mandag den 16. marts 2009

Who Review #28 - the War Machines

Picture: the delightful Anneka Wills (Polly)

The TARDIS arrives in London 1966. The Doctor gets a prickling sensation at the sight of the Post Office Tower - there is something alien about it. They go to the Tower and discover that there is going to be a worldwide link up of computers. (What a crazy, unrealistic sci-fi idea!) There they meet Professor Brett and Polly and see the computer WOTAN, which has artificial intelligence. When asked what TARDIS stands for, the computer gets it right. Dodo feels a bit faint suddenly. Polly and Dodo go to the hottest night spot in London: "The Inferno". (This scene is so swinging 60s!) There they meet a sailor called Ben (Michael Craze). Brett and Major Green are taken over by WOTAN. Dodo receives a phone call at the Inferno and is taken over too. The Doctor's suspicions are aroused when Brett walks out of a press meeting with Professor Krimpton. Back at the Tower Brett tells Crimpton that WOTAN cannot see any future progress for the Earth while humans are in charge; humans will be eliminated, if necessary. Krimpton tries to use force of will but is himself taken over by the computer. The Doctor goes to the Inferno to collect Dodo but she has gone to the Tower, where WOTAN instructs her to bring the Doctor to "him".

WOTAN gives a list of people to be overtaken who can work on War Machines. "Doctor Who is required," says WOTAN. (The only time in the show he is called that.) Dodo returns to the Inferno and the Doctor, her and Polly grab a cab. The warehouse across the road is being used to make the war machines. The tramp who was in the cab goes to doss in the warehouse but is murdered; the Doctor sees the report of his death in the morning paper. He has gone to see Sir Charles. Dodo persuades the Doctor to see Brett; he calls ahead first and WOTAN tries to take him over. Dodo, thinking he is under control, divulges the plan. The Doctor uses his mystical ring to deprogramme Dodo. Sir Charles lets Dodo stay at his house in the country...and that is the last time we see Dodo, as she was written out of the show. Back at the warehouse, the war machines are nearing completion. Polly leaves Sir Charles and goes to the Post Office Tower and Brett's office. Ben, who was supposed to have lunch with Polly but she doesn't show, goes to Sir Charles's and is instructed by the Doctor to scout around the area of the warehouse. In the warehouse, he sees Major Green testing a war machine and the machine spots him.

Ben nearly escapes but is prevented by a now WOTAN controlled Polly. He is spared because WOTAN needs as many hands as possible. In the PO Tower, plans are being laid for war machines to take over all strategic points. Ben finally slips away whilst everyone else is busy preparing; Polly sees him but does nothing . He makes it back to the Doctor and relates what he has seen. Polly is reprimanded; she helped Ben because she remembered Ben is her friend. The army is called in to surround the warehouse. A battle ensues, however the soldiers' guns are made to jam so they retreat. The Doctor boldly walks up to a war machine.

The war machine stops as it isn't fully programmed. A news broadcast warns of further attacks on London. (The newsreader was Kenneth Kendall.) The Doctor decodes the programming and works out there are 11 other machines, due to attack at noon. The captured people from the warehouse don't remember anything. A second war machine causes havoc; the Doctor devises a plan to capture it. Polly has returned to the PO Tower to receive judgement from WOTAN. The captured war machine is reprogrammed by the Doctor and sent to face WOTAN. Ben rescues Polly. Krimpton is killed and WOTAN destroyed whilst Brett recovers. The Doctor makes a quick exit. Ben and Polly tell the Doctor that Dodo has decided to stay on Earth; they forget to give him a key and go into the Police Box they see him enter, which then dematerialises.

I have always regarded the war machines as discount Daleks. They don't look all that good. The actual story is none to great either. It does have some good points though. The irritating Dodo is written out and replaced by leggy blonde Anneka Wills (did I mention I belong to the shallow Whovian community?) and Ben. The suggestion of technology containing dangers makes its first Who appearance. Finally, this was the first modern day story. The Doctor saving present dayEarth from a menace, aided by the military, can almost be seen as a rudimentary UNIT story. The war machines didn't look impressive going through London, unlike what was to come a little later.

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