Doctor Who (1963–1989)
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The War Machines: Episode 4 

The first War Machine is defeated but the Doctor only has a matter of hours to destroy WOTAN before the rest of its army is activated.

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
Gerald Taylor ...
War Machine Operator / WOTAN (voice)
John Boyd-Brent ...
Sergeant
John Rolfe ...
William Mervyn ...
Michael Craze ...
Kenneth Kendall ...
Television Newsreader
George Cross ...
Edward Colliver ...
Garage Mechanic
John Harvey ...
John Cater ...
Alan Curtis ...
John Slavid ...
Man in Telehone Box
Dwight Whylie ...
Radio Announcer (voice)
...
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Storyline

The first War Machine is defeated but the Doctor only has a matter of hours to destroy WOTAN before the rest of its army is activated.

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16 July 1966 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

This episode was watched by 5.5 million viewers on its original transmission. See more »

Goofs

As the soldiers discuss the plan to capture a war machine, the backcloth depicting trees behind the captain is wrinkled. See more »

Connections

Featured in Doctor Who Live: The Afterparty (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Contemporary Earth setting with military backup, this adventure is a preview of the Third Doctor style of the 70s
19 August 2014 | by (South Wales, UK) – See all my reviews

Review of all 4 episodes:

This is the first time a whole story was set on a contemporary Earth. It really foreshadows the later style of Doctor Who in 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 the majority of dialogue are the strengths of this story adding a lot of quality.

The plot itself is not very well thought through at all in some aspects and has a general lack of logic. For example, 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 to manufacture parts, pack (into boxes inexplicably pre- marked with WOTANS 'W' logo), ship and construct new machines all in the space of about 12 hours, which again seems impossible. Another silly aspect is the Doctor being referred to as "Doctor Who" when all fans know that is never meant to be the actual name of the character only the title of the show!

In addition to the lack of logic, 'WOTAN' and the war machines are also not that impressively realised. They look a bit silly and WOTAN is entirely unconvincing in most respects. All these issues detract quite a lot from the quality of the story but taken as a whole it is still an entertaining adventure exploring issues of machines taking over which were very prominent at the time. It has strong dialogue, good action and good acting. So it is not bad at all overall, it is a decent sci-fi story but below average for Doctor Who standards.

My Ratings: Episode 1 - 8/10, Episode 2 - 6.5/10, Episode 3 - 7.5/10, Episode 4 - 7.5/10

Season 3 is, in my opinion, clearly stronger than Season 2 but due, probably, to the changes in production team the quality is not even 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 - 8.5/10


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