Doctor Who
The Time Warrior

Starring: Jon Pertwee
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: PG
Available 03 September 2007

Linx, a Sontaran Officer, is forced to land his damaged ship in Middle Ages England. Although he is able to make an alliance with Irongron (David Daker), a local robber baron, the time period does not provide the expertise that Linx needs to repair his ship, so he reaches forward in time to steal scientists, an act which brings him to the attention of the Doctor...

Time Warrior was the opening story for season eleven and Jon Pertwee's last season as the Doctor. Directed by Alan Bromley and written by Robert Holmes, the show was notable for a number of firsts. It was the story that introduced the Sontarans and Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, an altogether more modern companion. Oddly enough, given how long the show had been running, it was the first time that the Doctor's home planet was identified as Gallifrey and, lastly, season eleven added new opening and closing sequences, using a slit scan process.

The show was originally transmitted in four, twenty-five minute, parts between December 1973 and January 1974. To be honest, the story could have been condensed into a three-parter, as some of the sections drag a little. The lack of pace has more to do with lacklustre direction rather than any inherent fault in the writing, which is a shame as this is Robert Holmes at his writing best, providing an inventive script with nary a wasted word. The overall plot is understated, no planets at risk here, just a Sontaran mixing it up whilst trying to repair his spaceship and getting involved in a minor medieval scuffle between Irongron and his posh neighbour Edward of Wessex (Alan Rowe). Worth noting here is June Brown (Dot from Eastenders), who plays Lady Eleanor, wife to Edward, making one of her rare television appearances outside of Eastenders.

The show does have a few problems. The scientists are played as stereotypical nerds in white coats, so much so, that you don't really care what happens to them. Their portrayal is laughable without being funny. The faux fight scenes are just as rubbish as they always were. I'll admit that this is something that I always personally felt about the Jon Pertwee stories; great actor, unconvincing fighter. There are, of course, others that will find the whole bitch slapping thing delightfully silly and wholly enjoyable.

Once more the BBC has done the old girl proud and the Doctor Who Restoration Team has done a great job of cleaning up the print including adding sixteen new CGI effects which goes some way to updating the show. For the purists amongst you, the show can be viewed with its original dodgy effects. The story has an open and honest full length commentary with Elisabeth Sladen, producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks.

Beginning the End is a feature partially shot at Peckforton Castle which stood in for Wessex Castle and Irongron's Castle. The feature looks at the making of the show and features Elisabeth Sladen, Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks, unfortunately neither Jon Pertwee nor Robert Holmes survive to make a contribution.

Trails and Continuity does what it says on the box, being a small collection of the continuity announcements for the show. There is a photo gallery which runs through the thirty-eight pictures automatically and looks to be part production shots and part publicity shots. There's a nice light-hearted trailer for the Key to Time season which implies that the season will be released as a box set. This set has been available for some time outside of the UK, so it was always an oddity that it wasn't released earlier. Rounding off the extras you get the Doctor Who Annual and the Radio Times in PDF (PC and Mac) format, and subtitled production notes. Audio is okay but not particularly dynamic.

Overall this is not a bad story, though it's an odd one to pick to open the season with. The introduction of Linx and Sarah Jane may have persuaded the makers that this was strong enough to be the season's opener. And, in the hands of another director it may have been, but Bromley does little to add punch and drama to what otherwise was a great script.

Charles Packer

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