Doctor Who: The Time Warrior (or Time Waster)

Le sigh.

Why am I sighing, you ask?  Well I’ll tell you.  It’s because it’s time to continue the Pertwee reviews I so foolishly declared I would do.  Why do I do this to myself?  My masochism knows no bounds—when it comes to Doctor Who, that is.  At least, I haven’t found those bounds yet.  They’re probably out there.  I haven’t even tried watching Dimensions in Time, so perhaps the aforementioned bounds do exist.

Ok.  I’m clearly babbling in order to put off the inevitable.  I’m afraid it’s time to talk about The Time Warrior, the third and final Pertwee story we covered during my guest appearance on TARDIS Tavern.  Once again, I encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already.  Chris from Radio Free Skaro defends it quite admirably, though I cordially disagree with pretty much everything he said.

I can sum up most of what I dislike in one word—one name, actually: Irongron.  I.  Hated.  Irongron.  It’s rare that I have this intense a visceral reaction to a character, but I despised Irongron from the start.  Now I know you’re not supposed to like him; he’s one of the bad guys, but you’re not supposed to hate the bad guys the way I hate Irongron.  The Master is a perfect example of this.  No, I don’t want the Master to win, but I do love watching him try.  Even Linx here in The Time Warrior was preferable.  I quite like the Sontarans and enjoyed the first-Sontaran-appearance aspect of this story.  Kevin Lindsay will always be my favorite Sontaran, may he rest in peace.  Sorry, back to Irongron.  I found him so very grating that I wanted to turn off the TV every time he was on screen.  I couldn’t stand anything about him—the writing, the acting, the directing; it’s as if at every artistic choice that went into shaping the character, the creators said “Now what would annoy Erika the most?”

As I’ve stated multiple times before, I adore Robert Holmes.  I firmly believe he’s the greatest writer Doctor Who has ever seen, but boy-oh-boy was this one character a miss for me.  His lines were florid and over-the-top.  Had they been delivered in a less bombastic manner, perhaps I’d’ve handled them better, but we’ll never know.  The rest of the story was fine really.  I’ll never be a great Pertwee fan, but he was largely inoffensive here.  I must admit I took some perverse pleasure out of the fact that Sarah Jane was at odds with him at the beginning of the story.  Speaking of Sarah Jane, I quite liked the way she was introduced.  Her characterization may have changed after this story, but I liked it both before and after the shift.  I enjoyed how she held her own right off the bat.  Her confusion at where she was seemed a little silly, but would I handle such an experience any differently?  Perhaps not.  The only thing that really made me roll my eyes was her self-righteous “women’s lib” speech to the serving women.

Now that I think about it, there were an awful lot of things that I liked about this story.  Besides Linx and Sarah Jane, there was Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett himself!) as the charming and faithful Hal, Donald Pelmear as the absent-minded, but eventually adorable Professor Rubeish, the lovely costumes, the Doctor acting as a “wizard” because his science might as well be magic to the natives (Clarke’s Third Law, anyone?), and the basis for the plot itself—people being stolen and brought through time to the middle ages.  So it certainly wasn’t all bad; the bad just outweighed the good in a staggering manner.

In addition to my deep-seated loathing for Irongron, the story simply didn’t hold my interest.  My mind kept wandering every time I sat down to watch an episode.  It was like my subconscious was trying to tell me there were better ways I could be spending my time.  And that in itself was really disappointing to me.  I tend to like period pieces, and the middle ages is one of my sweet spots.  I should have liked this. Seeing Robert Holmes’ name in the title sequence raised my expectations, so it was an extra let-down to enjoy this as little as I did.  Normally I’m willing to forgive poor execution like the fight scene in the courtyard or the bungled falling-asleep scene, but here they just served to drag me down all the more.

After all that negativity, I feel it’s important to point out that this is Doctor Who, so I still love it.  My criticisms of this story should all be seen as in comparison with other episodes of Doctor Who.  There is no Doctor Who that I hate, no matter how much certain aspects may annoy me.  I don’t like Pertwee, and I don’t like his era, so the negatives in this story were piled upon a foundation that was already sour—thus my rampant pessimism.  But I really do love Doctor Who.  Really.  I swear.  I just don’t love Pertwee’s Doctor.  Or this story.  Or Irongron—I REALLY don’t love Irongron.  But I’ll say it again, just so we’re clear:

I love Doctor Who!

So do Sean and Steve and Chris, so you should probably listen to what they have to say about this too.

Ok, so next time will be (I hope) my last Pertwee post for some time.  I’ve covered all three of the episodes we talked about on TARDIS Tavern, all that’s left is to cover the third Doctor himself.  (Time) Lord grant me strength.

2 thoughts on “Doctor Who: The Time Warrior (or Time Waster)

  1. Chris says:

    I think I can say I approach Forest of the Dead from a similar perspective. Lots to like, high expectations given the writer, yet a horrible let-down of an episode.

    Though I still don’t get the Irongron hate. Or at least the extent of it.

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