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.