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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 7 August 2008
This story was wiped by the BBC but copies were recovered from Nigeria and put together with recovered censor clips from Australia by the restoration team.Good story featuring the then new Post Office Tower.The story revolves around a super computer called Wotan who decides humans are inferior and tries the destroy them with the "war machines".Bit of a poor exit for Dodo who had been the Doctors companion for several stories.It also introduced Ben & Polly who were to stay for a while and become Patrick Troughton's companions when William Hartnell left.If you like classic Dr Who this is one for you.
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on 23 March 2014
Made in 1966, when computers were just starting to make an impact in our lives, This story must be one of the first (predating The Terminator by over 20 years), to warn of the danger of machines taking over. Although it looks a bit dated now ( it was the first Dr. Who story to be set in the present time - or the time that it was made) the basic idea was a good one.
Also, this is the first story that includes the new companions, Polly and Ben.
William Hartnell is on good form as the doctor, as he only had two more stories to make before giving was to Patrick Troughton.
The bonus features are excellent, especially the " then and now" feature, which shows the places where the story was filmed, and shows how they look today.
The commentary with Anneke Wills (Polly) and Michael Ferguson (the Director) is very interesting and informative.
Altogether a very watchable DVD, but a bit dated, but that's only because it was made 48 years ago.,
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on 26 July 2000
London 1966: - Professor Brett's ultra-intelligent computer WOTAN is about to be linked up with other advanced machines around the world to create a problem-solving network. However, trouble is afoot: - WOTAN has hypnotised Brett and several other technical wizards, using their skills to breed a new lifeform - the War Machine, which the computer is using to threaten London. However, WOTAN has a much higher goal than merely London itself, and time is running short for the Doctor and his allies as soon the world will face a merciless army of bloodthirsty Machines programmed to desroy all animal life...
This is very much a tale of it's time - I mean we've got the Post Office Tower (WOTAN's HQ), cameos by BBC news reporters and even a clip from Blue Peter at the start of the vid. WOTAN's scheme is far-fetched in the extreme, and the design of the War Machines themselves leaves a fair bit to be desired. The idea that these roaring clunkers could do anything except knock over dustbins (and believe me, that's what they do for most of the time) can generously be described as ludicrous. However, the direction is fine (like the explosion of WOTAN at the end!), and Hartnell gets the chance to shine in one of his last appearances. Me, I want a copy of that scary music they use when WOTAN hypnotises people. The good news is that Jackie Lane's Dodo abruptly decides to get lost in the last episode, and we have get Cockney couple Polly + Ben as her replacement. All in all, not a bad tale. Try it.
James
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on 3 January 2014
Very watchable story with gritty contemporary shots of London and a host of good characters. Bit Quatermass-ish II with the use of controlled human minds? Seems somehow different from the usual style of Hartnell era stories but this is not meant as a criticism of the inventive stories from previous seasons (e.g. Time Meddler and of course the first Dalek outing). With hindsight it now looks like one of the "midwives" for the Troughton and Pertwee Earth-under-attack scenarios. The War Machines look cumbersome but are pretty effective and there are some genuinely scary moments in claustrophobic warehouse scenes. The use of the Army looks like typical scenes from Invasion or Web of Fear but as I said that's with hindsight and due credit should go to the Hartnell team. Along with Tenth Planet I think we are seeing the regeneration of Dr Who before the physical transformation into Mr Troughton.
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on 19 October 2013
This story must have seemed like a breath of fresh air in 1966 - contemporary earth, copious amounts of location footage on the streets of London, and the canny insertion of the brand new Post Office Tower into the plot. In many respects, it's possible to view 'The War Machines' as a blueprint for the UNIT era of the early 70s, and all the elements that made that period so memorable are here in embryonic form. There's even a scene in 'London's hottest night-club', The Inferno, whose patrons resemble a mid-60s TOTP audience; and there's a retrospectively amusing moment when William Hartnell enters the venue and somebody points out 'he looks just like that disc-jockey'! Who could they mean, I wonder?!
Hartnell is nearing the end of his tenure in the Tardis, but still radiates a commanding presence; and the arrival of new companions Ben and Polly - who are instantly likeable and exhibit an immediate chemistry - compensates for the slightly undignified off-camera exit of Dodo, the companion by the Doctor's side as the story begins. Overall, this is a fast-paced intriguing adventure and serves as a promising pointer to the programme's future after three years of dividing stories between earth's history and far-flung worlds. The extras are interesting, especially the documentary explaining how all the separate pieces of this once-lost story were re-assembled from a variety of sources, and the package as a whole is good value that Pertwee fans and followers of Patrick Troughton's earth invasion stories will enjoy.
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on 12 June 2009
A classic example of Classic Who retaining an appeal even in the modern day.

For the first time in the show's history, the Doctor- whose ability to pilot the TARDIS in this era is shockingly erratic- takes an active role in the defence of contemporary Earth, establishing the groundwork for the themes and storylines that would become so prominent after the Third Doctor joins UNIT during his exile in the 1970s. Amid a backdrop of popular sixties culture counterbalanced by various government officials, the Doctor must take a stand against an advanced computer, and the restults do not disappoint.

While the War Machines themselves may appear rather clunky by modern standards- and the noises they make can become frustrating at times-, their sheer size and their weapons make them clearly formidable opponents (Even if the 'hammer' section seems a bit excessive). WOTAN itself is a surprisingly chilling enemy for a creature that is essentially just a box with a strange voice, perfectly reflecting the chilling arrogance of so many creatures in the future that would come to seek dominantion over mankind through their own belief in their superiority.

And as for the characters...

While Dodo herself could receive a more appropriate send-off after her time in the TARDIS- although we are treated to a tragic view of her later life in "Who Killed Kennedy"-, new companions Ben and Polly- in their only surviving story in the present- make a very effective debut, Ben demonstrating his own personal strength and dedication to the Doctor after very little time in his company while Polly herself provides a fresh example of the culture of her time.

Hartnell's Doctor himself is in particularly top form, the First Doctor's old body nevertheless reflecting his exceptional intellect and ability to win supprt wherever he goes, quickly earning the assistance of government official Sir Charles Summer and a military platoon as he leads them against the War Machines, culminating in a very effective strategy of turning the enemy's own weapons against them.

(On a slightly unrelated note, anyone who enjoyed this may also appreciate the Past Doctor novel "The Time Travellers", which features the First Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara visiting an alternate timeline showing how things would have turned out if the Doctor had not been present to defeat WOTAN; the new version of 2006 that has resulted from that loss is a VERY chilling new world to witness)
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on 19 April 2015
This is one of my favourite William Hartnell adventures... Earthbound killer robots beating some similarity to Daleks rampaging about London. Excellent sets and an exciting storyline. This story was, as I recall, written by Kit Pedlar, created of the Cybermen.
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on 31 January 2014
A classic slice of 60s Who in which Billy Hartnell does battle with a super computer in the (then) brand new Post Office Tower, loses one companion and but gains a dolly bird and Cockney sailor instead. A solid plot which anticipates the later UNIT stories in its (then) modern day contemporary setting, support from the army and a mad computer bent on world domination (see 'The Green Death' for similar). Marvellous use of location filming around the Post Office Tower area but not-so-great-and-very-noticeable contrast with the moves into studio filming within the same scenes. Watch out for the gag about Hartnell resembling a certain (now) disgraced DJ. The standout extra for me was the inclusion of a documentary presented by former Postmaster General, Tony Benn, who takes a tour of the Tower. At one point, Benn overlooks two landmarks from the summit of the Tower commenting: "There is St Pauls where they worship God and there is the Bank of England where they worship money". Wonder what the Doctor would have made of that?
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on 25 November 2012
On the whole it's a slightly above average Hartnell story for me. Hartnell is lovely and his interactions with "Sir Charles" make this story a delight. The cliffhanger for either Ep2 or 3 features a shot of Hartnell so epic it'd be suited for a Matt Smith styled "I am the Doctor" moment.

Production values are fairly high, the pacing is done quite well - my major gripe is just with Dodo. She's a fairly bland companion to me and I found her changes of accent incredibly confusing. On the whole she isn't the most memorable of companions but her exit is probably the worst companion exit I've ever seen on Doctor Who...

To sum up, it's £6 and the birth of the threat to Earth format that permeates Pertwee's early years. An enjoyable story.
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on 25 May 2014
I loved this episode when I received it in the post. This episode serves as a great introduction for Ben and Polly but a rather a big shame we don't see Dodo depart but apart from that it is a great episode and beware the War Machines!
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