The War Games: Doctor Who: Season 6
The War Games SYNOPSIS:
The Tardis arrives during World War One in France at the British Front and the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe are arrested and tried for being German spies when taking to General Smythe the two companions sentenced to imprisonment and the Doctor to be executed. When they find futuristic equipment In the General's quarters the Doctor is certain something else is going on.
Escaping they soon find through invisble barriers there are war zoes from various wars in Earth's history on an alien planet and a plan is being carried out to form a super army from the survivors of these War Games. The person assisting the War Lords implementing their plan for universal takeover is the War Chief a renegade member of the Doctor's own race - the Time Lords.
With only one Tardis to rescue the thousands of humans trapped there, brainwashed for war and defeat the overwhelming odds of the War Lords is the Doctor's own people. But he knows to call on them will prevent further his further travels and end with his capture and trial as a renegade on the run.
Return to top of page
The War Games DETAILS:
Return to top of page
The War Games CAST & CREW
Patrick Troughton(Second Doctor)
Fraser Hines (Jamie McCrimmon)
Wendy Padbury (Zoe Herriot)
David Savile — Lt Carstairs
Jane Sherwin — Lady Jennifer Buckingham
Noel Coleman — General Smythe
Richard Steele — Commandant Gorton
Terence Bayler — Major Barrington
Hubert Rees — Captain Ransom
David Valla — Lieutenant Crane
Esmond Webb — Sgt Major Burns
Brian Forster — Sergeant Willis
Pat Gorman — Military Policeman
Peter Stanton — Military Chauffeur
David Garfield — Von Weich
Gregg Palmer — Lieutenant Lucke
John Livesey, Bernard Davies — German Soldiers
Philip Madoc — War Lord
Edward Brayshaw — War Chief
James Bree — Security Chief
Vernon Dobtcheff — Chief Scientist
John Atterbury — Alien Guard
Charles Pemberton — Alien Technician
Bill Hutchinson — Sgt Thompson
Terry Adams — Corporal Riley
Leslie Schofield — Leroy
Rudolph Walker — Harper
Michael Lynch — Spencer
Graham Weston — Russell
David Troughton — Moor
Peter Craze — Du Pont
Michael Napier-Brown — Arturo Villar
Stephen Hubay — Petrov
Tony McEwan — Redcoat
Bernard Horsfall — First Time Lord
Trevor Martin — Second Time Lord
Clyde Pollitt — Third Time Lord
Clare Jenkins — Tanya Lernov
Production Staff for Serial ZZ:
Writer - Malcolm Hulke & Terrance Dicks
Director - David Maloney
Script editor - Terrance Dicks (uncredited)
Producer - Derrick Sherwin
Return to top of page
The War Games REVIEWS
First what a way to end the B&W era with a 10 part story, the only 10 part story thank God! Everyone's leaving, think this is the only time in Dr Who that the entire regular cast, and the production staff take off at the same time.(Is that right Grob?) Leaving the show open for either immediate cancellation or a clean slate for the next year. Luckily they choose the latter otherwise we'd be winding up the reviews now.
Firstly from all reports the production staff were tired, but why not at least attempt to cut 4 parts out of the War Games for another story? The main problem with War Games is the massive length. To make one this long without any main bad guys, like the daleks, cybermen or even the Yeti was always going to strain the viewer's patience - at least this viewer anyway. This would have made a classic and fast moving six parter if condensed. The first two and a half episodes were great and pretty fast moving but then the whole thing sort of starts to wander and just becomes repeats of running, getting captured, getting rescued, running again meeting new people who help get the heroes captured and rescued.
All the good elements of the War Games are nearly drowned by the constant run around. The main part being finally finding out about the Doctor's origins, that he's a Time Lord and a renegade on the run much like his adversary, the War Chief. This guy is a devious and excellent character and someone who seems to be the first genuine equal match for the Doctor. It's obvious that these two knew each other well and their scenes together are fantastic. The Security Chief is played well because I genuinely found the guy dislikeable as in he's like the whining brat at school who always wants to run off to Mum if anyone steals his colour pencils. The WC should toyed with him by sticking glue sticks in his coffee or ink on his office chair, the black eye telescope's a good one.., he's just an annoying pratt.
All the supporting characters are convincingly played, except for that Mexican guy what a stereo type why not just show him munching taco's all the time and screaming eppah, eppah, underlay ye-haaaah! That guy just shat me and had the story been six parts he would've never been written in. the whole thing had touches like when they are in the voids between time periods and the Warlords hypnotic methods, it's just repeated too much! Plus the downside was that the frickin' hack guards are not only badly attired and wear ridiculous glasses Austin Powers wouldn't be caught dead in but they're stupid enough not to see the good guys when they hide behind the glass walls of the Warlords HQ!
As of the felt control boards for operating their Sidrat time machines, well you can tell not much money was left in the bank at all for this one.
The best bits: Phillip Madoc, back already and playing a totally menacing and calculating character who electrifies the screen whenever he's on and the final episode, the pace picks up dramatically where the doctor calls in the Time Lords and tries his best to escape them but ultimately and convincingly fails and is put on trial. His current incarnation sentenced to death by them more or less. Here's the only instance where the Time Lords seem truly omnipotent beings who possess awesome mental powers our Doctor must given away by going on the run.
The only fitting end for Troughton and a tearful end as he says goodbye to ever faithful and reliable Jamie and hot little brainiac Zoe who has decided unwisely to cover her bod completely in her last story. Despite Troughton's attempts to stall the inevitable the story comes to an end. These bits work well, all in all though the length is the detractor and have to give it a 6.5/10. But take a bow Troughton, Hines & Padbury for being the most convincing Tardis team yet.
Taking the first part of the story (eps 1 - 9), umm..... first. The whole War Zone story was quite good, it certainly grabbed some attention but wasn't strong enough to stretch over nine episodes. The first episode was very good in setting up the entire plot; at first you think its World War One - which does look very well realised here - before it all gets very mysterious and we get the classic WTF Doctor Who moments. Sadly, after the initial setup it does go a bit pear-shaped. There was far too much coming and going through the various zones and different soldiers (I think we saw the same footage of the roman chariot and horses about ten times!) and an awful amount of padding.
Carstairs and Lady Jennifer were nice enough characters but really there wasn't enough depth to either of them. Other characters were pretty faceless or just needed to say the various lines for whatever reasons. The War Chief was suitably slimy and Philip Madoc as the War Lord was very creepy. Go them! But it all gets too much for the Doctor and he uses the power of the little white cube to call up his Time Lord buddies, which leads us into....
Episode 10. It's all on as everyone is on (at this stage) the Doctor's unnamed home planet. The explanations start coming thick and fast; who the Doctor is, why he was on the run, how he got the TARDIS, where is came from, who the Time Lords are, its all here. In some ways its a bit like PARTING OF THE WAYS in terms of info-dump at the last minute but its easier to follow than that whole Bad Wolf crappola storyline arc thing. Already we have arrived mid-trial for the War Lord and its not going well for him. The Doctor and Jamie and Zoe make one last attempt at escape but.....
Probably in the War Games more than any other story that is set on Gallifrey you really get the feeling that the Time Lords ARE a powerful race that can do anything they damn well please. What a pity they became a bunch of old gits in stupid hats later on (DEADLY ASSASsIN I am looking in your direction!) These guys can say anything and it happens. And if anyone can bring down the Doctor hiimself, well its these three zebes,
Y'know, its still quite sad to watch cos you KNOW that its not going to end well for ANYONE in this story. No one gets out of here unscathed. The War Chief is "dematerialised" so no one will remember him, Jamie and Zoe are returned back to their own time streams - in a very well yet understated farewell scene - with only their first meeting of the Doctor to remember. The Doctor himself is put on trial, found guilty and forced to change his appearance. And finally the viewer at home is left to stare at the pieces. Everyone they have watched and cared for is no more. Imagine watching THAT when it first came out - it would probably rival the very first episode that started it all in 1963. Which is pretty cool actually as the series (or this era of the series) ends as it began; it picked you up very abruptly, took you all through time and space and before you know it you are dumped back where you started just as mercilessly. No explanations or anything. Its over.
And that is it. Episode 10 really deserves the credit cos as AN UNEARTHLY CHILD got us to this point, THE WAR GAMES kicks us right into......
The first 9 parts are… well… kind of boring. While the idea of the story is pretty good, it's not 9 parts good! To be honest, I don't think I've ever lasted through the whole thing… as Grob knows, I did tape it a while ago, but infamously proceeded to tape over it with some Tom Baker stories… which were a lot better!
Transporting all combatants from various wars to build an elite army from the survivors is a good idea… however I've never been big on the war stories, so that could be another reason why I couldn't get through War Games… that and the fact that when you make something that long, it's really got to have something that makes you really want to spend the next 4 hours tuned in… and the War Games didn't really have it.
And spelling TARDIS backwards is a stupid idea!
Until part 10.
As Grob said, part 10 does almost as much for the Dr Who myth as The Unearthly Child… we finally learn about galifrey, time lords and the big one, why he was on the run in the first place! And the great thing, they've kept this relatively consistent for the next 40 years. It's brilliantly played, especially by Troughton - his final scene is possibly the best final scene of any Doctor (OK… with the exception of carrot juice carrot juice carrot juice!). And you really feel for Jamie and Zoe losing their memories too. It's very well done… and deserves a 5/5… unfortunately the rest of the War Games is way too slow and can only get a 1/5