Doctor Who Classic Review – The War Games
Council of Geeks
The epic final adventure of the second Doctor and the first on screen appearance of other Time Lords. Let’s do this!
Council of Geeks
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The War Lord totally looks like Steve Jobs.
Do you post about which Who episodes you're doing reviews on before you watch? Because it would be fun to watch them before you post, like a book club for Doctor Who episodes. It could get more people familiar with the classic era
Does anybody else come away from this story thinking that the Timelords "killed" the 2nd Doctor? Forcing him to regenerate kinda makes me think that. Troughton is amazing here, he is rapidly becoming one of my favorites. The Enemy of the World is a great 2nd Doctor story also.
Next please do Tomb of The Cybermen
i WATCHED THiS RECENTLY FOR THE FiRST TiME SiNCE i WAS A KiD AND iT WAS AS AWESOME AS i REMEMBERED. iMAGiNE THEY BROUGHT THE WAR CHiEF BACK. i THiNK THAT'D BE AWESOME. GUESS HE WAS ON HiS LAST REGENERATiON THOU?
I wish they put Classic Who on Netflix. I can't watch it on BritBox because I live in the UK smh.
If you haven't yet, you should watch The Mind Robber. That's my favorite Troughton series next to this one.
I've always loved this one. Patrick was such a fun Doctor.
In a couple of your recent reviews, you mentioned that in the classic era they would often get too ambitious. That is, they would come up with scripts that called for things that the props department (and/or the special effects department) couldn't create. One of the things about this story that makes it work is that the writers are playing to the BBC's strengths: At the time it was made, historical drama was the BBC's bread and butter. If you went to the props department and told them you need a single spaceship, they'd balk; on the other hand, tell them you need an entire Viking village with 1000 extras in period attire and they'll tell you they've got one sitting in the back lot.
Unrelated trivia: This was originally going to be a 6-parter, but one of the 4-parters for the season got cut, and rather than replace it, they just stretched this one out. The fact that they managed to do this without the results feeling like a bunch of filler is, in my opinion, kind of amazing.
Russell T Davies said in one of the Confidentials that use of the psychic paper cut something like 8 minutes per episode. And boring minutes, because not much would happen while the Doctor was locked up.
How do you watch Classic Who? I don't know where to go to watch Classic Who.
This guy looks a bit like that ginger bald guy that does reviews.
Trail of a timelord favourite story with the timelords
Glad you enjoyed it.
Definitely a long time favourite of mine, going way back to reading the Target book as a 7 yr old.
They basically get captured and escape repeatedly but it's just SO MUCH FUN! And then: Timelords!! Wonderful.
I'm far too old for listing favourites nowadays but Jamie was always my top companion. ( I am Scottish though, so ever so slightly biased)
Really enjoy your classic Who and Big Finish reviews 🙂 Lovely stuff.
This story is way to long and it suffers because of it. Still good though.
This regeneration made me sad. Patrick Troughton sold me on the regeneraiton. He didn't want to go and he was fighting it, screaming no until it was over. That's how regeneraitons should be: sad, quick, painful. 11 turning to 12 was one of the worst regenerations I've seen…
I gotta agree with your thing about the time lords. When they came back in End of Time and you hear Ten talking about the horrors of the time war I was terrified of them.
When they came back in the 50th I was like “so the almighty time war was timelords and dalek’s shooting at each other in a city, one planet disappears, one fleet gets destroyed and the entire thing is over? That’s dull.
Then when they came back at the end of Clara’s run I just couldn’t believe how pathetic they were.
This story was written in a state of panic. The production team lost a few scripts that became unusable so they had no option but to expand this script. It's only due to Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks being good storytellers that it isn't so much of a problem.
Initially I went into it with a desire to just see the Time Lords – with that mindset it can only ever been an ordeal to get through but once you get over that and just enjoy the journey, there's a lot to enjoy. It's good simple fun. And Troughton is awesome!
Any thoughts on the regeneration? (Anyone.) Probably the only time the Doctor didn't directly change into the next actor…
I like the pushing round of magnets on a metal sheet – if it's going to look crap anyway just have fun with it.
Dr Who was always best when it embraced its limitations on instead of trying to cover it up.
it's 10 (not 12) episodes long because the previous 4 parter got cancelled at the eleventh hour. I think they do a pretty good job filling it out.
I don’t know how familiar you are with the Robert Holmes stories during the classic era. He was NOTORIOUS for demystifying Time Lord culture. He was the one who gave us the concepts of the Doctor having 2 hearts and Time Lords having thirteen lives (12 regenerations) and other ideas. I hope this helps.
I agree Jamie is amazing
IMO this is the greatest Doctor Who story of all time.
He was only 400 years old at this time. So he needed time to think things out.
The thing that has to be pointed out is that it's amazing this story came to be considered a classic considering what was going on behind the scenes: this was created in a rush to fill ten episode slots when other scripts failed to work at the last minute. They actually threw this thing together on the fly at the last minute!
The repeated capture/escape scenarios were simply because they had to fill the time. That they created a classic is a credit to the creativity of the production staff who were scrambling just to get something to get on the air!
Keep in mind that the sonic screwdriver was eliminated during the Peter Davison story "The Visitation." The reason for this was to get rid of the magic wand, if you will, and force the Doctor to make due without an easy cheat. Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy did without during their time as the Doctor, as did Paul McGann in the TV movie.
It was only with the revival that the sonic made its reappearance, and the psychic paper was introduced. I suspect this was done because they needed a "cheat" since the stories were to be more compressed. You could hardly spend five minutes of a 45 minute episode with the Doctor figuring out how to open a door and then talk his/her way into the room.
In these early appearances of the sonic, it was indeed just a screwdriver. It was only with Jon Pertwee's Doctor Gadget that it became more of a magic wand… for example using it to set off a mine field to make it safe to pass through.
Until it was gotten rid of by Jon Nathan-Turner, you'd get Tom Baker saying "not even the sonic screwdriver will of THIS door…" whenever it was convenient to the story.
Gee… hadn't planned this to be an essay!
The magnets as circuits was hilarious. I loved it the first time I watched this story. I actually recent re-watched it – last month some time – and when people talk about the sonic screwdriver I think about how the Second Doctor used it to take the screw out of the butt of the gun. I also really like Jamie. It's a pity that The Highlanders, the episode where he meets the Doctor, is one of the lost ones and only exists as a reconstruction. Zoe didn't do too much screaming in this story and she did work a lot behind the scenes, so to speak, to help bring all the various rebel groups together to attack the main control centre. She does better in other episodes, like The Invasion, where her eidetic memory and mathematical skills really come to the fore. You're right about black & white hiding a lot of sins. I liked the Time Lord in this one too. They're genuinely scary and I really wanted the Doctor to escape. Sadly, his trial went ahead – though it was nowhere near as extensive as poor Colin Baker's!
Not only have I seen it, but I have seen every episode since. Which makes me really wish I could see some of those missing episodes/stories.
I love this story. It really shows that the Doctor is a good person, willing to sacrifice his freedom to get people home. It shows how heartless the Time Lords are. It's a very enjoyable story, with a very sad ending.
This was the first reference to Time Lords. However, Galifrey as the home planet was invented later.
Thank you! Jamie and second are my favourite doctor and companion duo
The War Games is a ten parter, but there is not many that are exactly the same length but yeah there are some stories that are 7's, 14's and if you join Frontier in Space with Planet of the Daleks, you end up with the same length of The Daleks Master plan. ☺
10-parts…It's a 10-parter…not a 12-parter…
Sorry…can't help myself…
Talking about how Black + White hides a multiple sins – You should check out Pertwee's Planet of the Daleks.
0:01 I'm going to have to ask that you never do a British accent again. Never ever.
Nice ✊ !!!
i love this story and i watch it quite a bit on dvd(same with The Invasion, Mind Robber, etc) – there is something about the late sixties and dr who that i find most compelling – Jamie and Zoe are really great – a really real top shelf Doctor and companions team – but yeah The War Games goes all out like a magician leading you one way way with a distraction and then comes out of nowhere to kick your ass completely hardcore with how much of a great story it is in the last episodes – this is Classic Dr Who Greatness at its best – i say this gets a ten out of ten – they did good!
I watched this all in one sitting on twitched. I couldn't walk away.
"Captured and have to escape" is one of my biggest problems when watching Classic Who as it's in almost every other story, it's even lampshaded at one point in Frontier In Space which is basically just the Doctor, Jo and even the Master being swapped back and forth between prison cells! One of the best things about the new series is the invention of the Psychic Paper to avoid that because a lot of times it seems like it was just there to pad out the story. I love this story though, especially when they do start to figure out what's going on and meet the War Master. The Time Lords are actually rather terrifying in how powerful they are and it's sad they got turned into jokes as the show went on.
love this story
I loved how they used the geometric shapes for the control panels for moving it in and out of different dimensions.
Philip Madoc's performance as The Warlord has got to be up there with the greatest in the shows history. Absolutely nailed it.
It was 10 parts because it replaced two other stories which were unfilmable (not sure why) so Terrence Dicks recruited Malcolm Hulke to help him fill in the gap.
Ten part story
I thought there were 10 episodes in the war games
It was this long because two stories planned to end the series fell through at the last minute.
It is the second longest Doctor Who stories. The longest is Hartnell's Daleks' Master Plan from season 3, which is 12 parts. The third longest is the Invasion, a Cybermen story from the same season as War Games which is 8 parts.
This was a 10 part story not a 12 part story.
I really like this story. It's strange, but whenever I watch it, it doesn't drag. It goes by quite fast. Like, I'm just putting the disc in and before I know it, I'm already on Part Five. It's a great concept for a story, not to mention the great performance from Phillip Madoc, the War-Lord, and his wonderful henchman, the War Chief. It's really when everything starts going downhill for the villains when it gets great. When the Do tor must call on the Time-Lords. I will admit, it does drag in the middle, around episodes 5 and 6, but Episode 7 comes roaring back in. At first, you think it's just WW1, maybe with an alien threat coming in, but that's until Episode Three, when we find ourselves in the midst of a Roman Invasion. This story feels like the Season finale to Black and White Doctor Who.
You said it would probably look awful in colour. I've seen high grade colour photos of the command centre sets and they look fantastic. I would love to have seen this story in colour. I think it would have worked.