapped scientists to their time. He also revealed Time Lords are from Gallifrey and warned the Sontarans should never try invading them. With help from Professor Rubeish, Hal the Archer, and Sarah Jane, the Doctor infiltrated Irongron’s castle and saved his people, including his lieutenant, Bloodaxe, from destruction when the Sontaran ship blasted off.

    “The Time Warrior” both used time as a plot point and, in many ways, served as a pivotal turning point in DOCTOR WHO history. Producer Barry Letts had denied Jon Pertwee’s requested raise and was considering replacing the Doctor, When a new Doctor joined new companion Sarah Jane Smith, Letts thought they might need a second new companion and actor Jeremy Bulloch’s character, Hal the Archer, was being considered. This story expanded the series’ mythology, revealing the name of the Time Lords’ home planet, and offered forward continuity. The fourth Doctor would face his new foes, the Sontarans, twice in the future.

    Reply
  2. Now then, this is one of the all time classics!

    The whole thing starts quite eerie..what with Linx spookily showing up in the 20th century and Irongron’s brigands seeing the sontaran ship land through the lancet window of a medieval castle. Then it becomes a joyous pseudo historical romp.

    All the cast are fantastic. Pertwee is cracking jokes left, right and centre, David Daker is brilliant as the bellowing Irongron, Jeremy Bulloch is a good stoic straight man, Kevin Lindsay is so menacing as Linx and…well, nothing compares to Liz Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith.

    The highlights:

    Everything Irongron says, everything Bloodaxe says, everything Linx says, everything The Doctor says, everything Sarah Jane says. Especially the line: “Is he a longshanked rascal with a mighty nose?”

    The first mention of the Time Lord’s home planet, Gallifrey.

    The sontarans are a fantastic new alien race.

    The location work is amazing, love a good castle.

    The lowlights:

    The explosion of the castle at the end. They just cut to a quarry being blown up…bit cheap.

    Why doesn’t Hal the Archer go with them in the TARDIS at the end? He’s so obviously companion material!

    None of that brings my score down though, this is one of the greats.

    5

    Reply
  3. Peter Zunitch

    This episode should be required viewing for modern Dr. Who writers. It is perfection exemplematis of the fact that you don’t need the universe to potentially end in order to have a dramatic story. It’s such a simple little idea with very low stakes, and yet it’s a very enjoyable watch.

    The story’s success is mainly due to the characters, and the writing thereof. Not-Brian-Blessed does a great job at almost being Brian Blessed, and is a villain you could find yourself rooting for. Certainly he’s not evil, he doesn’t have to be. He just has to be “not a good guy”. Little needs mentioning of the Lynx personification, as it pioneered a lasting Who-favorite race. The supporting cast, the archer, the professor, the lord and lady of castle “other team”, Not-Blessed’s captain of the guard, and the serving wench all have both dialog and key portrayal moments that make them instantly enjoyable. Interaction between any random pair makes them all feel interconnected as a whole. Elizabeth Sladen immediately fits into the show as if she had always been there. It’s obvious from her very first line that she’s companion material, and a good compliment to the Doctor.

    It’s not an amazing story, it doesn’t have to be. But it is a story I watch over and over, and enjoy every time. Finally, I agree with its moral lesson, any alien that tries to tell me to change my method of reproduction deserves an arrow to the probic vent. 3.8

    Reply
  4. Michael Ridgway

    Game of Thrones meets Mr Potato Head

    Things I liked:

    1. Linx- a fabulous villain: ugly and mean. Particularly loved his little flag claiming earth for the Sontarans. Yet Linx was not the best character in this adventure. That honour goes to…
    2. Irongron! He totally steals the show! His bottomless repertoire of insults at “Toad-face” Linx, and the Doctor with the “mighty nose”, had me laughing milk through my mighty nose. Linx’s seething irritation at Irongron was great viewing.
    3. Introducing modern weaponry to the medieval era had shades of fab first Doctor story ‘The Time Meddler’.

    Beefs:

    1. Sarah’s half-hearted attempt to organise a servant uprising.
    2. Linx, I have to agree with Irongron, your robotic soldier is indeed rubbish.
    3. Hal, disarming Irongron’s troops doesn’t merely mean throwing their swords on the floor right next to them.

    Observations:

    1. The Sontarans are still an untapped baddie – we’re yet to see the Sontaran homeworld, or a Sontaran-Ruton smackdown (or indeed any background to their conflict).
    2. The kidnapped boffins are looking incredibly grubby, and if they haven’t drunk, eaten or slept, presumably they haven’t been allowed to relieve themselves in a lavatory. Linx’s workshop must smell really, really bad.
    3. So all the servants…erm…blew up?

    3.3/5 racist insults-a-minute from Irongron to Linx.

    Reply
  5. Stephen | @sgamer82

    This is the one that shows us that, yes, Sontarans DO look like taters. Or maybe toads, if you want to go by Irongrond.

    My impression of our first exposure to the Sontarans is that it’s not that far off from what we get today. Less humorous, since he’s the big threat, but even then we have Linx criticizing the efficiency of our reproductive system. Yet the Sontaran love of war and battle is present as well, joining Irongrond in his fight just for the hell of it.

    It also introduces us to Sarah Jane Smith, regarded by some as THE Doctor Who companion. Right from the start you can see that Sarah Jane is a very different creature from Jo Grant. From moment one she’s proactive, competent, and unwilling to take anything from anyone as she helps the Doctor fight Linx and his magic cigarette.

    The serial does have one thing that can annoy me about Classic Who: The plot basically consists of going back and forth between Point A and Point B with seeming impunity. Irongrond Home Security will never be a Thing. On the other hand, it’s one of the few older stories that features time travel as something more than “a way to put the Doctor where we want him” and is actually a plot element in the rescue of the missing scientists.

    With all of this in mind, I give “The Time Warrior” a 3.9 out of 5.

    Reply
  6. Matthew Dennison

    Like Robert Holmes’ last story “Carnival of Monsters”, I remember not being overly impressed with “The Time Warrior” when I first saw it. The production seemed cheap compared to earlier historical stories and it never felt like much was at stake. But after recently rewatching it, I actually really liked it. And, like “Carnival of Monsters”, its brilliance is mostly in its great cast, characters and dialogue.

    Linx is a fantastic creation, both well played and well written, and he (or it) comes across as a genuinely powerful physical threat. The story is played 100% straight and never feels like a comedy, but the interplay between Linx and Irongron is hilarious, as is that between the Doctor and Rubeish.

    It can’t have been easy to follow on from Jo’s emotional departure in the last story, but Elisabeth Sladen is great from the start. It helps that Sarah gets plenty to do, and I liked her initial distrust of the Doctor, which we haven’t really seen since Ian and Barbara.

    Any negatives? Well, Linx’s gun looks a bit naff and as does the Doctor taking him on with a metal brolly. But my main complaint is still that it feels small-scale, and despite all the talk of Linx altering history, I never really bought it as a big deal, probably because we see so few people in this story and it never feels like there is an entire world out there.

    Still, it’s a story that I could happily watch again and I’ll go for a 3.7.

    Reply
  7. Carrie Smith | @NerdyShelties

    A classic, it doesn’t get much better than this. The first mention of the Doctor’s planet “Gallifrey”, first appearance of Sarah Jane Smith, and the first appearance of a Sontaren.

    Sarah Jane is so good – once she gets over the initial shock of time travel she gleefully runs around capturing the doctor and later helping him throw stink bombs. She is clever, resourceful and a believable companion for the time traveling alien.

    The dialogue is great, with lines like “Yours is a towering intellect” delivered deadpan. The extras such as Robish and Bloodaxe are well developed and well-acted. The costumes are great, and the sets well done. The little cubicles for the scientist the Brigadier is so proud of are hilariously flimsy looking, and for once probably on purpose.

    And Kevin Lindsay acted his ass off from within a complete mask and a helmet, creating an entire race of aliens with his body language and manner of speech. Sontarens remain much the same even today.

    The robot was a weak point, but not enough to drag the story down. And somewhat redeemed by the scene with the doctor disguising himself as the robot and fighting with the bad guys.

    The plot itself is not as strong as the sets, costumes and actors, but it is perfectly fine and all the other great things about this story make it a 4.8.

    Reply
  8. Trenton Bless | @trentonbless

    The final Pertwee season was fairly good, and it started quite well with The Time Warrior.

    I’d like to talk title sequences real quick. Season 11 saw the end of the howlaround title sequences and the start of the iconic slit scan title sequences. The title sequence used in Season 11 was more like a bad prototype of the Tom Baker titles used starting in Season 12. But, it’s still alright for a prototype. Anyways, on to the review!

    This story is probably the best story to involve the Sontarans (at least, until we actually see them fighting the Rutan Empire, that is). It’s also a great way to introduce Sarah Jane Smith, possibly the Doctor’s greatest companion. Pertwee is on form as always. And Robert Holmes once more delivers a classic Doctor Who adventure. Linx steals the show and is the best looking Sontaran to date, with nothing really able to equal it. He is Robert Holmes’ triumph with this script. Oh, and we also finally get a name for the Doctor’s homeworld, Gallifrey. I bet that went over some people’s heads in this story.

    I really like this serial mainly because it captures the Sontarans best. Linx looks good, is acted well, and is threatening. No Sontaran story can rival this one, and I believe this one wins the battle, especially since the new series has made the Sontarans an absolute joke. For the glory of the Sontaran Empire, this story receives a 4.3/5! SONTAR-HA!

    Reply
  9. Thomas Meehan

    The Time Warrior – what an enjoyable serial. Especially with the introduction of SARAH JANE SMITH – my FAVOURITE companion ever!.

    Also, we have the introduction of the Sontarans – potato-like people.

    The Sontarans return in The Sontaran Experiment & The Invasion of Time (4th Doctor), The Two Doctors (6th (& 2nd) Doctor) and the two-parter The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky (10th Doctor)

    Also, The Sarah Jane Adventures story – The Last Sontaran which is sort of a follow up to the two-parter in Nu Who.

    Sarah Jane returns in School Reunion, features in her own spin-off then returns again in The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End & The End Of Time.

    Honestly, I only remember The Time Warrior because it’s the introduction of the GREATEST companion.

    I give it a 3!

    Reply

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