“Brigadier, a straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting.”
New title sequence- wow! This is the business. So much better than anything else we’ve seen.
Good to see Bob Holmes is back after not contributing to last season, although technically this is part of the last production block. And it’s good to see a story set in Earth’s fairly distant past, even if it is a fairly generic Middle Ages- in context it really feels like ages since we’ve seen anything similar.
We get a classic Homesian Double Act ™ with the great Irongron / Bloodaxe combo. They’re both well played and fun characters, and the scene with them discovering and investigating the “fallen star” nicely fleshes them out. Bloodaxe’s horse is a bit of an awkward sod, I notice.
We get a brilliant spaceship and a brilliant alien costume, and Linx is a great character from the start. I love the way he claims the planet for the Sontarans to general indifference.
We switch, after an almost Troughtonesque length of time, to a scene featuring the Doctor and the Brig, whose moustache has never looked so plastic. And of course it’s a rather interesting experience to see the debut of You-Know-Who for the first time since my pre-Marathon viewing of the on-screen debut of The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Just when it can’t get any better Dot Cotton appears. And the cliffhanger’s rather good too- the Sontaran face mask is brilliant.
Interestingly, by the way, the TARDIS arrives where it’s supposed to- “for once”.
“Young girl? I should’ve thought he was a bit old for that sort of thing.”
Sarah Jane’s refusal to believe she’s travelled back in time starts out funny but gets a little annoying after a while. First impressions are not great. Fortunately, this doesn’t last beyond the early part of this episode- before long she’s taking charge and telling Sir Edward what to do. Good stuff.
I love the concept of Linx using alien technology to give a mediaeval warlord advanced weapons. Still, Irongron seems to learn how to use a remote control awfully quickly.
We hear for the first time that Linx’s race, the Sontarans, are in an interminable war with the Rutans. And then, almost thrown away, the Doctor casually mentions the name of his home planet for the first time: Gallifrey. It’s incredibly low-key for such an important moment.
“Is this Doctor a long shanked rascal with a mighty nose?”
We get an awfully long reprise. Still, this is all good stuff from the reliable pen of Robert Holmes, and the cast certainly seem to be enjoying themselves. There’s a nice chat between the Doctor and Sarah Jane in which they discuss time travel and their situation, a nice and necessary character moment. Amusingly, the Doctor refers to the Time Lords as “galactic ticket inspectors”. Holmes starts very early indeed in his bringing-the-Time-Lords-down-to-earth agenda.
The Doctor’s plan is great, as is the dialogue, consistently. This is great fun, and the perfect start to the season. Who says it was RTD who invented the “light and fluffy” series opener?
“Not so much of that oatmeal, girl. It’s pikemen we’re feeding, not horses.”
Er, potatoes? In mediaeval England? And mentions of pikemen are a bit anachronistic, come to think of it. Plus the Doctor sounds nothing like Linx when he’s supposed to be doing an impression of him. And he spends an awfully long time in front of a firing squad getting shot at without getting killed. Still, minor quibbles. This is great.
A fantastic start to the season. A fun, light-hearted tale that may not be big or clever (and it’s certainly set in a very vague Middle Ages indeed!), but if it's meant to give the impression that Bob Holmes can just casually toss off a bloody fantastic story without seeming to try much at this point then it certainly does the trick. 5/5.