Tuesday 2 August 2011

253 The War Games: Episode Ten

EPISODE: The War Games: Episode Ten
TRANSMITTED: 21 June 1969
WRITER: Malcolm Hulke & Terrance Dicks
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Derrick Sherwin
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The War Games

Reaching the Tardis they attempt to evade the Time Lords by dematerialising and breaking through the Time Lord's forcefield. The Doctor says he ran away from them initially because he was bored, but they object to him getting involved. The Tardis is dragged towards the sea on a planet they materialise on. Finding the time Lord's over whelming it's defences as water starts to leak in the Tardis struggles to move on. Materialising in space the ship is covered in a web generated by the Time Lords and a voice commands them to return to the Time Lord's home planet. Multiple jumps fail to take them to safety as the Time Lords take control of the Tardis bringing it home. The Doctor surrenders to his people and is taken as a witness to the trial of the War Lord before three Time Lords. Guards arrive in a SIDRAT to rescue the War Lord, taking the Doctor and his friends hostage, but after they enter the Tardis the Doctor engineers their escape allowing the Time Lords to take the aliens captive. They and their planet are dematerialised by the Time Lords, as if they never existed. The Doctor is then placed on trial accused of interference in the affairs of other planets. The Doctor admits the charge and is proud of his actions demonstrating the evils he fought against summoning images of some his foes as evidence: The Quarks, the Yeti, the Ice Warriors, the Cybermen and most evil of all the Daleks. The Time Lords retire to consider their decision. The Doctor is reunited with Jamie & Zoe and they attempt an escape but are apprehended in the Tardis bay. The Doctor bids farewell to his friends as they are returned to their own time: Zoe to the Wheel where she is reunited with Tanya Lernov and Jamie to the Highlands where he fights a Redcoat. Their memories are wiped to remove the memory of their travels, recalling only their first adventure with the Doctor. The Time Lords accept the Doctor's plea that there is evil in the universe that must be fought. Noting his interest in the planet Earth he exiled there in the 20th Century with his knowledge of time travel taken from him. His appearance will change, but rejecting the options the Time Lords give him they choose for him and he is dematerialised from the court room appearing on their monitor screen as they start to change his appearance and exile him.........

Where on Earth do you start with this episode? As a story The War Games effectively finishes with Episode 9, this episode is the aftermath and two of the lead protagonists playing the price for their actions. The War Lord and his race are dematerialised and effectively removed from history for the mass kidnap and murder of humans over many centuries. The Doctor meanwhile has to pay the price, not for leaving the Time Lords and stealing a Tardis, but for getting involved. Yet isn't this what the Time Lords do here, albeit to right another race's wrong? There's something of an ambiguity to their stance here especially when the Doctor's punishment for getting involved is to be sent off *TO* get involved in a particular planet's affairs.

There's a lot of lasts to this episode: We bid farewell to the second Doctor, Jamie & Zoe and thus to their actors Patrick Troughton, Fraser Hines and Wendy Padbury. Troughton, finding the schedule punishing, had decided to go a while back. Hines had been talked into leaving some months earlier by his agent but was persuaded by Troughton to stay till he left. With both of her colleagues leaving Padbury decided it was time to go to making this the only complete clean break in terms of both Doctor and companions in the series history. Troughton and Hines both went onto further acting success while Padbury's future career was in theatrical agency. Troughton returns to the show for 1973's the Three Doctors, while all three are in 1983's The Five Doctors and Troughton & Hines both return for 1985's the Two Doctors. During these stories the Second Doctor seems to demonstrate a knowledge of the events of this episode which has led to the rise of Season 6b theory. The jist of it is we don't actually see the Doctor change in this episode. Seized by a shadowy Time Lord organisation he is sent on missions for them and eventually is reunited with both Jamie & Victoria. The theory was created to fit the facts on display and was given credence when used in several of the Virgin & BBC novels. Patrick Troughton died on March 28, 1987, three days after his 67th Birthday while attending a Doctor Who convention. He suffered a heart attack and was found in his hotel room still wearing his Doctor Who costume.

From a technical point of view this is the last episode of Doctor Who to be made in Black & White. BBC1 switched to colour transmission on Saturday 15 November 1969. Sadly, for reasons that will become apparent when we reach the Silurians, Ambassadors of Death, Mind of Evil & Invasion of the Dinosaurs, it won't be the last episode that we'll watch in Black & White. It's obviously, due to the departure of the lead actor, the last appearance for the opening credits featuring Troughton's face and also the last regular appearance of a scrolling set of end titles. From now on, with a notable one off exception, the end credits will be displayed as a series of static slides.

We get to see three Time Lords during the course of this episode and all three of the actor concerned have connections to the Time Lords in their acting future. Bernard Horsfall, previously Gulliver in David Maloney's The Mind Robber, returns as the Thal Taron in Planet of the Daleks and as the Time Lord Chancellor Goth in The Deadly Assassin, both also directed by David Maloney. There's a lot of fan speculation that Horsfall's character here may in fact be Chancellor Goth. Likewise Clyde Pollit, one of the other Time Lords, returns to our screens as the Time Lord Chancellor in The Three Doctors. Are they the same character too? The third Time Lord is Trevor Martin's only Doctor Who role on screen but he plays the Doctor himself in the Seven Keys to Doomsday stage play in 1974. Written by Terrance Dicks the show features Wendy Padbury as Jenny, one of the two companions. When the show was adapted as an Audio CD by Big Finish productions the role of Jenny was played by Charlie Hayes, Wendy Padbury's daughter whose father is the actor Melvyn Hayes. The original show features Simon Jones, the future Arthur Dent in the radio & television Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, as the Master of Karn.

This episode features a number of cameo appearances, mainly as the monsters used as evidence by the Doctor. The Quark is Freddie Wilson who was one of the Quark operators in the Dominators. The Yeti is John Levene & the Ice Warrior is Tony Harwood, both of whom were inside the monsters during their last on screen appearance and both will return in The Ambassadors of Death. The Cyberman is Roy Pearce, who hasn't appeared as a Cyberman before but has a string of uncredited extra roles including a guard in The Massacre - Bell of Doom, a soldier/engineer in The Tenth Planet, a Chameleon in the Faceless Ones, an extra in The Silurians, a villager in the Daemons, a guard in The Mutants, an Exillon in Death to the Daleks, a courtier & cult brother in Masque of Mandragora and a guard in Image of the Fendahl. This sequence is the last appearance in Doctor Who for Robert Jewel as the Dalek, which I note is our old friend with the broken neck ring. Jewel appears in The Daleks, Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Chase, Mission to the Unknown, The Dalek Masterplan, Power of the Dalek & Evil of the Daleks as a Dalek and was also a Zarbi in The Web Planet, a clown (supposedly Bing Crosby) in Dalek Masterplan - The Feast of Steven, & a Macra in the Macra Terror. It was Jewel's last tv role before emigrating to Australia. There's on brief, non Monster, cameo in this episode too: Clare Jenkins returns to play Tanya Lernov in the scene where Zoe is returned to the Wheel in Space making her the third human character to appear in more than one Doctor Who story.

And so the Second Doctor/Patrick Troughton era comes to a close. Lined up side by side with the First Doctor/William Hartnell era I know which one I'd choose: it'd be Troughton every time. There's more stories I really like here and the show feels more solid than it did in the earlier days. It's so sad so little of it remains, and especially so little of his first two seasons. Best stories? Abominable Snowman on the top, followed by Web of Fear & Power of the Daleks. Three six parters that use their length well. Best surviving story..... harder. A three way fight between Tomb of the Cybermen, The Invasion & The War Games with no clear winner. Worst story: The Space Pirates, then The Highlanders followed by The Wheel in Space & The Dominators. And the Dominators was far better this time than I remember it being before: in terms of improvement on my memory it's the closest to the Gunfighters/Keys of Marinus "Damascus Road" moments I had with the Hartnell's stories. Ice Warriors was an odd experience for me in that I liked the bits I hadn't before and vice versa!

Doctor Who would now embark on it's longest break since transmission of the series started. As we've said the BBC started broadcasting BBC1 in colour from Saturday 15 November 1969 and transmission of the new series was held back till then so the series could begin in colour. The third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, has already been cast by the point this episode aired (May 21st 1969) and was announced to the public on 17th June a few days before this episode aired. The BBC now had a gap in their Saturday night schedules and to fill it they used a new American Science Fiction series they had bought: Three weeks after this episode aired Star Trek made it's UK debut on the 12th July 1969 for an initial run of 25 episodes. According to the list printed in The Encyclopaedia of TV Science Fiction by Roger Fulton I reckon that would make Arena as the first episode of Star Trek to be shown in colour in the UK. Eight days after Star Trek's debut, real space travel was very much in the news as man landed on the moon on July 20th 1969, an event anticipated by several Doctor Who stories and reflected in the forthcoming Ambassadors of Death.

The War Games was the last Doctor Who story novelised by Malcolm Hulke. It was released in October 1979 several months after his death on 6th July 1979. A lifelong atheist with communist sympathies, Hulke left instructions that his funeral should have no religious songs or reading. Terrance Dicks recalls turning up and finding himself sitting there with a bunch of his friends unsure of what to do. After a few minutes his friend and fellow writer Eric Paice got up, slapped the coffin, said "Cheerio Mac" and wandered out with the other guests following! I can recall buying this book in a shop in Kingston and avidly reading it while my brothers and I were measured for new shoes in the Russell & Bromley on the High Street. The book has recently reappeared as an audiobook read by David Troughton, Patrick's son who appeared as Private Moor in episode 7.

The War Games was released on BBC VHS Video on Monday 5th February 1990 as a pair of single boxed video cassettes, alongside An Unearthly Child. I first saw them for sale 2 days before at the Central Hall Westminster Comic Mart where more than one dealer had them available. To this day I believe that the covers for these two videos are the best in the entire VHS range. The War Games was re-released as part of the Time Lord boxset, a WHSmiths exclusive, in September 2002 featuring improved picture quality but still using the BBC's damaged prints. Following this release the original negatives were found to exist at the BFI leading to the vastly improved picture quality found on the Doctor Who: The War Games DVD released on July 6th 2009.

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