Our trip down Bad Acid Trip Lane continues this week as we were presented with 1981’s story 113 (production code 5S). This story is notorious for being the most out their visually and plot wise in the shows experimental rich history. We are of course talking about the Tom Baker vehicle Warriors Gate.
Staring Tom Baker as the 4th Doctor and Lalla Ward as Romana 2 this story was written by Stephan Gallagher and Directed by Paul Joyce. Graeme Harper pulls an uncredited directorial début to boot in this story edited by Christopher H. Bidmead. Warriors Gate will set you back 100 minutes, divided equally into 4 parts.
The Doctor, Romana, and Adric (we neglected to mention him up top) stumble upon a null point in the space time continuum between normal space and exo-space. Trapped in the eddies of space and time is a slave vessel that is transporting a cargo of Tharils. It turns out that Tharils can navigate the timelines and are highly prized as manservants.
Sensing that a great wrong is about to take place the Doctor and team disgruntled TARDIS fall into the over thought plot lines necessary to get the Doctor out of e-Space and say farewell to Romana 2 and K-9 Mark II. Instead of patching the plot holes with something that makes sense they Mr. Bidmead and co. decide to drop a couple of sheets and send us on a wild ride of nonsense unlike any other since the initial publication of Through the Looking Glass.
Plot happens, slaves are freed and the Wikipedia article on this makes no sense.
Romana does not want to be recalled to Galifrey so she decides to help the Tharils, the Doctor gives her K-9 to help and takes off with Adric to the events of Keeper of Traken.
What to like:
- The art style and vision of this story is unique and out there. While we would love to say it was successfully pulled off it wasn’t by Paul Joyce. It is because of Joyce’s failure that Graeme Harper is given his directorial break, we love us some Graeme Harper; just not in this story.
- This is one of the rare occasions when a female companion departs without some completely convoluted love story being tacked onto the works. It was a nice farewell to our favorite companion.
- We get rid of K-9, which by this time had turned into a complete nascence for the production team and was well beyond time to be put down by the robot veterinarian.
- The origins of Dwarf Star Alloy as used in Day of the Moon to imprison the Doctor are in fact Warriors Gate. There is no evidence where the actual material comes from, but this is the only other reference to it in the Whoniverse.
What not to like:
- This story strives to be very experimental and fails at every turn. The story, the plot, the artistic direction all falls flat on their face because it is incomprehensible. We have even read the novelization, which attempts to clarify things and it is still a confusing mass of bad ideas.
- We are not certain that the actors qualified for pay on this one since we firmly believe that by guild rules an attempt to act must be made. To say that the performances were phoned in would be a discredit to the acting talents of Keanu Reeves and Kristin Stewart.
- This story pretty much signals the end of the Baker Era since the rest is all just set up for his inevitable plunge from a giant space telescope.
Warriors Gate gets a 2 out of 5, scoring an extra point for getting out of e-Space.
About the thumb: We know that the thumb nail is of Mary Tamm and not Lalla Ward but we are giving a tribute to one of our favorite companions (in either iteration) who has unfortunately left us due to a quiet and dignified fight against cancer. Rest in Peace Miss Tamm. You, and that white dress from The Ribos Operation, will be missed. Thank you.
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