The War Machines


No. of Episodes: 4

Companions: Dodo Chaplet (Jackie Lane), Ben Jackson (Michael Craze), and Polly (Anneke Wills)

Writer: Ian Stuart Black (based on an idea by Kit Pedlar)

Director: Michael Ferguson

Producer: Innes Lloyd

Season: Season 3, Episode 10

Summary: The Doctor and Dodo return to 1960’s Earth.  Upon exiting the TARDIS, the Doctor gets a “prickly sensation”, alerting him that something evil is afoot. He spots the tallest tower and investigates. There, he is introduced to Professor Krimpton, who shows him his supercomputer WOTAN, which supposedly can’t make mistakes.  Dodo gets a strange headache and the inventor’s secretary, Polly, takes her to a bar to clear it.  There, they meet Ben Jackson, a sailor who’s new in town.  But we soon learn that WOTAN wants to take over the world, and has hypnotized people to assist it, including Polly and (gasp!) Dodo. What’s more, it needs to Doctor to accomplish its goal. Can the Doctor thwart this plan?

Review: One of the problems with classic Doctor Who is something that plagues old school sci-fi in general: the fact that it tends to date itself.  When this story aired, the idea of a supercomputer bent on world domination was actually novel.  To its credit, WOTAN makes for a great villain, especially since it knows what the TARDIS is.

The acting is pretty good.  Michael Craze does a good job of establishing Ben’s character as a surly man and I really wish more of his and Polly’s stories were available (alas, this is the only completely available story). Overall, for a story featuring Dodo (one of the Doctor’s all-time worst companions), it’s pretty good. Just forget that movies like War Games and Terminator exist.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Continuity: This is the final episode featuring Dodo, and the starting point for Ben Jackson and Polly. They remain with the Doctor into the early part of Troughton’s era, leaving in “The Faceless Ones”.

Trivia: WOTAN actually refers to the Doctor as “Doctor Who.” This is the only time the Doctor is called “Doctor Who.”  In the credits, WOTAN is actually listed as starring as itself. (Gerald Taylor, one of the Dalek operators from the 60’s actually provided its voice) This is the only time a fictional character is credited as itself, rather than the actor portrayal.


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