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Doctor Who: The War Machines [DVD]

54 customer reviews

Price: £6.36 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Doctor Who: The War Machines [DVD] + Doctor Who - The Ark [DVD] [1966] + Doctor Who - The Tenth Planet [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: William Hartnell, Jackie Lane, Anneke Wills, Michael Craze
  • Directors: Michael Ferguson
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: 2 Entertain Video
  • DVD Release Date: 25 Aug. 2008
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001BKYAY0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,143 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

A classic four-part adventure from William Hartnell's time as the first Doctor, The War Machines also features an early screen appearance for comedian MIke Reid, later to find fame with Runaround and Eastenders. The TARDIS arrives in London in 1966 and the Doctor and his assistant Dodo visit the Post Office Tower. There they meet Professor Brett who's invented a revolutionary new computer called the WONTAN (Will Operating Thought Analogue), which is capable of independent thought. Soon enough though, in the manner of newly sentient computers everywhere, the WONTAN decides that humans are inferior and that it's time for machines to rule over them. It sets about constructing a fleet of war machines to take over the world, using its hypnotic powers. Can the Doctor reprogram them before its too late?

DVD Features
Commentary with Anneke Wills and Director Michael Ferguson.
Now and Then - Featurette.
Blue Peter - A compilation of related articles from the popular children's magazine show.
One Foot in the Past - Politician and ex-Postmaster General Tony Benn investigates the history of the Post Office Tower.
WOTAN Assembly - A featurette explaining how the DVD was created from disparate sources, after the original series fell victim to overseas censorship in the Sixties.
Coming Soon trailer/War Machine design plan/Photo gallery.

From Amazon.co.uk

A hugely enjoyable Doctor Who adventure from the very infancy of the show, The War Machines finds William Hartnell in charge of the Tardis, and naturally enough there’s an impending crisis facing the Earth.

Set in the era in which the story was made, The War Machines sees the Doctor and Dodo heading off to the Post Office Tower, where they find out all about Professor Brett’s new computer, WONTAN. And setting the scene for many science fiction films and television shows that would explore similar themes, WONTAN soon becomes a computer that believes machines should be in charge, and hence introduces the war machines of the story’s title.

Really well realised, and making the most of the resources at its disposal, The War Machines is visually impressive, but also a well-constructed story. It clearly works within many of the television conventions of the time, but Hartnell was always a strong Doctor, and the story explores its themes confidently too. It’s good to have it on disc. Backed up by a substantive extras list, with a healthy slice of archive material, The War Games is a welcome DVD release, and a very good story from the archives of Doctor Who. --Jon Foster

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Hector Lerbioz VINE VOICE on 31 Aug. 2008
Format: DVD
Hartnell's travels as the Doctor only rarely took him to contemporary Earth so it's the visual delight of seeing him out and about in 1960's London taking black cabs, admiring the newly finished Post Office Tower and strolling into nightclubs, that is the first and most immediate pleasure here. Surrounded by soldiers, assisting the establishment by fighting an invasion of robots, you could easily insert Jon Pertwee without it looking out of place. 1966's THE WAR MACHINES therefore provides a (somewhat shakey) template for what DR WHO would start to be with later Troughton entries like THE WEB OF FEAR and THE INVASION, and would become virtually full time from 1970-74.

Later forays by the show into the "here and now" such as 1967's THE FACELESS ONES would be a little more assured when it came to the details of the plot, but almost no other DR WHO story from the '60's evokes such a delicious sense of the culture and ambience of the time. From youngsters in suits and ties grooving uncomfortably at the Inferno nightclub ("the hottest nightspot in town"),to an oblique reference to Hartnell's resemblance to Jimmy Saville, to the appearance of contemporary newsreader Kenneth Kendall warning viewers to stay indoors during the War Machine attack on London, this feels like an authentic look at swinging London.

This fun '60's vibe is also enhanced by the debut of 2 new companions: Anneke Wills' trendy girl-about-town, Polly, and Michael Craze's heart of gold cockney sailor, Ben. The duo look like they were at least partially inspired by Julie Christie and Michael Caine. They're both instantly likeable and are the 2 most interesting characters amongst the supporting cast.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Sept. 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I'd have to say this is probably my favourite Hartnell story, with the possible exception of Dalek Invasion Of Earth. It's refreshing to see the first Doctor on contemporary (1966) Earth. Earthbound stories tend to work better in terms of achieving a more realistic look and this certainly does, featuring so heavily such familiar London sights as the Post Office tower, and a slightly different looking Covent Garden!
It is a genuinely chilling story in parts. The idea of being hypnotised by a strange noise at the other end of a telephone line seeming frighteningly possible in this day and age... Hartnell is a little distant at times, nearing the end of his time on the programme and the War Machines themselves are laughably unthreatening to look at, but the overall look of the story is highly realistic and entertaining. Great to finally see a complete Ben and Polly story as well. I think this might be the only one.
Definitely worth buying though. It'll restore your faith in Hartnell as the Doctor and it's great fun to watch the extras doing their psychedelic dancing in Club Inferno!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Kat on 11 Oct. 2003
Format: VHS Tape
I think I'm right in saying this is one of the first stories to be completely based on contemporary Earth and to benefit from the 'Yeti in the Loos at Tooting Bec' effect. It's atmospheric and very creepy to watch the War Machines trundle through the streets of London controlled by a super Computer in the then newly opened Post Office Tower. I suppose it was written to touch on the fears of where computerisation would lead and it does scare. It also is the story that introduces the sailor, Ben and the resourceful Polly who are both fun believable characters and an improvement on Dodo who feels very wooden. There are lighter bits, such as a policeman trying to go into the TARDIS thinking it's a real police box until he sees an out of order sign, and William Hartnell seems to be enjoying himself. Well worth a look.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By The Real M.B.E. Of Tooting on 4 Jan. 2012
Format: DVD
The War Machines is the first Doctor Who serial to be set in contemporary London and in Ian Stuart Black's War Machines its London in the swinging 60's, The War Machines was brought about by the need to refresh Doctor Who, the show was 3 years old at this point and in the early days of television 3 years was like 3 decades, so producer Innes Lloyd decided to do something different. The War Machines concerns a computer that becomes self-aware and decides that humanity cannot develop any further and so must be erased. It is a classic story and one that thank God still exists in the BBC archives, after being returned from Nigeria in 1985 of course. WOTAN {Will Operating Thought ANalogue} is the central villian of the piece and although it is a sterotypical 60's computer, it is rather a clever concept. People in 60's Britain were so concerned about computers taking over the world and replacing humanity that the idea was always begging to be written for Who at some point, I imagine that this serial scared more adults than children as adults were all to aware of the tensions that were brewing over seas between America and Russia.

Although The War Machines is not the best Hartnell story, it is one of the more entertaining ones and this comes at a time when the old boy was tiring fast and his relationship with his fellow cast and crew members was rocky. William Hartnell knew that his days in the role of the popular hero were numbered and so we start to see and hear the anger and passion that fueled this great actor. Billy is on top form for me here and looks to be doing what he does best, dominating the show and making himself centre of everybody's attention. The conviction that he burned in to those 60's cameras was inspiring and for me his interpretation of the Doctor was the most powerful.
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