Monday 25 July 2011

245 The War Games: Episode Two

EPISODE: The War Games: Episode Two
TRANSMITTED: 26 April 1969
WRITER: Malcolm Hulke & Terrance Dicks
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Derrick Sherwin
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The War Games

One of the firing squad is hot by a sniper allowing Zoe to rescue the Doctor. Smythe reports he is leaving for the conference to his superiors as a Tardis noise is heard and a black box materialises. Ransom bursts in but Smythe convince him he's seen nothing and has been called to a meeting then enters the box and dematerialises. Jamie meets a Redcoat solider in the cells who thinks it's 1745. He remembers fighting in the highlands, then there being a mist and then being in the First World War. The Doctor pose as an Examiner from the War Office with Zoe as his secretary. Ransom, Carstairs and Buckingham search for the escaped prisoners. Jennifer is starting to doubt what happened during the court marshall and is remembering a mist, which Carstairs blames on gas. Jamie and the Redcoat stage an escape but the Redcoat is killed, Jamie is recaptured and taken to the Examiner. Zoe knocks the commandant of the prison out and they make to leave but are cornered by Ransom. Jennifer is still doubtful of the trial when Ransom returns with his prisoners. Carstairs makes known his objections to the court martial, but Ransom still believes it was fair. Jamie tells the others about the Redcoat and Zoe about the communications device. The Doctor wonders what they are doing in that time period where they don't belong. Carstairs talks with the prisoners and takes them to the General's room to see the screen for himself. The Doctor finds the screen but neither Jennifer or Carstairs can see the screen till the Doctor gets them to concentrate. In a control room elsewhere Smythe watches them. The Doctor and his friends escape with Jennifer & Carstairs in the ambulance. Smythe returns and orders the ambulance found and shelled, convincing Ransom over his objections of attacking an ambulance containing women. The ambulance drives into mist which obscures their view. Jennifer is overcome by an urge not to go on. When the mist clears they find themselves on a peaceful dirt track near a river. Climbing a hill to get a better view they find a Roman Legion charging towards them!

Oh that was top, top stuff, one of the very best Troughton episodes. The lead actor gets a starring moment commandeering the staff car and gaining entry to the prison as an Examiner from the War Office without any psychic paper just using the force of his personality. Wonderful. Then you get the deepening mystery of what is actually going on. The Tardis noise and materialisation of the box genuinely make you think that perhaps maybe the Doctor's own people are involved. He's said very little about them before now and maybe the reason he ran away is to do with repulsion at their activities. By the end of the episode we know that there are at least three different conflicts connected to each other here: the First World War, the Highland conflict of 1745 and something involving Romans. But how is it possible to move between them as we're seeing here?

We need to look at the cast for the earlier episodes of this story, and due to the length of this story we'll need to keep coming back as more cast members show up. Lt Carstairs is played by David Savile who'll be back as Winser in The Claws of Axos, and Colonel Charles Crichton in The Five Doctors. He's with us for the duration of the story. Lady Jennifer Buckingham is the one Doctor Who appearance for Jane Sherwin, the wife of producer Derrick. Hubert Rees, who we've already seen as the Chief Engineer in Fury from the Deep, plays Captain Ransom here, and returns as John Stevenson in The Seeds of Doom. He's another Camfield favourite appearing in many of Douglas Camfield's non Doctor Who productions. The Redcoat is Tony McEwan who's also Baldwin in Planet of Evil. Richard Steele is Gorton, the prison Commandant and he'll be back as Sergeant Hart in Doctor Who and the Silurians, and a Guard in The Mark of the Rani, while the king of the background characters, Pat Gorman, pops up as a Military Policeman.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely top stuff. The Doctor pretending to be an Examiner is a wonderful call back to where the Troughton version began - all the way back in Power of the Daleks. It is a bravura display of chutzpah and screen presence.

    I love the way that the revelations unfold in this episode to, and the cliffhanger is a fantastic stop-in-the-tracks moment, with the Romans coming, quite literally out of nowhere.