Number : Season 3, serial 9 of 9.
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 episodes.
Plot : The Doctor returns to London 1966 – and learns of a computer project, which has become self-aware; Will Operating Thought ANalogue (or WOTAN). WOTAN is developing robotic war-machines, 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 ninth serial 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.
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 stories – involve 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, etc. It has become Who’s signature invasion theme.
“Doc-tor Who is required! Bring him here!” WOTAN
The War Machines benefits from some on-location shooting, (as did The Dalek Invasion Of Earth) which gives these early Who’s, a completely different feel; to their other ‘studio-bound’ contemporaries.
The WOTAN computer is just another generic spinning-disc – in a cabinet. 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 invasion 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 era); which involve UNIT. Again, this makes The War Machines, a continuation of the invasion template, which was started with The Dalek Invasion Of Earth.
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) antagonist – and some companion fresh-blood.
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