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01 – The War Games

Hello everyone, the Historian here. We’ve made it to the beginning of the end. For the TARDIS Project, that is. For Doctor Who, you might consider this the end of the beginning! Without further ado, let’s get to the episode! This episode first aired 19 April, 1969.


H = Historian
K = Ketina
R = Ronelyn
Sp = Spoo
MS = Minispoo
EG = ElfGrrl
P = Photobug
A = Altair
E = Ezio
Cz = Cz
M = Mister Mother

E: No!

EG: That’s just wrong!

MS: I know what’s going on! I just got it.

K: Oh really?

MS: I’ve seen everything. I got the whole plot!

EG: What was it?

Sp: So this story is actually going to be interesting. We don’t need to fill in the plot like the last one.

H: I want to know what this plot is that Minispoo’s come up with.

MS: So, I’m pretty sure that we’ve seen that screen before in different episodes, and it’s usually been the bad person who’s using that. And every time he puts on the glasses, it just hypnotizes the person. So basically he can just say “and this is what he actually did. He’s guilty.” Because he realized it’s the Doctor, and he wants to make sure that the Doctor doesn’t get in the way of stuff. They execute the Doctor at dawn, except like usual, the Doctor doesn’t die. I predict that. He never dies. You could just kill him and go “oh hey! I’m the next Doctor.”

P: Oh god! He’s dead!

H: You say that every week.

P: No! This time he’s totally dead!

MS: This is kind of spoiling it, since we know that he’s alive.

EG: Something will happen, which is good for us, bad for the guy who’s hypnotizing other guys, and then I guess the general gets beat up.

P: They’re gonna die!

EG: He’s gonna die. Not the Doctor, the General, because he’s gonna get beat up. <making punching gestures. And I’m sitting next to her, and it’s really disturbing.>

H: Yeah. There’s not a hell of a lot I can say. I’ll point out that casting this episode is a nice example of nepotism, as the woman playing Lady Jennifer just happens to be the wife, or the then wife, of producer Derek Sherwin.

K: It happens.

R: Making those fantastic BBC wages.

M: Did the BBC not pay well those days?

H: I honestly cannot say. Okay. Like I said, I can’t actually talk about the plot in general, but I will say, having not seen this in a long time, that this episode was really interesting.

EG: Better than the last one.

Sp: Low bar.

<applause>

Cz: So we get a budget cuts?

Sp: No, budget add back ins. Budget expands. Rocket sounds! Stiff upper lip. Terrible dentistry. Pip pip. Explosions!

E: I will say, it looks to be a very fascinating documentary on the origin of hypno-glasses.

H: I like the fact that, just as with the Time Medler, at the beginning, and for most of this episode, it might have been a straight historical.

P: There’s no TVs back then.

H: Until the middle of the episode, when we get that turn. <with the TV> I really liked it, I liked the pacing. And it was a damn good cliff hanger.

P: He dead!

<various people say no.>

Cz: Yuhp. He dead.

H: <laughter> I’m glad that we’ve been refraining from making Black Adder Goes Forth jokes, because they were going through my mind.

K: You haven’t given us the chance yet.

Sp: Nine to go.

M: Legitimate comment about this episode, they did a really good job I felt of ramping up the not quite right and weird, and then rationing it. They ramped up continually through the episode that something was not quite right, but pretty early on it was something’s not right here. But I did think it was well done.

Sp: You have to just give it a pass as being one of those stories that wouldn’t have happened if, when they heard the explosions, they ran towards the TARDIS instead of away.

K: That would have been the smart thing to do.

M: But they don’t do the smart thing until they’ve exhausted all stupid options.

H: So, an interesting thing is how good this episode was, and how quickly it was written. This story wound up replacing two other stories, and Malcolm Hulke and script editor Terrance Dicks wrote all ten episodes in about three weeks. But it’s still got a lot of quality. It’s pretty damn impressive.

Sp: Perhaps they could have written the Space Pirates quicker.

K: Good quality SO FAR. This IS a ten episode story. Give it time. There will be lots, and lots, and lots, and lot of filler.

H: Well, it is a ten episode story. Replacing two stories. So there will probably be filler by necessity.

R: So, you’re saying, since there’s ten whole episodes, and it’s replacing two whole stories…

K: Stop it with the filler! We get it.

Sp: What’s fascinating to me…

H: I like how the tension in this discussion has escalated at a decent rate…

K: Moving on!

M: Am I the only one that sees kind of a maybe reference back to the Celesial Toy Maker with the Sgt Major going “Left right, left right!”

H: I think that was just military.

M: Bit it was done in a surreal comic fashion.

K: Yeah, I noticed that. Some surreal and unreal about the Sgt.

M: But if they’re all being mind controlled, especially him in the presence of the mind controller the whole time, so his mind is probably jelly.

H: I liked the subtle way they introduced no one being able to remember quite how long they had been there.

R: That was very clever. There were a few other bits that were maybe a bit over done.

K: Like what?

R: Like the strobascopic effect at the beginning. “Ow, my eppies are lepsing.” Photosensitive seizures.

H: It was a decent approximation of a barrage effects. I have no memory if we see that every episode.

P: You know, I can’t quite remember how long we’ve been watching Doctor Who together.

Sp: Okay, everybody with glasses in the room, take them off now!

M: It’s clearly the Historian.

H: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

M & Sp: “We don’t know what he’s talking about.”

K: And I don’t wear glasses.

H: So, are we ready for final thoughts?

Sp: <monotone voice> “Yes, we are ready for final thoughts”

H: <laughs hysterically>

Cz: He dead.

H: <continues to laugh hysterically. Possibly regenerates. We’re not sure.>

H: Okay. So, I think you had something you wanted to say before final thoughts, Photobug?

P: Well, one, I really like seeing a World War one car driving around. We don’t see those very often, and it was cool. Second of all, why is it strange to see a woman in no man’s land.

M: It’s not no women’s land.

H: To your first point, it’s an interesting thought that occurred to me when we were watching this. At the point when it was originally shown, World War I was still within living memory. So we are going to have a different reaction to this part of the story, regardless. There’s no way we could have the same reaction.

Sp: That’s a good point.

P: It’s just seemed weird for Jamie to be in Highland regalia, and that was considered to be a uniform, and it was 100 years in the future.

H: The Highland regiments wore kilts in WWI. It was part of their uniform. I don’t know if they wore it on the battlefield, but it was part of their uniform.

<note that Historian, Ketina, and Mister Mother have all seen this story before. No one else seems to have, however.>

H: No are we ready for final thoughts?

Sp: <monotone voice> “Now we are ready for final thoughts.”

E: <thinks> More please. This was much better than the last dish that we were served.

P: So far.

R: <unintelligible old man space frontier gibberish sounds>

H: Photobug?

P: <thinks> So far I like it. I was expecting, incorrectly, Benton to show up.

K: Not a UNIT story. Too early.

R: He’s a large chap, but not that large.

P: In keeping with what the Historian said, I was reminded what the German helmets looked like in WWI.

Sp: Eh eh. Not Germans, Huns.

P: I’m done.

H: kids?

MS: This time it really was awesome.

Everyone: Yay! <applause>

EG: I think that it was reallyreallyreallyreallyreally…well, you get the idea. Infinity really better than the last one.

Sp: <monotone voice> “It was infinity better than the last one.”

H: Oh my god, I forgot Elfgrrl is wearing glasses too!

Cz: My turn. When he first put the glasses on, before he started magic-ing with them. It looked like his eyes were black souls of death. I really liked it.

K: Mother?

M: Wow, there are this many people that joined after me!

H: Welcome back, by the way.

Sp: <monotone voice> “welcome back, by the way.”

M: So, when this is done I’m going to start hosting the no TARDIS Project.

R: We watch all the episodes where someone has stolen the TARDIS?

M: Exactly. Although honestly, that would be most of the episodes. Good opening. Good episode. Good opening episode.

K: Spoo?

Sp: Good sets in general. The forward camp in the trenches was very convincing. The giant tarp with a window painted on it in the general’s building was very not convincing.

Several people: Budget cuts.

Sp: <same voice> Budget choices.

M: They did a lot of atmospherics in that whole part, with dirt falling and shaking and explosions and stuff.

Sp: It’s been a while since we’ve had an opening setup episode to a long story that felt like “yes, this is going to be a really quality story” without having to make excuses for “Well, give them a couple of episodes to get into it.”

H: Is that it, Spoo?

Sp: <monotone voice> “That is it, Spoo.”

K & H: Rrrrronelyn?

Sp: <monotone voice> “Ronelyn”

R: <Sgt voice> “And ah, sir, while we’re in No Man’s Land, we found ah…civilians.” <major voice> “Well, dash it all. You spray and you spray and you spray, but they just come back!”

K: My turn? This was a strong opening. And I’ve seen this story before, but it’s been a really long time. I’m apprehensive, not remembering it very well, that the middle is going to slow down a lot because the story is so longer.

Sp: Don’t rush it! Only nine left!

K: Not saying I want the Project to end. I’m just concerned this story is going to have a dull middle.

Sp: Do you remember the previous story? We’re prepared for anything.

K: Fair. Anyway, that’s it. Historian?

Sp: Take your glasses off, Historian.

H: <does not take his glasses off> I think I’ve said all I want to say this week. Because, as Ketina has pointed out, I don’t want to give nothing away.

Sp: <monotone voice> “He thinks he’s said all he wants to say this week. Because, as Ketina has pointed out, he don’t want to give nothing away.”

H: That will never get old!

Sp: “That will never get old!”

And there goes the first episode of the last story of the TARDIS Project. (I sit amazed, I really do.) I would love it if readers, current or former participants, whoever would take the time over the rest of the episodes to comment about the Project, about how we’ve done, etc. And I hope you’re as excited to move on with this story as I! Until then, I remain

THE HISTORIAN

NEXT WEEK: THE WAR GAMES EPISODE 2