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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
Doctor Who: The War Machines [DVD]
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on 23 July 2014
Brilliant episode and arrived when expected with no problems
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on 26 June 2008
Bit obvious to say but here we have an inadvertant template for the Unit stories of the '70's. In a Contemporary setting the Doctor is known to the Establishment and is enlisted to help them against the tank like War Machines being sent by super computer Wotan to destroy London. You could almost expect the Brigadier to pop up and reminisce about Omega!

Is Wotan possibly a German super computer as everyone keeps calling it "Votan"?

Hartnell & Jackie Lane had clearly got their working relationship down pat by now, and the story opens on a lovely moment as they share a smile about Policemen thinking the tardis is a Police Box. (Since watching this again on DVD it struck me that the ariel shot that zooms down to street level is a wonderful way to convey the tardis coming out if the vortex and perhaps travelling the last bit invisibly.)What a dreadful way Dodo is written out though, chucked out halfway through the story as though she'd lost the Big Brother eviction vote!

Polly and Ben make strong debuts, even though the cockney bit is laid on a little thick at times by Michael Craze. They don't have a ton of Chemistry with Great Great Uncle Bill, but in their 1st appearance this is not a problem.

The War Machines were a great design then, Budget sized tanks crossbred with the Total Survival Suit from "Kinda" which, despite being a tiny bit dated look pretty good now.

Major slip up award for Wotan demanding that "Dr Who" be brought to him!

It moves qite well over its 4 parts and although slower than the Police Box Show is now, could make a nice introduction to the '60's Who stories for current series fans.

The Commentary sees a DVD range debut for Anneke Wills paired with director Michael Ferguson. Sadly Jackie Lane has not been included. Pity 'cos her take on the removal of Dodo would have been worth hearing. Anneke and Michael Ferguson are both good value, remembering Hartnell's difficult nature of course (although Anneke says he was actually quite sweet to her) and laughing at the idea of Hartnell looking down and declaring that he was the best Doctor,which is actually Ferguson's view.

There is no making of documentary but instead a feature on the history of the Post Office Tower presented by Tony Benn provides interesting background material. He is quite delighted that the revolving floor from it's tourist days still works.

There is a great feature on the both the remastering preparation of the story for DVD with the history behind the recovery of episode 2 and then the whole thing, narrated by Anneke Wills.

Some clips from Blue Peter where a War Machine enters the BP studios to promote the story, along with BP features on the opening on the Post Office Tower and home made Daleks are a treat.
There is an Easter Egg too according to the box, but I have been unable to locate it. If anyone has found it I'd be grateful to know where to look!

A good package and Happy Hundreth Birthday to Mr. Hartnell!
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on 20 September 2008
Doctor Who

The War Machines

Starring William Hartnell

* New BBC DVD Release * Latest Triumph of the Restoration Team *

4 Episode Adventure

Feature Length: 95 minutes.

First broadcast 25h June - 16th July, 1966.

Written by Ian Stuart Black, based on an idea by

Kit Pedler.

A marvellous romp through the Swinging Sixties with the original Doctor in all his grumpy, cloak-twirling, chuckling glory.

The TARDIS materialises in Bedford Square, near to the base of the then new Post Office Tower, where the Doctor senses evil at work in the form of a megalomaniac super computer called WOTAN.

Mesmerised humans are soon obeying WOTAN's will and building the trundling War Machines, which the BBC were clearly hoping would rival the Daleks in popularity.

As with many Doctor Who scripts, this story was quite prophetic, as the idea of machines overtaking human intelligence and building robot soldiers is now a mainstay of science fiction. It's been used recently in the Terminator and I Robot films.

There are some great shots of London in the 60s, along with an insight into the groovy fashions and some cringe-worthy nightclub dancing, which should have you all rolling around in hysterics.

Yes, they even had flared trousers way back then.

In The War Machines we see how the Doctor authoratively commands both military generals and government ministers alike; a talent which will come in useful later on in his career and a nice forerunner of his dealings with UNIT.

The Doctor also gets a change of companion, as the BBC unceremoniously dump poor Dodo in favour of blonde dollybird Polly (Anneke Wills) and jaunty sailorboy Ben (Michael Craze).

These two companions would go on to join Patrick Troughton, when he takes over the role of The Doctor, at the end of The Tenth Planet.

I love this DVD, if only for some of the infamous continuity errors. You get to see the TARDIS door lock fly from the left door to the right one and the window frames change from white to dark (blue) - and back again.

Then there's the single War Machine prop playing its own numbers game...oh, and keep a close eye on the Doctor's trendy astrakhan hat...

Extras include commentary by Anneke Wills and Director Michael Ferguson, a Now and Then look at the London locations, Blue Peter presenters meeting the War Machine, the plans to build one and the Radio Times listings from 1966 on PDF.

Tremendous fun and well worth adding to your collection.

10/10
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on 25 May 2011
When I started watching Doctor Who towards the end of Tom Baker's run, I couldn't think of a bigger turn-off than watching old men in black and white episodes made before I was born.

However, attitudes change and now I'm approaching old man status myself!

I've been drawn to the First Doctor for a few years now, thoroughly enjoying some of the BBC Past Doctor novels and I've developed quite a soft spot for William Hartnell.

I've stopped watching the series on television now (I really can't be doing with stories where I have absolutely no idea what is going on), so I thought I'd check out some of the Classic series that I haven't seen before.

I chose 'The War Machines' because it is the only complete Ben & Polly story left and I'd always gathered that they were highly regarded companions and I wasn't disappointed.

Michael Craze and Anneke Wills had a great chemistry and it's a crying shame that more of their episodes no longer exist.

The story seems quite tame now but I imagine that it was quite something at the time. It was interesting to see contemporary London from 1966.

The extras were enjoyable. I particularly like the Photo Gallery and One Foot In The Past (about the Tower - I'm lucky enough to have been up - and yes, the restaurant still revolves).

I really hope that 2 Entertain release the final Hartnell story, 'The Tenth Planet', on DVD soon (despite episode 4 being mostly incomplete).

If you're a fan of Ben & Polly, search for them on that well known video website. There are some fantastic montages.
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on 25 August 2016
Fast post - item perfect.
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on 3 December 2014
It was just what I wanted
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 30 August 2008
a doctor who story from 1966, featuring william hartnell as the first doctor. jackie lane as his companion dodo. and introducing two new companions, polly played by anneke wills and ben played by michael craze.

the story runs for four twenty five minute long episodes. all are in black and white. the picture quality can vary a bit from scene to scene but is generally very good and perfectly watchable.

in the mid 60's, with the post office tower having just been built in london, one doctor who writer speculated what would happen if something took the tower over. and that was the basis for this story. a super computer built there called WOTAN brainwashes all the humans it can, and uses them to build robotic war machines that it can use to wipe out the human race. can the doctor save the day?

this is one of the best hartnell stories and it's great to get it on dvd. in many ways a template for what the show would do in the 70's, with threats to contemporary earth and the doctor working with the military to stop it. hartnell is an absolute star. watch the way he dominates the screen at the end of part three. his doctor has a great time showing off to all the humans how smart he is. the story moves at an excellent pace, has some splendid set pieces, and ben and polly are excellent new characters. highly entertaining stuff.

the extras are the usual:

english language subtitles

production subtitles, which bring up information about the story and the production whilst you watch it

PDF files [you view them when looking at the disc on a computer] showing the radio times listings for the story

a photo gallery of shots of the story and the production

and in addition, this also has some decent extra stuff:

PDF files showing the design of the war machines

a commentary from anneke wills [polly] and michael ferguson, the director of the story

now and then: a nine minute long look at the locations used for the filming as they were then and as they are now. fascinating stuff. I'd been through some of the london streets shown lots of times without realising they filmed the story in those particular ones, so it was very interesting to watch

blue peter: roughly fifteen minutes worth of three clips from the show, showing the building of the post office tower, the war machines visiting the blue peter studio, and children who built a model dalek. charming nostalgic viewing

one foot in the past: a nine minute long clip from a bbc history show in which former mp and paymaster general tony benn visits the post office tower. since it's been closed to the public since 1981 this is the only chance you'll ever get to see it, and the view is amazing. he's also a good presenter, so it's well worth watching.

as is WOTAN assembly. the tapes of the story were originally wiped by the bbc, but it was reconstructed from two different copies found overseas and lots of clips found elsewhere. very interesting to watch.

for an easter egg, watch this on a computer, go to the episode selection screen, and move the pointer to the top right corner till it lights up a doctor who logo. click on that for a short piece of footage of an effects shot not quite working out. worth watching.

there is also a coming soon trailer for the impending release of the seventh doctor story battlefield. the schedules for the dvds have changed a lot over this year and battlefield will not be the next one out, it will be out towards the end of the year. these trailers are very good, using great music and montages of clips to give the stories an epic feel. and in some cases they make them look better than they are. but we'll talk about that when battlefield comes out.

but the war machines is an excellent story. and the dvd extras are very good as well. this is a really good release and well worth getting
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on 16 July 2014
Excellent!!!!
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on 27 October 2013
The machines looked like they were made by the early Blue Peter team. But the story I liked.
I would love to have one of those machines to rectify the biggest corruption in today's society....and that corruption is in Parliament :)
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on 10 February 2016
Excellent
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