Episode 123 – “The War Machines” – Part One

I do like the fact that the show sometimes explored what might happen if the Doctor arrived in a place where police boxes are still in use.

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Not, perhaps, the most clever way of handling it.

This is, really, the beginning of the end of the Hartnell era. For starters, this is the last fully-intact story from his time. The following story, “The Smugglers”, is completely missing, as is his final episode in “The Tenth Planet”.

We also lose Dodo in this story (more on that later), and gain two new companions. This on the heels of the departure of Steven last time. To make matters even more interesting, we’re on “contemporary” Earth for an entire story. That hasn’t happened in quite a while.

So with all that in mind, let’s get the fun started.

The Doctor and Dodo arrive at a location shoot, where the Doctor puts the above sign on the TARDIS. He does this just in time for us to return to a studio shoot, which allows a policeman to walk past and notice the sign. Alrighty.

The Doctor notices a large building that feels kind of “off” to him. He mentions the Daleks, and Dodo has no idea what he’s talking about. That makes me realize that she’s the first companion to never encounter them. Neat!

With that, we briefly return to our location shot, and find then back to the studio as the Doctor charms his way into the building in question, where he finds scientists and a computer.

And it’s here that we meet Polly! Called Polly Wright in the spin-off fiction, she’s a young woman from swinging London in the swinging sixties! I like Polly quite a lot, and it’s nice to see her.

The Doctor meets WOTAN, the super computer. It deduces square roots, and figures out what TARDIS stands for, which…actually doesn’t make much sense, but there you are. Meantime, Dodo wanders off to a club.

And it’s here that we meet Ben Jackson, sailor! He’s quite easy on the eyes, and the actor who plays him has a great chemistry with the one who plays Polly. The character himself is also quite fun; a tough, pleasant fellow who doesn’t back down.

Meantime, the Doctor goes to the Royal Scientific Club, where a press conference is being held about WOTON, the supercomputer we met earlier. They have some odd idea about networking all the major computers in the world together into one big network. It’ll never catch on.

Turns out that not only will WOTAN be networked with these computers, but it will also have extensive control of them. There’s some speculation that WOTAN could somehow go twonky and try to destroy humanity. This is pooh-poohed, and we’re reassured that nothing could possibliegh go wrong.

WOTAN, it seems, somehow can exude a magical noise that hypnotizes people into doing its will. Ok, that’s just stupid. But let’s assume that’s the case. How does it then communicate its will to the victim? It doesn’t appear to speak to them (at least until later). Are we to believe it is telepathic?

Ah, well. Either way, Dodo is now among the hypnotized, and this will not end well.

Next time: Part two!

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