Saturday, 16 July 2016

126 The War Machines: Episode Four

EPISODE: The War Machines: Episode Four
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 16 July 1966
WRITER: Ian Stuart Black & Kit Pedler
DIRECTOR: Michael Ferguson
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
RATINGS: 5.5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The War Machines

"The order to attack will come from WOTAN!"

When I originally blogged this episode I was joined by two guests. Here's the intro for that day:

Something a little different today, I'm joined by two guest commentators. Well I say today but I don't think it's any secret that I've got a tinsy bit ahead with my viewing, so it's actually the evening of March 3rd that I'm writing this. With me are my wife, Liz, and a friend from university, Matthew Peacock Phd. Liz met me when she read my profile on an online Christian Dating Agency, spotted I watched Doctor Who and emailed me to ask if Tom Baker was my favourite Doctor. Matthew meanwhile was at RHBNC with me (see The Savages) and has sat through many an episode of Doctor Who with me, including an "all fourteen episodes of Trial of a Timelord in the same day" marathon. That's seven hours of both our lives we won't see again in a curry. Matthew had nothing to do with the 1991 Kingswood Boog fire. Thankfully our food is of far better quality tonight: We've had a curry! I had a Chicken Tikka Dansak, Liz a Chicken Korma and Matt a Lamb Tapelli. The other two have never seen the War Machines before so while they catch up I follow Dan Hall's Twitter feed to find out which new stories are being announced on DVD today. So what do you think of it so far:

Liz is enjoying this, it may change her opinion on B&W stories. Matthew on the other hand.....

On come the titles....

Liz: That really looks like a bum crack at the beginning

Gonna be a long 25 minutes folks....

The captions were white with black text on the first two episode, flashing black and white for the third episode and now are black with white text.

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War Machine 3 rolls out into the street.
Matt: Those Machines are terrifying if you have OCD as it knocks your neatly stacked boxes over! Couldn't you just hit it with something?
The Doctor brings the machine under his control....
Um what happened there? apparently the War Machine stops because it wasn't completely programmed yet!
The news broadcasts an update on the War Machines situation.
Reading the news broadcast is Kenneth Kendall, becoming the first real life person to appear in Doctor Who as themselves!

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One of the men in the bar is John Knott. He'll be back in The Tenth planet episode 3 as a Cyberman. I'm not sure who the other man is but IMDB credits David J. Grahame as an extra for this episode so it might well be him! He was in The Massacre 1: War of God as a Parisian Man and returns as a Control Room Technician in The Ambassadors of Death episode 1, a Villager in The Dæmons episode one & two and a Coven Member in The Dæmons episode four & five, the Old Man in The Mutants episode one and a Chestnut Seller in The Talons of Weng-Chiang part two. -

Other War machines are activated in London.
Matt: Isn't that the same one?

Yes it is, they only built one prop, but changed the number on it. As we saw last episode there's already been one forgetting to change the number slip up!

The Doctor analyses the captured machine and works out there might be 11 others in London. War Machine Nine is being voice tested....
Liz: Knock over boxes!
.... and then fires it's gun.
Matt: that was rude!
Oh look there's our control panel friends again on the wall!

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Panels E, B & D from the set in The Avengers are seen here. Major Green is brought for questioning by the army but doesn't remember anything.

Matt: Can't they just de-hypnotise him? Make him back to normal?

I think he's in shock and genuinely doesn't remember.

A War Machine is reported on the loose by the public.
John Slavid is the ill fated Man in Telephone Box. He'd been in The Massacre 4: Bell of Doom as an Officer.

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The War Machines attack on the phone box occurred in Charlotte Place. The sequence afterwards is another film insert that has survived and looks very good quality.

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The War Machine is then seen moving through Gresse Street and Berners Mews.

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The fleeing couple are Steve Pokol & Doreen Ubels. Pokol first appeared in the second Doctor Who story, The Daleks, as a Thal in episode 7: The Rescue before returning as a Trojan Soldier in The Myth Makers 3: Death of a Spy. He's apparently a worked elsewhere in this story too. He'll be back as a Alien Technician / Union Recruit in The War Games episode three. Ubels appears even earlier in the series playing a Tribeswoman in the second ever episode The Cave of Skulls before also returning in The Myth Makers as a Trojan Woman in episode 2: Small Prophet, Quick Return.

Radio announcements are made ordering them to stay indoors. Ben meanwhile is worrying about Polly.
Matt & Liz however are still busy having a laugh at the War Machines expense:

Matt: No Bicycle can stand against him. It can push over medium sized objects!

The Doctor wants to paralyse the system of the second machine. Polly arrives at the Post Office tower to see WOTAN, saying she allowed a prisoner to escape. It's arranged that roads will be close to herd the War Machine into a trap with generating cables to form an electric field.
This is one of the big location set pieces of the episode. We start with a still shot of Great Queen's Street to set it up.

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I think I recognise that soldier running there! More in a moment...

The action capturing the second War Machine was filmed at Cornwall Gardens and Cornwall Gardens Walk in Kensington. It's one of the more easily identifiable locations as the street sign is clearly seen on screen! Doctor Who will return to the location in The Mind Of Evil.

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Our soldier's face makes a much clearer appearance here: It's Mike Reid! His previous appearances as in Myth Makers 3: Death of a Spy as a Greek Soldier and The Massacre 4: Bell of Doom as a Guard are both missing and un-Telesnapped. He has a varied career as an stuntman, actor, comedian, and television host: I first saw him hosting Children's TV Show Runaround (UK game show) but he's probably best known for playing Queen Vic Landlord Frank Butcher in EastEnders. A close examination of the CVs of most of the actors who've played Queen Vic landlords will reveal a Doctor Who appearance!

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IMDB's listing feature a bunch of extras credited as Worker/Soldier for episode 3 and just a soldier for the next So I'm assuming that since Mike Reid is one of them and we can clearly see him here, the rest of them must be in this sequence. Vic Taylor was a Saxon in The Meddling Monk and a Saxon warrior in Checkmate, the 3rd and 4th episodes of the Time Meddler, plus a Cardinal's Guard in The Massacre 1: War of God. He'll be back as Guard in The Enemy of the World episode 4, a UNIT Soldier in Doctor Who and the Silurians episode 3, a Villager in The Dæmons episodes one & two and a Coven Member in The Dæmons episodes four & 5. Dennis Plenty was a Tavern Customer in Massacre 1: War of God and a Guard in Massacre 3: Priest of Death. He returns as a Prison Guard in Frontier in Space 2 & 3, an Exxilon in Death to the Daleks 2 & 3 and a Peasant villager in episode 1 plus a brother in episode 3 of The Masque of Mandragora. More Massacre from John Pollock who was in episode 1 War of God as a Parisian Man while Pat Leclerc was in episode 3 Priest of Death as the Parisian Man. David Waterman in back in Underwater Menace episode 1 as a Miner and Frontier in Space episode 1 as an Earth Guard on Ogron Planet. That has to be rubbish: the earthmen don't get to the Ogron planet till episode 6! In addition, just credited as a soldier for this episode, is Roy Stanton who'll be back in the next story, The Smugglers: Episode 1 as a Villager at Inn/Pirate.

The War Machine's capture is reported world wide.
Carl Conway appears as the American Journalist here. He returns as a Control Room Assistant in The Ambassadors of Death Episodes 5 & 6. I do wonder why they didn't get Ric Felgate, who played American Journalist Roy Stone of the New York Sketch in episode 1, back? Would have been a nice bit of continuity.

Also in the back of this scene is Ken McGarvie as Man in Newsroom: it's quite busy as 3 or 4 people pass through this short sequence! He'd been a Saxon in The Meddling Monk and a Saxon warrior in Checkmate, the second and fourth episodes of the Time Meddler, which closed the previous season. He was a Cricketer/Reveller in Volcano, the eight episode of The Dalek Masterplan and has the inevitable Massacre credit appearing as a Tavern Customer in episode 1: War of God. He'll return as a Soldier in the Tracking Room in The Tenth Planet episodes 1 & 2 so is quite possibly the one the Cybermen gun down as they enter.

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The Doctor traps the War Machine and deactivates it. He then reprograms the machine to attach WOTAN in the Post Office tower. Ben, still worried about Polly, dashes off ahead of the machine as it travels to the tower.

Matt loves the back projection behind the War Machine and says it reminds him of Sir Digby Chicken Cesaer, but with a robot.

The aforementioned piece of obvious back projection is of Tottenham Court Road, easily identifiable from Centre Point being visible in the left of the picture, from which the opening sequence of episode 1 was recorded. The same footage crops up later when the Doctor, Sir Charles and The Minister are driven to the Post Office Tower.

Ben sneaks in to tower and rescues a struggling Polly, who's still under Wotan's control. The War Machine arrives and tries to destroy WOTAN, who is defended by Krimpton and Brett.
Much giggling here from Matt: "Don't grab his rod" he yells at Krimpton. Ooops, too late, he's dead.

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Ooops: At the end of that sequence there's a piece of music that the first time I blogged this story I identified as part of Martin Slavin's "Space Adventure" which will be along in a couple of stories time. It isn't, it's Eric Siday's Musique Electronique: Hypnotic

Brett is released from WOTAN's control as Sir Charles Summer, The Minister and The Doctor arrive at the Post Office tower and find the deceased Krimpton and destroyed WOTAN.
SUMMER: Good heavens! But what about all the other War Machines, Doctor?
DOCTOR: All immobilised, Sir Charles, waiting for orders. Orders that will never come!
SUMMER: Krimpton.
BRETT: Sir Charles.
SUMMER: Ah, Brett. Are you all right?
BRETT: I think so. What's been happening here?
SUMMER: Yes, well, I think you'd better ask. Oh, where the devil's he gone?

A classic piece of the Doctor just quietly slipping away when the job is done, a trick that will be regularly repeated in the years to come.

The Doctor waits outside the Tardis for Dodo. Ben & Polly arrive

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DOCTOR: There you are, my child. It's nice to see you so well again. And you, my boy, away from that wretched tower.
POLLY: Never felt better, Doctor, Sir Charles has been looking for you everywhere. We've got a message from him about Dodo.
DOCTOR: Oh, yes, I've been waiting around here for her. Where is she? I very nearly left without her.
BEN: Left?
DOCTOR: Yes, er, to the airport, yes. She is well, I hope?
POLLY: She says she's feeling much better and she'd like to stay here in London, and she sends you her love.

Matt's not been happy with the manner of Dodo's leaving in episode 2 and it's emphasised here by her goodbye message.

A year later both Ben & Polly effectively leave mid story in The Faceless Ones not appearing after episodes 2 and 3 but get a much better departure courtesy of a location sequence filmed earlier in the story and used in episode 6.

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DOCTOR: Her love? Oh, there's gratitude for you. Take her all the way around the world, through space and time, and then
BEN: Come again, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Er, what? I, er, nothing, my dear boy, nothing. Now, I think you both want to get away, don't you? Thank you, Polly, very much. Thank you, Ben.
POLLY: Goodbye.
DOCTOR: Goodbye. Run along, enjoy yourselves. Yes.
BEN: Goodbye.

The Doctor oh so very nearly gets to wander in space and time by himself again.

But .....

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BEN: Well, the miserable old
POLLY: Shh, watch him. I'm sure there's something strange about that police box. Look, he's got a key for it. He's going inside!
BEN: Key, that reminds me. I forgot to give him this one back.
Matt: Here's her key, I've got her wallet too, that's what Bender would do!
POLLY: Come on, we'll do it now.
BEN: Yeah, but I've got to get back to barracks.
POLLY: Oh, come on.
POLLY: Doctor! What on Earth is he doing in there?
BEN: Ah look it's locked. Let's forget it.
POLLY: Hey, Ben.
BEN: But I've only got a couple of minutes.
POLLY: Come on!

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They unlock the door they follow the Doctor inside to return it just as the Tardis dematerialises!

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Leaving us back at Bedford Square where the serial started and nicely setting up the start of the next story!

Both of my guests seem to enjoy the story, and Liz is willing to watch more Black & White Doctor Who with me. I tell her the next one I've got on Video is Tenth Planet and she collapses in a pile of giggles. She's tried to watch Tenth Planet before. She and I have contrasting opinions on it, especially on the monster's voices!

After the big battle in the previous episode, this one is a little bit of an anti climax, but it does involve the Doctor flexing his brain muscles to save the day. Lots of good location filming again in this episode, a feature of the whole story. It's one of my favourite Hartnell tales, but at it's heart it's not really a typical Hartnell story (is there one?) and feels almost like a template for a Pertwee story in more ways than one. We'll come back to which my fave Hartnell story is in eight episodes time when we finish his reign. not just for completeness sake but because one of the two remaining stories is another serious contender for my favourite First Doctor tale, and if anything I've been looking forward to tackling that one more than this.

I noted at the top of the story we were watching on DVD, and indeed we have been for the whole story. Sadly this is the last surviving complete Hartnell/First Doctor story and indeed the last complete Doctor Who story existing for some time. There's two stories of Hartnell's time in the lead role to go, and they form the start of Doctor Who's fourth season. No complete story remains from Season Four, though as we shall see it looks like the BBC did try to retain one only to have the crucial final episode go walkabout. The next complete story on film is The Tomb of The Cybermen at the start of Season Five, which was recovered in 1992 after a near twenty year absence from the BBC archives and following that, thanks to it's 2013 return, we have The Enemy of the World and another near miss with Web of Fear which is again missing just one episode. After that the next story we have every episode of is The Dominators at the start of series SIX and from there on things get a lot better.

Season Episodes Existing Missing % Missing
1 42 33 9 21.43
2 39 37 2 05.13
3 45 17 28 62.22
4 43 10 33 76.74
5 40 22 18 45.00
6 44 37 7 15.91

The War Machines closes what is still the longest season of Doctor Who at 45 episodes long, of which just over a third exists. Save for the rumours of the films surviving in bulk in Sierra Leone being true there is little chance of most of it being recovered. It's been a season of change with three producers, two script editors, seven companions and at least one attempt to oust the star. By the end of it the right people are in place to take the show forward. They've stumbled on one of Doctor who's staples, an invasion of contemporary London, and are about to find another, the base under siege, and in the process create the series second best monsters and the trick that, bar enforced absences, has kept the show going till today.

The War Machines was novelised in 1989 by Ian Stuart Black. It was released on video in June 1997, with some unfortunate duplication problems. Despite being complete a Soundtrack CD, with narration by Anneke Wills was issued in 2007 with Doctor Who: The War Machines DVD following on 25th August 2008. The DVD is £6.47 at Amazon at the time of writing so there's really no excuse to own the last complete Hartnell story.

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