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The War Machines

Rating Votes
10
3%
3
9
7%
6
8
24%
21
7
42%
36
6
14%
12
5
5%
4
4
5%
4
3
0%
0
2
0%
0
1
0%
0
Average Rating
7.1
Votes
86
Director:
Writer:

Latest Community Reviews

From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
8
Plot Rating:
7
Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
7
Effects Rating:
7
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: GuiannosReview Date: 1/8/19 4:47 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Others have mentioned that this is an influential story, a sort of prototype for some of the earthbound adventures of the Pertwee era, and they are absolutely correct. But how does it stand on its own? Surprisingly well, actually. The effects are often weak or cheap looking with reused effects and obviously fake guns in the army sequences. The war machines themselves are campy but kind of cute and menacing when they need to be. Thankfully the plot and acting make up for the visual deficiencies. Polly especially does well here with a performance by Anneke Wills that is at times endearing and others cold and inhuman. There are plenty of nits to pick in the story (especially Dodo's abrupt departure) but the whole package is well above average for the era.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
6
Plot Rating:
3
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
6
Effects Rating:
4
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: MercuryReview Date: 11/22/18 10:12 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

This is the first time a whole story was set on a contemporary Earth. It really foreshadows the later style of Doctor Who in 2nd Doctor stories The Invasion, The Faceless Ones and The Web of Fear which became the regular style of the Jon Pertwee era. For that reason this is a notable adventure.

The story involves a revolutionary new computer called WOTAN which can think for itself being unveiled by Professor Brett (John Harvey) at London's Post Office Tower. This is intended to be linked up with other such computers to be installed around the world. Of course the computer actually decides to take over the world.

The 1966 setting and the story itself are very much designed to allow producer Innes Lloyd and story editor Gerry Davis put their stamp on the show making it more action-orientated, gutsy and trendy. One companion of the Doctor exits in part 2 (Jackie Lane as Dodo) and he acquires two new young, swinging sixties companions Polly and Ben who are introduced for the youth of the day to have someone they really relate to alongside the Doctor. Both of them work very well, having good banter together and carrying out their roles in the plot convincingly. Dodo was never that great as a companion so this is a definite improvement in that respect but previous companion Steven, who left in the previous story, was better in my opinion. William Hartnell as the Doctor continues as strongly as ever. These central performances and a lot of good dialogue are the strengths of this story adding a lot of quality. The first episode is strong and interesting but the second episode is rather silly and the rest of the adventure is not great.

The plot itself is not very well thought through at all in many aspects and has a general lack of logic. For example in episode 2 a tramp is killed late at night and his picture appears in the next mornings paper which would be impossible of course. WOTAN also is shown in episode 2 to recruit a workforce, acquire premises, manufacture parts, print WOTANS 'W' logo onto hundreds of boxes then pack, ship and construct new machines all in the space of about 12 hours, which again is clearly impossible. An additional small gripe for many is that the Doctor gets referred to as "Doctor Who" throughout this story which all fans know was never meant to be the actual name of the character only the title of the show but this was later somewhat retconned by Steven Moffatt so it now is not really a mistake.

In addition to the lack of logic, 'WOTAN' and the war machines are also not that impressively realised. They look a bit silly and are not a believable enough threat. WOTAN is entirely unconvincing in most respects. The battle scenes are not enacted well enough for my liking either. All these issues detract quite a lot from the quality of the story. To be fair taken as a whole it is still entertaining at times and explores issues of machines taking over which were very prominent at the time. It has some strong dialogue, some fun scenes and good acting. So it is not bad overall, it is a reasonable run-of-the-mill 1960s sci-fi story but below average for Doctor Who standards.

My Ratings: Episode 1 - 8/10, Episode 2 - 4/10, Episodes 3 & 4 - 6/10

Overall: 6/10

Season 3 is in my opinion stronger than Season 2 but due, probably, to the changes in production team the quality is not consistent across the whole season. It does not reach the standards of Season 1 or the best seasons of the show but it is a fairly average quality season overall.

Overall Season 3 average rating - 8.06/10
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
6
Plot Rating:
5
Acting Rating:
7
Replay Rating:
5
Effects Rating:
6
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: adamelijahReview Date: 1/12/16 5:40 am
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

In many ways, this story previews the sort of story that would be told a lot during Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee's time as the Doctor with a threat acting in modern Day London as part of a plot to take over ethe world. So in that way, it's a landmark.

The story has two great features to it. First, is the introduction of Ben and Polly. Michael Craze is particularly good as Ben and really is superb as the action hero of the story. The cliffhanger at the end of Episode 3 is superb with the First Doctor having an iconic moment as he goes towards the War Machines.

On the other hand, the story suffered from a bizarre departure from Dodo, an overall concept which was not well-thought out, and a limited budget thanks to all the epics produced during the season. The War Machines are fair in their design and could have been menacing if we weren't led to believe that twelve of them were supposed to overthrow Great Britain. And WOTAN, the brilliant machine who would rule the world seems to leave way too many decisions to the humans. And the guest acting is very spotty. It's not bad, but it's a far cry from the best of the Hartnell era.