Doctor Who 124 – The War Machines Part Two

Written by Ian Stewart Black
Directed by Michael Ferguson

Wotan implements the construction of War Machines to be used to subdue the human race.  Meanwhile, The Doctor discovers Dodo’s entrancement. 

Sadly, what ended up being a routine tramp killing turned in to front page news.

 “Doctor Who must be enlisted in our services tonight!”

Having been hypnotized by Wotan, Dodo hightails it back to The Inferno club to attempt to lure The Doctor to Wotan for hypnosis.  Unfortunately for her, the comedy forces are at work this night and through a series of near misses, Ben hails The Doctor a cab before Wotan’s other slaves (from a rapidly increasing slave force) can abduct him.  The Doctor, Dodo, and Polly depart in the cab as Ben heads for a nearby service base.

Meanwhile, the homeless tramp who had ridden in the cab that Ben hailed decides to bunk down for the evening in a warehouse that doesn’t turn out to be as abandoned as he remembered it being.  The make his evening worse, Wotan senses his presence, leading to the tramp’s swift demise.

The following day, The Doctor reads in the newspaper of a tramp’s body being found.  He makes the connection to the man from the night before.  The Doctor is quite taken by this information until he learns that top computer scientists in London are disappearing.  Dodo suggests they visit Professor Brett to inquire about this.  The Doctor makes a call to Brett’s office, and he is immediately connected to Wotan, who fails to hypnotize The Doctor.  Unfortunately for Dodo, she begins to reveal the plan before she checks to see if The Doctor was actually hypnotized.  The Doctor is a bit slow on the uptake, but eventually figures out that Dodo has been compromised.  He breaks her connection to Wotan and puts her to sleep.

Polly, distressed by these happenings, returns to the tower to check on the professor, and is quickly captured.  Ben, worried that Polly stood him up for lunch, checks on The Doctor, who recruits the young sailor to investigate the neighborhood where they last saw the tramp.  Ben discovers the war machine factory, complete with a fully armed and operational war machine.  Cue cliffhanger.

T.F.U.?

If I remember my lore correctly, I believe the war machines were meant to be the new Daleks.  And while the basic premise is sound, I believe, the failure is in the design.  Just as Wotan foresaw Skynet, the war machines seem to be an early form of Robot Wars, complete with steam gun and bashing arm.  As much as I enjoyed the episode, the design of the machines hasn’t aged as well as the story.  But the designers worked with what they had, and it works for the story.  However, I know that when I eventually loan this DVD out it is the design of the machines that will receive the critical comments.  But despite poor design, we have to keep in mind that this story took place in the 1966.  Wotan would have used the equipment available to him at the time.  Thus, the design is at least partially plausible.  The lack of actual guns, however . . . less plausible.

I’m also enjoying Hartnell in this story.  Granted, I enjoy him much of the time, but it is fun seeing him tackle the type of story that would come to dominate the show.  This is the type of story in which any Doctor could have appeared, yet it is distinctively different from other Hartnell stories.  It is fun to see his performance and to see him rise to an earth-bound threat.  But my favorite Hartnell moment in the story is yet to come.  That will be the cliffhanger to part three.

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