The Time Warrior

'The Time Warrior', the first story of Jon Pertwee's final season as the Doctor and the story which introduced the hugely popular character Sarah Jane Smith, has never been available in an unedited form before. Issued in compilation 'movie-format' on VHS along with several other stories, it was the only remaining story that had never had an episodic release on VHS or DVD. This new release is thus somewhat of a landmark in the commercial release of the series...

Made in the traditional way - electronic studio recording onto 2" quad videotape and location filming on 16mm film - 'The Time Warrior' was a fairly standard story for us in terms of remastering and followed our usual path as outlined in many previous articles on this site.

Part one was one of the earliest Quad tapes transferred to D3, by London facility JCA, and the playback was not good, with severe line pulling throughout. Consideration was given to obtaining a new transfer from the NFTVA, but as the problems could be repaired using the usual methods and there was a good chance that a new transfer would be little better, the existing copy was laboriously repaired. Film inserts were generally of poor quality: soft and flickery, due to poor geometric alignment of the two video fields making up each frame of film. This was improved as much as possible by deinterlacing the sequences.

Otherwise, there were no particular problems to overcome, other than sheer number of tape dropouts requiring repair. The opening and closing titles were replaced as usual. The source film for the closing credits had large amounts of dirt printed in; fortunately it is a repeating sequence of about 64 frames, so only one short section had to be restored, and this was then cycled.

As usual, Mark Ayres was responsible for the audio restoration of the story. "The Time Warrior has always been a favourite story of mine, and one that I have long looked forward to seeing on DVD. Moreover, it is a story that I had looked forward to mastering, as I remembered from first transmission how many late-cued background sounds it featured! These have been repaired, along with general noise reduction, dropout and edit repair, theme music replacement and so on.

There were specific problems with a few scenes. Those set in the castle of Edward of Wessex tended to suffer from high background noise and the breakthrough of 1kHz lineup tone - these scenes were dropped onto a separate track for specific treatment. Film inserts from the end of episodes two suffered from an insistent mains hum which was filtered. In episodes three and four, some film sequences were very bass-light and thin sounding, possibly due to generator or traffic noise having been filtered in the original mix. I therefore added back in some additional background woodland atmosphere at very low level to give the scenes more body."

Brendan Sheppard was tasked with producing the 'making of' feature for this story and definitely gives our stalwart extra a new twist or two. Here Brendan explains his work on this release.

"I knew from quite early on that I was going to do three things for the Time Warrior DVD. Firstly, I wanted to shoot the documentary at the location, secondly I specifically wanted to produce a new special type of Easter Egg and thirdly I wanted to replace all the effects with new CGI ones as I am BIG fan of CGI. In the course of researching the documentary, Barry Letts told me how disappointed he was with Alan Bromly's take on special effects and how he thought that 'The Time Warrior 'was a good show and only let down by those "nasty shots".

Initially the new CGI shots were only intended to be used in the documentary, but when Steve Roberts heard about them he suggested that I should provide a full set for the entire story and we would allow the viewer to watch the story with new effects, as per several previous releases.

I knew the opening sequence had to be changed, what I wanted to see was the ship fly past the moon and into Earth's orbit with a trail of flame as it entered the atmosphere, so I asked friend and colleague Rob Semenoff to produce three new full 3D Shots and I would do the rest in various packages like After Effects and Illusion. One thing I was dead set on was giving Linx's gun a laser beam and a special 'enhancement' for the sequences when he 'hypnotizes' the people he wants to question, like Sarah Jane Smith. The laser was a combination of Illusion, to give that moving and animating feel and After Effects to finish it off. One sequence gave us a lot of trouble though, its the scene where Linx fires the laser at Irongron's axe. Kevin Lindsay fumbles a bit with the gun prop as he firing it, originally I just angled the laser to compensate but of course it looked silly, as many of the RT people didn't hesitate to tell me! But they were right, so I set about rebuilding the shot so Kevin's arm would say rigid and the laser beam straight. I cut out his arm and the gun then frame by frame repeated and slowed that section of the shot then added the laser beam, and I think all in all the shot looks pretty good. There were loads of other little effects I've replaced, but to answer the big question - did I do a proper 'blowing up the castle' shot, well the answer is yes  - in fact I specifically filmed a new shot for it which Rob then went to town on blowing it up and although its quite brief its extremely effective. I had the chance to show Barry Letts, Elisabeth Sladen and Terrance Dicks all the new CGI shots and they were all extremely pleased, in fact at the end of the viewing Barry turned to me told me he loved it then added.. "So about Invasion of the Dinosaurs..."

The extra for this release include a commentary with actress Elisabeth Sladen, producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks

Brendan Sheppard has produced Beginning the End (dur. 30' 13"), in which cast and crew talk about the making of this story, partially shot on location at Peckforton Castle. With actors Elisabeth Sladen, Donald Pelmear and Jeremy Bulloch, producer Barry Letts, script editor Terrance Dicks and designer Keith Cheetham. Narrated by Simon Ockenden.

Trails and Continuity (dur. 1' 08") - BBC1 trails and continuity, recreated from off-air home audio recordings.

Optional CGI Effects - view the story with new video effects.

1974 Doctor Who Annual - in Adobe pdf format for viewing on PC or Mac.

As always, there's a  Photo Gallery (dur. 9' 15"), Production Information Subtitles, Coming Soon trailer, Radio Times lisings pdf and maybe even some Easter Eggs.

Copyright Steve Roberts,  27 June 2007. No reproduction allowed without written permission.