Doctor Who — The War Machines

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Season 3 – Episode 10 – (1966)
Doctor: 1 – William Hartnell
Companions: 
Dodo (Dodo leaves), Polly, Ben (Polly and Ben join.)

Ahh Season 3 of Doctor Who comes to a close! Of course a season did not mean the same thing then as it does now. Imagine the show being on air for something like 45 of 52 weeks a year constantly, with the actors following this schedule. Hartnell couldn’t cope but its not hard to see why. Additionally contracts were for given number of episodes and not a story. This is why Dodo leaves half way through…

The TARDIS lands in London and The Doctor and Dodo step out. As the TARDIS is stuck in the shape of a (then contemporary) police box, The Doctor hangs an “out of order” sign on the door. He shows Dodo the reason for this as a convenient policeman sees it and moves on. The Doctor gives an affectionate wink to his companion and then both notice the completion of the “Post Office Tower”, known to us now as The BT Tower. Something gives The Doctor pause, however, a presence that reminds him of past foes such as the Daleks.

If you watch the later Hartnell clips you’ll notice an increased number of “Billy fluffs” – Hartnell not managing to complete his lines – it’s a sign that he just cannot keep up with the work load.

These reviews are getting hard to keep to my word count… Dodo and The Doctor feel the need to investigate the tower so The Doctor poses as a computer expert and they gain access. They are shown a computer – WOTAN – who is about to be linked globally and who can answer almost impossible questions for a computer in context (e.g. what does TARDIS stand for). One of the computer engineers’ secretaries is Polly who offers to take a mesmerised Dodo to a club in London. Here they meet a Sailor, Ben. He’s mopey and although they try to cheer him up, he only rallies when Polly and Dodo are harassed. he defends them.

Meanwhile, WOTAN has been hypnotising victims into serving it. I adore this as it’s literally a 60’s beast with a spool of magnetic tape. Dodo had been affected earlier and so disappears from the club. The Doctor arrives but Dodo is lost. WOTAN (at the same time) is asking for… I don’t want to say it… None of you should allow this… It’s asking for “Doctor Who”.

Right. “Doctor Who” is the name of the series, I get that but he has never introduced himself as such. Any specific stating of the words “Doctor Who” is said as a back and forth or misunderstanding. It. Is. A. Joke. Sure, this joke is lampshaded and shown playfully but the character never refers to himself as this. He is “The Doctor” – maybe with pseudonyms but “The Doctor” is his moniker.

OK, so, The Doctor waits for Dodo, who returns out-of-sorts. They leave but not before bumping into a homeless man, who goes on to be murdered. The man planned to sleep in a warehouse in which some secret blueprints are being developed. Things get very suspicious and on The Doctor’s return to his visit WOTAN, Dodo persuades The Doctor to make a phone call, which is patched through to the maniacal computer. Dodo’s part in the plan collapses, she believes The Doctor to be under the control of the machine. His resolve is much stronger and he breaks Dodo from her programming. On the advice of some uncontrolled scientists Dodo is taken to recover at a country retreat…

When do I say this!? That’s it! Dodo has gone! She never appears on the show again and I have something to say about this… I can finish the plot of the story first though…

So WOTAN has ordered the creation of War Machines that are released onto London. Polly is hypnotised. Ben encounters a War Machine, flees but is set-upon by Polly and put out of action. There are troops fighting and The Doctor is helping but he has another really special Doctor-ish moment. Here’s a clip:

He figures out the machines and let’s just rush to the end. Ben holds The Doctor’s cloak, accidentally dropping a TARDIS key and pocketing it. The Doctor surmises how the War Machines work and turns them back on each other. Simply, a War Machine goes to WOTAN and destroys it and The Doctor has succeeded. So here we are… (sigh).

The Doctor waits outside the TARDIS for Dodo but Ben and Polly arrive with a message and basically, paraphrasing: Dodo feels much better, she wants to stay in London and that she sends her love… (I’ll discuss it in a second). He seems very hurt but enters the TARDIS sadly. Ben remembers the key and he and Polly enter to return it. Immediately after entering, the TARDIS dematerialises and that’s the end of season 3.

Dodo was fine. She wasn’t popular at the time or now but my modern viewpoint loathes the fact that she was left off-screen… Hate or love her (I didn’t mind her), she was part of this opening section of Doctor Who and was one of the least well handled of the show’s actors… More will come… but I Jackie Lane (Dodo) certainly deserved better.

The episode is great, though. Ben and Polly serve as such great new characters, we should see how they fair in season 4. For now, Doctor Who has reached a crux point… So much more to say… So little time..

It’s a good story, by the way, watch it as it involves some of The Doctor’s best meddling.

Favourite Quotes:

  • The Doctor: I can feel it’s got something sort of powerful. It’s. Look at my skin. Look at that. I’ve got that pricking sensation again, the same. Just as I had when I saw the Daleks, those Daleks were near.
    Dodo: Daleks? Who are they?
    The Doctor: Oh, er, yes, of course, you, er, you didn’t meet them, did you, child? No. No, and I pray that you never will. I really must investigate it.
  • Polly: She says she’s feeling much better and she’d like to stay here in London, and she sends you her love.
    The Doctor: Her love? Oh, there’s gratitude for you. Take her all the way around the world, through space and time, and then— (interrupted)

Score:

8.5/10 

Next time:

So we’ve finished season 3. Next time is a huge amount of stuff. Let’s just say the pure historical hasn’t been pulling in the viewers and maybe the leading actor is presenting problems… Just follow the count down and we’ll go from there. It’s all aliens and manipulation from here!

 

COUNTDOWN —> 2

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