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An Adventure in E-Space with Tharils
The third and final story of ‘The E-Space Trilogy’ in Season 18 of ‘Doctor Who’ is ‘Warriors’ Gate’! And it is one of the most complex stories ever made from the classic series. If you find this story puzzling when you watch it, don’t worry! You’re not alone! I found it a struggle watching it first time.
I think the more times I’ve seen ‘Warriors’ Gate’, I’ve been able to pick things about what’s going on in the plot and what some of the characters’ motivations are. But there are still things I can’t comprehend when watching this story. This is a ‘Doctor Who’ story suited for the Steven Moffat era.
‘Warriors’ Gate’ is a fine example of being the epitome of the Christopher H. Bidmead atmosphere of this season. The arrogant sci-fi aspects of Chris Bidmead’s tenure as script-editor come across in this TV story. This includes the sombreness of something not audience-friendly being delivered here.
This is a four-part story by Steve Gallagher and is his first contribution to the TV series. Steve Gallagher was a renowned science-fiction author before he became a ‘Doctor Who’ writer. I’ve no doubt that his science-fiction novels as well as his films and TV shows are ‘works of art’ in any genre.
However I found my first experience of a ‘Doctor Who’ story by Steve Gallagher to be a bit of struggle. This is not helped by the fact that his script for ‘Warriors’ Gate’ was turned inside and out by script-editor Chris Bidmead and director Paul Joyce when they were making the tale for television itself.
I’ve had the DVD cover of ‘Warriors’ Gate’ signed by Matthew Waterhouse at the ‘London Film and Comic Con 2017’, Olympia, July 2017. I’m glad I shared with Matthew how I found this story to be complicated when I watched it first time. He appreciated that when I saw him at the London event.
Matthew doesn’t have a huge part to play as Adric in this story. It was also interesting to hear from Matthew how he found out about the news of Tom Baker and Lalla Ward getting married after they did ‘Doctor Who’ together before Season 18 ended. But that’s something we’ll get to later in the review.
Anyway, the story has the Doctor, Romana, Adric and K-9 arriving at the gateway between two universes to get back home. It’s interesting to see how the gateway is presented in the story as the TARDIS lands somewhere in a white void. It’s probably the ‘intersection’ between the two universes.
That is an amp description by Adric in the story. But as the TARDIS is in the white void, the team also come across a privateer ship of human slavers. They are keeping lion-like time-sensitive beings called Tharils inside their ship. They’re attempting to get out of E-Space and to break through the gateway.
As the Doctor discovers in his journey to visiting the gateway and learning more about the Tharils’ circumstances of being slaves to the humans, things become more serious when the void is starting to collapse. The price of returning back home will mean the loss of two of the Doctor’s best friends.
As documented in the DVD documentary ‘The Dreaming’, this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure was fraught with behind-the-scenes problems. Paul Joyce, who was also a newcomer to the show, wanted to bring his sense of vision with directing this ‘Doctor Who’ tale by making it more cinematic on screen.
It’s interesting how Paul Joyce tried to be ahead of his time and defy the BBC management by making a new form of television with ‘Warriors’ Gate’. Nowadays, television feels more cinematic and film-like compared to back then. But it seemed Joyce was in the right place at the wrong time.
Like Lovett Bickford who directed ‘The Leisure Hive’, Paul Joyce’s enthusiasm as a director caused problems on set. For one thing, he was pretty slow on getting the shots he needed to make his story visually stunning and impressive compared to previous ‘Doctor Who’ tales. It caused disgruntlement.
As a result of these delays and setbacks caused by Paul Joyce, he was initially sacked by the producer John Nathan-Turner. Production assistant and future ‘Doctor Who’ director Graeme Harper was called in to direct some of the story before Paul Joyce was reinstated back as director of the TV tale.
It is pretty ironic and unusual that Paul Joyce was first fired by JNT before he reinstated to complete the rest of the story. But because of the slow timing in delivering the story he wanted to make, ‘Warriors’ Gate’ is sadly Paul Joyce’s only contribution as a ‘Doctor Who’ TV director. This is a shame.
With that said, there is a difference between trying to be dynamic as a ‘Doctor Who’ director and seeing the end result. Oh to be sure, ‘Warriors’ Gate’ is an impressive visual piece on many levels. The story’s opening shots inside the privateers’ ship are impressive and awe-inspiring for their time.
But it would be nice to feel the epic atmosphere of the story if I could understand what was going on. Most of the story feels pretty dream-like. This is especially when many of the characters like the Doctor and Biroc the Tharil pass through strange environments within the white void as well as the gateway.
There are even sections of the story in ‘Parts Three and Four’ where the Doctor is walking against black-and-white photographs of a garden. It feels very eerie. I’ve tried to write a story myself, not ‘Doctor Who’ mind, where everything is a dream and most of the dialogue didn’t make much sense.
That was the impression I got when I watched this story for the first few times on DVD. A lot of the dialogue tended to be nonsensical, especially when Biroc tended to be speaking in riddles. Him saying that he is ‘a shadow of’ his ‘past and of’ our ‘future!’ springs to mind in thinking of the dialogue.
Again, Chris Bidmead’s ego comes into the fray of Steve Gallagher’s story when the concept of the I Ching gets introduced. From what I understand, the I Ching is a Chinese philosophy. But even when watching this TV story, I can’t fully comprehend what this concept is. It has to do with flipping a coin.
Yeah, flipping coins seems to be reoccurring theme of this story. Even Adric flips a coin a lot. It has something to do with probability, which would have been interesting if it was explained clearly. It’s like someone forgot to put in the explanations and assumed everyone would get the I Ching concept.
There is also something else going on in this tale. Apparently there’s the conflict between the humans and the lion-like Tharils who are time-sensitives within this white void. I would’ve appreciated that story’s aspect more if I was not bogged down trying to understand everything else.
Also, whilst I do appreciate and sympathise with the Tharils being enslaved in this story, despite having a shady past, the human characters I have less sympathy for. With a few exceptions, the human slavers come across as rather unlikeable and difficult to care for when watching this TV story.
The human slave traders are led by Clifford Rose as Rorvik. He comes across as a bad version of ‘Dad’s Army’s Captain Mainwaring, which was what Clifford Rose was trying to aim for in his portrayal. To give him credit, it’s not a bad approach and he does make Rorvik very loathsome here.
There’s Kenneth Cope as Packard, who you could say is like Rorvik’s second-in-command. Kenneth Cope is well-known for starring in the 1960s TV series ‘Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)’. Packard has some sense as a character compared to Rorvik, but even he can come across as a bit of a jerk at times.
There’s also David Kincaid as Lane and Vincent Pickering as Sagan. There are also the two Chucklebrothers, I mean Harry Walters as Royce and Freddie Earlle as Aldo. I like these two. They provide the comic relief and they seem to have more common sense rather than the other humans.
The main Tharil of this adventure is of course David Weston as Biroc. He definitely comes across as lion-like in that make-up and hair of his and there are touches of Aslan from ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ in his character. Biroc is a time sensitive being that manages to break into the TARDIS. Neat!
There’s also Jeremy Gittins as Lazlo, another Tharil that frees Romana from being a captive of the human slavers aboard their ship. Jeremy Gittins would go on to play the Vicar in ‘Keeping Up Appearances’. It was ironic to see Jeremy Gittins as a Tharil, especially when he doesn’t speak at all!
There are also the Gundan robots that keep watch in the banqueting hall of the stone-built gateway. I found that moment creepy and frightening when one of the Gundan robots wakes up and moves before going to kill the Doctor! Mind you, the Gundan can speak in incomprehensible riddles as well.
The story is influenced by French films such as ‘La Belle et la Bête’ from 1946 and ‘Orphée’ from 1950, according to writer Steve Gallagher. This is especially in the banqueting scenes both in the past and present of the story I believe. I wouldn’t have registered that whilst watching this story on DVD.
Like I said, Matthew Waterhouse as Adric is rather limited in terms of a character in this adventure. I suppose this story was first written without Adric in mind and that he was inserted at the last minute. Adric has some nice scenes with K-9 when they’re in the TARDIS and when they go out in the white void.
I was shocked when Adric sat on K-9 at some point in the story. Adric eventually meets up with Romana. I’m not sure what the working relationship between Matthew Waterhouse and Lalla Ward was like by this point, but it can’t have been easy-going as the two didn’t get on well behind-the-scenes.
Tom Baker is grand as ever as the Doctor. I don’t think this adventure suits his bonkers’ eccentricity, even though he was on his way out by this point. But he has some defining moments including getting caught in the crossfire between two Gundan robots who try to kill him on the spot with axes.
I liked it when the Doctor challenged Biroc and his kind when he learns that they used to enslavers once before they were enslaved by the human slavers. I enjoyed it when Tom’s Doctor tried to work out the riddles of the gateway from Biroc and the Gundan robots and is a reassuring presence here.
Of course this is K-9 Mark II’s final appearance in the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series. K-9, voiced by John Leeson, has had a rough ride in Season 18. This story is no different as K-9 becomes delirious after getting hit and affected by the time winds. This is when the TARDIS opened and Biroc entered inside.
K-9 does ramble a lot when speaking deliriously. It was shocking when he got on Packard’s nerves and got thrown out of the privateer after following the slavers in. K-9 gets given as a gift by the Doctor to Romana when she and the robot dog remain behind in E-Space. K-9 is fully repaired then.
And yes! ‘Warriors’ Gate’ happens to be Lalla Ward’s final story as Romana. It was Lalla’s decision to leave of course, due to his rocky relationship with Tom Baker. But her choice of how to leave the series wasn’t well met. I did find it abrupt when Romana told the Doctor, “I’m not coming with you!”
That was no emotional build-up to that exit. In fact, there’s not much emotional drama to be found in Romana’s final TV story of the ‘Doctor Who’ series. It happened all so fast and it wasn’t a well-deserved exit for Lalla Ward’s Romana, as she became a popular Fourth Doctor companion by then.
But at least Romana did a noble thing to stay behind in E-Space and help free the Tharils from their slavery by the humans. I would’ve liked it if there was a proper emotional goodbye between her and the Doctor, rather than the quick “I’m going!”; “Goodbye!”; “I’ll miss you!” routine to be found here.
What has become of Romana nowadays though? Is she still in E-Space? Did she manage to escape?! Well that’s something you’ll have to find out in the ‘Doctor Who’ books and audios made after ‘Warriors’ Gate’ was made. A lot of things have happened to Romana since she exited the TV series! 😀
As for Lalla Ward, well…she married Tom Baker. Yeah! Right after doing ‘Doctor Who’, Tom Baker and Lalla Ward married each other. How did that happen? Especially when they bickered and argued a lot on set? It came as a shock and a surprise to everybody who worked on the ‘Doctor Who’ series!
It of course didn’t last long as Tom Baker and Lalla Ward were only married for about 16 months. Wow! Donkey from ‘Shrek’ was right! Celebrity marriages never last, do they? 😀 It is a shame though as Tom Baker and Lalla Ward could’ve been ideal partners if their own careers didn’t get in the way.
The original DVD special features were as follows. There were audio options including a stereo sound audio mix option for the story; a DVD audio commentary with Lalla Ward; John Leeson; director Paul Joyce; script-editor Christopher H. Bidmead and visual effects designer Mat Irvine as well as an isolated music option by Peter Howell. There was also an info-text commentary option to enjoy. There was ‘The Dreaming’ making-of documentary with behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews; ‘The Boy With The Golden Star’ interview with Matthew Waterhouse and ‘Lalla’s Wardrobe’ frockumentary. There were also extended and deleted scenes of the story; BBC continuity announcements of the story; a photo gallery of the story with an info-text option and a ‘Radio Times Listing’ PDF of the story. There was a ‘coming soon’ DVD trailer for the ‘The Rescue’ and ‘The Romans’ with William Hartnell, William Russell, Jacqueline Hill and Maureen O’Brien. There was also an Easter Egg to look out for on the DVD, which was ‘The Axe Man’ deleted clip from ‘The Dreaming’ making-of documentary with visual effects designer Mat Irvine.
On Disc 5 of the ‘Doctor Who – The Collection – Season 18’ Blu-ray, the stereo sound audio mix option for the story; the DVD audio commentary; the isolated music option; ‘The Dreaming’ making-of documentary; ‘Lalla’s Wardrobe’ frockumentary; the extended and deleted scenes; the ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF and ‘The Axe Man’ deleted clip can be found on there. ‘The Boy With The Golden Star’ interview with Matthew Waterhouse isn’t included on the ‘Warriors’ Gate’ Blu-ray disc for the Season 18 Blu-ray box set and is instead included on the ‘Earthshock’ Blu-ray disc for the Season 19 Blu-ray box set. The BBC continuity announcements, the info-text commentary option, and the photo gallery (without the info-text option) for ‘Warriors’ Gate’ have been updated for 2019 on the Blu-ray.
The new special features on Blu-ray include the ‘Behind the Sofa’ feature on ‘Warriors’ Gate’ with Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor); costume designer June Hudson and John Leeson (K-9) as well as Wendy Padbury (Zoe); Janet Fielding (Tegan) and Sarah Sutton (Nyssa). There’s a ‘Swap Shop’ extract with visual effects designer Mat Irvine on ‘Warriors’ Gate’ and the ‘Prime Computer’ adverts (taken from the ‘Destiny of the Daleks’ DVD). There’s a brand-new 5.1 surround sound audio mix option for the story.
On the PDF front, as well as the ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story, there are also production documents and scripts for the story. You need a special Blu-ray computer drive for that.
‘Warriors’ Gate’ is a startling, eerie and bemusing tale to finish off ‘The E-Space Trilogy’ of ‘Doctor Who’. It’s a story that I still can’t get my head around, although having watched it more times than once I am clearer on some of the parts that I initially found befuddling at first, which isn’t very much.
This was a decent swansong for Romana and K-9 who leave the series. I wish this story had more emotional drama put into it, especially in the farewell between Romana and the Doctor. But this is the sombre atmosphere of the John Nathan-Turner/Christopher H. Bidmead era we’re talking about.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching ‘The E-Space Trilogy’ when I first saw it on DVD and have enjoyed re-watching it on Blu-ray in the Season 18 Blu-ray box set. The three stories have been fantastic to watch. The DVD/Blu-ray special features accompanying the stories have made them more enjoyable.
I found it interesting to explore how ‘Doctor Who’ changed in the 1980s especially through ‘The E-Space Trilogy’. Each story in the trilogy is different, but they are worthy entertainment for a ‘Doctor Who’ fan! As the Doctor and Adric leave E-Space behind though, exciting things were about to come!
‘Warriors’ Gate’ rating – 6/10
‘DOCTOR WHO AND WARRIORS’ GATE’
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Is ‘Doctor Who and Warriors’ Gate’ an improvement on the TV story?
Like I’d done before with ‘Full Circle’ and ‘State of Decay’ in ‘The E-Space Trilogy’, I hoped to explore more of the final story in the trilogy, ‘Warriors’ Gate’, through its Target novelization. This I’ve done and I found it a unique reading experience. Would I find the novelization better than the TV version?
I think I’ve made it clear in my review on the TV story that I found ‘Warriors’ Gate’ hard-going and complex to follow after many re-watches. I don’t consider ‘Warriors’ Gate’ as the best finale to a trilogy of stories in ‘Doctor Who’. In fact, I’m sure many fans would agree with me regarding that point.
The book was published in April 1982, a year after the TV story was transmitted in early 1981. ‘Warriors’ Gate’ was novelized by John Lydecker, which happens to be a pseudonym for Steve Gallagher, the original author of the tale. Why Steve Gallagher chose a pseudonym, I’m not certain here.
Now the thing is, I have read another ‘John Lydecker’ novelization of ‘Doctor Who’ beforehand since I read the Target novelization of ‘Terminus’. I really enjoyed that novelization and I was hoping for the same kind of enjoyment when it came to reading the ‘Warriors’ Gate’ novelization here.
I was expecting the ‘Warriors’ Gate’ novelization to provide a clearer explanation of events on what happened during the story. I hoped the author would be able to achieve that without the tampering of director Paul Joyce and script-editor Christopher H. Bidmead when they messed around with the tale.
Did it work as I expected? Well, it depends really. The book is a slight improvement on the TV story. Only just. But all the same, I found it difficult to invest myself throughout the story. Even through some of the improvements of the tale, I couldn’t feel engaged with it and I wanted to get it over with.
How does the story begin then? Well it begins with a sequence on how the slavers’ spaceship, the privateer, ended up in the void. It features them being attacked by an Antonine Killer craft in some crossfire in space. But even as I was reading the start of the book, I found that I was getting lost and bored.
If I re-read the novelization with the audiobook in the background when it comes out after this review, I think I’d be able to appreciate that opening sequence. But honestly, I couldn’t tell whether it was the slavers’ ship pursuing the Antonine Killer craft or vice versa, because the opening scene felt vague and incoherent as I read it.
This leads me onto another problem with the book. There are no chapters featured in it. None at all! This is difficult for a reader when they don’t know when they need to stop and bookmark reading the story. I had to make up my own chapters when it came to reading the novelization all the way throughout.
I know this is an approach that the author would use in his novelization for ‘Terminus’, but I was able to enjoy that story since I could follow it clearly. In many ways, ‘Terminus’ is a better story than ‘Warriors’ Gate’, since that’s clearer and isn’t so convoluted as its predecessor when it was shown on TV.
Another issue I have with the book is the supporting characters. I know the privateer characters are meant to be unlikeable in the TV story, but that’s exactly the point why I couldn’t invest myself in the adventure both on TV and in the novelization. I couldn’t relate to the characters whilst reading them.
For the most part, characters like Rorvik; Packard and Lane seem pretty two-dimensional and have no redeeming features about them. There is some development given about how they react to each other, especially Rorvik’s commanding behaviour. But it still makes them unlikeable and hard to relate to.
I admit with Rorvik’s character that he is someone you really want to loathe when you read the book. But what does that say about the rest of the privateer crew? They don’t stand up to Rorvik when they should, as they’re either bored following his orders or don’t have any morals to redeem themselves.
Another thing that made this book less enjoyable was the lack of Aldo and Royce, the story’s double act. One positive thing I can say about the TV story was the inclusion of those two. They at least provided the comic relief to make this story less dull to watch. It’s not very much, but it’s something.
The book only has a few scenes with Aldo and Royce when they’re reviving a Tharil and when they inspect Romana. Most of their comedic dialogue is missing from the book as is most of the dialogue for other characters, since the author paraphrased many scenes to save time during the tale.
In fact, the book itself is 124 pages in total and as one chapter. How long is the ‘Terminus’ book? 159 pages! That’s another reason why I enjoyed the ‘Terminus’ book more than the ‘Warriors’ Gate’ one! More time was spent on that book compared to its predecessor. ‘Warriors’ Gate’ went by very quickly.
I spent a week and a half reading the ‘Warriors’ Gate’ book which was shorter time compared to reading and listening to the ‘State of Decay’ book and audio for two weeks. Then again, I should be thankful for small mercies as I wanted to get the ‘Warriors’ Gate’ book over and done with. I know how harsh that sounds.
Anyway, what other improvements can be found in this book. Well, I suppose the world setting was an improvement on some level. When the Doctor goes through the mirror in the banqueting hall of the gateway, he sees Biroc and has his hand repaired. This was after his hand touched the time winds.
I don’t think that point was clear in the TV story as it was in the book. So I was thankful that was established. Another improvement is the world the Doctor goes through in the mirror, as that is explained in more detail. I also believe there was more believability and colour to the Tharils’ world.
In the TV story, the gardens of the Tharils’ world are depicted as black-and-white photographs. In the book, the Doctor is walking through an actual garden rather than a photograph. In fact, I don’t believe the author describes the garden as black-and-white photographs which is probably a relief.
There’s also an improvement on K-9’s story in ‘Warriors’ Gate’. His fate gets presented as a tragedy. K-9 is depicted as faulty and erratic as he gets hit by the time winds breaking into the TARDIS. The only way he can be repaired is by going through the mirrors and remaining in the Tharils’ dimension.
Now this was pretty effective in the novelization and it developed K-9’s story in an interesting way. The fact that he can’t be taken out of the Tharils’ dimension once he’s repaired there is tragic. Although how they overcome that in later Big Finish audio stories with K-9 Mark II is a mystery to me.
Adric does have some improvement in the story compared to the TV version, as the author allows us to see from his point of view; especially when he ventures to look for Romana. By the way, the scenes where Adric leaves to find Romana and K-9 leaves to find the Doctor are briefly glossed over in the book.
Lazlo is also improved as a character, since he’s given dialogue in the book. That’s different compared to the TV version, since Lazlo said nothing and it was Biroc who was the main speaking Tharil. It would have been nice if Jeremy Gittins as Lazlo was actually given dialogue in the TV story.
The most important improvement in the novelization is Romana’s farewell to the Doctor. I like how the author handles Romana’s farewell differently compared to the TV story. I’m sure many, including Lalla Ward, were disappointed with how Romana left in ‘Warriors’ Gate’ since this was pretty rushed.
Romana actually returns with the Doctor to the TARDIS and they with Adric see the Thrails returning to their home dimension through the mirrors. Realising that K-9 can only be repaired on the other side of the mirrors, Romana decides to take K-9 with her and help the Tharils to restore their home.
This was effective and a well-deserved farewell for Romana, since it has more emotion and a proper goodbye between the Doctor and Romana. It also had the Doctor seemingly knowing that Romana would leave him, just like the Doctor would later know that Nyssa would leave him in the ‘Terminus’ novelization.
The book ends with Romana wandering about in the Tharils’ gardens long after the spaceship explodes. Lazlo comes to see her and asks her if she has any regrets. Romana says she has but is determined to go on to help the Tharils, just in the same way as the TV story ended with her and K-9.
I hope I’ll get to re-read the novelization again, with the audiobook released, in order to give it another chance for a review. I don’t know who would read the audiobook. I guess that it wouldn’t be Tom Baker, Lalla Ward or Matthew Waterhouse, since it’ll probably be one of the supporting actors.
‘Doctor Who and Warriors’ Gate’ has been an interesting if unfulfilling novelization of the TV story. I found the story dull to watch on DVD and it’s probably why I couldn’t invest myself in the characters and story. The novelization does improve the TV story on some level, but not much to understand it.
I admire the author’s attempts to make scenes better and clearer when it came to novelizing ‘Warriors’ Gate’. But in the end, ‘Warriors’ Gate’ turned out to be one of those ‘Doctor Who’ stories that fell flat for me. It didn’t work for me as a TV story and still doesn’t work for me as a novelization.
‘Doctor Who and Warriors’ Gate’ rating – 5/10
‘DOCTOR WHO – WARRIORS’ GATE’
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The Dreaming Revisited
This Target audiobook of ‘Doctor Who – Warriors’ Gate’ wasn’t what I was expecting!
Looking back, I think perhaps I was rather harsh in my review for the original ‘Warriors’ Gate’ novelization by Stephen Gallagher writing as John Lydecker which was published in 1982. In all fairness, it was a decent novelization and I can’t blame Stephen Gallagher for the circumstances in writing the book.
No, I suppose my frustration came from the fact that I found it an underwhelming read. I hoped that the original ‘Warriors’ Gate’ novelization from 1982 would help to improve the story that was shown on TV. I hoped that it would clarify the story for me when I found it really hard-going to watch on DVD.
Sadly it didn’t turn out that way which is a shame and I wanted to give the novelization another chance in order to not discredit Steve Gallagher for the ideas he brought to the story. I hoped that an audiobook of the original 1982 novelization would persuade me to change my mind on the book itself.
So it came as a surprise to me when I heard the news that a completely new version of the ‘Warriors’ Gate’ Target novelization would be released by BBC Audio. It was to be an audio novelization ‘extended and restored by the author’. This piped my interest when I discovered there was more to this.
Apparently, Stephen Gallagher wrote a different novelization before writing the one that was published in 1982. That different novelization is the one being read for audio by Jon Culshaw with John Leeson as K-9. I wondered why Stephen Gallagher didn’t have that novelization of the TV story published in 1982.
It turns out that the expanded and restored original version of the ‘Warriors’ Gate’ novelization was submitted to Target publishing before it got rejected. The ‘Doctor Who’ production team, namely producer John Nathan-Turner, wanted Stephen Gallagher to submit a novelization to match the TV version more closely.
This is rather ironic considering JNT didn’t understand what the story was about when he was being shown it by the director Paul Joyce in the editor’s room. Mind you, I can appreciate the viewpoint of sticking to the TV version more closely. It’s such a shame the novelization was slim not to clarify things.
Mind you, with that said, it was fascinating and interesting to hear the new Target audio novelization by Stephen Gallagher writing as John Lydecker with all the changes he made to the story. I had the original 1982 novelization on hand to make notes and compare how different it was and whether it was better.
And thankfully it was an improved version of the ‘Warriors’ Gate’ story in the new audio novelization. Stephen Gallagher restructures things and manages to improve on the weaker aspects of the story that were shown in the TV version. I couldn’t believe I was hearing a different version of the story on audio.
I purchased the audiobook via Audible as a download. The story is divided into four parts. It’s still a chapter-less story as was the case in the original 1982 novelization. But having the audiobook break it up into four segments made it easier for me to enjoy the story. I knew when to stop and bookmark it.
The four segments are pretty lengthy mind. Each segment is about over one hour long and the cliff-hanger endings don’t match to the ones that were on TV. This is due to the restructured changes made by Stephen Gallagher when he restored the story in its original novelization format. This was all fascinating.
It’s clear Stephen Gallagher had a different vision on how he wanted ‘Warriors’ Gate’ to be on TV as opposed to how script editor Chris Bidmead and director Paul Joyce brought their egos and messed it up to make the tale convoluted. Stephen Gallagher’s extended novelization would be great to see on TV!
So what differences are there in the new extended audio novelization compared to the original 1982 one and the actual TV story? Well for the first segment of the audiobook, it more or less matches to what was in the early parts of the 1982 novelization with some sentence restructuring here and there.
By the way, Jon Culshaw is brilliant reading the audio novelization of ‘Warriors’ Gate’. He of course does an authentic voice for Tom Baker’s Doctor and I loved it when he’s voicing Rovrik. He almost matches to how Clifford Rose played the character in the TV story in terms of the tone and the delivery.
John Leeson is equally good as K-9 when voicing him at times during the story. Stephen Gallagher retains the sad tragedy of K-9’s fate in E-Space as he did when he wrote the 1982 novelization. It helps to build up to Romana staying behind in E-Space with K-9 which is handled well in the audio novelization.
Through the audio novelization, I gained a clearer idea of what that Antonine Killer spaceship sequence was at the beginning of the story. It seems the Antonine Killer and the privateer ship were in a battle against each other in outer space. This is before the privateer slipped through a CVE into E-Space.
Like I said, the first segment mostly matches to what’s in the early part of the 1982 novelization. But it changes significantly when the Doctor steps out to meet Rovrik, Packard and Lane in the void instead of Romana. This was quite a huge change. It does work well by featuring the Doctor more in the story.
By the time I got to the second segment of the audiobook, it was difficult to follow what was similar and different in the original novelization and the new audio novelization of the story. In the end, I gave up referring to the original book and just enjoyed the rest of the audiobook as it was towards the end.
The audio novelization takes a completely different turn with the ‘Warriors’ Gate’ story compared to the original TV version. The Doctor gets more actively involved with Rovrik and the traders whilst Romana and Adric are enjoying their own adventure when going to privateer ship and investigating it.
Adric’s character is interesting in the new audiobook as his reliance on flipping a coin…or a gold token given to him by a Decider from Alzarius…becomes an important plot point. Adric’s reliance to flip a coin seems to get him to places like the TARDIS. It also gets him to find people like Romana in the void.
This was interesting to discover as I heard the audio novelization. Had Adric’s dependency on probability with flipping a coin; a gold token or his star badge for mathematical excellence been used more prominently, it would’ve helped to enhance his character. He’d be more interesting in the series.
Lazlo as a character seems to be given more dedicated time to develop as a character in the audio novelization compared to Biroc. Had this version of ‘Warriors’ Gate’ in audio novelization form been the TV story, Jeremy Gittins would’ve enjoyed the dialogue that Lazlo gets compared to the lack of it.
I liked it when the Doctor meets up with Romana and Lazlo in the Tharil gardens on the other side of the mirror. I also liked it when Lazlo guides the Doctor and Romana back to the decaying banqueting hall by going through the mirror. This works very well compared to how the TV version handled things.
To be honest, I didn’t really understand what happened at the end of ‘Part Three’ of the TV story when Gundan robots came in; Romana tried to rescue the Doctor; an axe hits the table and the Doctor and Romana are back in the banqueting hall with Rovrik and the others. I’m glad that wasn’t reused here.
Biroc seems to appear less in the audio novelization of the story compared to the TV version and probably the original 1982 novelization. He seems to be regarded as a spiritual figure or leader when Lazlo praises him with Romana beside him. There seems to be only one scene between him and the Doctor.
There wasn’t much emphasised on the Tharils being slavers once in the audio novelization compared to the TV version and the original 1982 novelization. The banqueting hall scene the Doctor has with Biroc and the Tharils is omitted because of that. But at least the slavery issue gets referred to once and a while in audio.
I was disappointed in terms of how Aldo and Royce were used in the audio novelization, although they’re called Aldo and Waldo instead. I don’t see how changing the double act’s name to Aldo and Waldo makes it credible in the audiobook. It sounds silly. I preferred them as Aldo and Royce in the story.
Mind you, I did like it when Rovrik got annoyed with Aldo and Waldo’s presence on the bridge of the privateer ship when they were collecting the rubbish. There’s one point when Rovrik thinks Aldo and Waldo are ‘the visitors’ coming to the bridge according to Lane whereas it’s actually the Doctor and Lazlo here.
Packard seems to get restrained when he stays behind on the privateer ship whilst Rovrik and some of the other slavers are visiting the gateway with the Doctor. Romana and Adric are no better off, especially when they remain in the TARDIS whilst the Doctor and Lazlo visit the privateer in the story’s climax.
I enjoyed it when K-9 kept following Lane in the void compared to the TV version where K-9 kept following Packard and Lane. There’s more humour to that scene compared to the TV version. I also liked it when Biroc seemed to be helping Adric out when he lost his gold token in the void at one point.
The last section building up to Romana’s farewell is handled well and matches to what was in the original 1982 novelization when I picked up the book again. After being able to enjoy and follow the story more in the audiobook, I was able to appreciate Romana’s exit more especially in that build-up.
So yeah! ‘Doctor Who – Warriors’ Gate’ as an audiobook is very good! I enjoyed this audio novelization very much, especially with Jon Culshaw reading it and John Leeson voicing K-9. It’s far superior compared to the TV version and the original 1982 novelization. I was able to gain a lot more out of it.
If you haven’t discovered this new audio novelization of ‘Warriors’ Gate’ by Stephen Gallagher writing as John Lydecker, I highly recommend it. The new additions and extensions compliment it well and the restructuring of certain scenes and characters works to the story’s advantage than the TV version did.
You might want to hear this audiobook more than once mind to get over some of the complexities of the tale as ‘Warriors’ Gate’ is still pretty ambitious. But there is clarity to the tale and you won’t be short-changed by what Stephen Gallagher gives in an improved rendition of the story originally shown in 1981.
It is a shame that the original novelization Stephen Gallagher had in mind to submit for publishing back in the 1980s was rejected by John Nathan-Turner at the time. But I’m glad we can have this audio version of the novelization and find out what could’ve been had this version of the tale been made for TV.
‘Doctor Who – Warriors’ Gate’ rating – 8/10
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