"You are in the Castle of Irongron, my lady. Few uninvited guests come here and few that do leave alive."
IN THIS ONE... The Doctor names his planet and it is called Gallifrey. Linx makes a robot knight for Irongron. Sarah Jane organizes Sir Edward's forces to kidnap the Doctor.
REVIEW: If feminism is a theme in this story, it's not through topical speeches, but rather by contrasting male and female leadership. Hal the Archer isn't Sir Edward's man, but Lady Wessex's, and Sarah Jane is seen to stand up to Irongron, try and work out just what's going on, come to her own conclusions, and instruct the Medievals on tactics. She joins in the raid, of course. The men, on the other hand, don't do so well. Linx - asexual but still "male", need hypnosis and torture machines to get what he wants. Irongron is a sadistic boor, loud and immature. Sir Edward is a lame duck, a true defeatist. And the Doctor becomes the target of Sarah Jane's suspicions because, well, he was kind of a jerk to her - and a sexist one at that - in the previous episode. He hasn't been mistrusted like that by his co-stars since the 2nd Doctor's early days.
So no surprise then that Sarah Jane is the real star of this episode. Lis Sladen is still discovering the character, but her trademark quirks are already there. Her performance is quite an animated one, expressive and naturalistic. In a humid castle, she sniffs as if she might be catching cold. When things go too far to be part of some tourist trap or Medieval fair, she nervously tries to bargain the "pranksters" out of their characters. Always watchable, though she still needs to soften her edge. Not to say the Doctor doesn't get any stand-out scenes. His tense conversation with Linx fills in some detail about both the Time Lords and the Sontarans (hatchlings, not yet clones, at this point), and while a clash of warrior and scientist, the fact that they're both advanced aliens means they can have a civilized conversation as gentlemen should. He gets to shoot a crossbow too, so there's that.
It's in the action set pieces that the episode sags, however. The Doctor does a lot of skulking around, which plays out in real time, and features some of those famous "wobbly sets" we keep hearing so much about. Linx's robot knight is awkward and not much of a danger, putting me in mind of Monty Python more than anything. Are these anachronistic weapons meant as anything more than diversions, even for Linx? Toys to make Irongron keep his mouth shut? And of course, there's Rubeish, the dungeon's Mr. Magoo, who can help the Doctor because he hasn't been optically hypnotized, and who gets less and less funny as the serial moves along. This is the guy we depend on to get the Doctor out of trouble? While Sarah Jane's commando raid looks to be entertaining, what we're instead given is the a wide shot of the Doctor running around a courtyard, pushing knights to the ground. Let's switch those cameras over to the serial's REAL star next episode, how about it?
VERSIONS: The enhanced CGI option on the DVD only puts a small effect on the Linx-Sarah Jane interrogation scene.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - While the action pieces are kinda lame, I can't say the same of the characters or, generally, the plot.