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?
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.
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 theres 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 Bretts 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 storys 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. Its 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