Warriors Gate: Doctor Who: Season 18
Warriors Gate SYNOPSIS:
A slaver cargo vessel using a time sensitive Tharil to navigate the time lines becomes trapped at the null interface between E-space and the normal universe, N-Space. They are carrying Tharil slaves in suspended animation as cargo. Their navigator Biroc escapes and breaks into the TARDIS, steering it to the interface near the cargo ship and damaging K-9 in the process.
Captain Rorvik is frustrated at his ship's entrapment and the apathy of his crew. Seeing the TARDIS a search party is sent from the ship to find out if they have a replacement time sensitive to navigate out of the white void. The Doctor has found a large stone gateway in the void and is nearly killed by ancient gundan robots. Then uses K-9 to source the history of the tharils and the gateway's secret from a Gundans memory bank.
Romana confronts the Captain and his party outside the TARDIS and offers to fix their warp drive for them but instead they try to force her to become their new time sensitive navigator, her mental projections show the gateway. There Rorvik and his crew find the Doctor and nearly learn the secret of the gateway to getting back to their own universe.
The Doctor is ably to physically go beyond the mirrors and pursue Biroc to the Gateway's past where he learns how the Tharils were once brutal rulers with human slaves but now are slaves themselves and ask for freedom. Rorvik wants the secret of the gateway from Romana and the Doctor who now know the way out. Rorvik tries to blast his way through the mirrors while the travellers must free the slaves before the dwarf star alloy slaver ship causes the void to collapse.
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Warriors Gate DETAILS:
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Warriors Gate CAST & CREW
Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor)
Lalla Ward (Romana II)
John Leeson (K-9 Mk. II)
Matthew Waterhouse (Adric)
Clifford Rose — Rorvik
Kenneth Cope — Packard
David Kincaid — Lane
Harry Waters — Royce
Vincent Pickering — Sagan
Freddie Earlle — Aldo
David Weston — Biroc
Jeremy Gittins — Lazlo
Robert Vowles — Gundan
Production Staff for Serial 5S:
Writer - Stephen Gallagher
Director - Paul Joyce
Script editor - Christopher H. Bidmead
Producer - John Nathan-Turner
Executive Producer - Barry Letts
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Warriors Gate REVIEWS
Has there really been a set of episodes like Warriors Gate before or since in the series' run?
The BBC must have been really happy production wise with this one. First of all from the amount of cash saved by filming a lot of Warriors Gate in a white void, the TARDIS was already an established set, the privateers ship was mainly made up from sets left over from Hitchhikers' Guide To The Galaxy and the only new set required was the Gateway's banqueting hall and corridors which looked marvellous and they saved even more money by using dodgy black & white backdrops of exotic gardens CSO'ed in but for once this actually complemented the feel of the story.
The writing and acting though were all top notch. Even Adric isn't that cringe worthy in this. Warriors Gate has a weird, haunting atmosphere and - ok so all the philosophical stuff and time line shifting doesn't make too much sense but the realisation of it is great and basically it surrounds a big race against time as the TARDIS crew and a bunch of hackneyed company men try to find the secret of the space time nexus represented by a Gothic gateway so they can all get home to normal space.
Tom and Lalla are on top form yet again in their last on screen outing together, he has become a much more older, wiser, tired and weary version of his Doctor that looks like he's been travelling a lot longer than his 7 years but still has a bit of sparkle and Romana is so her own character (especially how she dazzles the privateer crew from the outset with weirdness when they come to the TARDIS) you'd almost be surprised if she didn't leave at the end of Warriors Gate. Thus does another huge chunk of the Tom Baker era disappear with both Romana and K-9 making an exit. The dismantling is almost complete.
The Tharils are an interesting race and their background and time sensitive powers are interesting though unexplained in parts. Biroc bursting into the Tardis at the start "out of phase" is a good bit and it's nice to see a role reversal with the humans being the persecutors of an alien race selling the alien time talents for cash.
Speaking of the crew, this is one of the best ensemble casts, everyone plays it well. A totally believable bunch of lazy and incompetent blokes never seen before and led by a frustrated Captain who thinks he deserves better. Captain Rorvik is great as the sadistic old veteran who slides from being sick of his crew's lack of respect and laziness into a raving lunatic really well, his bored number 2 Packard is also just as good are as all the other crew including the two skivers Royce and Aldo. Heaps of comic moments without sending the show up.
Loved the Gundan robots too, pity they didn't have more screen time and with k-9 breaking down, the Doctor and Romana seemed out of their depth for a change trying to beat the human crew out of E-space, finding the secret out, trying to come up with a way to stop the void imploding AND freeing their Tharil slaves from the humans. Had many good moments from chasing Biroc through the void to Romana's dealings with the crew and the final fight on the ship's gantries between the Doctor & Rorvik at the end. Nice exit for Romana too, abrupt but touching, you can see the Doctor really regretted letting her go as he had formed an obvious bond with one of his own people for a change. Always like re-watching Warriors Gate so gonna give it a 9.5/10
Like the Mind Robber, the setting for Warriors Gate - the white void - is a clear case of "less is more." It looks both vast and claustrophobic. Its an intriguing idea that the gateway between this universe and the other is a place of white nothingness and the universes can only be accessed by the mirrors. The journey through the mirrors is also a stroke of genius - the cast filmed in colour against black and white still photography of luscious gardens and long deserted hallways. The banquet scenes are the cherry on the cake, by being both simple in design and adult in its content. Its very eerie, unsettling and exactly what Dr Who should be.
The plot itself is seriously all over the place and the explanations either come at you, or they don't. As the cast are split up and go in various time lines the viewer at home is simply expected to keep up as the answers come to you after you need them, or - more likely - before you knew you needed them. So imagine watching Warriors Gate once a week for four weeks. You'd go nuts trying to decifer it. But I reckon that is one of the strengths of this story. Its all there - you've just got to put it all back into place. The ending of episode three is a prime example of this - the Doctor and Romana just suddenly appear out of nowhere at the banquet table in front of Rorvick and his crew. So how did that happen? Well, the answer was there..... in episode one!
The characters in Warriors Gate are just awesome. Everyone has a reason for being there and no one is exactly innocent as to what is going on. If anything its a fair representation that the banality of working life in the twentieth century is still going on much, much later down the track. Rorvick represents any factory or work station manager who is completely out of his depths with an ever increasingly bad situation with no idea of how to deal with it, while his crew - who do all the work - have all the answers but they're not telling. Why? He's only a boss. Its only work. The sun will come up tomorrow.
Every type of worker that we know of is here; out-of-touch boss; Rorvik. Put-upon-second-in-command who is the link between boss and workers; Packard. Upstart; Sagan, workers-who-know-how-little-they-need-to-do-to-keep-their-jobs; Aldo and Royce. Its a nice bit of realism here that the crew on the ship are just the same as everyone else at home. They are just work-a-day joes just doing a job. Sure, its nasty, dirty and immoral. But that's the job.
The Tharils are a very good addition to the Time Lord folklore - them being able to time travel and in some ways are better at it than the Time Lords since they don't require technology. They just don't have the science to back it up. They just DO IT. They look good too as is their behavior - menacing, untrustworthy, cynical, and noble all at the same time. Biroc takes it to another level - being a cut above everyone else.
Finally, the regulars. The Doctor has gone from being a comedy buffoon to the enigmatic observer. He doesn't actually DO anything in Warriors Gate - which is one of the stories messages - do nothing. Romana's leaving scene is very underplayed and its good that she's gone cos there was nowhere else she - or Lalla Ward - could actually go. And Adric was thankfully in the background flipping coins.
Perhaps the best thing about this story is the atmosphere; its just so other-worldly. And there are huge concepts, fantastic writing, great characters, brilliant direction and excellent design work. Awesome Dr Who!
Warriors Gate teeters on the edge of brilliance and WTF... But definitely finishes up on the right side of the edge.
I couldn't remember much of Warriors Gate from watching it as a kid - I know why now... It's a complex one! Well most of it is anyway!
Firstly, the Tharil's story. Wow! The introduction through the wandering Biroc is eerie, interesting and keeps you wanting more... Which is more than you can say for their doppelganger Bee Gee friends! A lot of the history of the Tharil's is explained nicely by the Gundan - primitive in design, but effective in execution. Then you get the mirrors - what the hell is going on there? Then you get Lazlo and the way he just shifts Romana to behind the mirrors - what is that?? Then you get the story with the last feast - after which the Doctor and Romana end up back in the right time stream... That's brilliant stuff, if for no other reason, it gets you thinking and wondering what the hell happened... Reason enough to make you want to re-watch the whole thing again.
But then there's the SES guys... Their story is a bit shit. Well, maybe it's not their story, maybe it's just them. I hated the Beanie guys (poor man's Hale and Pace) and didn't think much of Rorvik either - way too over the top, and just badly written... Especially the big finale on the bit of the ship with the hole in it. Although special mention to the bloke who has to spend the bulk of the episode walking around with a frickin dishwasher on his shoulders.
They certainly saved a lot on Warriors Gate - and once more this is proof that $$ doesn't always make for a better episode. The empty studio (just like in The Mind Robber) is awesome - and somehow the black and white photos work just as well too. And I'm sure the Privateer is just the re-used ship from Horns of Nimon (without the ridiculous co-pilot... Although Rorvik isn't too far behind!). And then they finish off the set by re-using a bit of the State of Decay set with some cobwebs draped over... Yet it still all works!!
And in all the confusion at the end, we get a rather low key exit from Romana... Which again works well as it's consistent with "alien-ness" of the Time Lords - something that Romana had been showing a lot of of late.
It's an interesting concept that they go into towards the end of the third part, that I don't think explain in detail - when Biroc says that "the weak enslave themselves", and the Doctor then says something about them now being the slaves, I assume that we're supposed to then later think that the Tharil's have realised the error of their ways and thus deserve the help of Romana - I'm not sure if this was really made all that clear.
However the concepts such as the time winds and the mirrors make Warriors Gate a story that can probably be watched 15 times and still noticing new things... Just flick through the SES guys.