Customer Review

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A change of course, December 7, 2008
This review is from: Doctor Who: The War Machines (Story 27) (DVD)
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. This is not to say that the new direction of the show is bad, but let's not claim that this is where Sidney Newman & Verity Lambert envisioned Doctor Who going.

Basically, The War Machines steers Doctor Who in a new direction, a very subtle foreboding of the early 70s, worth every one of the four stars I gave it. However this story could have been a five-star beauty. How you ask? Where have you gone Ian & Barbara. The Doctor may as well have been companion-less. Dodo barely features at all, disappearing somewhere in episode two, never to be seen again. We are given the revelation at the end that she has decided to stay in London, and bids the Doctor goodbye by relaying a message through the new companions, Ben & Polly. As the Doctor says, that's gratitude for you, not even showing the decency to see the Doctor off personally after being given the experience of her life. Dodo should have gotten a more substantial exit. As for the aforementioned new companions, Ben & Polly fit in with the swinging 60s era, and Polly is pleasing to the eye, however they are no Ian & Barbara. In retrospect, War Machines could have been the perfect swan song for Ian & Barbara. I can just see them telling the Doctor that "we have decided to remain here" at the end of this story, fate having steered the Tardis back in their own time finally. An opportunity sadly lost...
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 9, 2008 7:43:17 AM PST
My belief John in why Jackie Laine (Dodo), was "let go", was because of her bad acting. In one scene she talks "posh" in another she's trying to sound working class Liverpudlian. the girl simply couldn't act.
I'm not surprised she gave up acting a few years later.
This type of storyline (Super computer goes mad then bad.)
may be old and stale now but in 1966 it was still reasonably fresh.
The news reader was Kenneth Kendall who was a real BBC newsreader at the time.
(I like The Avengers reference.)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 10, 2008 7:53:57 AM PST
Thanks for the historical perspective, Keith. Doctor Who in the 60s was a trend setter rather than a follower. That's why I'm still a bit shocked that the "geniuses" who publish reference guides still manage to get it wrong by judging 60s Doctor Who based on the standards of today rather than contemporary standards of the 60s.

I agree with you on Jackie Lane. She is not one of my favorite companions.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2008 10:21:16 AM PST

While Jackie Lane was not the most experienced actress they could have hired, her variable accent was more the result of "Auntie Beeb" deciding that Dodo should change her Cockney accent into "BBC English."

Posted on Jan 3, 2009 12:08:46 PM PST
V. Jones says:
I wonder if this edition is going to have the Blue Peter segment featuring the war machines that the VHS version had?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2009 7:44:59 AM PST
My guess is that it will in the extras.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 5, 2009 7:04:47 AM PST
Yes it has. With a much better picture quality

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 5, 2009 7:13:49 AM PST
I'd heard that reason Jeffrey, but in the same article (Doctor Who magazine, I've forgot the issue.) Jackie Lane was also criticising the producers and directors for not guiding her more, maybe she should her gone with her instincts as an actress instead of passing the blame.
Anyway it's all water under the bridge now. Nice to hear from another Who fan.

Posted on Jan 30, 2010 3:35:17 PM PST
Re barbra and ian, they got to go home (back to there time) via a dalek time machine, the episode was called the chase i have it on v.h.s but cant find it on d.v.d, if any one knows if it exists on d.v.d let me know.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 10, 2010 8:14:52 AM PDT
Kevin, the Chase is coming out on DVD later this year in the states, while it may already be out in the UK. If you are in the States, look for it in early July.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 10, 2010 8:34:05 AM PDT
Thanks for info john re dr who the chase, i live in canada so it should come out at about the same time, once again thank you so much.
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