WARRIORS’ GATE

Part One

Warriors' GateSue: Steve Gallagher. Why does that name ring a bell?
Me: You met him about 15 years ago. He came to our university to talk about scriptwriting. I think he was friends with Bryan and Mary Talbot.
Sue: Did you ask him a question about Doctor Who?
Me: No. I was too embarrassed.
Sue: That’s a shame. Oh well, I’m not worried about upsetting him. It’s not as if I’ll ever bump into him again if this is rubbish.

The episode begins with an impressive tracking shot that takes us through a spaceship set.

Sue: This is the beginning of Alien, isn’t it?

And the shot doesn’t stop.

Sue: ****ing hell, this is impressive. I’ve never seen a camera move like this on Doctor Who before.

When we reach the bridge of the ship, Sue encounters its human crew.

Sue: Randall and Hopkirk!
Me: Just Hopkirk, actually.

Warriors' GateDown below, two manual workers, Aldo and Royce, toss a coin, which suddenly freezes in mid-air.

Sue: That coin has been pixellated to ****. Quantel was a bit crap in the early 1980s, wasn’t it?

The ship’s consoles explode as the coin falls to the ground.

Sue: That was an insane opening.
Me: Is that good or bad?
Sue: It’s great.

A crew member named Sagan catches Sue’s eye (I can’t imagine why).

Sue: It’s Vince Vicious – the love child of Sid Vicious and Vince from Queer As Folk.

Sadly, she doesn’t recognise Rorvik, the ship’s captain, beyond the now familiar cry of:

Sue: He’s dead famous, him. They’ve got a very good guest cast this week. So far so good.

The Doctor and Romana are still searching for a way out of E-space.

Sue: They are bickering again. In real life, I mean. I wish you hadn’t told me that they keep falling out with each other. I can’t stop noticing it and it makes me feel sad.

At least Adric seems happy.

Sue: Adric is so nice to K9. Aww, he just stroked his head. They have definitely bonded.

Warriors' GateBack on the spaceship, a time sensitive lion named Biroc is having a bad time.

Sue: What’s wrong with Lenny?

Biroc manages to escape from his captors. Sue sighs.

Sue: I hate it when they do that on Doctor Who, and they do it a lot. Why not use a Spock-like neck pinch or something like that? When the monsters knock people out without even trying, it looks pathetic.

On the TARDIS, the Doctor prepares to generate a non-determinate action.

Sue: I miss the Doctor’s old scarf. I’m glad it’s still there on his hat stand. It’s very reassuring.

Romana is worried about the consequences of taking Adric out of his own universe.

Sue: She’s just looking for an excuse to get rid of Adric. I don’t like this side to Romana. She can be quite catty when she wants to be.

The TARDIS console explodes suddenly, and then the doors open out onto a white void.

Sue: Is it the Black Guardian?

Warriors' GateThe time winds reach K9 and he catches fire.

Sue: This is definitely not good.

Biroc enters the TARDIS and he fiddles with its controls.

Romana: Who are you?
Biroc: The shadow of my past and of your future.
Sue: It’s turned into 3-2-1 again. Am I supposed to be following this?
Me: Not really.
Sue: Good. Cos I haven’t got a ****ing clue.

The Doctor wants to take K9 outside with him but the poor thing is too damaged.

Sue: Typical. He only wants to take his dog for a walk when it’s completely impossible. He’s a terrible owner.

Left alone in the TARDIS, Romana confides in Adric.

Warriors' GateRomana: What if the Doctor and I went different ways?
Sue: Hey, I don’t like the sound of that. Romana isn’t going to leave, is she? I have a bad feeling about this.

Sue is impressed with the minimalistic set design.

Sue: Visually, it’s very striking. It’s just a shame that you can see the edge of the cyc curtain. We’ve seen something like this before, haven’t we?
Me: Yes, in The Mind Robber. And no, it isn’t the Master.
Sue: I even didn’t say anything!

Rorvik’s crew search are searching for the TARDIS in the void.

Sue: Why has that man got a Calor gas heater strapped to his chest?

The Doctor has follows Biroc to a gothic stone doorway in the middle of nowhere.

Sue: Okay, I have decided to just go with this. I haven’t got a clue what’s going on any more, but its atmosphere is making up for it. It’s so eerie.

The episode concludes with the Doctor facing certain decapitation by a robot.

Sue: Nice cliffhanger. I don’t see how the Doctor can possibly get out of that.

 

Part Two

Warriors' GateOf course the Doctor gets out of it.

Sue: They’re playing the Darth Vader theme. Der Der Der Der-Der-Der, Der-Der-Der. I quite like the music in this one.

K9’s memory wafers are screwed.

Sue: So K9 basically needs some more RAM? Is there a PC World in E-space?

Romana leaves the TARDIS for a quick chat with Rorvik’s crew.

Sue: She’s brilliant. This is what her own show would be like. I’d watch it.

Meanwhile, at the gateway, the Doctor is attacked by two Gundan robots.

Sue: They are very scary, but they aren’t half stupid.

Warriors' GateBack on the ship, Marty Hopkirk prepares to close the doors.

Sue: You can tell it’s the future because their phone has been painted silver.

The crews’ orange jumpsuits remind Sue of many things, from the Misfits and Guantanamo Bay to Devo.

Sue: “Are we not men? We are Devo!” They also look like they might be a Formula One pit crew – it’s the chequered flag on their pockets that does it. Sorry.

Rorvik escorts Romana to the bridge of his ship.

Romana: What are you actually up to?
Sue: I bet they’re miners. It’s always about mining in Doctor Who.

We learn that the humans have enslaved the time sensitive Tharils, which they use to navigate the time lines.

Sue: How did they stumble onto this? How did they know that time sensitive lions could be used that way? It’s hard to get my head around.

Warriors' GateRorvik forces Romana into the navigator’s chair by pulling on her hair.

Sue: Hey! He’s horrible! I’m definitely on the lions’ side now.

Aldo and Royce are instructed to prepare a Tharil for revival, but they accidentally electrocute it instead.

Sue: I wonder what roast lion tastes like?
Me: Chicken, probably.

Rorvik’s crew find their way to the stone doorway.

Sue: They look like a bunch of tourists walking around York Minster. I hope they’ve brought packed lunches with them in their backpacks.
Me: Funnily enough, they have!
Sue: Good. I like this. It’s much more realistic than the sort of thing we usually get. It’s definitely been influenced by Alien.

The Doctor interrogates a Gundan robot about the secret of the gateway.

Warriors' GateMe: Did you follow that?
Sue: Not really. I think we’ll probably have to have a chat about this later.

Meanwhile, back on the ship, the electrocuted Tharil isn’t dead.

Sue: You don’t get many hand-held POV shots in Doctor Who. This is way ahead of its time. The direction is superb – very modern.

The Gundan tells the Doctor what he wants to know.

Gundan: There are three physical gateways and the three are one.
Sue: I’m not following this at all. It’s starting to slip away from me.

The wounded Tharil heads for the ship’s bridge.

Sue: It’s turned into a stalk and slash movie.

Romana tries to break free of her bonds.

Sue: She’s got a POV shot now! If they’re not careful, this could turn into Peep Show.

Warriors' GateAs the Tharil moves in on Romana.

Sue: Smack My Bitch Up!

The lion’s paw reaches for Romana’s face.

Sue: Brilliant cliffhanger. I’m sorry if I’m not saying very much, I’m trying to concentrate on this. Actually, can I ask you a few questions before we carry on?

Oh God.

Sue: So where do the humans come from? Are they from our universe or are they from E-Space? That’s what I don’t understand.

Me: I don’t know.
Sue: What do you mean, you don’t know? You’re a Doctor Who fan. You’re supposed to know these things! What bloody use are you?

 

Part Three

Warriors' GateSue: This is a very long recap, but I forgive them – it was so good, I want to see it again.

As the Tharil advances on Romana once again.

Sue: I’ve just noticed something. They are dubbing extra moaning and groaning sounds over Romana.
Me: It looks like Doctor Who porn.
Sue: I wouldn’t know, love.

We glimpse the Tharil’s scared face as he looms over Romana.

Sue: That was horrible. They didn’t show that last week, did they? Maybe they thought it would be too scary? Or maybe they didn’t finish the make-up on time? Either way, that gave me a shock.

Back at the gateway, Rorvik takes his frustrations out on K9.

Sue: Another theme of this season is let’s kick the crap out of K9. It’s starting to annoy me. It’s cruel.

Warriors' GateAdric flips a coin to determine his next move.

Sue: Remind me again – why does Adric wear a blue badge?
Me: It’s for his mathematical skills.
Sue: Oh. He looks like a sheriff. Or Terrance Trent D’Arby.
Me: You are beginning to make less sense than Warriors’ Gate.

Biroc tells the Doctor that K9 can be fixed, but he will have to stay on the other side of the mirror.

Sue: I don’t like the sound of that.

The Doctor finally works it out.

Me: I understand.
Sue: I wish I did! I’m still enjoying it, though. I just hope it makes sense at the end.

Aldo and Royce find Romana still attached to the navigator’s chair.

Sue: She’s the only person I know who can take charge when she’s the one who’s tied up. She’s brilliant.

Warriors' GateThe Doctor follows Biroc though a landscape of black and white photographs.

Sue: Okay, I’m completely lost. Where are they now? Which letter of the alphabet is this universe? They are having a nightmare lighting that chroma.

K9 enters Rorvik’s ship but he is immediately thrown back off.

Sue: Hopkirk! No! That was twenty grand you just wrecked. K9 is having a horrible time of it this week.

The crew search the ship for Romana.

Sue: This lot are idiots. The first place I would look is under that gold blanket right in front of their faces. It’s just common sense, which this lot don’t seem to have.

One of the crew decides to investigate the ship’s power supply.

Lane: I’m going up to check the main routings.

Sue: He’s dead. Whenever people investigate the main routings in horror films, they are always the next one to die.

Romana discovers that the hull of the ship is made from dwarf star alloy, which explains why it is so heavy.

Sue: That is one hell of a design flaw. The McLaren F1 team wouldn’t have made that mistake. They’ll definitely lose the Constructors’ Championship now.

Warriors' GateLane not only survives, he leaves the ship and finds Romana hiding outside.

Sue: ****ing hell! Someone on Doctor Who has peripheral vision! I may faint.

The Doctor has arrived in Biroc’s past.

Sue: Meanwhile, on Zelda.

Back then, the Tharil’s ran a mighty empire.

Sue: Ooh, a lioness. They are very cute but I keep expecting them to start singing something from Cats.

The wounded Tharil takes Romana’s hand and they both disappear.

Sue: Oh, **** it. I give up. I’m just going to go with it instead.

The Doctor sits down for lunch.

Warriors' GateSue: That’s the very same table from the other place. That’s a bit cheap.

Suddenly, we jump forward in time with an impressive match-shot.

Sue: Oh, it is the same table. I don’t understand this but it’s ****ing clever.

Rorvik tries to motivate his men but they are much more interested in their packed lunches.

Sue: This is brilliantly done. It’s so much more believable. Real people. Real idiots.

The Doctor is appalled when he discovers that the Tharil empire was built on slavery.

Sue: ****ing lions. You can trust them as far as you can throw them.

The episode concludes with… erm…. er… let’s just say that it’s a very strange cliffhanger.

Sue: WHAT THE ****?

 

Part Four

Warriors' GateSue: It looks fantastic, the direction is stunning and the acting is great. I don’t have a clue what is going on but I don’t care any more. I’m just going with it.

The Doctor butts heads with Rorvik.

Sue: Tom Baker is very good in this one. He’s very intense. I think he’s trying to concentrate on the plot as well.
Me: I could murder a pickled onion.

The Doctor becomes very agitated indeed.

Sue: And now Tom’s gone over the top. He was walking a tightrope back there but I think he just fell off it.

Rorvik is rapidly losing the plot, too.

Sue: This is what I meant when I said on the radio that human villains are much better than alien monsters. This guy is so much scarier than an Ice Warrior. And you could bump into him in the street.

Warriors' GateBiroc urges the Doctor to do nothing.

Sue: I’m telling you, it’s the theme of the season: sitting on your backside doing nowt.

Adric arrives at the gateway just in time to turn Rorvik’s MZ weapon against him.

Sue: You go, girl! Sorry, I mean, you go, Adric!

Our heroes escape into the void as Rorvik fires the MZ directly at a mirror. It doesn’t go well.

Sue: They need some comedy parp-parp music. If only Dudley was still around.

Rorvik decides he will use his ship’s engines to blast his way through it.

Romana: The back blast backlash will bounce back and destroy everything!
Sue: I wonder how many takes it took her say that?

The Doctor tells Romana to wait in the TARDIS. Romana refuses and she tells Adric to stay behind instead.

Sue: The dynamic is very sweet. It’s like they are his foster parents.

Warriors' GateRomana: (to Adric) If we are not back for whatever reason in thirteen and a half minutes, I want you to dematerialise.
Sue: Can you imagine Adric in his own series?
Me: I’m trying not to, thanks.

Sagan breaks out some more Tharils from cold storage as he chows down on a chocolate bar.

Sue: Is he auditioning for a part in a Yorkie Bar advert?

Meanwhile, two Tharils are sneaking up on the ship.

Sue: How did they get there?
Me: They are lions who came through the mirror. I think.
Sue: All these lions look the same to me.
Me: Lionist.

Rorvik attacks the Doctor.

Warriors' GateSue: He’s a nasty piece of work. He doesn’t look like much but he’s a right git.

Romana hits back at Rorvik, with limited results.

Sue: Oh, Romana! I am so disappointed in you. Hitting him with a plastic clipboard? Pathetic! It wasn’t even made of wood!

Romana redeems herself by shorting out the power. Biroc then tells the Doctor and Romana to do the right kind of nothing – and all three of them disappear.

Me: I’m completely lost now. You know, I’ve seen this story dozens of times and I really hoped it would make sense this time.
Sue: Just go with it love. It’s the only way.

Rorvik completely snaps.

Sue: Even the Master would have been weirded out by that.

Warriors' GateBack on the ship, the Tharils take their revenge and Vince Vicious is electrocuted.

Me: Sledgehammer!

The Doctor and Romana race back to the TARDIS.

But Romana doesn’t want to go.

Sue: What?

Romana wants to stay in E-space with Biroc.

Sue: No, no, no, no. no.

The Doctor is flabbergasted but he doesn’t put up much of a fight. He gives K9 to Romana to look after.

Sue: I don’t believe this.
The Doctor: I’ll miss you. You were the noblest Romana of them all.
Sue: No, this isn’t happening. Is that it?

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor struggles to come to terms with what has just happened.

Warriors' GateSue: Tom Baker’s bottom lip almost went then. I don’t blame him.
The Doctor: She was superb.
Sue: Yes, she was.

If that wasn’t bad enough, she also has to deal with the departure of her favourite metal mutt.

Me: Don’t worry, the Doctor can always get another K9 out of the stores.
Sue: Do they really?
Me: Don’t be silly.
Sue: Do Romana and K9 have their own series of adventures in E-space, then?
Me: Yes.
Sue I wish Ian Levine would reconstruct that.

 

The Score

Sue: Shit.
Me: It wasn’t that bad!
Sue: No, I mean – shit, I don’t know what score to give it. I need to think about it.
Me: I’ll come back to you in 30 years. I still don’t know what score to give it.
Sue: I definitely won’t forget it in a hurry.

While Sue was chewing it over, we watched some of the extras on the DVD.

Sue: The director was treated very badly. You have to admire him.

And then Stephen Gallagher turned up on Twitter. It took me 15 years but I finally got to ask him a question about Doctor Who.

Sue: I thought so. That makes sense. I think I’m ready to mark it now.

8/10

Sue: I’ll be honest with you – I didn’t understand it. But I don’t care. It was a breath of fresh air. It was different and interesting and very, very original. I would give it a 10 if I could follow it.

 

Coming Soon

 

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Comments

  1. Darryl Gillikin  August 23, 2012

    OK, I gotta ask: if the Cushing movies were included in the marathon, will you be watching what comes between “Logopolis” and “Castrovalva”? 🙂

    • Lewis Christian  August 23, 2012

      Neil has mentioned *it* on Twitter, so here’s hoping! It’d throw Sue off nicely 😀

      • John G  August 23, 2012

        They certainly ought to do it then – broadcast order and all that. Besides, it helps to make clear some of what we see in the next anniversary story.

        • Antti Björklund  August 23, 2012

          For those of us not so familiar with Old Who, could you tell what “it” is?

    • Cracked Polystyrene Man  August 23, 2012

      That particular special works better in the gap between TIME FLIGHT and ARC OF INFINITY. Once you get to the end of LOGOPOLIS you don’t want to pause and watch something else, you want to kick right on and see what happens in CASTROVALVA.

      • John Callaghan  August 24, 2012

        Aha! Hence the fun of it! That suspenseful cliffhanger feeling for just that little bit longer!

        Or something.

        Still lovin’ the write-ups. Warrior’s Gate does just about make sense to me now. I’ll agree it was a rewarding different piece of television. Curious that the ‘void’ effects should be better done in Mind Robber, but hey ho. I remember that I found the part two cliffhanger and Vince’s death… well, electrifying.

        And I’ve got an idea for a Davison podcast song, too!

      • Lewis Christian  August 24, 2012

        As John said, it’d be quite a fun break. It’d certainly be a fun surprise for Sue, to hear “beep de beep, K9” instead of the Who theme tune 😀

        • Frankymole  August 25, 2012

          And the Xmas treat was especially for those who missed K-9, or to fend of the campaign to bring it back… although replicating the transmission failure during the blackout makes sense too.

          • Wholahoop  August 26, 2012

            Wasn’t the transmission failure only in the North West of England as a result of the Winter Hill transmitter giving up the ghost to the inclement weather conditions prevalent at the time?

  2. Gavin Noble  August 23, 2012

    Neil – I can’t believe you don’t know what’s going on – it’s not that difficult to follow. I remember as a six year old explaining it to my dad – though maybe it’s an age thing?

    Highlight of the story – the pretty serving wench with the top barely hanging on there at the end of part three/part four reprise!

    • PolarityReversed  August 23, 2012

      That’s probably the only bit your dad did understand…

      • Wholahoop  August 26, 2012

        I suspect he was trying to keep abreast of the situation

  3. Dave Sanders  August 23, 2012

    I don’t think I’d have minded whatever score Sue gave it – Warriors’ Gate is, at one and the same time, (a) brilliant, (b) pointless, and (c) brilliantly pointless.

    Now Logopolis on the other hand…

  4. Lewis Christian  August 23, 2012

    A people slam Moffat for being ‘complicated’…!

  5. PolarityReversed  August 23, 2012

    The same old story isn’t it.
    Girl meets boy, fights the ultimate evil being, changes her style to look like a princess, a quick romantic trip to Paris, then they get trapped in a different universe, where she falls for a time-sensitive talking lion and gets to keep the dog.
    If I had a penny for every time…

    I had completely forgotten Clifford Rose was in this.
    Kessler, Sue – Secret Army.

    Enjoy the knees-up.

    And Darryl, I really don’t think so.

  6. Jackaboy S  August 23, 2012

    Yay! Sue liked one of my favorite oddball episodes! I was worried it would get dismissed (in her down to earth style) but I had totally underestimated her again-smart and open minded. Just go with it indeed!

  7. matt bartley  August 23, 2012

    I was really looking forward to Sue’s take on this one, particularly the direction and I’m glad she really took to it. I don’t have a clue about it either, but it’s so unlike anything else the show has ever done.

  8. encyclops  August 23, 2012

    When I saw this again last night, I remembered why I’d never really thought much of it: it’s basically just a little constellation of images and ideas hanging, literally, in a white void. The only other story I know of that’s anything like it is Ghost Light, which is similarly light on plot and heavy on saying “these are some ideas I am interested in, which I have collected for you in this Victorian house and allowed the Doctor and his companion to stroll through.”

    But I appreciate this kind of story (and, grudgingly, Ghost Light as well) the more I recognize that Doctor Who just doesn’t do this sort of thing very often, and it really is refreshingly unusual and original. All of the imagery is striking (even the Tharils and the Gundans look fantastic and they can’t have been that expensive), the human actors appear to be playing real people, and there’s an immediacy to the direction that isn’t entirely undermined by the showy camera moves. I really really like it now, and I think 8/10 is a fine score.

    Do I know what’s going on? Hell no. Even what I do think I understand — the masters are themselves enslaved with the help and in the service of machines, there’s a sort of timeless fairyland heaven they can live in if they can escape their enslavement, industry and progress are illusions built on suffering and (“the right kind of”) idleness is the solution — doesn’t add up to something I could explain as a coherent plot or even a clearly-stated theme. I don’t know what “the right kind of inaction” is or what exactly enabled the Tharils to escape — presumably the presence of the TARDIS and/or Romana helped, but I’m not sure how. And, not to be trivial, but why are there statues of humans in the black-and-white-photograph fairyland? Isn’t it lion heaven? I guess we have statues of lions….

    On the whole I’d prefer a Doctor Who story that leaves me wondering, the way this one does, than a cut and dried Who-by-numbers that I barely have to watch to get the gist of. But I agree, it’s mystifying and frustrating, seeming to say more than it actually does, and if only a few things had gone a little farther wrong it would have been a disaster.

    Fortunately there’s an episode next season with what I’d consider at least an equal amount of subtext and resonance, but a lot more in the way of plot and coherence. That’s the next one I’m on pins and needles for.

    • PolarityReversed  August 23, 2012

      re black and white lion fairyland:
      C’mon someone – mention La Belle et le Bete!

      • encyclops  August 23, 2012

        Right? It’s a song as old as time, really.

        Of course that raises the question of Romana’s departure. Criminally abrupt, but yet somehow aptly so as well. Did she leave to help an enslaved race, always a noble reason for a companion to quit and quite admirable? Or are she and Biroc, you know…?

        • Dave Sanders  August 23, 2012

          Furries ruin everything. Take it from the token one.

          • PolarityReversed  August 23, 2012

            Reminds me, must take the randomiser to my face – summer laziness, y’know.
            Interesting thought occurs – we’ve never had a bearded Doc. Well, except for rare moments when they’ve been aged, cured, incarcerated or possibly never happened at all.

          • Frankymole  August 25, 2012

            Never a bearded Doc? Okay, it’s admittedly brief, again, but he’s had four beards and a bonus ‘tache (not all at once) in a televised story: http://i715.photobucket.com/albums/ww153/Frankymole/smaller-pre-hartnell.jpg

        • Nathan  August 23, 2012

          Romana leaves because she doesn’t want to go back to Gallifrey. That much is made clear in Full Circle so it’s not that abrupt seeing as they have found the way out of E space.

          • encyclops  August 23, 2012

            Right, there’s definitely that. I love that she comes in the perfect student and leaves the rebel. It makes her future career, as portrayed in the novels, rather mystifying; the role she ends up in seems so out of character to me. Was that ever satisfactorily explained?

          • PolarityReversed  August 24, 2012

            Well the Doctor nicked a Tardis and ran away. Got caught, then did his penance, to be sure, but then Romana has just helped prevent the collapse of the whole of everything. So I don’t see why she shouldn’t just say: forget it, you ain’t the boss of me you dusty old Castellans.

    • P.Sanders  August 23, 2012

      I always thought doing the ‘right kind of nothing’ was about the Doctor not interfering. Being a time sensitive, Biroc can see a semblance of possible futures and can see Rorvik’s final explosive actions becoming more likely. So the Doctor need only be ready to take off at the right moment.

  9. Dave Sanders  August 23, 2012

    Neil, can we send in an audio question or two? Y’know, cos we’re mad like that.

    • encyclops  August 23, 2012

      Seconded! I love the audio questions. I might even get up the nerve to record one myself.

  10. Warren Andrews  August 23, 2012

    I watched this again the other night in anticipation of the review and was concerned that Sue wouldn’t go with it. Thankfully she has. It’s easily one of my favourite stories and no I don’t have a clue what’s going on either.

  11. Stuart Ian Burns  August 23, 2012

    “She’s brilliant. This is what her own show would be like. I’d watch it.”

    Sue’s going to love it when you get to the Big Finish Gallifrey spin-offs. Or the BBV Mistress CDs. Or whatever.

    • Richard Lyth  August 24, 2012

      They’re all going to be retconned anyway when Romana walks out of E-space in the 50th anniversary special. And then regenerates into Emilia Fox.

      • Neowhovian  August 24, 2012

        LOL – I can see that happening! 😀

  12. Jazza1971  August 23, 2012

    “It’s Vince Vicious – the love child of Sid Vicious and Vince from Queer As Folk” – Best quote in ages!

    Great review, I’m so glad Sue like it.

    However, with some hesitation of starting another car-based debacle, I do feel the need to point out that the F1 team in question is called “McLaren” and not “McClaren”…

  13. Roderick T. Long  August 23, 2012

    Is there any fansensus or canonsensus as to WHEN, in his personal timeline, the Doctor constructs and delivers the 3rd you-know-what?

    • David Embery  August 23, 2012

      It has been suggested K9 Mark II and III were built at the same time after Invasion of Time then the 3rd was dropped off. In K9 and Company the Doctor last spoke to K9 in 1978.

      • Graeme Robertson  August 24, 2012

        Yup, in the relevant special the crate is postmarked 1978, hinting at as much so possibly ‘posted’ during “Stones of Blood” ?

        G

  14. DPC  August 23, 2012

    I’ve rewatched the story 5 times, the latest being yesterday.

    It’s still difficult to comprehend, in terms of the time shifts (e.g. what led to episode 3’s cliffhanger happened in episode 1), but the Biroc subplot and slavery stuff is very strong. Romana’s leaving is rushed yet has a lot of impact for what it does. What makes sense more than compensates for what still remains confusing to me to this day…

    And the fact the actors usually come across understanding HOW they are supposed to act in the given scenes helps…

    But especially the atmosphere, horror, and what does work – easily 8/10. 🙂

    • Dave Sanders  August 25, 2012

      What’s happening in my mind is that the alternate timelines are all running concurrently, but out of phase with each other, as Biroc is in the TARDIS in part one. So Romana can see the massacre about to take place in the banquetting hall and sense that the Doctor is right there too; and Biroc always knows where and ‘when’ to find him. The slavers, however, don’t share this ability. Since the Doctor isn’t an established part of the ‘old’ timeline, to escape the Gundans at the end of part three he can phase back into the ‘normal’ timeline, only the slavers are waiting there already. But of course, the Doctor could already see that – notice how he’s entirely, er, unphased by their presence.

  15. Philippa Sidle  August 23, 2012

    Had no idea at the time what was going on, other than the departure of my favourite ever companion. I’ve never seen it since, but Sue’s reaction reminds me of mine. I sort of thought it was good, but didn’t understand a word of it.

    I mean… modern Doctor Who just doesn’t do those really far out weird episodes, does it? Format breakers like Love & Monsters and Midnight, while unusual episodes of Doctor Who, make sense on their own terms. There’s been nothing like this or Ghost Light.

  16. Ryan Hall  August 23, 2012

    This is where my fav Doctor who line up ended, never had another one till the 7th doctor and Ace where it looked fun to be traveling in the tardis ( also Doc 10 and donna ) , when i think of Doctor who , i think of those 3 .
    i just remembering seeing them walk off into the distance knowing thats it , there is a proper leaving scene for k9 with this story in the NA book Blood harvest , its quite touching , no way in hell JNT was gonna let it happen on screen….

  17. Paul Mc Elvaney  August 23, 2012

    Glad Sue enjoyed this, it bodes well for Ghost Light, one of my absolute favourites.

  18. John G  August 23, 2012

    “Oh. He looks like a sheriff. Or Terence Trent D’Arby.”

    Thanks to Sue’s warped genius, I will always think of the one when I think of the other in future!

    Great post, though Sue liked this more than I did. I agree that visually it is very striking and is a refreshingly different kind of story, but the opaqueness of the storytelling leaves me a bit frustrated. Nice to see that Steve has answered one of your questions about it, though I wonder how much he actually knows himself given that Bidmead claims on the DVD commentary that he rewrote the whole thing!

    I was rather touched by how upset Sue seemed at Romana and K9’s farewell scene – it’s another example of how far she has come in her emotional engagement with the show since the experiment started. I feel myself that it is a little too abrupt, although in fairness you would not expect two Time Lords to be overly emotional when bidding each other goodbye (in the old series, anyway). Enjoy your party, but I will be waiting impatiently now for Sue’s verdicts on the next few stories – I wonder how long it will take her to ask the obvious question next time…

    • DPC  August 24, 2012

      I too will be waiting with bated breath!!

  19. Perry Armstrong  August 23, 2012

    The most perplexing about this story is just how bulky the slaver’s gear is. This is what Star Trek would look like if their Tricorders were honking great chest units instead of nifty handheld things.

    • encyclops  August 23, 2012

      When I was watching it last night I thought maybe its bulk was influenced by the “smartgun”: http://avp.wikia.com/wiki/M56_Smartgun

      But then I realized that Aliens wouldn’t come out for several more years, and as far as I can recall there wasn’t anything like that in Alien.

  20. Jon  August 23, 2012

    No matter how many times I watch this, I don’t understand it. Glad I am not alone.
    Romana leaving was, for me one of the saddest events in Dr Who.

  21. James C  August 23, 2012

    Good story, good review, good score.

    And a great quote: “You can tell it’s the future because their phone has been painted silver.”

  22. Cracked Polystyrene Man  August 23, 2012

    I think that cliffhanger at the end of part 3 is one of Doctor Who’s all time greats. Nobody else ever seems to add it to their great cliffhanger lists so I think I’m the only one who feels this way.

  23. Piers Johnson  August 23, 2012

    I always thought the slavers were from N-space, maybe I did understand this one all these years after all. It remains one of my favourite Whos, I don’t give a flying foobar what anyone else thinks.

    • Frankymole  August 24, 2012

      The Tharils orginally built their empire across the borders of both N-space and E-space, due to their time-mastery of both. They didn’t need a “CVE”, they made their own artificial equivalent that only they could pass through – the “Gateway”. Their empire fell, thanks to the increasingly decadent Tharils (in an echo of Tara’s tech-avoiding aristocracy) allowing their technically-able (human/N-space) slaves to secretly develop and then unleash the powerful Gundan robots (who could pass undamaged between the universes). The humans (Rorvik’s type) then managed to enslave the Tharils in turn – at least on the N-space side of the Tharils’ multi-dimensional former empire. In latter times, using captured Tharils’ time-sensitive dimensional navigating capabilities (they can see all possible futures and select one to travel into), the humans can pass easily through distant points in their own universe, and even enter the mini-universe between N- and E-space (though this trip is caused by a rebel Tharil, and proves disastrous).

      The “three gateways that are one” are (1) the way into/out of N-space, (2) the way into/out of E-space, and (3) the mini-universe in between that is the white void that this story managed to shrink to nothing at the end. They are all mapped on to the “ruin” Gateway of the halls/mirrors. The B&W gardens are one part of the time/space dimensions that form this triple gateway universe, like the second part (White Void) and the third part (stone halls). The halls at least exist at multiple but parallel points in “time” – basically just think of time as another physical dimension you can step in and out, of or walk around (and host dinner parties) in: that’s how Tharils view and navigate the universe. A rare example of Who, or TV SF in general, presenting a story from an alien POV (it is telling that the regular cast are alien, too, and only the “villains” are human).

      All fairly clear from the (superb) novel!

      Any more questions, anyone? 😉

      • Leo  August 24, 2012

        It did occur to me the other day to wonder how, if the Tharils could see all possible futures, they apparently failed to anticipate the revolt with the Gundan which overthrew them. Still, perhaps that’s an example of arrogance. So maybe they could imagine it but were too confident in assuming they’d be able to handle it easily, or alternatively, as they didn’t have the necessary information – that there were other people building these robots – they were unable to factor it in.

        • Frankymole  August 25, 2012

          Good idea. Or maybe, as Charles Yoakum indicates below, if other time sensitives are involved, it muddies the Tharil’s ability to foresee all possible futures – maybe a rebel Tharil (the existence of Biroc seems to indicate some empathy is possible, it’d be sad and predictable if every Tharil only empathises with slaves after being enslaved). Or maybe a renegade Time Lord. Or Captain Jack 😀

          • Matt Sharp  August 25, 2012

            The Gundan appear to be Time Sensitives as well (one of them is able to pass through the mirror – I think they’re supposed to have been sitting there for centuries rather than having been exposed to the Time Winds like the Doctor’s hand and K9 ) and would therefore be undetectable to the Tharils, so that would make perfect sense.

      • PolarityReversed  August 24, 2012

        Franky, I have a question.
        What was that first thing again?

        • Frankymole  August 25, 2012

          😀 I’ve forgotten. Perhaps it is yet to come…

          • PolarityReversed  August 25, 2012

            Reckon I must be part Tharil. I don’t need a BCG to move between different realities either – I use vodka.

      • charles yoakum  August 24, 2012

        excellent summation. I always believed that the Tharils were waiting for something now, the X-factor of the Time sensitive Doctor and Romana, to come in and unbalance the equation to provide the ability to escape the current situation. The possible future where the tharils build a new society that doesn’t fall into ancient Rome can start… once the Tardis lands in the CVE. Thats why biroc doesn’t want the Doctor to do anything, by imbalancing the equation, he’s already done enough.

        Also, since the Time Lords exist outside of the normal time stream, there is no way for Biroc to know that Romana would want to stay with the Tharils, since she also exists outside of the normal parameters.

  24. wholahoop  August 24, 2012

    Fair review IMHO. I feel that it can take a few watches to make sense, although I may have been helped by reading the novelisation first. I can’t remember what I was watching for most of S18 as I had lost interest after what I felt was TB’s OTT behaviour in S17.
    Watching the video when it came out, I loved this story. Characters and motivations all seem to make sense, Rorvik comes across to me as a right evil bastard, but a bit of a blusterer because of his own insecurities (although my cod psychoanalysis may be just a bit simplistic).
    Romana’s departure made sense to me as it had been clear to me that she did not want to go to Gallifrey since Full Circle.
    I have to say that there is much of S18 that I do like having watched years later, yes it is serious and maybe a bit po-faced but after the silliness of S17 it is a breath of fresh air

  25. grufaine  August 24, 2012

    Warrior’s Gate is one of my very favorite Baker serials, I wasn’t sure how Sue would react to it so I’m glad it was positive. I still don’t really have a full grasp on its narrative, but I feel like I understand its themes and what it’s trying to do, which is enough for me. It’s the 2001 of Doctor Who for me, since it’s kind of a series of paintings and experiences, but with much more interesting dialog and pace. The Part Three cliffhanger is definitely up there in my favorite cliffhangers, too.

  26. charles yoakum  August 24, 2012

    soglad that sue loved this one. this is the part of doctor who that i love, having a number of episodes in a bunch that challenge and excite me to actually watch the show, completely engaged. at the time i kept wondering why doctor who didn’t do this more, challenge and engage us. I guess that i really wanted the moffat approach to the show back in 1980. I just wasnt going to get it for many, many years. that is why i agree, that this bodes well for GL in the mccoy years.

  27. Steve White  August 24, 2012

    Completely agree with Sue’s score.

    I love this one, even though I didn’t work out what was going until a couple of years ago… (I posted a synopsis of what I thought was happening in the Warriors gate thread back on Gallifrey Base, if anyone is still confused…)

    The science is shaky (to me at least) but everything just looks superb and interesting it more than makes up for its other shortcomings…

  28. chris-too-old-too-watch  August 24, 2012

    I was never that bothered about the “science” or the plot: for me the visuals and acting more than made up for it. Loved the entire look and feel of the thing.
    Romana and Biroc? Obviously. Look at the way she treated K9 through the series: obviously she’s more a cat person……

  29. Neil Perryman  August 24, 2012

    The comment from “Louis Barfe” has been deleted and the IP address has been banned. You must think we’re stupid.

    • P.Sanders  August 24, 2012

      Now I just want to know what they said…

      • Dave Sanders  August 24, 2012

        Probably more spoilage about The Keystone Kops Of Traken – I noticed an early comment on that got swiftly pulled.

        • Do Senmull  August 24, 2012

          I’m guessing it’s not the authentic Louis Barfe then…

          • PolarityReversed  August 24, 2012

            Ganger, most likely.
            What on earth could Barfe have done? Guess we’ll never know, and maybe it’s best we don’t, but it must have been more than spoiling Traken…

          • John Williams  August 24, 2012

            Louis Barfe is a friend of mine who doesn’t have the slightest interest in Doctor Who so it wasn’t hard to smell a rat when someone with a passion for Warriors’ Gate and K9 started posting under his name.

  30. Paul Mudie  August 24, 2012

    I wouldn’t want Doctor Who to be like this all the time, but the joy of the programme’s format is that it can take little detours and be unashamedly bonkers now and then.

  31. Do Senmull  August 24, 2012

    If the slavers were from Yorkshire, then they’d definitely be from E-Space.

    • PolarityReversed  August 24, 2012

      Wish you hadn’t said that. I’ve got this Last of the Summer Tharils thing going round my head now.

      • Wholahoop  August 26, 2012

        And the message to the Doctor would be “Do nowt”

        • PolarityReversed  August 29, 2012

          Except, ‘appen as like, for contriving to bring about some Heath Robinson contraption so that a plucky little tyke can attempt to prove himself by wrestling with the controls, yet crash at the end of the episode, with mildly humorous results. But that would be daft…

  32. Colin.  August 24, 2012

    Couldn’t imagine Buck Rogers having an episode like this 😉 . We’ve had a few format busting episodes in Nu Who but it would be nice to see a real left field story like this once in a while. After all “sideways” stories were part of the original remit for Who back in 1963.

    • Matt Sharp  August 24, 2012

      Couldn’t imagine Buck Rogers having an episode like this 😉 .

      If I recall, the Look-In comic strip of Buck Rogers was always like this…

  33. Do Senmull  August 24, 2012

    I came to Warrior’s Gate very late in the day, it was one of the final original series stories I watched. I have to say I was a tad disappointed because it had been really over-hyped by people I know telling me that this would be the sort of thing I’d love; but I enjoyed it much more second time around, not least because I started to actually get it. I might give it another shot, it seems to be one of those things which improves and makes more sense with subsequent viewings. It’s the Mulholland Drive of Doctor Who.

    What if *this* had been JNT’s opener? What a statement of intent that would have been!

  34. BWT  August 24, 2012

    T-shirt? Mug?

    “Smack My Bitch Up!” – resonates on so many levels.

    Glad Sue liked it – probably my favourite one from Season Burgundy. Yay. Or something.

  35. CJJC  August 24, 2012

    “It looks fantastic, the direction is stunning and the acting is great. I don’t have a clue what is going on but I don’t care anymore. I’m just going with it.”

    Sue’s gonna love the Cartmel years.

  36. Frankymole  August 24, 2012

    ” That coin has been pixellated to ****. ”

    I thought that was to show how the Warp Drive worked? All matter is information. Even in Star Drek (sic), they broke people up into bits in order to teleport their bits down to a planet…

  37. Frankymole  August 24, 2012

    “You don’t get many hand-held POV shots in Doctor Who. This is way ahead of its time. The direction is superb – very modern.”

    Just like “The Leisure Hive”, then.

  38. Marty  August 24, 2012

    “What do you mean, you don’t know? You’re a Doctor Who fan. You’re supposed to know these things! What bloody use are you?” Sue’s favourite question of the story I think.

    This is another of the stories my dad had recorded off the TV and so I had it and watched it endlessly. I love it, and have loved it for ages. It’s weird and strange, but despite having seen it countless times I still really enjoy this, each viewing I see something different something I didn’t see or notice the first time around.

    I love the ‘walk into a mirror’ effect, it’s a brilliant idea. And I am surprised that with that mirror sitting there we never see a camera reflected. Although there is a boom mike in shot when Romana and Adric are near the MZ.

    Neil you’re not going to make Sue sit through “Adventures in time and Space” with K9 and the Mistress? Those two audios aren’t bad exactly, but they do skirt around the stuff the BBC owns.

    I don’t think of this story as a “classic” but it is one of the more unique and brilliant stories, there’s nothing really to compare it to.

  39. Frankymole  August 24, 2012

    “The episode concludes with… erm…. er… let’s just say that it’s a very strange cliffhanger.”

    “Another aspect of note is that the story’s episode endings are all outstanding – always a good sign. In fact the cliffhanger conclusion to Part Three is one of the series’ all-time classics: tense and full of drama, leaving the viewer on the edge of the seat and desperate to know what happens next.” source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/warriorsgate/detail.shtml

    You betcha!! My English teacher said this story was the best, most imaginative Who had attempted. Sadly, it wsa probably the last time they reached so far. Though compare Gallagher’s next effort.

  40. Judkins Major  August 24, 2012

    “Someone on Doctor Who has peripheral vision! I may faint.”

    That’ll have me laughing for a week, thanks. I’m with Sue and a lot of people here in that the visuals and the atmosphere almost make up entirely for my incomprehension of some of the plot. I remember seeing this for the first time when I was fourteen or thereabouts and being happily mystified; the Doctor’s “pursuit” of Biroc through the Tharil ghost world seemed representative of the best 80s telefantasy. Watching it again a couple of years ago, I think the ideas don’t quite measure up to the visuals, but the latter are so relatively astonishing that I’m perfectly content to just sit back and enjoy the ride. Rorvik’s last moments greatly amuse me, too, for some reason (his body language puts me in mind of the “Toonces, the Cat Who Could Drive A Car” sketches on early 90s “Saturday Night Live”).

    Just out of curiosity, is the cake any particular flavor apart from “cake”? The frosting looked so scrumptious on the “Stones of Blood” cake that I have to wonder (“pie man” though I’ve largely become).

  41. Thomas  August 24, 2012

    See, I watched this for the first time a couple days ago and understood it fairly well- the Tharils were Time-Sensitives that had built this empire and enslaved humans, though they soon fell into decay and the humans took over and enslaved them in reverse. But to each their own, I suppose.

    Anyways, glad that she enjoyed this one. This story and the next two are probably some of my all-time favorite Who stories, so I’m anxious to see if she warms to them or not (the next one is quite underrated, too, if only for the fact that I rarely hear anyone talk about it).

    • John G  August 24, 2012

      The next one certainly isn’t underrated by me – it’s my favourite story of the season. However, I will wait until the next post before saying why…

    • Philippa Sidle  August 25, 2012

      I love the next one too, so YANA.

  42. ohmywordness  August 26, 2012

    I have been following your blog since Hartnell and I thought I would finally comment. I really enjoyed this story, but I thought the episode 1 cliffhanger was hilarious. An axe comes crashing down towards the Doctor, and then his disembodied head goes flying through space while the credits roll. It caught me off guard and I just had to laugh.
    Also, I have been watching through classic Who while reading your blog and I have found it to be a great way of keeping up a regular pace. It’s also entertaining and informative, so thanks for that. I am looking forward to what all is to come.

  43. DamonD  August 26, 2012

    Watched this one again fairly recently, actually. A firm favourite. Much like Ghost Light, even when you don’t know what’s going on it stays with you due to the style and concepts, then when you DO properly get your head round the story it’s even better.

  44. Frankymole  August 29, 2012

    I’ve just realised that Aukon in that banner picture has the same hair as Dill the Dog from “The Adventures of Parsley”…

  45. Noodles  August 29, 2012

    Now, is it just me, or does the spaceship in this one look a lot like Serenity from Firefly?

    • Thomas  August 30, 2012

      I know, right? I thought the same thing when I watched it. It’s like Serenity put on a few pounds or something.

      • Frankymole  August 30, 2012

        Other way round shurely … the Privateer came first… it’s a bit like when people keep saying Blakes 7 shows influences of Firefly!!!

        • Noodles  August 30, 2012

          Well, it *is* a programme about time travel. How do you know that they didn’t steal the design from Whedon?