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Doctor Who: The Time Warrior

3rd Doctor Doctor Who

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#1 Virgil Vox

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Posted 12 May 2020 - 12:08 PM

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It is kind of funny that I am watching a Doctor Who serial called The Time Warrior at the same time that I am watching a series called Josh Kirby! Time Warrior that has some definite Doctor Who vibes.

I liked this story but honestly it isn’t anything special. If it weren’t for the fact that this serial introduced Sarah Jane and the Sontarans I don’t think it would stand out from the pack at all.

The story sees the Doctor and the Brig investigating a secret think tank where scientists have gone missing. At the same time a young woman named Sarah Jane Smith gets into the building by pretending to be her famous virologist aunt. The Doctor works out that the scientists are being kidnapped through time and uses the Tardis to follow them, not knowing that Sarah has snuck on board.

They arrive in the Middle Ages and get sucked into a feud between the ineffectual Lord Edward and the usurper Irongron. A Sontaran named Linx has crashed on Earth and has made an uneasy alliance with Irongron. He will supply the warlord with powerful weaponry as long as Irongron allows Linx to fix his ship in the castle’s dungeon and gives him anything he might need. Linx is using a time machine to abduct the scientists so they can aid him in repairing his ship.

The story itself is pretty good. This is the first time in the 3rd Doctor era that we have gotten a historical story, or at least a pseudo-historical story. It makes for a nice change of pace to modern day settings or the far future.

Linx was a good villain. I thought it was a good idea to give him a simple task/plan: fix his ship and leave the planet. Sure, he was introducing advanced technology and helping to escalate a war but that was just a bit of fun for him. He could really care less about Earth, even though he did plant a flag and claim it for the Sontaran Empire. It was refreshing to see a villain that didn’t have any designs on the planet.

A lot of what we know about the Sontarans is introduced here, like their lust for war, the probic vent, the fact that they never retreat, etc. I had assumed that some of that information would have been added in over the years but its all here right from the start.

Sarah Jane Smith is introduced here and really, what can I say? She is iconic for a reason and has come to represent the epitome of the Doctor Who companion. Her character is more or less fully formed in this story. She is a reporter who is tenacious and will do whatever it takes to get the story. She is a feminist and won’t let men condescend to her. She takes charge when she has to and readily accepts the fact that she has time traveled once she realizes that she is in the actual past and not at some kind of re-enactment.

I can’t really remark on how Sarah and the Doctor get along because they don’t spend a lot of screen time together. They get separated fairly quickly and Sarah believes that the Doctor is the villain for about two episodes. From the little interaction they do have it is easy to see that this is a different dynamic than the one that existed between the Doctor and Jo, or even the Doctor and Liz. Jo was a sweet girl who was basically the Doctor’s surrogate daughter/granddaughter. Sarah will not be placed in that role. She definitely views herself as an equal to the Doctor.

I will admit that I missed Jo while watching this story. To me, the 3rd Doctor and Jo are a perfect pairing and it is hard to see this Doctor with another companion. I wish Jo had stuck around for this last season, especially since I see they make a trip to Peladon later on in the season.

I liked how the Doctor came up with more or less non-violent ways to defend Edward’s castle from attack. The stink bombs were pretty funny. I also liked how he dressed up as the robot warrior that Linx was building to try and buy every one more time to get away.

The Time Warrior is a perfectly fine Doctor Who story. It does a good job of introducing Sarah Jane Smith, has fun with its historical setting, and introduces a new villain for the series to play with. While it isn’t a story that will be considered a classic it is entertaining and doesn’t drag on like a lot of 3rd Doctor stories tend to do.
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#2 Christopher

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Posted 12 May 2020 - 12:47 PM

View PostVirgil Vox, on 12 May 2020 - 12:08 PM, said:

I liked this story but honestly it isn’t anything special. If it weren’t for the fact that this serial introduced Sarah Jane and the Sontarans I don’t think it would stand out from the pack at all.


Well, it's a Robert Holmes story, so that alone makes it worthwhile, even if it's not one of his greatest.


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Jo was a sweet girl who was basically the Doctor’s surrogate daughter/granddaughter. Sarah will not be placed in that role. She definitely views herself as an equal to the Doctor.

And in time he comes to see her that way as well, although she'll be closer to his fourth incarnation than his third. Part of what makes Sarah Jane so special and memorable is the closeness of the friendship and partnership she had with the Fourth Doctor. The previous Doctors no doubt considered many of their companions to be friends -- the Second Doctor and Jamie being particularly close -- but the age difference made it more like a surrogate parent or mentor relationship -- and both Liz and Jo were overtly the Doctor's assistants. Sarah may have been the first companion who felt like a true partner, though it took a few seasons for her to get there.

Ironically -- or perhaps not -- Sarah's real strength didn't fully emerge until the writers stopped playing up her strident feminism -- until they just let her be equal rather than talking about it.


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I will admit that I missed Jo while watching this story. To me, the 3rd Doctor and Jo are a perfect pairing and it is hard to see this Doctor with another companion.

Interesting. Jo was my favorite classic companion, but Sarah was my first, since my local PBS station began with Tom Baker's first serial "Robot," so aside from Baker's face in the opening titles, Sarah's was literally the first face I saw in the series. So I don't know what it's like to see her as a replacement for an earlier companion.

(I was just saying to someone else this morning that the beginning of "Robot" is a very confusing introduction to Doctor Who, because it picks up just where the previous episode ended, not just mid-regeneration but mid-conversation. Though at least I'd read about the show in advance and probably had some idea of what regeneration was and why there was some random silver-haired guy on the floor changing into a curly-haired guy on the floor. It's still kind of like being thrown into the deep end, though.)
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#3 RJDiogenes

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Posted 12 May 2020 - 06:49 PM

View PostVirgil Vox, on 12 May 2020 - 12:08 PM, said:

Linx was a good villain. I thought it was a good idea to give him a simple task/plan: fix his ship and leave the planet. Sure, he was introducing advanced technology and helping to escalate a war but that was just a bit of fun for him. He could really care less about Earth, even though he did plant a flag and claim it for the Sontaran Empire. It was refreshing to see a villain that didn’t have any designs on the planet.  

That's good.  I find it a lot more interesting to have antagonists who are not necessarily villains, but simply at odds with the protagonist.

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Sarah Jane Smith is introduced here and really, what can I say? She is iconic for a reason and has come to represent the epitome of the Doctor Who companion. Her character is more or less fully formed in this story. She is a reporter who is tenacious and will do whatever it takes to get the story. She is a feminist and won’t let men condescend to her. She takes charge when she has to and readily accepts the fact that she has time traveled once she realizes that she is in the actual past and not at some kind of re-enactment.  

Also played by a very compelling actress, from what I've seen of her.
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#4 Christopher

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Posted 12 May 2020 - 07:26 PM

View PostRJDiogenes, on 12 May 2020 - 06:49 PM, said:

That's good.  I find it a lot more interesting to have antagonists who are not necessarily villains, but simply at odds with the protagonist.


Oh, Linx was definitely a villain. He may not have been interested in conquering Earth, but he was more than willing to kill or kidnap Earthlings and disrupt Earth history to get his way. Like all Sontarans, he was single-mindedly dedicated to the endless war against the Rutans and didn't care who got caught in the middle. (Although to this day we've only seen the Rutans onscreen once and never in the same episode as the Sontarans, except in an unlicensed independent video production from 1994. It's odd that the modern series has never taken the opportunity to make that happen.)
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#5 Virgil Vox

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Posted 16 May 2020 - 09:46 PM

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Oh, Linx was definitely a villain. He may not have been interested in conquering Earth, but he was more than willing to kill or kidnap Earthlings and disrupt Earth history to get his way. Like all Sontarans, he was single-mindedly dedicated to the endless war against the Rutans and didn't care who got caught in the middle. (Although to this day we've only seen the Rutans onscreen once and never in the same episode as the Sontarans, except in an unlicensed independent video production from 1994. It's odd that the modern series has never taken the opportunity to make that happen.)

I always just assumed that there was a classic Who story that would show the war between the Sontarans and Rutans. Strange that they never did and that the new series has never done that either.

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Interesting. Jo was my favorite classic companion, but Sarah was my first, since my local PBS station began with Tom Baker's first serial "Robot," so aside from Baker's face in the opening titles, Sarah's was literally the first face I saw in the series. So I don't know what it's like to see her as a replacement for an earlier companion.

It is weird watching the first episodes that Sarah ever appeared in after having seen her later appearances. In fact, my the first time I ever saw Sarah was in the School Reunion episode. I then watched some of the Sarah Jane Adventures episodes and then the K9 & Company Christmas special. I feel a bit like the Doctor and River, never meeting in the same chronological order.

I like Sarah obviously but I feel like Jo should be here for the Doctor's last season. I especially feel that way after watching Invasion of the Dinosaurs. I hope to have a review of that up in a few days.

Edited by Virgil Vox, 16 May 2020 - 09:50 PM.

"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman



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