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Doctor Who: The War Machines (Story 27)

4.3 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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(Jan 06, 2009)
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Doctor Who: War Machines, The (DVD)

London, 1966. The TARDIS materialises in the shadow of the newly-completed Post Office Tower, and the Doctor senses a strange energy in the air. He instinctively knows that evil is at work nearby. Posing as a scientist, the Doctor and his 'secretary' Dodo gain access to a suite at the top of the tower and meet the driven Professor Brett. His life's work, the thinking computer WOTAN, is about to be linked up in a problem-solving network with many other machines around the world. But the Doctor is concerned. How can WOTAN possibly know the meaning of the word 'TARDIS' and about the Doctor's travels through time and space? What is the strange control that WOTAN can exert over humans via a mere telephone call? Andwhat is the computer's link with the deadly robots being assembled in Covent Garden warehouse?


Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: William Hartnell, Anneke Wells, Michael Craze, Jackie Lane
  • Directors: Michael Ferguson
  • Writers: Ian Stuart Black
  • Producers: Innes Lloyd
  • Format: Black & White, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 6, 2009
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001GJ4U4Q
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,124 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Doctor Who altered its course with The War Machines. Rather than travelling to a distant planet to meet strange-looking aliens, or to Earth's past to encounter a significant historical figure, War Machines is set in comtemporary London, the swinging mid-60s, and it shows! For the very first time in the series' young history, the Doctor and his companion(s) face a modern-day threat, the first time, that is, when they are large enough to interact with the rest of the characters, unlike Planet of The Giants.

As Professor Brett states, WOTAN is ten years ahead of its time. Well, maybe not ten. Perhaps only five years, which would put it smack down in the beginning of the Pertwee Years, right next to a simlar story, Mind of Evil, about a machine taking over people's minds. If anything, The War Machines foreshadows the Third Doctor's era. Hartnell dabbles with electronic gadgets, works with the military (not UNIT yet, but very UNIT-like), and endures incompetent politicians to prevent a menace from taking over the world. Sound familiar? The Pertwee Years four years early. In fact, if you re-hash this script and use it toward another popular 60s TV program, The Avengers, it would feel right at home. I anticipated John Steed and Emma Peel to show up on my TV screen at any minute.

Incidentally, the notion expressed that Doctor Who finally has taken its intended form with The War Machines is about as bogus the Doctor's background being changed during the McCoy years to be something more than a timelord. The intended course in any series is how it originates, not how it becomes. The originators of any series always deserve the "intended course" label.
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This is an enjoyable story from the William Hartnell era of Doctor Who. The Doctor and his companion, Dodo, land in 1960s London shortly after the completion of the Post Office Tower. A brand new thinking computer system, called WOTAN, is housed in the tower. The computer can think for itself, and it decides that humanity is not properly intelligent to be in control of the Earth. WOTAN takes over men's minds by means of hypnotism, and has them create powerful war machines in select locations throughout London, and the war machines will be used to attack London and bring London, then England, then the entire world under WOTAN's control.

The story seems rather dated to modern sensibilities. The war machines themselves are especially laughable in today's world of microchips, and mini computers. These huge machines are portable computers, complete with 1960s era computer tape reels, and rather pointless weapons. However, to 1960s youth (and we must remember that Doctor Who was a children's show) these machines must have appeared quite frightening. If you're familiar with later era Doctor Who shows, the war machines look a lot like the cleaners from Paradise Towers in the Sylvester McCoy era.

This story was missing entirely from the BBC archives by the mid 1970s, but through the diligence of fans it has been restored. There is a short documentary narrated by Anneke Wills that explains how the story was pieced back together.
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When people think Doctor Who this is the type of episode they think of. In fact, many think of this episode as the new beginning of Doctor Who or maybe the end of the beginning. After this Doctor Who would no longer deal with history, as much, as it would deal with the stories set in future or modern times.
Doctor Who and Dodo end up in London, 1960s, to find that the Post Office Tower has been completed and is ready to link up with all computer networks around the world. Yes, the Tower has a computer within it, called WOTAN.
WOTAN has ideas on how to solve mankind's problems. Mostly it involves turning mankind into slaves and running the planet on its own. Part of the plan is making war machines, the title of this piece, which will allow it to attack and destroy those humans, or organizations, it does not already control.
Or course, in the end, the Doctor defeats it. Dodo leaves the show at this point and we get two new characters Ben and Polly. The audio commentary is done by Anneke Wills, who in fact played Polly and does some of the voice work for the extras, and the director Michael Ferguson. Other extras include some clips from Blue Peter, a feature on how the story was put back together after being lost, and much more.
From our point of view the war machines look silly and, frankly, harmless. The Daleks have held up much better. Also the plot seems somewhat old fashion even if the idea of machines taking over is still a fear we have. The scenes of life in London during that time period are interesting to watch and are sometimes pretty funny.
I suggest getting it for fans of Doctor Who or fans of sci-fi dealing with machines taking over the Earth.
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Doctor Who: The War Machines (Story 27)
This item: Doctor Who: The War Machines (Story 27)
Price: $19.19
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