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Doctor Who: The War Games (Story 50)

4.4 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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(Nov 03, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Doctor Who:The War Games (DVD)

The TARDIS arrives on a planet where a race known only as the Aliens have gathered soldiers from a number of different wars in history, brainwashed them and put them to battle. Their aim is to form an invincible army from the survivors and use this to take over the galaxy.


Patrick Troughton's tenure as the Second Doctor comes to an end with this epic 10-part Doctor Who serial from 1969, which finds him at crossed swords with both a diabolical race of aliens and his own race, the Time Lords. The Doctor's problems begin when he and companions Jamie (Frazier Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) materialize on a planet where soldiers from Earth's past have been brought to fight in a battle of supremacy in order to build a super fighting force for aliens with galactic conquest in mind. In order to stop their plan, the Doctor is forced to call on the Time Lords for help--and in doing so, he must face both trial for stealing the TARDIS and possible regeneration. Historically significant in the history of Doctor Who as the final appearance of Troughton in the role, as well as for the first episode to mention the Time Lords by name and the concept of the Doctor's regeneration, The War Games is distinguished by the quality of its clever scripting (by Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke), which changed the direction of the series for the entirety of Jon Pertwee's term as the Third Doctor and part of Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor story arc.

The DVD presentation of The War Games celebrates the importance of the serial in Who history with a three-disc set that covers nearly every aspect of its production and the Doctor's place in pop culture during the time of its broadcast. Chief among the extras is a commentary track featuring Hines, Padbury, Dicks, and costars Philip Madoc, Jane Sherwin, and Graham Weston; all are featured, along with a host of additional performances and crew, in both the 36-minute "War Zone" featurette, which discusses the making of the serial and Troughton's departure, and "Shades of Grey," which examines the effect of monochrome television on early episodes such as this one. "Talking About Regeneration" discusses the Doctor's changing appearance through talks with Fifth Doctor Peter Davison, among others, while "On Target--Malcolm Hulke" kicks off a series on coauthor Hulke's imaginative Doctor Who novelizations. There's also another installment of "Stripped for Action," which covers the Doctor's adventures in comic form, as well as interviews with composer Dudley Simpson and makeup artist Sylvia James, return visits to the serial's exterior locations, and the usual subtitle production notes, promotional trailers, Radio Times PDF, and gallery of photos. Only "Devious," an amateur film made by fans, fails to live up to the quality of the other material. The Easter Egg-curious will also find treasures on all three discs, including behind-the-scenes audio, a test reel of special effects animation, and an amusing rendition of the Doctor's plea before the Time Lords as enacted by cheeky sock puppets. --Paul Gaita

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines, Wendy Padbury
  • Directors: David Maloney
  • Writers: Terrance Dicks, Malcolm Hulke
  • Producers: Derrick Sherwin
  • Format: Box set, Black & White, Full Screen, Original recording remastered, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 3, 2009
  • Run Time: 250 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002IW62FU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,168 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Doctor Who: The War Games (Story 50)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jason A. Miller VINE VOICE on November 27, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Everyone remembers the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) as the jolly, happy little fellow who always looked frazzled but never defeated. His character always managed to escape the angst that seemed to afflict, say, the Fifth and Ninth Doctors on a regular basis, or the Tenth Doctor in every series finale.

However, even 40 years later, the ordeal to which the Second Doctor is subjected in his swan song is kind of shocking. "The War Games" opens with an iconic image, of the Doctor and his loyal companions Jamie and Zoe (well-played by Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury) standing giggling in a mud puddle in the middle of No-Man's Land. By the end of that week's episode, far from giggling in the mud, they've been captured, escaped, captured, court-martialed, and sentenced to death. The World War I firing squad which the Doctor faces in the story's first cliffhanger is one of the grimmest fates his incarnation ever had to face. While "The War Games" has been accused of being slow and padded, Episode One at least is nearly perfect in its pacing and increasingly downbeat tone.

The writers (Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke, two of "Doctor Who"'s best scribes) slowly reveal the mystery over the course of the first several episodes. In the opening act we see an anachronistic TV screen behind British lines. In Episode Two we see the Doctor abruptly drive from France into Ancient Rome, and in Episode Three he's captured by an out-of-place TARDIS. In Episode Four the Doctor is terrified to recognize one of the aliens responsible for manipulating the war zones, and by Episode Six we learn that the both the Doctor and the War Chief are members of the same race -- the Time Lords.
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4 Comments 54 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
There are so few Patrick Troughton episodes out there. His stories were ravaged by the BBC many years ago, and only a handful have been recovered. The first story is missing, important episodes like "The Highlanders" and "The Enemy of the World" are gone. Even episodes with popular villains such as the Daleks and Cybermen are missing.

Thankfully one of the few stories still intact is the last story. The ten part masterpiece, "The War Games", is the swansong for the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe. It also introduces the Time Lords as a group, shows us a rival Time Lord to the Doctor in the form of the War Chief, and has a nice, epic feel to it that hasn't really been captured in too many other stories. It was also the last of the black and white stories.

There are certain problems with the story. For one, it's quite well-padded and redundant in parts. Truth be told, it could've been done as a four-part story and worked every bit as well, but that's a minor gripe.

Special features on this three-disc collection include such things as commentaries, features on the Target novels and the comic strip, and much more!

Overall this is a heck of a story and a great collection. Worth every penny!
17 Comments 36 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Dr. Who was doing epic storylines befre they were en vogue. This was the most ambitious of the Who stories at the time, and was only eclipsed(not in quality mind you) by the Trial of a Timelord storyline. The story can get a bit repetitive at times, but it is a good yarn, well worth watching. You just knew watching the parts that something huge was going to happen! Troughton was so amazing in the role, and so many don't "know" him as well as the other actors who played the lead role because so many of his episodes, including some of the most famous episodes are lost for all time. This one is monumental in terms of what happemns.
One of the best parts of this story is the treatment of the timelords and Gallifrey(though neither term is sued here). Both were used sparingly to great effect. We are given morsels, tidbits of where the Doctor is from and the power of "his people." Though I loved the stories that followed about Gallifrey and the Timelords, it was nice not to know a lot about the Doctirs past or where he came from. The inclusion of backstory added a lot to the character, but in the process, removed some of the mystery and aura surrounding the character. This is really must see Who. Pity none of the characters introduced here, especially what seems to be another timelord(the Master anyone?!?) never returend. Perhaps with the popularity of the new sereis, that can be rectified. This really is monumental Who, but it is best viewed in chunks and not in one showing, or the repetitive parts will begin to annoy.
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By A Customer on May 2, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Okay. So its 10 episodes long. So what! Watch the tapes in intervals. If you do, this serial is really enjoyable. Watch Doctor Who the way it was meant to be!
This is the only Troughton tape that I gave five stars to. It really was a wonderful farwell piece to the second doctor as well as his companions. This serial also marks the end of the black-and-white era for Doctor Who. It is a wonderful work and is by no means boring in any way. Any Doctor Who fan will love this story.
1 Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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This is a long 10 part serial and the last of the episodes of the second Doctor. Although the second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, would appear in The 3 Doctors, The Five Doctors, and The Two Doctors, this serial ended the second Doctor's reign.

This episode is surprisingly good, and has an unexpected ending. The show is interesting even to non-Doctor Who fans because it is well acted, it is expertly produced, and it has an intriguing story line with many surprising turns including the arrival of the Time Lords and a trial for The Doctor.

Why is he on trial? The Doctor, years ago, was a bored citizen of Gallifrey the home world of the Time Lords. So being bored, he decided to steal a TARDIS or Time and Space machine. As in Star Trek, the Time Lords have a fundamental law that prohibits interference with other cultures and time lines. Time Lords are only to observe. However, the Doctor is sympathetic to those he encounters and always ends up using his power to help those in need. He is always getting involved and always getting into trouble even though he knows full well that one day he will have to answer for his actions. That day has arrived.

This set is a classic and also very rare considering that most of the Patrick Troughton episodes were lost (due to colossal stupidity.) This episode, War Games, is a must have for all Doctor Who fans. All ten parts of this final episode are included in this three DVD set as well as special features making it quite a bargain. I give it an A+. I highly recommend War Games.
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