Warriors’ Gate – 1981 – S18 – E5/7

image Number : Season 18, episode 5 of 7.

Which One : Time Thundercats and the door to E-Space.

Cast : The Doctor : Tom Baker
Romana : Lalla Ward
K9 MK-II : John Leeson (voice)
Rorvik : Clifford Rose
Packard : Kenneth Cope
Lane : David Kincaid
Royce : Harry Waters
Sagan : Vincent Pickering
Aldo : Freddie Earlle
Biroc : David Weston
Lazlo : Jeremy Gittins
Gundan : Robert Vowles

Written By : Stephen Gallagher

Produced By : JNT

First UK Broadcast : 3 January – 24 January 1981.

Length : 4 x 25 minute parts.

Plot : The Doctor locates an area of “null-space” which acts as a doorway to exit E-Space and return to regular N-Space. The key to leaving E-Space, is held by the mysterious cat-like Leonine Tharil. A slaver-ship also caught in E-Space, is after the key too.

Whats good : Minimalistic. Atmospheric. Identifiable and different from any other Who – before or to date.

Whats bad : That they didn’t get Mike Joyce to direct more Who.

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Review With Spoilers : Warriors’ Gate is the 3rd and final episode in the E-Space trilogy, following Full Circle and State Of Decay.

It was directed by Paul Joyce, who only ever directed this one Who story. Joyce had two problems. One, there wasn’t much budget left to work with and two; he and JNT had conflicting ideas as to direction. Joyce wanted to really push the shows boundaries.

To save on budget, Joyce filmed alot of scenes in front of the bluescreen and added the background later. Kind of like every CGI-sodden Hollywood blockbuster shot today, I suppose.

And it works really well. Using images shot at Powis Castle, the scenes of the Doctor negotiating the ghostly and fleeting landscapes of null space, are some of the most visually striking scenes in all of Who.

The mysterious Leonine Tharil, who are a kind of Time Thundercat race; who are walking and breathing time machines and can flit in and out of N & E Space are interesting creations. The Tharil complement this story and give a deep backstory – which adds to proceedings.

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“The universe is our garden!” Biroc

Once a fearsome and proud war-like race. The Tharil used to skip from dimension to dimension, overrunning and destroying other worlds on a whim. They learned the errors of their ways but not before being rounded up by human slavers, used forcibly – to navigate ships through wormholes.

The Tharil have the key to N-Space, which the Doctor needs to leave E-Space for good but they don’t seem willing to share their secret.

Warriors’ Gate also marks the departure of Romana and K9 from the series. Romana decides to stay behind and help the Tharil (rather than being forced to return to a boring role on Gallifrey as per the beginning) and as a parting gift, the Doctor gives her K9 MK-II, for company.

JNT’s mission to finally gets rid of K9, is completed here; because of the “time winds”, is literally blown up and is unable to do (hardly) anything for the entire episode. If there was a society against robotic animal cruelty, then they should have went after JNT!

Why JNT was against the principles of this episode is not clear. As it marks a really strong and eriee conclusion to the E-Space trilogy – that’s both memorable and unsettling.

I always try to balance up JNT’s changes to the programme – as equally as possible. After all, the man was a maverick and some of his changes were positive. Others though, were just down right baffling and seem to have been driven by nothing more than ego.

Mike Joyce really pulled out all of the stops, to make a distinctive and memorable episode of Who – on a budget. So why a man of his obvious talents, did not become a mainstay on the show, seems utterly barmy to me and another major JNT ego fail.

If you do consume at least one of the E-Space trilogy. Then make it this one. The others are good but Warriors’ Gate is so visually striking, it will make you wonder why they didn’t make more in this style.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5)

Old Doctor Who


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