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The War Games

Production Code: ZZ

First Transmitted

1 - 19/04/1969 17:15

2 - 26/04/1969 17:15

3 - 03/05/1969 17:15

4 - 10/05/1969 17:15

5 - 17/05/1969 17:15

6 - 24/05/1969 17:15

7 - 31/05/1969 17:15

8 - 07/06/1969 17:15

9 - 14/06/1969 17:15

10 - 21/06/1969 17:15

Plot

The TARDIS arrives on a planet where a race known only as the Aliens have gathered soldiers from a number of different wars in Earth's history, brainwashed them and put them to battle. Their aim is to form an invincible army from the survivors and use this to take over the galaxy.

The War Lord is assisted by a Security Chief and a War Chief, the latter of whom the Doctor quickly recognises as a member of his own race, the Time Lords. The War Chief has provided the Aliens with the time vessels, SIDRATs, that are essential to their scheme; but he secretly plans to double-cross them and seize power for himself.

When the War Lord learns of the War Chief's duplicity he has him shot down by guards. By this time, however, the Doctor, aided by a band of human resistance fighters who have shaken off the Aliens' control, has already managed to put a stop to the war games. Unfortunately he has no way of returning all the human soldiers to their proper times and places and so has to call on the Time Lords for help.

Having thus revealed his position to them, he is taken prisoner, placed on trial for the crime of interfering in the affairs of other races and subsequently sentenced to a period of exile on Earth. Jamie and Zoe, meanwhile, are sent back to their own respective points of origin. Before being dispatched to begin his exile, the Doctor is told that he must again take on a new appearance...

Episode Endings

In the First World War zone the Doctor has been found guilty of spying against the English forces and is tied up before a firing squad. Captain Ransom brings his men to order, tells them to present arms and opens his mouth to give the order to fire. A shot rings out and the Doctor grimaces.

The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe, together with their new friends Lieutenant Carstairs and Lady Jennifer Buckingham, have left the First World War zone in the latter's military ambulance. They encounter fresh danger, however, as soldiers from ancient Rome charge down a hill towards them. The others clamber back into the ambulance as Carstairs tries desperately to restart the engine using a crank handle. The Roman soldiers are almost upon them...

The time travellers and Lady Jennifer see one of the Aliens' time machines arrive in a barn in the American Civil War zone and a number of Confederate soldiers emerge. When the soldiers have left, the Doctor enters the machine to investigate. Suddenly shooting is heard from outside the barn. Zoe goes to fetch the Doctor but when she too is inside the machine, the door closes and it dematerialises - much to Jamie's consternation.

Zoe encounters Carstairs in the Aliens' landing bay. Her initial relief quickly fades when he pulls his revolver on her and, unmoved by her attempts to remind him who he is, insists that she is a German spy and that it is his duty to shoot her. His finger tightens on the trigger...

The Doctor, Zoe and Carstairs watch from hiding as one of the Aliens' time machines returns to the landing bay. Jamie and three of the human resistance fighters, including their leader Russell, emerge. Zoe realises that they have walked into an ambush. Alien guards open fire on the newcomers, who writhe in agony and fall to the floor, apparently dead.

The Doctor, Jamie and Carstairs are trapped inside one of the Aliens' time machines as the internal dimensions are gradually reduced. The War Chief informs them that they have thirty seconds to decide whether to surrender or be crushed to death...

The Aliens mount a successful raid on the First World War chateau that the resistance fighters have adopted as their base. They capture the Doctor and reclaim the mental processing machine that he earlier stole from them. Jamie, Zoe, Russell and Carstairs are powerless to stop them as they leave in their time machine.

The Doctor has delivered the leaders of all the different groups of human resistance fighters into the clutches of the Security Chief and the War Chief. Jamie and Zoe react in horror to this apparent act of treachery.

The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe try desperately to regain the safety of the TARDIS as the Time Lords cause them to move as if in slow motion. They slump down beside the ship's police box exterior and the Doctor strains to turn the key in the lock...

A still protesting Doctor spins away through a dark void to begin his sentence of exile on Earth with a new appearance. His face is shrouded in shadow...

Roots

All Quiet on the Western Front.

Oh What a Lovely War!

The War Game.

Paths of Glory.

The Star Trek episode The Gamesters of Triskelion.

The Saint's The Death Game.

Dialogue Triumphs

Arturo Villar : [To Zoe] "For such a little woman, your mouth is too big."

The Doctor : "It is a fact, Jamie, that I do tend to get involved with things."

The Doctor : [To the Time Lords] "All these evils I have fought, while you have done nothing but observe! True, I am guilty of interference. Just as you are guilty of failing to use your great powers to help those in need!"

Zoe : "Will we ever meet again?"

The Doctor : "Now, Zoe, you and I know that time is relative, isn't it?"

Dialogue Disasters

Security Chief : [Witty riposte] "No, what a stupid fool YOU are!"

Continuity

The Doctor kisses Zoe in episode one. He adopts the alias of Dr. John Smith again (see The Wheel in Space), uses the sonic screwdriver to prove to Lucke that he is from another time, and also to 'reverse the negative field' of a plastic wall and weaken it.

The War Chief is a Time Lord who left [Gallifrey] after the Doctor. He recognises the Doctor. The Doctor states that he had 'every right' to leave the Time Lords' planet. The Doctor's TARDIS was stolen. The Doctor notes that the machine's 'directional mechanism' is faulty, hence he has been unable to pilot it correctly.

The Doctor tells Jamie and Zoe that he was bored with the Time Lords' lifestyle, that they 'hardly ever use their great powers', being content to instead to observe, and that 'barring accidents' Time Lords can 'live forever'. [In the light of later statements, presumably an over-simplification].

When the Doctor is forced to ask for the Time Lords' help, he builds a cube from six white cards. He says this contains all of the information on the events he has witnessed [The box travels by mental projection. If intended for the Matrix the cards are some form of data storage system, or a miniature TARDIS.]

The Time Lords sentence the Doctor to exile on Earth during the 20th century. The Doctor notes that the planet seems particularly vulnerable to alien attack. They also appear to give him a choice on his next regenerative form, though in the end they make the decision for him (see Destiny of the Daleks). [One of the options looks like the fifth Doctor.]

The aliens won't use post-1918 humans as they are too advanced. The space/time machines that the War Chief provides for the games are only named SIDRAT once (in episode seven, when it's pronounced 'side rat'). Like the TARDIS, they are dimensionally transcendental.

The Doctor refers to them on several occasions as 'TARDIS travel machines'. Their outer shells are green. The Doctor says in his day remote control and dimensional flexibility in time machines could only be achieved by reducing the machine's life span [see The Mark of the Rani: he's astonished she's solved that problem]. It seems that the SIDRATs have only a limited working capacity. The War Chief doesn't seem to possess a TARDIS [perhaps it was cannibalised to make the SIDRATs]. He shrinks the interior of a SIDRAT (cf The Time Meddler).

The Time Lords 'dematerialize' the War Lord and his guards ('It will be as though you had never existed') and place their planet in a 'force field' (see Image of the Fendahl). They don't mention Susan. The War Lord's home planet must be close to 'Galactic sector 973'.

QV

Season 6(b)

Language

Location

An unnamed planet, occupied by the War Lord's race. The various time zones present include the First World War (near Ypres 1917), a Roman occupied country and America during the Civil War (1862 according to the map). Other zones either mentioned or seen on the map include Scotland during the 1745 rebellion, the Crimean War, the Boer War, the Mexican Civil War, the 1905 Russo Japanese Peninsular war, the Thirty Years War, the English Civil War, the 'Greek Zone' [Athens/Sparta war of the 5th century BC], and, by implication, the French Revolution (one of the Resistance is a sans culotte).

Links

Trivia

The story title, episode number and writers' credits for each episode are shown over a stock footage montage of explosions and gunfire.

Producer Derrick Sherwin's then wife Jane appears in the role of Lady Jennifer Buckingham.

A real First World War ambulance is used in the location scenes.

Patrick Troughton's son David (who had previously been an extra in The Enemy of the World) appears in the minor speaking role of Private Moor.

There is the first mention by name, and ultimately the first appearance, of the Doctor's own race, the Time Lords.

Short clips in Episode Ten were taken from the opening episodes of The Web of Fear, Fury from the Deep and The Wheel in Space.

There is a tear-jerking departure scene for popular companions Jamie and Zoe.

Myth

Derrick Sherwin was credited as producer on this story because Peter Bryant had been assigned to troubleshoot an ailing BBC detective series called Paul Temple. (Sherwin was deputising as producer because Bryant was ill.)

Doctor Who was under serious threat of being cancelled at the end of this season. (Although this is Terrance Dicks's recollection, it has been denied by both Peter Bryant and Derrick Sherwin and is not borne out by contemporary evidence. The series would, however, face the threat of cancellation at the end of the following season.)

Goofs

Despite being asked to memorise all the locations and war zone commanders, Zoe's photographic memory lets her down: her first words to the Mexican leader are 'Who are you?'

The geographical layout of the map doesn't tally with the one assumed by the narrative.

In episode seven the Doctor says that he is sending Zoe and Russell back to the 1917 zone, but they arrive in the American Civil War zone.

At the end of this episode, with all the Resistance at his mercy, the Security Chief merely kidnaps the Doctor.

Fashion Victim

Jamie and Zoe in German spiked helmets.

The cardboard 'glasses' worn by the scientists.

The kinky leather costumes of the security guards.

Cast & Crew

Cast

The Doctor - Patrick Troughton

Jamie - Frazer Hines

Zoe - Wendy Padbury

Alien Guard - John Atterbury

Alien Technician - Charles Pemberton

Arturo Villar - Michael Napier-Brown

Captain Ransom - Hubert Rees

Commandant Gorton - Richard Steele

Corporal Riley - Terry Adams

Du Pont - Peter Craze

First Time Lord - Bernard Horsfall

General Smythe - Noel Coleman

German soldier - John Livesey

German soldier - Bernard Davies

Harper - Rudolph Walker

Lady Jennifer Buckingham/Lady Jennifer/Jennifer - Jane Sherwin

Leroy - Leslie Schofield

Lieut. Crane - David Valla

Lieut. Lucke - Gregg Palmer

Lieutenant Carstairs - David Savile

Major Barrington - Terence Bayler

Military Chauffeur - Peter Stanton

Military Policeman - Pat Gorman

Moor - David Troughton

Petrov - Stephen Hubay

Redcoat - Tony McEwan

Russell - Graham Weston

Scientist - Vernon Dobtcheff

Second Time Lord - Trevor Martin

Security Chief - James Bree

Sergeant Willis - Brian Forster

Sgt. Major Burns - Esmond Webb

Sgt. Thompson - Bill Hutchinson

Spencer - Michael Lynch

Tanya - Clare Jenkins

Third Time Lord - Clyde Pollitt

von Weich - David Garfield

War Chief - Edward Brayshaw

War Lord - Philip Madoc

Crew

Director - David Maloney

Assistant Floor Manager - Marion McDougall

Assistant Floor Manager - Caroline Walmsley

Costumes - Nicholas Bullen

Designer - Roger Cheveley

Fight Arranger - Peter Diamond

Fight Arranger - Arthur Howell

Film Cameraman - Alan Jonas

Film Editor - Chris Hayden

Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson

Make-Up - Sylvia James

Producer - Derrick Sherwin

Production Assistant - Edwina Verner

Script Editor - Terrance Dicks

Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson

Studio Lighting - Howard King

Studio Sound - John Staple

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Delia Derbyshire

Visual Effects - Michealjohn Harris

Writer - Terrance Dicks

Writer - Malcolm Hulke

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'I believe they call it "The war to end wars"' It might be six episodes too long, but The War Games is pivotal in the history of Doctor Who. The introduction of the Time Lords, god like guardians of the universe, from whom the Doctor is a desperate exile, sees the series lose some of its mystery, but gain a new focus.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

'Just as The Power of the Daleks proved to be an excellent introduction, so The War Games makes the finest exit any Doctor could hope for.' So wrote Chris Marton in Wheel in Space No. 9, dated May 1980, and it would be difficult to disagree with his assessment.

The story certainly gets off to a cracking start as the TARDIS materialises in what appears to be No Man's Land during the First World War. The viewer is initially led to think that this may mark a return to the purely historical story format of years gone by - an impression reinforced by some highly effective location-filmed scenes of the war-scarred landscape. Then however the eerie General Smythe, brilliantly portrayed by Noel Coleman, dons a pair of thick-lensed reading glasses with which to hypnotise his Captain and uncovers a wall-mounted video screen concealed behind a picture in his room.

The overt science-fiction elements suggest that the story is actually going to be another of the pseudo-historical type pioneered in The Time Meddler. Only later does it become apparent that the TARDIS has in fact arrived on an alien planet split into various different war zones.

A commonly expressed view is that, after this strong beginning, the story becomes dull and repetitive, picking up again only in the closing stages when the Time Lords are introduced. Richard Walter, for example, wrote in Matrix Issue 5, dated February 1980, that 'sadly it turned sour... and ended up being a runabout' until 'the one thing that saved the story: the introduction of the Time Lords.' This assessement has however been challenged by other commentators. Marton for one felt that, while it did admittedly contain some padding, including an encounter between the young 19th Century soldier Private Moor and the Alien von Weich in the American Civil War zone, 'it is the middle part [of the story] that is the most exciting, entertaining and deftly constructed'.

Nick Pegg made a similar point, albeit rather more bluntly, in Perigosto Stick Issue Two, dated August 1991: 'People who go on about how boring episodes one to nine of this story are are clearly talking out of their bottoms because, even disregarding the always exciting and strongly motivated "Earth" sequences, the tension surrounding the Doctor's growing apprehension about who he might be about to bump into is incredible, so that when he suddenly comes face to face with the War Chief and we see clear recognition in both their faces, the moment is doubly electrifying.' In fairness, even those who are critical of the story often find things they like in the middle section. Walter, for example, wrote: 'The idea of kidnapping soldiers from Earth to fight their own wars until only the strongest were left to form the Aliens' army was very good, and the story did have some strong features - the time zones and the mist between them; people breaking the hypnotic hold over them and forming resistance groups; the use of SIDRATS; and the War Chief recognising the Doctor.'

Another point in the story's favour is the excellence of the design work by way of which the various war zones are depicted, again recalling the glory of the series' early historical stories. These sets also provide a very stark contrast to the Aliens' clinical base. The realisation of the latter is itself highly effective, boasting a number of nice touches such as unusual hi-tech wall units, strange controls in the form of magnetic shapes to be moved about on vertical panels and weird spiral patterns adorning some of the surfaces.

What really makes The War Games, though, is the wonderful dialogue given to the characters by Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks. As Marton pointed out, both the guest cast and the regulars rise to the occasion, delivering uniformly excellent performances:

'Edward Brayshaw is particularly impressive as the ruthless War Chief, remaining a formidable adversary, though not as wholly evil as Philip Madoc's marvellously silky War Lord.

'Jamie had one of his best outings as Troughton's muscle, a role that seemed to have fallen off in his last season, and Zoe remained constantly engaging. Troughton showed that he can be slyly subtle and play full-blooded melodrama with equal aplomb, especially in [a] fateful conversation with the War Chief, in which we learned more about the Doctor in one scene than we had in the whole of the previous six years.'

The story's amazing conclusion, with its momentous revelations about the Doctor's origins and the cliffhanger ending to the final episode, provides the icing on the cake. 'During the last couple of episodes it becomes steadily apparent that the Doctor is genuinely terrified of the Time Lords,' observed Pegg, '...but for a change the fear is explicitly not one of universal domination. The Doctor's in danger of being absorbed, forced to conform, to drop back into a mechanism which he alone has been viewing from without.

For our hero it is this, not a close shave with a bunch of Daleks, that is the ultimate terror. It is entirely fitting that the second Doctor, who more than any of his counterparts was pitted against the meaning of monstrousness, should be brought to his knees not by an army of Ice Warriors or Cybermen but by the evil that men do. His downfall is the reality of the essential difference which originally separated him from his own people. His forfeit is to live among humanity. The death of Troughton's Doctor seems also to be his ultimate triumph.'

The final episode of The War Games attracted the most uniformly positive Audience Research Report for some time. Notwithstanding the story's epic length, the reaction of those contemporary viewers - roughly two thirds of the sample - who had seen all or most of the ten episodes was said to be 'decidedly favourable'. Some were admittedly 'inclined to damn with faint praise', but the only really negative comment recorded was that children seemed disappointed by the lack of monsters - and even this was balanced by the observation that 'not a few adult viewers' considered the story 'all the better for the absence of "inhuman creatures"'.

'Although there was little evidence of any great enthusiasm for this final episode of The War Games,' it was noted, 'nevertheless it is clear that the majority of the sample audience were very well satisfied. Certainly there were those, but in minority numbers only, who dismissed it as "the usual rubbishy nonsense", while others apparently found it disappointingly inconclusive. According to most, however, this exciting and action-packed episode had not only brought this adventure on the planet of the Time Lords to a most satisfactory ending, but also cleared up the mystery surrounding Doctor Who's origin besides (most ingeniously) setting the scene for the "new" Doctor Who...

'There was much praise for Patrick Troughton's "superb" interpretation of Doctor Who, and indeed it was often said that the talents of this fine actor had been rather wasted here. In addition, many viewers remarked that they were extremely sorry he had relinquished this role and that they could only hope that when the new series started... the new Doctor Who would prove as effective as he had been.'

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This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.



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