tirsdag den 24. marts 2009

Who Review #51 - the War Games

This story is the second longest in the show's history, coming in at ten episodes. And it is a sad story, yet again! As mentioned, Troughton, Wendy Padbury and Frazer Hines all left at the same time and it was in this story. It is an important story because the format changed after this and we finally got to learn about the Doctor's own people - the Time Lords. Up until then, the Meddling Monk and Susan were the only people we knew from his home.

Like with Hartnell's era, I watched all of the Troughton era (existing episodes and recons) in order in 2007 on YouTube, seeing much I hadn't before. I adored Bill and also adored Troughton. I don't compare the two or ask who was better; that is like trying to compare a fine wine and a pint of real ale: both are delightful in their own way and cannot be compared. Troughton's humour, soft voice and ability to act the complete clown were a delight, as was his scruffy appearance. It is such a shame that his very best stories (the Tomb of the Cybermen and the Invasion aside) are all but lost. And the Debbie Watling/Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury/Frazer Hines duos were a treat. Hines as Jamie wins my best male companion award. Of course, there haven't been many male companions so it is a bit easy to choose! William Russell (Ian) and Peter Purves (Steven) share 2nd-3rd places.

The Troughton era
"Oh my giddy aunt!"
"When I say run, run!"
"No! no! no! no! no!"
"You've just got to!"
playing a recorder

Classic Zoe
Naughty Zoe - another silly but funny clip and paste of audio, akin to Naughty Victoria.
Wendy in a trench coat with boots combo; later, an army coat and cap which are miles too big for her.

To the review.....

The TARDIS materialises on what looks like the Western front during World War I. There is a barrage but the Doctor and co. and meet Lady Buckingham. All four are captured by German soldiers. They drive the ambulance but are stopped by British troops and the companions and Doctor taken to the British lines. The Doctor takes a peek and machine gun fire makes him take cover. They are questioned and sent to General Smythe. He opens a painting to reveal a TV monitor and says he is in the British sector 1917 and wants more specimens. The Doctor and co. begin to be suspected of being spies. Carstairs and Buckingham talk about their experiences; they don't seem to remember anything. Capt. Ransome (played by a Who regular, Hubert Rees) reports to Smythe; Smythe mesmerises him, saying he didn't see him. Then he mesmerises Carstairs. The Doctor and co. are presented before a court martial, presided over by Smythe. Jamie is accused of desertion from a Highland regiment, whilst Zoe and the Doctor are charged with espionage - the punishment is death. Ransome and Barrington are mesmerised by Smythe - they pass a guilty judgement. The Doctor is to be shot at dawn. Zoe, being looked after by Buckingham, finds the monitor in Smythe's quarters. She tries to rescue the Doctor, but to no avail. He is taken out by a military detail for execution.

The firing squad is attacked by a German sniper, allowing Zoe to untie the Doctor and escape. Smythe is forced to mesmerise Ransome again because a machine materialises to collect Smythe. A Redcoat is put in the cell with Jamie; the Redcoat believes the year is 1745. The Doctor and Zoe bluff a ride to the prison holding Jamie. He and the Redcoat feign a fight and knock out the guards who come in to stop it. Buckingham is beginning to remember things. The redcoat is shot and Jamie recaptured. The Doctor is masquerading as an inspector, but the escape plan fails - they are recaptured. Buckingham grows more suspicious because Ransome doesn't remember the court martial. Zoe and co. go to Smythe's room with Carstairs to look at the monitor. He and Buckingham finally see the monitor, but Smythe has registered the Doctor and co. They make off in Buckingham's ambulance. Smythe returns in his machine. The ambulance passes through some fog; suddenly the group find themselves under attack from Roman soldiers.

They drive back into 1917. The Doctor realises that there are different time zones. they go to Smythe's office to find maps of the area and its time zones. The map has all sorts of zones from Earth's history of military battles; in the middle is a blank space, which they head for. The ambulance is taken by German soldiers, again. The Doctor and co. are questioned by a German officer; the Doctor explains they are time travellers and demonstartes the sonic screwdriver. The officer's CO enters and mesmerises him, saying they are spies. The German CO has a monitor in his quarters; he reports the threesome and that they are time travellers. They escape from the German HO. Smythe, in an advanced, alien building talks with the War Chief; the latter looks concerned when Smythe tells him they are time travellers. The ambulance enters the American Civil War zone, where they are ambushed. Carstairs is captured. Smythe and the German discuss battle plans to test their humans. the ambulance breaks down, the Doctor and co. take refuge in a barn, a machine materialises and dozens of Yankee soldiers exit. The Doctor and Zoe enter the ship and it dematerialises without warning.

Jamie and Buckingham are taken prisoner by Yankees. The machine materialises in the alien base. Zoe mentions it is similar to the TARDIS and wonders who else has machines like that; the Doctor is suddenly concerned. They come across a large number of German soldiers and Romans in a trancelike state. The yankees run when they are attacked by confederates. Leroy (Leslie Schofield - later in EastEnders) reports to his general, who is the same person as the CO in the German 1917 zone. The machine arrives at the alien central command. Jamie and Buckingham are rescued by Harper (Rudolph Walker - Patrick in EastEnders), from a resistance group who have seen through the deceptions and time zones. Zoe and the Doctor enter a room where a lecture is given on the resistance to the mind control; Carstairs is brought in and reconditioned. Carstairs suddenly points out the Doctor and Zoe as German spies, but isn't believed. The Doctor talks to the scientist, learning about the processing machine. Jamie and Buckingham meet the resistance group. The War Chief enters; the Doctor and Zoe run for it. Carstairs grabs Zoe an dsys it is his duty to shoot German spies. He points a gun at her.

The scientist stops Carstairs and then Zoe is questioned by someone. The Doctor returns to the deprocessing room, where he rescues Carstairs, who remembers again. Jamie and rebels defeat a group of people who come through in one of the machines. The War Chief has begun cooperating with a race of people; he has special knowledge and also recognises the Doctor. Jamie and some of the resistance soldiers get into one of the machines and take off. The scientist talks with his fellow security chief. The inquisitor mentions that Zoe knows of time and space travel. The scientist says only the War Chief and his people know of such travel. Jamie and the soldiers step out of the machine and are fired upon by guards.

The security chief talks further with the scientist about the Doctor, the War Chief and their people - the Time Lords. (Episode 6 is the first time we hear the name.) The scientist examines the stunned soldiers carefully and finds Jamie isn't processed. The soldiers are rescued and then Jamie. The Doctor, Jamie and Carstairs remain in the alien base in order to get the processing machine. They are given an ultimatum by the security officer. The War Chief operates the dimensional control of the machine and says they have 30 seconds to surrender or else be crushed.

The Doctor exits, uses a smoke bomb and resets the machine's control. They escape. The War Lord arrives at the alien base. The Doctor and co. nearly meet up again with the rebels and Zoe in the 1917 sector. The Doc and co. are taken before Smythe again, but the rebels storm the buildings and kill Smythe. The Doctor fiddles with one of the machines and sets up a time zone barrier, where they are safe from the fighting. The security controller launches a quick raid though and grabs the Doctor and the processing machine.

The Doctor is interrogated by the security leader, who tries to get him to admit he is in league with the War Chief and the Time Lords. The Doctor can prevent a mind scan; so the War Chief, who is a Time Lord, will interrogate the Doctor. The War Chief recognises the Doctor and we learn the Doctor stole the TARDIS and left his people. The War Chief is explains the plan: to create an army, using humans, to conquer the galaxy. Zoe and co. are taken by surprise by Arturo Villa; they talk and try to get his help. The War Chief wants to use the War Lord to take over and wants the Doctor's aid. The rebels begin to lay a plan of action: destruction of communicator machines in the war zones in order to lure one of the War Lord space machines. The Doctor talks to Zoe and Jamie on a monitor; he promises to send a machine. When they land, the Doctor turns out to have lured them and the rebels. They are surrounded by guards.

The War Chief's machines have a limited life, so he wants the TARDIS and the Doctor. He is keeping the Doctor alive for that reason. They go to the War Lord. The Doctor continues to play as if he wants to help him. The Doctor says he will reprocess the rebels and is left alone with them. He explains that he played along because the Security leader was going to use a neutron bomb to destroy them. The Security leader listens to a tape where he hears the War Chief's plan and has him arrested. The Doctor and rebels re-capture the War Chief and take over the war room. The Security leader is shiot by the War Chief. The latter stops the fighting. The Doctor is forced to call for help from the Time Lords to help the soldiers back. The War Chief implores that he not call them as he and the Doctor will face their wrath. The War Chief runs and is killed by the War Lord. The rebels overpower the War Lord. The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe make a run for it as the Time Lords arrive.

The Doctor explains he ran from the Time Lords because he was bored of the Time Lord life because they rarely use their powers. The Doctor wanted to see all of time and its civilisations. They materialise different places but are caught up with by the Time Lords. The Doctor is forced to go back to his home planet and face trial for breaking the law. Jamie, Zoe and the Doctor are taken to a courtroom. They see the War Lord tried, convicted and dematerialised with his men (who tried a last ditch rescue effort) as punishment. The Doctor stands trial for breaking the Time Lord law of non-intervention in the affairs of others. The Doctor defends himself by showing the Daleks, Cybermen, etc he has fought against. Jamie and Zoe are sent home to their own times, at a time when they will remember only their first adventure with the Doctor. The Time Lords accept that their is evil to fight and the Doctor has a part to play. His appearance is changed, his knowledge of the TARDIS taken and he is exiled to 20th Century Earth.

The War Games is a marvellous story. The way the plot is layered is excellent, starting with the mysteries of the Western Front. There are a few spots towards the middle where I felt the story lost a bit of pace, but on the whole it moves nicely towards the climatic finish of meeting the Time Lords and the trial. The way the War Chief and the Doctor speak of the Time Lords intrigues the viewer straight away as to what their fellow race are like.

Peter Brayshaw's puts in a great performance and his War Chief is a great villain. There are some other good performances too.

The end of another era and done in fine style.

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