‘Warriors’ Gate’ (TV)

warriors' gate dvd the e-space trilogy dvd


Please feel free to comment on my review.

An Adventure in E-Space with Tharils

The third and final story of ‘The E-Space Trilogy’ is one of the complex stories ever made. If you find this story puzzling, don’t worry! You’re not alone! I still can’t understand what’s going on during this story.

This four-part story was by science-fiction author Steve Gallagher. His script was turned inside and out by script editor Christopher H. Bidmead and director Paul Joyce when they were making the tale.

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 complicated as he appreciated that. It was also interesting to hear from Matthew how he found the news of Tom Baker and Lalla Ward getting married at the end of Season 18.

The story has the Doctor, Romana, Adric and K-9 arriving at the gateway between two universes to get back home. But the price of returning home will mean the loss of one of the Doctor’s friends.

This story was fraught with problems. Although enthusiastic, director Paul Joyce was pretty slow on getting his shots. As a result of this, Joyce was sacked by the producer JNT before he was reinstated.

The story feels pretty dreamlike, especially when passing through strange environments in a white void and some of the dialogue doesn’t make sense. The conflict is between the humans and the lion-like Tharils.

warriors' gate

The human slave traders are led by Clifford Rose as Rorvik, a bad version of ‘Dad’s Army’s Captain Mainwaring. There’s also Kenneth Cope (from the ‘Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)’ 1960s TV series) as Packard.

The main Tharil is David Weston as Biroc, who is this lion-like, time sensitive being that breaks into the TARDIS. There’s also Jeremy Gittins (who played the Vicar in ‘Keeping Up Appearances’) as Lazlo.

There are also the Gundan robots that keep watch in the stone Gateway. I found that moment creepy and frightening, when one Gundan wakes up and makes its way to kill the Doctor as it moves!

Matthew Waterhouse as Adric is rather limited in terms of character in this. He joins K-9 in the white void and he eventually meets up with Romana. I was shocked when Adric sat on K-9 at one point.

Tom Baker as the Doctor is grand as ever. He has defining moments, getting caught in the crossfire between two Gundan robots and he challenges Biroc and his kind on how they used to be enslavers.

This happens to be Lalla Ward’s last story as Romana. I found it rather abrupt when Romana announced she was leaving the Doctor. It happened so fast and wasn’t well-deserved for Romana’s exit.

But at least she does a noble thing to stay behind in E-Space and free the Tharils from slavery. I wonder what has become of Romana nowadays. Is she still in E-Space? Did she manage to escape?! 😀

This is also K-9’s (voiced by John Leeson) last story in the TV series. K-9 becomes delirious when he’s affected by the time winds. The Doctor soon gives K-9 to Romana to keep when they remain behind in E-Space.

The DVD special features are as follows. There’s an interesting commentary with Lalla Ward, John Leeson, director Paul Joyce, script editor Christopher H. Bidmead and visual effects designer Mat Irvine. There’s also an isolated music option by Peter Howell and an info-text commentary option to enjoy.

There’s a making-of documentary called ‘The Dreaming’ with cast and crew interviews; ‘The Boy with the Golden Star’ interview with Matthew Waterhouse and ‘Lalla’s Wardrobe’ frockumentary. There are also extended and deleted scenes; continuities; a photo gallery of the story and a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story.

There’s a ‘coming soon’ trailer for the ‘The Rescue’ and ‘The Romans’ with William Hartnell, William Russell, Jacqueline Hill and Maureen O’Brien.

‘Warriors’ Gate’ is a startling, eerie and bemusing tale to finish off ‘The E-Space Trilogy’. It’s a story that I still can’t get my head around, but it’s a decent swansong for Romana and K-9 who leave the series.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed ‘The E-Space Trilogy’. It was fantastic watching these stories and the DVD special features with them. I found it interesting exploring how ‘Doctor Who’ changed in the 1980s. Each story in the trilogy is different, but they’re worthy for the entertainment of a ‘Doctor Who’ fan!

‘Warriors’ Gate’ rating – 6/10


Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Dreaming

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 the tale.

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 am not certain.

Now the thing is, I have read another ‘John Lydecker’ novelization of ‘Doctor Who’ beforehand since I had read the Target novelization of ‘Terminus’. I really enjoyed that novelization and was hoping for the same kind of enjoyment when I came to read the ‘Warriors’ Gate’ novelization as well.

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 his 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 through the story. Even through some of the improvements of the story, 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 pursuing an Antonine Killer craft and gets damaged on the way. 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 when it eventually comes out, 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, 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 to bookmark reading the story. I had to make my own chapters when I came to reading the novelization all the way throughout.

I know this is an approach that the author would do in his novelization for ‘Terminus’, but I was able to enjoy that since I could follow the story clearly. In many ways, ‘Terminus’ is a better story than ‘Warriors’ Gate’, since that’s clearer and isn’t very convoluted as its predecessor when 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 are pretty two-dimensional and have no redeeming features about them. There is some development given about 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’s someone you really want to loathe when you read the book. But what does that say about the rest of his 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 these 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 on Romana. Most of their comedic dialogue is missing from this 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 ‘Warriors’ Gate’? More time was spent during 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/listening to the ‘State of Decay’ book/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 is 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 Mk 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 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 Romana would leave him, just like the Doctor would later know Nyssa would leave him 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 comes 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 in a novelization.

‘Doctor Who and Warriors’ Gate’ rating – 5/10

The previous story

For the Fourth Doctor was

  • ‘A Full Life’ (ST/Audio)

For Romana was

  • ‘A Full Life’ (ST/Audio)

For K-9 MkII was

For Adric was

  • ‘A Full Life’ (ST/Audio)
The next story

For the Fourth Doctor is

For Romana is

  • ‘The Choice’ (K-9 & M) (Audio)

For K-9 MkII is

  • ‘The Choice’ (K-9 & M) (Audio)

For Adric is

Return to The Fourth Doctor’s Timeline
Return to Romana’s Timeline
Return to The Timelines of K-9
Return to Adric’s Timeline

4 thoughts on “‘Warriors’ Gate’ (TV)

  1. I’m not a fan of this story either, the script by Stephen Gallagher is confusing & badly paced, the departure of Romana & K-9 is rushed & given no build up she’s leaving the Doctor & Tom looks bored to tears, i really tried to get into this story but it always leaves me depressed as i find it dull dull dull.

    Must admit i nearly switched over to watch Buck Rogers when these four episodes were originally transmitted.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Simon.

    Glad you concur with my thoughts on ‘Warriors’ Gate’.

    Steve Gallagher’s script was messed about a lot by script editor Chris Bidmead and director Paul Joyce which didn’t do any favours. I prefer ‘Terminus’ compared to ‘Warriors’ Gate’ regarding Steve Gallagher’s ‘Doctor Who’ stories.

    Yes Romana and K-9’s departures were pretty rushed and there was no emotional connection to feel with these two companions’ departures from the series.

    Many thanks for your comments on my review for this story, Simon.

    Tim. 🙂


  3. Excellent review Tim, i read the novelization & it took me three weeks to finish it as i just couldn’t get into the story whatsoever, it’s to complex, the narrative all over the place & i found it to be a very boring story.

    Why some fans claim this is a epic story baffles me cause i find it a timey wimey complicated mess, the novel improves Romanas exit but that’s about it.

    I didn’t envy you reviewing this one Tim, but you wrote a cracking review & explained the plot far better than the actual writer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Simon.

      Glad you enjoyed my review on the novelization of ‘Warriors’ Gate’.

      Yikes, three weeks you read it? I’m amazed I managed to read it in a week and a half. I just wanted to get this book out of the way with in reading before I reviewed it. I’m glad it wasn’t just me that found this novelization hard-going. I really wanted to try and find something new and gain a clearer understanding of the story compared to what I saw in the TV version. But sadly this novelization didn’t fulfill that for me as I got lost and bored from the beginning.

      Yeah I’m surprised some fans regard this story highly. Perhaps it’s the thing these days. People prefer style over substance. They prefer the visuals rather than the actual story. That’s what ‘Warriors’ Gate’ seems to do. It provides unique wonderful imagery but not enough to help the story to be enjoyed. The departure of Romana is well-handled in the novelization by the author, but as you say it doesn’t help much to make the novelization better than the TV version.

      I don’t think I could have explained the plot ‘Warriors’ Gate’ any better than I would want to, Simon. I certainly would have rewritten it to make it more clearer and easier to follow, but I don’t think I can fully understand what ‘Warriors’ Gate’ is about to this day.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the novelization and glad you enjoyed my review. I’m glad I’ve read this book now. Hopefully when the audiobook comes out, I might give it a second chance. Perhaps I’ll say I found the book better second time round. But then again not.

      Tim. 🙂


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