The War Games

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‘I not only admit (my actions), I am proud of them. While you have been content merely to observe the evil in the galaxy, I have been fighting against it.’

The Doctor

19th April – 21st June 1969

The Memory Cheats

Here we go then. The Magnum Opus. The Second Doctor’s final story, the last story of the sixties, the final story in black and white and the last time we can genuinely ask the question, ‘Doctor Who?’

This really is an epic. A game changer they call this now. Still no regeneration for the Doctor but we finally find out Who he is. Or begin to.

This story was always an exciting mystery for me. I first read about it in the tenth anniversary special. I read the novelisation a couple of times I think. It was great. Also, the Science Museum had a Doctor Who exhibit at some point in the eighties. They had the clip where the travellers try to get back to the TARDIS in slow motion (I think) on repeat. Of course this held special interest for me and I watched it again and again.

Time Space Visualiser

A specially shot title sequence, over war stock footage I think. Then straight into the story. What a start! Troughton is on great form. He portrays the Second Doctor’s contempt for the military and authority as he deals with any interrogation with put downs and humour. A fantastic female character. Lady Jennifer. Slowly we realise this is not a historical Doctor Who story about the First World War, there is something fishy going on.

Smythe is a great villain. I remember his name from the novel. He walks up to the picture but what for? It’s all very 1984. ‘5,000 specimens’ Then the specimens start to get self-aware and realise they can’t remember quite where this all started. Then the mind control with the glasses. Suddenly we hear TARDIS sound effect and a strange box materialises. What on Earth could that be? The strange mist. The mystery builds so well. The Doctor gets Carstairs and Lady Jennifer to see the screen by overcoming their conditioning but they are seen by Smythe and a member of eighties pop sensation, The Buggles.The design of the war zone is extremely imaginative.

The Romans are back. ‘Isn’t this where we were attacked by the Romans?’ asks Carstairs in episode seven. And here they are again. Doing exactly what they did last time and moving in exactly the same way. Maybe it is a time loop. Rudolph Walker off of EastEnders is great and there are lots of really good moments in these early episodes, but when we get to the war room it really gets going.

There are many mysteries. ‘He is one of your race?’ challenges the Security Chief. So which race is the security chief? They are not humans. We are told of the people in each zone, so what are they? The home planet is mentioned though not named.

Sometimes it seems very contrived when two of the baddies mistrust each other. The sparing between the War Lord, the War Chief and the Security Chief is contrived and, at times, blatantly camp. James Bree wonderfully overplays his role. He is a jumped up nobody and uses too many vowels in every word. Edward Brayshaw is every inch the pantomime villain and I can’t help the Mr Meaker flashbacks. However, their mutual mistrust is believable and always entertaining. Then Mr Hi de Hi himself Philip Madoc is back. Isn’t he superb? What a performance. What a gift this man was to the show. Every moment he is in is great. It makes me want to watch him in Lloyd George again.

Utter brilliance from start to finish. OK it doesn’t need ten episodes to tell its story but it never feels over long due to the pace, dialogue and performances. The three leads are at the best. Jamie has been on a real journey, more so than any previous companion. Zoe started as annoyingly too clever but through Wendy Padbury’s performance you can’t help warming to her. Troughton gives you every shade in this story. One of his real strengths has been absolute believability. His fear in summoning his own people is chilling. This is the stuff from which legends are born.

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Lookie Likey

Toby Jones is Captain Lanson the soldier who works for Smythe.

Best Extra of the Week

Stand there and look surprised! What amazing acting from the centurion at the start of episode 3 as the ambulance disappears.

Notable Firsts

The Doctor uses the monika Doctor John Smith in episode 3.

After 291 episodes of adventures in space and time we get our first reference to the Time Lords. With the help of a mind probe, James Bree asks the Doctor if he is on a mission from the Time Lords. But it is the War Chief who identifies the Doctor. ‘You may have changed your appearance, but I know who you are.’

Is it our first trip to Gallifrey? Not sure if the trial room is on the ‘home planet’ or still in the War Lord’s base.

Insert the Device

The mind probe?

The Security Cheif puts it on his head and starts sentences for Zoe to finish. Look at these pictures. You well tell me if you see anyone you know. Particularly, this, DOCTOOOOR!

The glasses are quite something too.

Campest Moment of the Week

The Doctor is interrogated by Lucke. He explains they were lost.  ‘Oooohhh! You were lost were you sweetie!’ Replies Lucke. The Camp Commandant!

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The 500 Year Diary

23rd January 309906 am

Landed in No Man’s Land the middle of the Great War being shot at! We’re rescued by a Lady Jennifer, but then we’re ambushed by the Germans. We’re rescued again by a Lt. Carstairs and taken onto Major Barrington who sends us to the controlling officer’s Chateau , General Smythe, as they’re obviously suspicious of us… well we have landed in the middle of the trenches dressed as civilians. The war games of these humans….

We’re then subjected to a shambolic and staged court martial and sentenced to be shot at dawn. Zoe comes to rescue me, but it’s too late. The firing squad is assembled and a shot rings out…

 

23rd January 309906 am

The shot came from a sniper and in the confusion, Zoe and I manage to escape. We make our way to the military prison where Jamie is being held. I manage to bluff my in as an Examiner from the War Office … I remember that working before, but only for a little while as the commandant, Gorton, becomes suspicious so we have to knock him out. Note to self, get some psychic paper.

We’re captured again by Captain Ransom and taken back to the Chateau and locked up. Lt Carstairs rescues and we start to piece together what’s going on. Jamie encountered a Redcoat who had sketchy memories and Zoe had come across some anachronistic apparatus in Smythe’s office. Well, need a closer look at that is required so off we go  although Carstairs & Lady Jennifer can’t see it. The unit is active – someone may have seen us.

We manage to escape in an ambulance through a mist only to come across Romans!

 

23rd January 309906 pm

We manage to get the ambulance restarted and reverse back into 1917. These mists must be a force field barrier separating different time zones. I need a map so we return to the Chateau and blow up Smythe’s safe. Yes, they are many time zones reflecting different eras of Earth’s history. Decide to cross into the German zone where we are captured again!

Managed to nearly persuade the German lieutenant that things are not right, but then his commanding officer arrives and after doing something with his monocle manages to exert an influence over him; however, I’m better than that so we escape again and head to black triangle in the middle of the map.

We arrive in the American Civil War zone. Carstairs is captured and we keep going until the van’s petrol run out. We’re taken to a barn and a travel capsule arrives – dozens of troops come out. It arrived with the sound of the TARDIS and is bigger on the inside. I wonder? Zoe and I go and take a look, but the door shuts!

 

23rd January 309906 pm

Arrive at the control centre where Zoe and I disguise ourselves using masks after finding dozens of hypnotised men ready for battle. We end up in a lecture hall where we realise we are on an alien planet. We watch the Chief Scientist fiddle with a mental conditioning device which he then experiments on with Lt. Carstairs. When he comes to, he recognises us as German spies, but luckily the Chief Scientist thinks the conditioning has failed again and he’s taken away to be deprocessed.

The War Chief arrives. Oh no. It can’t be. We run….

 

23rd January 309906 night

Come across the Chief Scientist again and manage to convince him I am a devoted student. Persuade him to deprocess Carstairs, which he does, and we overpower him,

Through some very lax security we rescue Zoe, who had been captured, and manage to look through the files for resistance members.

We then witness the massacre of Jamie and other members of the resistance as a travel capsule arrives at central control!

 

24th January 309906 am

Luckily the guns were on stun and the bodies are taken for reprocessing. Manage to muscle in there and convince the Chief Scientist that I’m there to help him again except I overpower him again!

I revive Russell and explain who I am and decide the best plan is to get the resistance together – thank goodness for Zoe and her photographic memory! Jamie was taken away as he had never been processed so we rescue him from the security centre (where there is an ironic lack of security!).

Send Russell and the others back to the war zones to gather the resistance whilst I steal the processing equipment which I manage to do because the War Chief and Security Chief are endlessly bickering!

We get into a travel capsule, but then the dimensions start to shrink!

 

24th January 309906 eve

I come out of the capsule under the ruse of a truce waving a white handkerchief, but set off an explosive device, distracting the aliens meaning I can restore the dimensions and control the directional unit of the travel capsule. Off to the Roman Zone and then off to meet Zoe in the 1917 zone, but we’re captured and taken back to General Smyth who wants me shot instantaneously.

Again saved at the last minute as the resistance arrive and Smyth is shot. We’re in control of the Chateau and manage to construct a force field barrier. AS I start to use the stolen processing equipment, a travel capsule arrives. They take me and the equipment and shoot everyone else!

25th January 309906 am

I’m interrogated by the Security Chief who is convinced that I am in league with the War Chief. The War Chief comes in and stops the torture. It was him, a fellow Time Lord and we talk about how I stole my TARDIS. He then tells me about his plans for universal domination through using the war games to select the strongest men as a force for peace. What an abominable plan – how many are being killed in the process? And why is the War Chief sharing our planet’s technology with these aliens. I want no part of it! But they are going to drop a neutron bomb and destroy everything. I have to go along with it to stop this genocide!

I feel very bad, but I lure the resistance to the control centre in a travel capsule only for them all to be taken prisoner.

 

25th January 309906 pm

There is a fatal flaw in the War Chief’s plan. He wants my TARDIS because his own machines have a limited life span. I continue to pretend to go along with it all by pretending to improve the processing machines, but the Security Chief puts me in there alone with the resistance who nearly kill me! The War Chief’s survival saves me and I start ‘processing’ the prisoners until the Mexican fellow nearly ruins it all!

We plan a raid on the war planning room where the War Chief callously kills the Security Chief. He then reveals the time capsules are nearly depleted. How am I going to get the soldiers home? I can’t leave them here? I have no choice… I don’t want to… I have to summon up the Time Lords using a mental transfer cube. The War Chief will not face them as he is killed by the War Lord as he tries to escape.

Time to go. I don’t want to be around when they arrive. We drop Carstairs off who vanishes. They’re coming! Time slows down and there is a strange sound. We just about get to the TARDIS, but is it too late?

 

25th January 309906 eve

We manage to evade the Time Lords for a while, but they manage to capture me in the end.  So I’m back home. Things haven’t changed around here. I’m to stand trial for stealing the TARDIS  to travel the universe, against Time Lord law. One of my judges is Goth – he’s never liked me!

They also have the War Lord on trial who they eventually make speak. However, his guards arrive and recapture him – they must have left the transduction barriers down – and they attempt an escape by taking me hostage. But there’s no escape for him. His planet is trapped in a force field and cut off from the rest of the universe like they never existed.

I’m charged with breaking the laws of time and interfering in the histories of other planets. But I had to. I had to defeat the Quarks, the Yeti, the Ice Warriors, The Cybermen and the Daleks. AS I await my fate, Jamie and Zoe rescue me and we try one final escape, but it was never going to happen. I say goodbye to Jamie and Zoe, sent back to their own times, with only a limited memory of me. How sad.

The gathered Time Lords agree there is some validity to my arguments and I think I’m going to be let off. They decide to send me to 20th century Earth in exile with no knowledge of time travel! They can’t do this to me? I’m a wanderer and have been for many years plus they recognise me on Earth. Their solution? To forcibly change my appearance with a choice from an incredible bunch!

Next thing I’m in a dark void spinning away with a curious sensation around my face. They’re making me giddy!

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Five Word Lords

Epic genesis of a mythology.

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