The Time Warrior
Anyway, what of the story? Well, I'm not a blind fan of Robert Holmes like some fans who think he could have stood in for Shakespeare, Coward and Wilde in one package. He's almost always overrated, and his scripts are so self-conscious if he was the only writer on Who it would quickly annoy. But this is one of his greatest achievements, a hilarious cod-Shakespearean piss-take played to the hilt by a brilliantly hammy David Daker. There's never the feeling that this is anything other than a production shot on videotape in a studio, but here it doesn't really seem to matter. As a season opener then it's nondescript, but as a story in itself then it's very funny.
It's over six minutes before Jon appears in the episode, and while he makes a fair effort for the new girl, Nick is back to his OTT "comedy" Brigadier shtick. To be honest, I don't really regard the Pertwee era from seasons 8-11 as pure "Doctor Who". In most senses it's like a low-brow variety show, and even though Katy Manning is a much better actress than she gets credit, I don't miss her or her era. Elisabeth Sladen isn't the world's best actress, but she has character, and, when Tom Baker arrives, rapport. Her emergence here is like a breath of the proverbial, largely because she doesn't spend all her time fanning Petwee's ego. Only sore point is Donald Pelmear as Professor Rubeish, who chews up and mauls so many gags it's staggering.
This is actually the last Pertwee story that Jon could pronounce, and you do get the feeling that the production team were being unkind to him in his last year. Sontarans, Dinosaurs, Daleks on Exxilon, Ice Warriors and Monsters in Peladon, topped off by the Spiders of Metabelis. His speech therapist must have been on overtime, poor sod. My heart actually went out to Jon when I had to hear him struggle through "Thisss isss my own ssssspecial sssssssssmoking mixxxxxxxture, consssssisssting of ssssssalt peter, sssssssssulphur and fat. With a few little extrasssssss thrown in."
Concept-wise, this is essentially The Time Meddler revisited, but it's all good fun. I can't imagine this is anyone's favourite Doctor Who story, but there's an joviality from Jon that hasn't been witnessed for some time. There's a surfeit of false beards and wigs in this one, which would normally annoy me, but then as this could be classified as a comedy story it doesn't really seem to matter.
This final episode is the best since the first, a pacy and entertaining resolution, with Jon practically breaking the fourth wall by dodging bullets. Yet despite the fact that it's engaging and charming, you're ultimately left with a hollow superficial feeling. Like Sarah's remark about "You're still living in the middle ages!" it's funny, but ultimately operates only on a surface level.
A likeable if inessential Doctor Who story, The Time Warrior is ultimately shallow but amusing.
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