Which One : WOTAN.
Cast : The Doctor : William Hartnell
Dodo Chaplet : Jackie Lane
Polly : Anneke Wills
Ben Jackson : Michael Craze
Professor Brett : John Harvey
Professor Krimpton : John Cater
Sir Charles Summer : William Mervyn
Major Green : Alan Curtis
WOTAN : Gerald Taylor
Kitty : Sandra Bryant
Flash customer : Ewan Proctor
The Minister : George Cross
Kenneth Kendall : As Himself
Interviewer : John Doye
Radio Announcer : Dwight Whylie
Tramp : Roy Godfrey
Taxi Driver : Michael Rathborne
Mechanic : Edward Colliver
Man In Phonebox : John Slavid
Written By : Ian Stuart Black / Kit Pedler
Produced By : Innes Lloyd
First UK Broadcast : 25 June – 16 July 1966.
Length : 4 x 25 minute parts.
Plot : The Doctor returns to London 1966 and learns of a computer project which has become self-aware; WOTAN. WOTAN is developing robotic war machine to take over London.
Whats good : Earthly invasion piece. On-location shooting. Iconic London landmarks. Ben and Polly. Dodo leaves.
Whats bad : The War Machines are a bit dated looking. Dodo.
Review With Spoilers : The War Machines is the 9th episode of season 9 and the season finale. It marks the departure of Dodo and the joining of new companions; Ben and Polly.
The Doctor returns to London, 1966 – and visits a hi-tech artificial intelligence computer project; called WOTAN (Will Operating Thought ANalogue).
Bluffing his way in, the Doctor meets Polly (an assistant) and tests WOTAN’s flawless logic. Later, WOTAN hypnotises Dodo, Polly and an army of slaves and activates a secret project to build an army of war machines – all over London.
Some of the best Doctor Who’s, involved the invasion or threat of Earth set against a backdrop of London’s iconic landmarks. Daleks, Cybermen and even Dinosaurs have all had a shot at invading the capital.
Therefore, The War Machines is in good company; Dalek Invasion Of Earth, Invasion, The Invasion Of The Dinosaurs, Revelation Of The Daleks, etc. It has become Who’s signature invasion theme – for mostly every Doctor.
“Doc-tor Who is required! Bring him here!” WOTAN
The War Machines benefits from some on-location shooting, (as did Dalek Invasion Of Earth) which gives these early Who’s, a completely different feel – to their studio-bound contemporaries.
The WOTAN computer is just another generic spinning disc in a cabinet type setup. But it is unnervingly realised due to it’s husky Cybermen-esque electronic voice, which simple repeats the phrase “Doctor Who is required”. It also makes for a refreshingly non-alien Earth threat.
The War Machines themselves, are classic 60’s design; if a little humourously dated. With their fire extinguisher guns and big hammer-style arms. It makes you wonder what they could actually take-over.
The Doctor, working alongside the Army to defeat WOTAN, does have shades of future serials (especially Pertwee) which involve UNIT about it. Again, this makes The War Machines, a rudimentary template – for every future invasion piece.
The War Machines also sees the departure of Dodo, who strangely disappears after episode 2; to be replaced by accidental new companions; Ben and Polly.
The War Machines is an Earth invasion piece set against the iconic landmarks of swinging London. It benefits from a homegrown (non-alien) baddy and some companional fresh-blood.