Sunday 13 November 2011

356 The Time Warrior Part One

EPISODE: The Time Warrior Part One
TRANSMITTED: 15 December 1973
WRITER: Robert Holmes
DIRECTOR: Alan Bromly
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Time Warrior
Episode Format: 625 video

A silver ball like spaceship lands in the England of the middle ages. Local Warlord Irongron claims it as his own but a Sontaran officer Linx emerges claiming Earth for the Sontaran empire and requests Irongron's help in exchange for modern weapons so that he may attack local Lord Edward of Wessex. In the 20th century a number of top scientists have disappeared from a research establishment so the Brigadier has taken some of the remainder into protective custody and the Doctor has joined them. The Doctor meets Professor Rubeish, who is complaining at being kept there, and the journalist Sarah Jane Smith who is posing as her aunt, Lavinia, a noted virologiost. She's heard what is going on and is there looking for a story. She begins to suspect the Doctor of being responsible. During the night the Doctor detects delta particles indicating a time disturbance. He & Sarah find Rubeish gone and the Doctor uses a device to detect the image of the armoured Sontaran Warrior. The Doctor traces his through time and follows him in the Tardis little knowing Miss Smith is aboard. The Tardis materialises in the forest scaring Edward's remaining archer Hal. The Doctor emerges and pursues the signal shortly followed by Sarah who disturbs Hal's shot at Irongron. He runs but she is captured by Irongron's warriors at which point the Doctor spots her and follows. He sees Linx enter the courtyard as he removes his helmet revealing the alien face underneath.

The story has it that Robert Holmes submitted his storyline for this story to his Script Editor as a report from a scouting Sontaran Hol Mes to his superior Terran Cedicks. It succeeded and the Time Warrior makes it to the screen introducing us to both the Sontarans, the sixth and final great race of returning monsters in Doctor Who but also his new companion Sarah Jane Smith. Both are well served by the episode getting a decent introduction. We discover Sarah is a journalist, that she has an Aunt Lavinia, who we will eventually meet in eight years time, and we get a quite clear view on her attitude to life & women's role in it. The Sontaran meanwhile is revealed to be a member of a high technology warlike race.

We can't go much further with talking about Sarah Jane without mentioning that she wasn't the Third Doctor's original third female companion. At some point an unknown actress was cast in an unknown role but for unknown reasons the show did not proceed with her in the part. (page 336 of the The Doctor Who Television Companion) The information, and the why the companion wasn't used, have been kept so secret that even noted Doctor Who historian Andrew Pixley (don't bother looking on Wikipedia: he's not the murderer listed there!) does not know her identity. Barry Letts took the secret to his grave with him and if Jon Pertwee knew he did likewise, leaving just Terrance Dicks as the only possible person who might know. And he's not telling either!

So that then leads to the casting of Liverpool born actress Elizabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. Born 1st February 1946 she was by this point married to the actor Brian Miller who we'll be hearing from later. She had appeared in Coronation Street, Z-Cars, Some Mothers Do Have Em & Doomwatch so had some amount of television experience already.

For the eleventh season of Doctor Who we get a new title featuring the famed Diamond Logo for the first time. You can watch it on YouTube if you've not seen it before but it is broadly similar to the Tom Baker sequence that replaces it after just 26 episodes. I remember my shock when putting the VHS of Death to the Daleks (the first season 11 story that I saw) in the machine and not seeing the familiar red, orange and green sequence. What I love about this one is the very start of it with the streaks of light shooting towards the screen and resolving themselves into a tunnel. It's almost a shame this element isn't retained for it's replacement. Meanwhile the end titles are also revised with the diamond shaped tunnel, previously seen approaching us in the opening sequence, receding from us into the distance with the credits over the top. Good, but in this case Tom's version is far superior.

From this episode onwards each episode (with one exception) is named "Part" and then the number of the episode within the story, replacing the word "Episode" used previously.

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