Number : Season 18, serial 5 of 7.
Which One : Time Thundercats!
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 episodes.
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 aliens – the ‘Leonine Tharil’. A slaver-ship also caught in E-Space, is after the key to leave too.
Whats good : Minimalistic. Atmospheric. Identifiable and different from any other Doctor Who; before or to date.
Whats bad : That they didn’t get Mike Joyce to direct – more Who.
Review With Spoilers : Warriors’ Gate is the third and final serial, in the E-Space trilogy, following Full Circle and State Of Decay.
It was directed by Mike Joyce, who only ever directed (this) one Doctor 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 show’s boundaries, JNT wanted a safe formulaic continuation.
To save on budget, Joyce filmed alot of scenes in front of the bluescreen – and added the background in post-production (kind of like every CGI-sodden Hollywood blockbuster shot today, I suppose).
It actually works really well, using negative photographic 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 Doctor Who.
The mysterious Leonine Tharil, are a kind of “Time Thundercat” race; who are walking and breathing – time machines and can flit in and out of N & E Space, at will. They are interesting creations, especially the subplot that they are kidnapped and forced to pilot slaver’s ships, through time.
The Tharil presence, complement this story and give it a deep backstory; which adds to proceedings.
“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.
The Tharil have the key to N-Space, which the Doctor needs to leave E-Space – for good but the Tharil don’t seem that 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) and as a parting gift, the Doctor gives her the damaged K9 MK-II, for company.
JNT’s mission to finally get 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 story. If there was a society against robotic animal cruelty, then they should have went after JNT!
Why JNT was against the principles of this stories, is not overly clear. As it marks a really strong and eriee conclusion, to the E-Space trilogy – that’s both memorable and unsettling – in the same token.
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, just seem down right baffling and seem to have been driven, by nothing more than ego.
Mike Joyce really pulled out all of the stops, here. To make a distinctive and memorable serial of Doctor Who – on a constrained budget. So why a man of his obvious talents, did not become get another offer to direct on the show, seems utterly barmy to me.
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.
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