Sunday, 17 January 2021

550 Warriors' Gate: Part Three

EPISODE: Warriors' Gate: Part Three
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 17 January 1981
WRITER: Stephen Gallagher
DIRECTOR: Paul Joyce
SCRIPT EDITOR: Christopher H. Bidmead
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 8.3 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The E-Space Trilogy (Full Circle / State of Decay / Warrior's Gate)

"Alert. Danger. Warning. Present mass anomaly increasing. Dimensional contraction of microcosmic system. Orders. Urgent request for orders. Imminent danger of mathematical vanishing. Orders. Mass conversion anomaly. This microcosm subject to imminent dimensional instability. Alarm. Warning. Danger!"

Romana's bonds are loosened by the Tharil, Lazlo, that has been hideously disfigured, but he hides from the searching Aldo & Royce. Beyond the mirror Biroc explains to the Doctor he has passed through the Gateway, healing the Doctor's hand and restoring the Gundan's memory wafer that the Doctor is carrying. K-9 too would be restored but because he is not living matter would need to remain there. Returning to the ship to fetch the MZ cannon, Lane & Packard discover that the distance between it and the gateway appears to be shortening. The Doctor walks through the Tharils' palace and is guided by a female Tharil to an earlier version of the banqueting room.

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Romana escapes, and finds Adric. Examining the damage to the Hull she discovers that it's made from super dense dwarf star alloy. She is recaptured but the crewman guarding her is slain by Lazlo who takes her to the gateway passing through the mirror and healing Lazlo's horrific injuries. The Doctor sits at the Tharil feast, discussing with Biroc how the Tharils have enslaved the humans. The feast is interrupted by the Gundan robots, come to slay the Tharils and suddenly the Doctor and Romana find themselves at the later version of the banqueting room and in the hands of Rorvik & his crew.

Plotwise that's slightly confusing as time and locations jump around. But visually it's absolutely stunning again.

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Just when you're getting used to the existing setup director Paul Joyce pulls a new trick by showing the Tharil domain as black & white.

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This was done using still photographs shot at Powis Castle with the Doctor, Romana & Tharils as the only colour walking through them with (for the time) near seamless CSO.

I'd never spotted before that the two lengths of the garden path were the same photo flipped!

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The Doctor genuinely looks like he's walking down the path receding into the distance. Biroc does one better by walking down to the end of the path and passing behind the bush. In the shot above the Doctor walks through the gatew


All this from a program that just 3 years ago did The Invisible Enemy and Underworld both of which feature some very dodgy CSO.

And all along there's a hint that something's really not right....

LANE: We can't be sure of anything in this place. These readings don't make sense. How can it be a shorter distance coming back than going?
PACKARD: Is that what it says?
LANE: All the machinery is packing up. It's bad luck having that girl on board, that's what it is.
K9: Reference order quote vanish unquote. To vanish, to cease to exist, to become zero. Present environment fulfils this condition. This unit awaits next order.
PACKARD: There's our bad luck.
The crew feel the walk to the ship is getting shorter which is emphasised by a panning shot placing the freighter, the Tardis and the Gateway all close together when previously they'd been separate.

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K9: Orders, master. Orders.
LANE: This thing's getting heavier.
PACKARD: I don't know. We made that trip back fast enough.
K9: Mass instability anomaly. Further data required.
LANE: Yeah, seemed like that to me too. Not as far coming back as it was going out.
K9: Imminent decision necessary. Microcosm universe system unbalanced and contracting.
Things are also getting heavier....
ROYCE: When was the last time we had this out?
ALDO: Oh, the Tharil hunt on Shapeer.
ROYCE: Either we're getting old or this is getting heavier.
ALDO: Bit of both, I reckon.
Though to be fair on Aldo & Royce it does have Adric & Romana hiding on it when they move it!

Meanwhile Romana's got concerns about the ship:

ROMANA: That's funny.
ADRIC: What is it?
ROMANA: Those warp motors are huge. Three times what they need for a ship this size.

ROMANA: Wait here.
ADRIC: Romana?
ROMANA: It's dwarf star alloy. The whole hull's made of it.
ADRIC: Dwarf star alloy?
ROMANA: Dwarf star molecules are compacted under enormous gravitational force. That's why the alloy's so heavy.
ADRIC: No wonder they need big motors.
K9: Alert. Danger. Warning. Present mass anomaly increasing. Dimensional contraction of microcosmic system. Orders.
ROMANA: Shush!
K9: Urgent request for orders. Imminent danger of mathematical vanishing. Orders. Mass conversion anomaly. This microcosm subject to imminent dimensional instability.
ROMANA: Shush, K9.
K9: Alarm. Warning. Danger.
ROMANA: Stop him.
ADRIC: Quiet!

It almost sounds like the damaged K-9 is shouting jibberish which is being ignored!

But the journey between ship and gateway seems to be getting shorter and shorter....

SAGAN: They're here.
RORVIK: That was quick.
LANE: Very odd. Seemed no distance at all this time.
And on the other side of the gateway The Doctor starts to get some answers:
DOCTOR: K9! If we can get him through the mirror, will it repair him?
BIROC: You have in your pocket a memory wafer you took from the Gundan.
DOCTOR: What? That's right. Yes, I have. Look. Look.
BIROC: K9 will be restored in the same way.
DOCTOR: Then we must get him here.
BIROC: That will happen. But your hand is living matter and will remain healed when you return to the other side of the mirror.
DOCTOR: So K9 can only be revived on this side of the mirror?
BIROC: Where he must stay.
DOCTOR: No, don't go. Don't go, please. Where is this place? Where have you brought us?
BIROC: You are where you were.
DOCTOR: What? The gateway still? But that's nowhere.
BIROC: For the Tharils and those with us, it opens onto a whole universe.
DOCTOR: I see. I see. E-Space. That's right. Yes, for you people it's a jumping off point for E-space, but for non-time sensitives, Biroc. Biroc, I understand. Biroc? He's gone again. It's like talking to a Cheshire cat.
The Gundam in the previous episode was talking about a feast
DOCTOR: Poor things. Hardly any better off than K9. Ah ha. Memory wafer.
GUNDAN: No Tharil shall outlive the day of the feast.

GUNDAN: We are Gundan. We exist to kill. Slaves made the Gundan to kill the brutes who rule.
DOCTOR: What particular brutes did you have in mind?
GUNDAN: The Gundan were sent where no slaves could go. We faced the time winds and we lived. They had only the gateway to flee for safety.
And now we get to see the feast....
DOCTOR: My goodness. You live like kings.
BIROC: We are kings.
DOCTOR: Such variety. Where did it all come from?
BIROC: The universe is our garden.
DOCTOR: Ah. So this is what it was all like.
BIROC: At the height of our empire, before the Tharils became the slaves of men.
DOCTOR: I notice you don't do too badly for staff. This garden of yours, the universe. How do you manage it?
BIROC: We use our power for those who travel on the time winds. The vastness of space is no obstacle. Everything is ours.
DOCTOR: Including her?
BIROC: They're only people.
DOCTOR: So you're the masters the Gundan spoke of? The enslavers.
BIROC: The weak enslave themselves, Doctor. You and I know that.
DOCTOR: Yes, yes. This is no way to run an empire!
.... an indeed it's interuption by the arrival of the Gundan

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As director Paul Joyce deploys his final trick showing then becoming now as the banqueting room transforms from it's earlier version with the Tharils' feasting to the later one with Rorvik's crew having lunch with even the two different meals providing a neat contrast between the two times.

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with the Gundan's axe embedded in he table providing one of the few constants......

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..... and an echom of our earlir view of the scene as the food disapeared off the plate:

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Stunning stuff!

All along there's some interesting comparisons, with The Doctor & Romana both being accompanied by their Tharils, Biroc and Lazlo respectiovely:

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And at one point both are led by a Tharil, Romana by Lazlo and The Doctor by the female Tharil. !

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What happens the female Tharil guiding the Doctor? And where does she come from? She just appears from nowhere in the episode and then vanishes! Because she doesn't speak she doesn't get a credit, and she wasn't listed as an extra on IMDB the first time I blogged this story so it wasn't until I acquired a copy of the DWAS Doctor Who Production Guide that I discovered she was played by Erika Spotswood who appears to have gone on to sing in the band Ruby Blue.

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Bar the Doctor's companion Romana, the only other female character is the Servant the Tharil knocks to the floor. She's played by Marianne Lawrence. Not a great story for female characters: both the female charactersd appear in this episode only and neither gets a line!

The actor playing Biroc, David Weston , has appeared in Doctor Who before: he was Nicholas Muss in The Massacre. He'd been in UFO as Phil Mitchell in Survival and The Dalotek Affair, played Number 300 in The Tomorrow People story The Vanishing Earthand was in By the Sword Divided as Captain Bush in Escape. Early on in his career he was in An Age of Kings, the BBC adaptation of William Shakespeare's history plays appearing in Henry VI Part 4: The Morning's War. He's gone on to appear in most of the plays on sdtage and has written about the plays in general in Covering Shakespeare while Covering McKellan covers his experiences understidying for Ian McKellen in King Lear. You can hear David Weston interviewed in Who's Round #33

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Jeremy Gittins, who plays Lazlo was a semi regular as the vicar in Keeping Up Appearances. Blackadder Goes Forth as Private Tipplewick in Corporal Punishment, and appears in 3 episodes of Lazarus & Dingwall as Gary Bateman alongside Mark Arden & Stephen Frost, who we'll see as two more Tharils in the next episode!

There are several other Tharils round the table, most of whom are barely seen! Laurie Goode was a Mutant in The Mutants, a guard in the Time Monster, a Time Lord in The Invasion of Time, a Bandit in The Creature from the Pit, a Tigellan in Meglos and a Peasant in State of Decay. He returns as one of Striker & Wrack's deck crews in Enlightenment, a Colonist in Frontios, a worker in Trial of a Timelord: Mysterious Planet and a British Unit Trooper in Battlefield. He's in Blake's 7 as a Hi-tech Patient in Powerplay, and Star Cops as a Dealer in Little Green Men and Other Martians. He was a Looter in the Survivors episode The Chosen, the Jogger in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a Pirate Rat in the The Box of Delights episode In Darkest Cellars Underneath and appears twice in The Sweeney as Laurie in Queen's Pawn and the Supermarket Manager in Trojan Bus.

James Muir who had previously been a UNIT Soldier in The Time Monster, a UNIT Soldier in Invasion of the Dinosaurs, a Muto in Genesis of the Daleks, a UNIT Soldier in Terror of the Zygons, a Brother in The Masque of Mandragora, a Death Attendant in The Sun Makers, a Technician in The Pirate Planet, a Druid in The Stones of Blood, a Louvre Detective in City of Death, a Mandrel in Nightmare of Eden, then would have been the Man Fishing and a Krarg in Shada, after which he was seen as a Foamasi in The Leisure Hive and a Gaztak in Meglos. He returns as the Police Driver in Black Orchid, a Policeman in Time Flight and an RAF Driver in Rememberance of the Daleks. He'd been in Blake's 7 as a Federation Trooper in Seek-Locate-Destroy, a Phibian in Orac, a Rebel in Pressure Point, a Monster in Dawn of the Gods, a Link in Rescue, a Helot in Traitor, a Pirate Guard in Assassin & a Federation Trooper in Blake. He was the Vl'Hurg Leader i episode 4 of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and was a technician in Moonbase 3: Castor and Pollux. He was in The Professionals as a Police Man in Stakeout

Joe Santo was a Resistance Men in The War Games, a UNIT Soldier in The Ambassadors of Death, the Exit guard in the Mutants and a Skonnan Guard in Horns of the Nimon. He later plays an Alphan Servant in Trial of a Timelord: Mindwarp. He was in Doomwatch as a Man in The Islanders, In the Dark, High Mountain & Enquiry, Moonbase 3 as José in View of a Dead Planet, Blake's 7 as a Scavenger in Deliverance and Fawlty Towers as the Laundry Van Driver's Mate in The Kipper and the Corpse.

Carl Bohen was in Doomwatch Michael Gordon Browne had been in Doctor Who before as a Time Lord in Invasion of Time, a Mute in the Armagedon Factor and a Tigellan in Meglos He returns as a Foster in Keeper of Traken. He then would have been a Cyberman in Earthshock but for his Claustrophobuia and later returns as a Guard in Arc of Infinity. I can also see a Michael Gordon as a Xeron in The Space Museum which might be the same person. In Blake's 7 played a Laboratory Technician in Seek-Locate-Destroy and a Hi-tech Patient in Powerplay.

The ranks of the Gundan are also boosted this episode:

Brian Moorehead was an extra in Robot, a Guard in State of Decay, and returns as a Dinner Guest in Snakedance. He's in Blake's 7 as a Hooded Figure in Cygnus Alpha and a Federation Officer in Trial. He was previously in Quatermass II as the 1st Guard in The Mark and a Paratrooper in The Destroyer.

Maurice Connor had been a Guide in The Leisure Hive and returns as a Foster in Keeper of Traken. He was also in Blake's 7 as a Space Princess Guard in Gold and appears in Gerry Anderson's Doppelgänger / Journey to the Far Side of the Sun as a Suit Technician. Several of the actors and props from this later reappear in UFO.

They are joined by John Blackman, Chris Michelle and Tony Pryor, all of whom aren't on iMDB and don't reappear in Doctor Who.

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