01/04/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
region 2 DVD: pub: BBC BBCDVD2334. 1 DVD 96 minutes 4 episodes with extras. Price: £ 3.50 (UK) if you know where to look)stars: Jon Pertwee, Elisabeth Sladen, David Daker and Kevin Lindsay.
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'The Time Warrior' is a quirky story, mixing historical, present and alien all into one story. British scientists and their equipment from the present are vanishing and the Doctor (actor Jon Pertwee) is called in by UNIT to find out what is going on. The best scientists are brought to a guarded mansion but it makes no difference as they are still vanishing. On his mansion landing, the Doctor meets a short-sighted scientist called Rubeish (actor Donald Pelmear) and someone who is supposed to be Vanessa Smith but as she's in America, her reporter niece masquerades as her to find out what is going on. Her name, Sarah Jane Smith. Yep, that Sarah Jane Smith (actress Elisabeth Sladen) in her first appearance. When Rubeish vanishes, the Doctor is able to track the time co-ordinates but doesn't notice that Sarah Jane has hidden aboard the TARDIS. Arriving in the past, the Doctor discovers that Lynx, a lone Sontaran (actor Kevin Lindsay), had arrived on Earth in the Middle Ages and keeping a local chieftain, Irongrun (actor David Daker), and his people on his side by supplying him with muskets. In the meantime, he brings scientists back to effect repairs on his spaceship. Sarah Jane doesn't believe where she is and escaping Irongrun goes to another castle and convinces chieftain Edward of Wessex (actor Alan Rowe) that this is all the work of the Doctor. She does orchestrate the Doctor's capture and eventually persuaded he's on their side and gets involved in the rescue of the scientists and beating Lynx.
There are some elements of Mark Twain's 'A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court' hidden away in the plot, although writer Robert Holmes avoids the Merlin comparison. In an odd way, the appearances of Lynx in the present could certainly be construed to be an armoured ghost. At least he didn't have his head under his arm.
This is a great introduction for a new companion to the Doctor and the first that sees him first as the threat than benefactor. The story is tightly packed and doesn't waste a scene. For those of you interested in the cast. Jeremy Bullock went on to play Boba Fett in some obscure SF film series called 'Star Wars'. Those of you familiar with the soap opera 'Eastenders' will spot a much younger June Brown playing Edward of Wessex' wife.
The audio commentary from producer Barry Letts, script editor Terrance Dicks and actress Elisabeth Sladen is informative, especially in the context of director Alan Bromly who was very much old school. As with any 'Doctor Who' story, the plot carries you along and I tend to ignore any short comings. As I've also watched this story twice in succession, you'll have to forgive me for not watching the new CGI inserted effects for a while which is an option on this DVD.
The half hour documentary looking over both the story and the realisation that for many of them, including Jon Pertwee, was the desire to move on is an interesting examination. Who would have thought the loss of one companion, in the shape of actress of Katy Manning, would have caused that to happen.
With the photo gallery, I'm glad they included a couple pictures of actor Kevin Lindsay, sans his Lynx mask. Too often it's easy to forget what the people look like behind the make-up.
Don't trust Sontarans bearing gifts.
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