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Our Very First Potato-Head – The Time Warrior. Oh so many firsts….

April 12, 2015

time warrior

As I continue to slowly rewatch the last few adventures of the Third Doctor and his friends (the “masterless men” as you might call them), The Time Warrior (1973) has much to continue to recommend it.  Robert Holmes’ script crackles with medievalisms that sound as plausible as they are witty.  It’s a quality production, both in terms of its exterior film and its studio bound video stagings.  And it’s notable for a variety of “firsts” that we’re offered.

First appearance of Sarah Jane Smith.

First appearance of the Sontarans.

First mention of the name “Gallifrey”.

And isn’t “Gallifrey” a lovely name, now that you come to think of it?  Doesn’t it sound like a mythological flower of some kind?  Wasn’t it a good day for Robert Holmes when he came up with that name.  A good day for all of us.

A couple of intriguing guest stars are worth noting.

June Brown, the future Dot Cotton, appears as the energetic “Lady Eleanor”, or “that narrow-hipped vixen” as she is ungraciously described at one point.

And then there’s Jeremy Bulloch, the original Boba Fett. He plays a gallant archer, who is ultimately responsible for hitting the Commander Lynx’ probic vent at a critical juncture.  Let it be again recorded that both Darth Vader and Boba Fett appeared in early 1970s Pertwee-Dicks-Letts era Doctor Who adventures.

From the outset, Sontarans are hilarious and lend themselves to adventures that are lazily described as “romps”.  Sontarans, neckless clones built in the likeness of the late lamented Bob Hoskins, only have to play themselves, only have to spout their own militaristic posturings with a degree of gravity and conviction, to be among the funniest things in Whovian History.  They are one of only two recurring species actually invented by Robert Holmes (the other being the Autons/Nestene Consciousness).   You’ve got to love a species that could come with

“You have a primary and secondary reproductive cycle. It is most inefficient. You should change it.”

There’s something rather thrilling about seeing the Doctor meet Sarah Jane Smith for the first time.  She’s not a UNIT employee who’s been assigned to him, but an investigative journalist who is supremely suspicious of him.  Sarah-Jane’s indomitable courage and her unflinching sense of right and wrong is evident from this very first adventure, in which she makes a bold attempt to introduce the 12th century to feminism.

Sarah Jane Smith will stand up to anyone, including the Doctor himself.  She’s from 1980 (see UNIT Dating Controversy if you’re really bored and don’t like straight answers), but she seems more modern than any of the UNIT crowd who appear to be trapped in the 1970s.    With Sarah Jane Smith, I recall my first great favorite companion.  Sarah Jane Smith was not my first childhood crush – she was something rarer and more valuable – she was the big sister I never had.   Sarah Jane Smith was the most perfect combination of courage and compassion to appear on a television screen in the course of my entire childhood.

She wouldn’t surrender to 12th century patriarchy or the Sontaran Empire.  And I felt somehow she was on my side.


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