The War Machines

war 1

‘Doctor Who is required.’ Wotan

25th June – 16th July 1966

The Memory Cheats

The first story from this season that I have seen before. I have been looking forward to this one. I was obsessed by the Post Office Tower as it was then called. In those days there was a revolving restaurant at the top. It was also one of the (if not the) tallest buildings in London and it looked like it was from the future.

I think I must have seen this on VHS as part of the 90s run through and loved it. A futuristic modern and quite different story for the first Doctor than any I had previously seen. I am looking forward to this viewing as although I watched it when the DVD was released, so my memory of the story is quite fresh, I love Polly. The opening location footage is also a treat.

The Time Space Visualiser

Dodo says she sees what the Doctor means about people mistaking the TARDIS for a police box without even looking at the policeman. Nice to have a bit of location filming but they are not allowed to speak. ‘Inferno.’ What a groovy spot. Not sure why Ben was allowed in in his sailor outfit though! I love Polly. The production team has clearly already given up on Dodo. She is kept at the back of the shot as much as possible and delivers most of her lines in the night club off camera altogether. The Doctor is mistaken for Jimmy Saville. Rude!

I love the diagram that shows how Wotan controls all the computers of the world. It looks like a topic web off of planning in the 90s. The Doctor tells Dodo to repeat everything he says which she duly does until he says, ‘Now I am going to start counting . . .’ How does she know how to stop copying him? I would have carried on! The Doctor says that Dodo is going to sleep for 48 hours, but she is never seen again!

This story has the feel of a Pertwee era story. Wotan is a great villain. Very menacing and futuristic. Even if it is a bit strange that a computer with a voice interface would use a tele print out! The idea that computers would take over the world is still a recurrent theme in science fiction. The machines themselves are also very impressive for their day, and it is a shame that this is their only appearance.

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Notable Firsts

First special graphics used for the title of the story. This became a thing near the end of the Troughton era, and for a couple of Pertwee stories. My favourite is The Ambassadors of Death with the title following the reprise.

This is the first complete story with a contemporary setting on present day Earth. I suppose you could count Planet of Giants but the leads don’t interact with the humans so don’t feel part of the setting. This setting  became more common during the Second Doctor’s reign and became standard in the Pertwee era. It is also the default setting for modern Who, but gives the show a very different feel at this point.

The first story for Ben and Polly. They are the first companions who will witness a regeneration (or rejuvenation). To save pedantry, they are the first companions to have met more than one incarnation of the Doctor.

Vital Statistics

Currently, this the only complete story to feature Ben and Polly. I love Polly. I only really properly discovered her through her narration on The Smugglers when I watched a recon a few years ago. Shortly after there was a free ‘Big Finish Companion Chronicle’ that she narrated. What a shame so little of her exists. Ben, I remember a very 70s style Ben from the 10th anniversary special and another photo in the same magazine.

Lookey Likey

It’s Richard Devere! (Major Green)

The guy playing Fagin is surely Alistair McGowen!

Inuendo Bingo

8:54 Episode 2

Tramp:  You’ve got nothing on me, I’m clean, I’ve just come out!

12:30 Episode 3

The Doctor: I think the police will find it too big for them to handle at the moment.

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The 500 Year Diary

14th July 1966

So we’re back in contemporary London! Ian and Barbara could have stayed after all! Anyway, have to put an ‘Out Of Oder’ sign on the TARDIS to avoid confusion with the real thing. Dodo points out that the Post Office Tower has been finished, but I scent some trouble, so we’re off to pay a visit.

I’m invited right in to heart of operations at the very top of the tower. I meet Professor Brett whose life work is the supercomputer WOTAN (although everyone keeps call it Votan). This computer can calculate square roots slightly slower than a calculator, but does know what TARDIS means. There’s also something up with Dodo… However, she seems to be friendly with this Polly so I let her go off and let her hair down at some night club called the Inferno.

Meanwhile I visit a press conference lead by Sir Charles Summer about WOTAN. Brett is curiously missing, but then arrives very agitated, leaving with electronics expert Professor Krimpton. Something very odd is going on.

Arrive at the Inferno. I overhear that I look like that DJ. Not that dodgy one I hope! Apparently I have fab gear. Polly and her new found friend Ben tell me Dodo has gone missing!

15th July 1966 am

Dodo returns stating she’s been off to see some old friends. She never said anything. Anyway, a taxi arrives – Dodo does seem very distracted – and this old tramp gets out. I only mention this because the next morning, the newspaper reports that he was found dead. This arouses my suspicions further.

Dodo is insistent I contact Professor Brett. I give him a call. This causes me great pain. When I recover, I realise that Dodo has been hypnotised. Manage to snap her out of it. She needs complete rest so she’s sent off to Sir Charles’ house in the country. I ponder on the strategic points in London she mentioned.

Ben arrives soon after Polly failed to turn up for a lunch date. He seems very concerned, as do I. I send him off in the direction of the warehouse next to the nightclub to investigate. In my younger days, I’d be the one doing that, but lately am feeling very tired.

15th July 1966 pm

Ben was gone for hours. Sir Charles thinks he’s been distracted. I don’t believe so. He seemed like an upstanding fine young man. I also feel that Computer Day should be postponed, but Sir Charles thinks otherwise. Ben eventually arrives very agitated with stories of Polly being controlled and the appearance of these war machines.

Sir Charles is a typical pig-headed politician and refuses to believe that all this is connected.  Hope I avoid that sort in the future! However, we have riled him enough to call the army in. I arrive at the warehouse just as the army is retreating, powerless to defeat the war machines. However, I’m not afraid. I stand resolute as one of the machines comes towards me.

20th July 1966

The war machine comes to a halt! I work out that its programming is incomplete. Had it been fully functional that would have been the end of me and everything else. There are 11 more units around London to be stopped. We need to capture one!

They bring out Major Green who I met in the Post Office Tower. He doesn’t recall me or WOTAN. Ben is worried about Polly, but tell him if I worried about one only person nothing shall ever get done!

I come up with a plan to trap one. Am happy to do this myself by placing one inside an electromagnetic circuit, but Ben insists on doing this as it’s a job for a young man. Yes, I suppose it is a job for someone with more energy. The circuit is complete and I take time to examine and reprogramme the machine. To destroy WOTAN in the Post Office Tower. I hope the lift is big enough! Ben rushes off to rescue Polly. Foolish boy!

And so I was right. The machine destroys WOTAN and all those hypnotised are released except poor Professor Krimpton who is killed. Seemed such a nice man.  Anyway want to avoid any questions so leave very quickly.

Wander around for a few days checking up on a few things here and there. The Hand Of Omega has gone. Wonder what’s happened to that? London in the mid-1960s seems like an interesting place to be particularly as the World Cup is on. If I was the Meddling Monk, I’d put a bet on!

Dodo seems to have vanished. I have been waiting for her. Ben and Polly turn up – I’m glad she’s OK. They tell me that Dodo is fine, but wants to remain in London. She could have told me that in person – it’s the least I deserve. Oh well. Into the TARDIS. Alone again. A bit of peace and quiet. Perhaps some rest. Things are really beginning to take their toll on me.

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The Five Word Lords

Sylish and modern, Dodo’s extinct!

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