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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
A "Timely" release for SARAH JANE and the SONTARANSJan. 12 2008
Kevin J. Loria
- Published on Amazon.com
With the success of the BBC's Sarah Jane Adventures (UK series targeted for younger viewers)and the pending 2008 return of the Sontaran's to the 4th season of Doctor Who it is a great time for the DVD release of the "Time Warrior." Not only was the story a season opener and the 3rd Doctor's final season played by the groovy Judo-chopping Jon Pertwee, but it introduces one of the Doctor's finest companions Sarah Jane Smith as played by Elisabeth Sladen. Sarah returned to say her farewells in season 2 of the 2006 Dr. Who only to get her own CBBC spin-off.
The Story: England's scientists are being snatched and transported to the middle-ages by a stranded alien. UNIT asks the Doctor to sort it out, while the lovely and plucky young reporter Miss Sarah Jane Smith stows-away on the TARDIS as the Doctor tracks the scientists into the past. Ultimately, Sarah ends up at odds with the Doctor believing he is the time-napping villain and teaming-up with a local King and Queen to storm the baddies castle. Eventually, the two ally themselves to face the true foes, including the war-mongering armored Sontaran supplying the locals with centuries advanced weaponry.
Some neat moments are the introduction of a "fighting mechnical-man" to the middle-age tyrant in which an archer stays his execution by pumping arrows in to the machine as it continues to march ever forward. A scene which is repeated later with sword and axe-play as the Doctor is disquised as the robot.
The action in this one is typical of Pertwee's years, as is the over-the-top writing for the late great Robert Holmes, especially dialogue for Bloodaxe and his minions, who in one scene refer to the Doctor as a "Long-shanked rascal with a mighty nose!" The strength of the original series has always been the great location work giving the long running sci-fi fantasy series a grounding in the real world, the nearly 35 year old episode was filmed at a real castle, Peckforton Castle. The on-screen chemistry between the Doctor and Sarah certainly foreshadows the highlights to come in the shows future, even in these formative stages of character development Sladen is a joy to watch and is my favorite companion (follow closely by Billie Piper ofcourse). New fans of the series will appreciate this "historic" meeting between Doctor and sidekick.
The DVD has lots of extras and easter eggs, including OPTIONAL CGI SPECIAL EFFECTS to bring the 1973 story visually up-to-date, if you chose. Since the History of the Sontarans Documentary was included in the Sontaran Experiment DVD, "Beginning the End" talks with cast, producers and script editors on location at Peckforton. Extensive interviews include guest star Jeremy Bulloch who played Hal the Archer, Star Wars fans may not know his face, but are surely familiar with his name as Emipire and Jedi's original Boba Fett.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
"A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting."April 3 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
First things first, "Time Warrior" is a story of many firsts. The Doctor identifies his home planet as "Gallifrey" for the first time, adding another fragment to the ever-developing mythos of the show's mysterious main character. One of the Doctor's most memorable human traveling companions, Sarah Jane Smith, makes her first appearance here, instantly adding a lively spark to the show and bringing the women's lib movement (still in its early stages as of 1973) into its overall equation with understated grace and a dash of wit. Next, the Doctor and Sarah Jane come up against the militaristic Sontarans for the first time in the person of Commander Linx. The Sontarans make for great villains, single-mindedly militant and delightfully arrogant, their sleek black-leather battle armor oddly juxtaposed with their almost humorously pudgy potato heads. It makes sense then that they've shown up in several stories over the years (and yet again soon this year), but arguably this their first appearance is also their best. Often they come across merely as cruel bully thugs, but the character of Linx, while including all of that in spades, is complicated just a bit by hints of a sincere code of honor and a sense of fair play, not to mention boyish curiosity. Then too, just in terms of make-up and costume, Linx wins out as the most visually convincing Sontaran so far, and Kevin Lindsay's performance enlivens the character perfectly. Finally, "Time Warrior" also sees the first appearance of the iconic opening sequence with the multi-colored time vortex that would continue to be used throughout most of the Tom Baker years and in many ways could be said to be the inspiration for the current version as well.
What's more, "Time Warrior" also presented viewers of the time with the first pseudo-historical tale in quite a while. That's bound to strike us as a bit odd today since this format, cleverly mixing historical settings with science fiction elements, seems quintessentially "Doctor Who" as nothing else. Typical, possibly even prototypical. And this is a fine example somewhat vaguely reminiscent of the first (Doctor Who - The Time Meddler (Episode 17) of 1965), taking place in medieval times and involving an alien arming the locals with technologically advanced weaponry, only in this case in exchange for shelter and materials with which to repair his damaged spacecraft and rejoin the ever ongoing war between the Sontarans and the Rutans. The tense and obviously temporary self-interested relationship between Linx and the robber-baron type Irongron is well depicted. Indeed, the story includes a few nods towards the colonialist repercussions of this kind of exchange, and the early scene where Linx steps out of his ship and plants a Sontaran flag in the soil, claiming the planet and its possessions for his empire right in front of the bewildered inhabitants is simply priceless.
And yet it wouldn't do to go reading too far into these sorts of things, for above all this story is an unabashedly lightweight adventure. A meandering one at that, escaping and infiltrating and generally hopping about back and forth from one castle to the other again and again--but in a way that never drags or gets old. A wonderfully crafted script by Robert Holmes continually keeps things fresh and entertaining, mixing humor and any number of classic little moments with lots of thrilling action sequences (by the standards of the day, certainly, and still holding up reasonably well). This one's a real showcase for Jon Pertwee, perhaps one of the more active and athletic actors to play the role of the Doctor, and here we have him sword-fighting and dodging arrows and repeatedly busting moves with his Venusian martial arts and swinging from chandeliers and so on and so forth--never a dull moment. Aye, verily, 'tis classic Doctor Who at its most merry and vigorous. Miss it not!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
"And will you carry your starship on your back, good toad?"July 8 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
Anyone who says that plots from the old Doctor Who series are slow-moving and stodgy in comparison to the stories featured in the revival of the show should look to THE TIME WARRIOR for correction; the old series could move quickly when it wanted to. Here we have an alien crash-landing in medieval England; the aforementioned alien warrior entering into an agreement with and providing advanced weaponry for the local feudal lord; scientists going missing from the twentieth century; and the Doctor and UNIT getting involved. All in the first nine minutes.
By a complete coincidence I watched this serial not long after the new series tried its hand at a Sontaran episode. The comparison smiled on the original. For just one aspect of this, compare the characters who align themselves with the Sontarans in the respective stories. THE TIME WARRIOR gives us Irongron, one of the series' best villains: a powerful and ruthless feudal lord whose rich and witty dialog is the equal of any fictional bad guy. The new series gives us a whiny, annoying and easily-bamboozled teenager. Old school Who wins this round.
Getting back to THE TIME WARRIOR, this serial never seems to rate very highly with fans, but I've never been quite sure why. This story features two things that writer Robert Holmes was particularly apt at creating: excellent dialog and memorable, fun characters. The plot itself is a really nice blending of the historic setting being touched by the fantastic. And it's an extremely intelligent script. Even with all the different factions and characters, everyone's motivation makes perfect sense. While the story and dialog are often very much over the top, everything still logically fits together.
As for the DVD itself, the first thing I must report is that the picture and sound quality are excellent. This won't come as news to purchasers of earlier cleaned-up Doctor Who DVDs, but the image quality seemed especially good this time. Kudos to the Restoration Team.
The DVD commentary with star Elisabeth Sladen, script editor Terrance Dicks and executive producer Barry Letts is a lot of fun and informative although it (and the production note subtitles) fizzle out towards the end. I, for one, was amused that even though production ended for this serial over thirty-four years ago, Barry Letts is still in charge of the other two participants.
While I was watching, I started jotting down memorable lines of dialog to use for the title of this review. I was forced to stop fairly early on for fear of simply copying the entire script verbatim into my notebook. I have no doubt that if you were to print out this script, pin it to the wall and then throw ten darts at random, you'd end up hitting at least nine excellent quotes. If you want to see how the old series got by with great writing and no money, look no further.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
THE DOCTOR'S FOLLYApril 5 2008
Thomas E. O'Sullivan
- Published on Amazon.com
In any show with a long history of coming and going, THE TIME WARRIOR falls into that "moment" in the life of the series where everything is changing.
This is the beginning of the end for Jon Pertwee as the DOCTOR, it's the introduction of Elisabeth Sladen as one of the most popular companions in the series history, SARAH JANE SMITH, it's the first appereance of a SONTAREN who, like Sarah Jane, would continue on through the series up until the present day. We hear GALLIFREY for the first time. It's the last days of UNIT, the return to time travel as the norm for the series and the return, as well, of the historical story (which would turn up a few times more down the line with Tom Baker and Peter Davidson). THE TIME WARRIOR has so much going on it's a wonder that it manages to hold itself together so well... but it does.
The story is simple... a snoopy, plucky, "girl in the moment" reporter slueths her way into a mystery and then into danger, as the Doctor takes the TARDIS to the Middle Ages to rescue some time-napped scientists and save the world from both a seasoned Sontaren warrior and a pack of bloodthirsty pusedo-frat boys who have it in them to go out and storm castles for supplies.
There's danger around every corner and while the threat is real (and at times disturbing - using the Doctor as target practice, with real guns, is a calculated risk, not simply because of the violence, but because the threat level here is grounded very heavily in reality and unlike ray guns, the chance that the Doctor will be shot, bleed and die is something you can see happening all too easily. While guns in the UK are rare, the fact that they appear here as they do really is a shock - it's a very American style of danger that you didn't expect to find in DOCTOR WHO at the time), you can't help but smile at it all as both Sarah and the rest of the cast give it their level best in making all the rushing back and forth between plot points work.
Linx is a dymanic villian, he's aloof, yet interested in everything around him. While he is in a rush to get back to his war in space, he's still got it in him to tinker with Earth's history and accelerate the arms race looking for possible allies or fodder down the line. Despite being a champion for war and destruction, Linx is a reasoning alien that matches the Doctor's battle for peace. If there is any real downside it's found in the fact that Sarah settles in a bit too easily into the routine and Pertwee's performance, while never bad, never rises above professional - he is the Doctor, but Pertwee, the actor, is just filling the suit from now on until his final story.
The disc comes complete the standard extras... commentary with Sladen, Letts and Dicks is casual and the series is recalled fondly. There are a number of details that stick out, but there are some frustrating moments as Letts will spend a lot of time on some minor details (which, while interesting) that drag out the commentary at all the wrong moments. Sarah's first introduction is marked in a whisper by Sladen instead of a roar, because she doesn't want to interrupt Lett's story about the director which ends up in a dead end.
Likewise with her first time in the TARDIS, Lett's is missing the moment in history while detailing production backstory. It will frustrate you, but, overall the commentary is good. TEXT COMMENTARY is overstuffed with scene breakdowns and alternate story takes, but stick with it, just have the remote handy as some paragraphs appear and disappear quickly.
THE TIME WARRIOR at the time it was made was a solid, well played story that would turn out to be rich in history for the series down the line. For fans, it's a must, your collection could not be complete without it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Personal Pertwee FavoriteAug. 15 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) and UNIT call on their go-to guy when top scientists begin to vanish in "The Time Warrior." In this adventure, the first serial of Jon Pertwee's last series (in BBC speak) as the Doctor, our hero travels back to the Middle Ages to find out where the scientists are going. Sneaking aboard the TARDIS is Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) in her first adventure with the Doctor.
When the Doctor arrives on the scene, he finds that a robber baron, Irongron (David Daker), has made an uneasy alliance with Linx, an alien from the warrior race called the Sontarans. Linx' ship is damaged and he is transporting scientists from the future in order to repair it. Since his "osmic" transporter is limited to an 800 year distance, he has to settle for scientists from Earth's seventies. In return for allowing him to repair his ship in Irongron's castle, Linx promises to give Irongron indestructible robot knights that will help him conquer neighboring nobility, in particular Lord Edward of Wessex.
As the tale unfolds, the Doctor uncovers Linx' plans and assists Lord Edward on taking Irongron's castle in order to stop the Sontaran who is well aware that when his ship takes off, he'll take out Irongron's castle and just about everything else.
This tale features not only Sarah Jane's first adventure with the Doctor, it also features the first appearance of the Sontarans. They would prove to be popular villains in the long run and appeared a few more times in the classic series and then resurfaced in the revival of Doctor Who. This is also the first time viewers see the new diamond logo for Doctor Who.
Also of note is the appearance of Jeremy Bulloch as Hal. Hardcore Star Wars fans will recognize him as the legendary Boba Fett who, in my opinion, ranks right up there with the Daleks and Darth Vader as some of the greatest bad guys in science fiction.
This serial is full of humor, primarily coming from Daker's Irongron and his good friend, Bloodaxe (John J. Carney). When this pair interact with Linx, their macho boasting appears in stark contrast to the Sontaran's lethal and matter-of-fact demeanor. When they encounter the feminist-minded Sarah Jane, they become even more hilarious. Also of note is the wonderful Donald Pelmear, who plays Doctor Rubeish. He's one of the scientists that Linx transports to the past. Unfortunately for Linx, Rubeish left his glasses in the future and is of very little service. Instead of forcing him to slave like the other scientists, Linx lets Rubeish wander around and he generally causes trouble for Linx in the long run. Of course, Pertwee's judo moves and all around portrayal of the Doctor is fun as well.
BBC Video has gone out of their way to spoil fans of the classic Who with the many extras featured on this DVD. This has become a staple of the Doctor Who DVDs, and as always the extras are just as good as the serial itself. Highlights of the extras include "Beginning the End," which takes a look at the production of the story and the many firsts (and finals) that this serial would touch on. The documentary features Sladen, Bulloch, Donald Pelmear, and others. Also included is wonderful commentary by Sladen, Barry Letts, and Terrance Dicks.
As I uncover more and more of the classic Who tales that I either missed or forgot, I find myself enjoying the older Doctors more with each episode. Pertwee was never a favorite of mine while I was growing up. Now I've come to truly appreciate his portrayal of the Doctor and have become very fond of the humor he interjected into the role. "The Time Warrior" will not disappoint viewers. Not only is it a fun adventure full of firsts, it's an excellent look back at how brilliant the classic Doctor Who series really was. Highly recommended.