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The War Games

Rating Votes
10
63%
60
9
19%
18
8
7%
7
7
7%
7
6
1%
1
5
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0
4
2%
2
3
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2
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Average Rating
9.3
Votes
95
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Reviewed By: MercuryReview Date: 11/26/18 9:37 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

This is an epic of a story as it spreads across a huge 10 episodes. Much more than that though, this has truly epic importance in the history of Doctor Who! There a number of reasons why this is one of the most important and pivotal stories in the whole series.

Firstly, it finally reveals that The Doctor's own people are called Time Lords and it introduces them as a society for the first time. This, after 6 whole series, finally removes a little of the mystery of the show by telling us something of The Doctor's origins. It also tells us that The Doctor has run away, stealing his TARDIS and that he is at complete odds with the way in which their society behaves. He is shown to be quite terrified of the Time Lords, in fact.

As well as these hugely important revelations it also has the major event of the end of Troughton's tenure as The Doctor with him being forced to regenerate. This is not only the second ever regeneration, it has the added impact of being done as a punishment for him refusing to conform to Time Lord rules and running away with the TARDIS. It changes the course of the series as well because they also exile The Doctor to late 20th Century Earth. This is done in order that the series can have a period of purely Earth based adventures with a team of regular 'helpers' (in the form of UNIT).

As if that isn't enough it features the emotional departure of Jamie and Zoe. This is done in a heartrendingly sad way which involves wiping all memories of their time with The Doctor apart from their first meeting.

Even though these massively pivotal aspects occur in this story the most striking thing of all about this story is the brilliance of it as entertainment. It involves a plot where the TARDIS arrives in what appears to be a purely historical setting of the First World War trenches but then has the twist of slowly introducing science fiction aspects leading you to believe it is a 'pseudo-historical' story with alien intervention in Earth history. It then twists again to show they are, in fact, surrounded by many historical periods of war going on at the same time. Soldiers have been removed unknowingly from various wars on Earth to take part in 'War Games' which are being manipulated by an alien force to create perfect soldiers.

The whole 10 episodes are thoroughly enjoyable, superbly written (by Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks), acted by the whole cast, directed (by David Maloney) and presented. Troughton is fantastic (although his finale where he has to pull faces to show the effects of his regeneration are a shame, I wish they had done that differently), Frazer Hines is at his absolute best as Jamie and Wendy Padbury has a good send off too. All the guest cast (including Patrick Troughton's son David) and especially Philip Madoc and Edward Brayshaw as a renegade Time Lord, excel in their roles. For its importance and its exceptional quality this is one of the best stories of all.

My Ratings: All Episodes 10/10

Despite this and The Invasion both being all-time great stories, disappointing stories The Dominators, The Krotons and The Space Pirates dragged Season 6 down to just medium quality for a Doctor Who season overall.

Average Season 6 Rating: 8.27/10
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Reviewed By: BrainofMorbius23Review Date: 12/27/17 2:29 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Troughton gets perhaps the most bombastic and epic of send offs. Behold the time lords !

Only rivaled by caves of Androzani frankly
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Reviewed By: DalekbusterScreen5ReviewsReview Date: 4/8/17 1:50 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

The War Games saw two milestones for Doctor Who. The first is that it's the longest Doctor Who story to date (unless you count Trial of a Time Lord as one story) told in a whopping 10 episodes. The second is that it's the first mention of the name of the Doctor's species and their first appearance onscreen as the Time Lords (a Time Lord had been seen in The Time Meddler as the Meddling Monk but he was never referred to as such).

What makes this serial remarkable however is that over 10 episodes the story never drags. The War Games sees the Doctor taking on the War Chief (Edward Brayshaw), who has taken many historical armies including the Romans and World War 1 fighters out of time and thrown them into simulated versions of the wars they fought. This story feels like it's at exactly the right length and is a suitably epic finale for Patrick Troughton's Doctor. It's a story that echoes elements of the Moffat Era with all these various armies from Earth's history together. You could easily imagine Steven Moffat doing this.

The War Chief is also a great villain superbly played by Edward Brayshaw. It's a shame he never returned to the series as he is brilliant and could easily have become an iconic character to rival the Master. There is even a popular fan theory that he is a past incarnation of the Master and this would make a lot of sense as he shares a lot of the same qualities.

What makes this serial a true classic however are the last two episodes with the Time Lords. There is really no surprise that the Time Lords became such a recognisable alien species from the show. There's a nice element of ambiguity about them that directly mirrors the Doctor's own and you never quite where their moral compass with fall. This is more evident with new series Time Lords but it is arguably still noticeable here given their non-interference policy perhaps leading to the Earth undefended by the Doctor if they didn't decide to let him protect at least Earth. You could easily see the Time Lords allowing Earth to be invaded by the Autons and Nestene Consciousness but equally they interfered with the War Chief's plans. That's what's great about the Time Lords: you never know if they are allies or enemies.

Of course, you can't do a review of any regeneration story without mentioning the Doctor bowing out. Patrick Troughton is absolutely amazing here as his Doctor and is extremely believable at portraying his incarnation in a position where for once the evil cannot be 'fought' with him and his companions alone. You truly believe this is a desperate time for the Doctor where he has no other option but to call in his own people and his speech about his so-called 'interference' to the Time Lords is heartwarming and echoes an earlier one from The Moonbase. This is arguably among the strongest acting and writing the classic series ever saw.

Overall, the War Games is an epic 200 minute regeneration story for the 2nd Doctor and one that was a giant milestone for the show.
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Reviewed By: AtomicReview Date: 1/6/16 4:43 am
4 out of 4 found this review helpful.

Along with "The Caves of Androzani", this is a case of a regeneration story done right. Unlike the later story, which gave the Fifth Doctor a slightly different characterization and was killing him off from the beginning, this story served as a showcase as to what made Pat's Second Doctor so wonderful.

Admittedly, at 10 episodes, this story does sound like a daunting task to watch, especially since some other stories could barely fill enough content for a 6 part or even 4 part serial, but it's surprising to learn that this story has very minimal padding and enough substance to fill the entire run time, which is especially impressive considering it was originally going to be 5 episodes only.

As always, Troughton put on an impressive performance alongside Hines and Padbury, and the overarching mystery of the leaders' weird behaviour was genuinely compelling and not forced. It deserves it status as one of the best stories of the original era.