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03 – The War Games

Hello everyone, the Historian here. Profuse apologies for the lack of posting. As you may remember, a couple of weeks ago several of us headed out to the Emerald City Comicon. (Were any of you there? Let us know!) After that, for the first time in my life, I came down with what’s known as “con crud,” essentially a seriously bad cold. But I’m mostly better now, and we are back! Now, where were we? Ah yes…. <puts glasses on> Let’s get to the episode, shall we?

EVERYONE: Yes. Let’s get to the episode.

This episode first aired 3 May 1969.

H = Historian
K = Ketina
R = Ronelyn
Sp = Spoo
MS = Minispoo
EG = Elfgirl
P = Photobug
A = Altair (ever silent)
M = Mr. Mother (I exist!)
Cz = Cz (not appearing this week)
E = Ezio (also here, but not appearing this week)


K: Don’t split the party!

EG: How do you say TARDIS backwards, because whatever that thing is, it is what it is.

P: Sidart.

H: Sidrat. That’s TARDIS backwards.

<discussion of how to pronounce TARDIS backwards>

M: So I noticed the use of the silent aside. “Hum, time travelers. I wonder” dun dun dun.

H: Yeah, we haven’t had a voice over in quite a long time. Since Power of the Daleks maybe.

M: It stood out because it isn’t common.

Sp: I’m guessing that the Australian censor version of this episode is about 6 minutes long.

P: With commercials.

H: To be fair, no one dies in a grisly fashion. So…

P: Wars seem to be the theme.

H: So, we have an example of filler, but entertaining filler, like I mentioned last week.

Sp: I like it.

H: There’s definitely padding here, but it’s fun.

M: Oh yeah. The banter between the two generals was pretty awesome.

K: The capture, escape, capture, escape, was a bit reminiscent of the very start of the project, from the Cave of Skulls. Considering this is the last story of the Project – appropriate?

R: It’s nice that at least they got the formula less boring.

K: And less silly. And a bit more plausible.

H: Eh.

P: This episode got me to wondering how many wars there were in England.

H: None of them that we saw, except maybe the Romans, were not in England. We saw wars in France, America, and where ever the Romans were.

R: Were those Romans yelling football cheers?

H: “Here we go! Here we go! Here we gooooo!”

EG: Is this a musical, or a not family friendly tradition of Doctor Who?

K: Huh?

EG: I mean, is this orchestra, or are we doing what we’re supposed to be doing?

H: I was doing an example of a football chant.

EG: Oh.

K: You would call it soccer, not football.

<discussion derails a bit regarding naming things in different countries>

R: Speaking of things in different countries, why for the German officer haz Webley pistol?

H: Because they were cheep props.

Sp: Time traveling budget cuts!

M: Webley Wobley. Gunzy wunzy.

Sp: I was concerned about his accent coming from another time period.

R: But he was speaking legitimate German.

P: Not very good German. English pattern German.

H: What, you mean the verbs at the end of the sentence were not going?

P: And they were using the wrong gender pronouns.

H: At least they tried.

K: Why were they bothering to try, though? Every other story someone speaks another language they just speak in English. Why this time did we get German? Although the Doctor seemed to understand German.

M: Perhaps to try the extra sell that he’s German?!

Sp: Which, while I’m thinking of it, if you try to do the glasses hypnosis trick with a monocle, shouldn’t it only half work.

K & R: It did!

Sp: Consistency. In Doctor Who. That’s why I didn’t recognize it.

K: I loved the monocle.

M: All German officers are issued with them.

P: My vision is fine!

H: Hogan!

R: At the same time they issued the scar.

H: The scar is a dueling scar. Common at the time amongst the upper classes, which a captain certainly would be.

M: It’s a thing that stupid college students due when they’re drunk, basically.

<discussion of German duels>

R: Yeah, I had a very difficult time no hearing Hugh Laurie’s voice that whole time. “You do not recognize me then!” <from Black Adder, not House>

Sp: <bad German accent> If he was Haus, he would keep the attitude but cure NO ONE!

H: <meh German accent> Of course you have heard about the Doctor Dolittle. He MADE the animals talk.

R: There was a lot of fun business in this episode. “You’ll be shot for this!” “Yes, sir.”

Sp: And of course, MacGuyver Who.

K: The was the filler.

Sp: What, showing the kids how to dismantle the hand grenade?

K: No, I thought that was cool.

H: Going back to the house, getting the map, the guy coming in, having to fool him, it was all a little bit of padding.

K: No, not that. No, showing dismantling the gun, in slow mo, TWICE! That was padding.

H: That had significant story function, I think. It showed the limitations of the hypnosis ability.

Sp: It showed the officer was stupid.

K: They could have sped it up, is my point.

Sp: No, it had to go that slow because the Doctor’s sonic screw driver was also working on the calculations on how to hide Gallifrey.

K: Wow, that screw driver better be a lot faster now!

<derails to modern Who with Capaldi for a bit>

K: Anything else?

H: Are we at final thoughts already?

Sp: I love the standard issue painting! All of our communication devices in every time zone must be hidden behind a painting.

K: They were both in the same time zone. We didn’t see a painting in the Roman time zone.

Sp: No, in the Roman time zone it isn’t hidden in a painting, but behind one of those vases with all of those boys in a row.

R: Now I’ve got this image in my mind of a Roman general going up to one of those statues and swinging aside the fig leaf.

K: Okay. Moving on.

Sp: So, Historian…

H: Yees?

Sp: Any particular reason that they seem to switch to video an awful lot for this one?

H: Studio. Video at studio, film on location. Everything that was done filmed at the BBC studio was on video.

K: Basically outside shot film, inside shot video. As it is for most of early Doctor Who.

H: I believe they had some stuff done at Ealing Studio as well, which would have been on film. But pretty much, yes.

Sp: So we learned that you can dismantle a grenade to blow up a safe.

P: Hey kids, try this at home!

H: Good thing there weren’t grenades brought home a souvenirs after a recent war… oops.

Sp: And we learned that bandages are very useful for immobilizing and stashing officers.

R: Bondages! Hahaha.

<discussion of cliff hanger resolution>

Sp: I liked the Roman guy with his mouth agape. Or, as they said at the time… with his mouth ah-gah-pay.

M: Or, as they said at the time, looking for a promotion.

K: There are children in the room!

M: I noticed there was a lot of snickering during the fighting with the Civil War soldiers.

R: It was the dramatic right cross!

M: I thought the fighting was realistic desperate fighting.

Sp: It worked for you.

R: It was more what the actor was doing.

K: I thought the fight with Jamie was fine. It was the fight with Carstairs that got a bit silly.

R: I liked watching Jamie bear hug a guy and start gnawing on his head. It’s nice to know that Jamie is still a highlands badass. Also, given the range of muskets and stuff…

H: I did like how they, very clearly, made a point that Carstairs revolver was MUCH more accurate than any of the civil war weapons.

M: He came across as a very well trained soldier. He knew exactly how to handle the situation with minimal casualties. Which made it more believable afterward when he stayed behind to hold them off.

K: I was fine with all that. It was just some of the civil war soldiers dropping like flies that I thought was funny. Maybe I just have a sick sense of humor.

Sp: I was just wondering about the damage he was doing to multiple time lines in that one fight.

<discussion of Carstairs clearing both sides, blue and grey>

H: Photobug made a point that the aliens have already screwed up the timelines, which brings me to the point that we learn this week that the guys behind this are not human. Which is a significant plot point.

<derails again…>

K: Okay, final thoughts for real now? Minispoo?

MS: I just hopped in when they were there. I was watching, just… I don’t really have anything to say. I’m in shock, and a ton of people have already said the main points I was going to say.

H: Why were you in shock?

MS: First, I didn’t know they had the ability back then to have the “in the mind” thing.

H: The voice over?

MS: I didn’t know that they could do that, back then.

H: You want to know how they did that? The guy prerecorded the line, and as he was standing there they played the tape.

MS: Ahh…

K: Elfgirl?

EG: Why are the people so LIGHT? Jamie barely punched him. And I think some of them heard of cowardly too.

H: I saw a herd of cowardly once. They were just grazing by the side of the road.

K: So, you’re saying that when the bad guys were punched that they flew through the air a bit too far, correct?

M: Like a martial arts demonstration.

EG: <attempts to give us a martial arts demonstration. I don’t think she hurt herself.>

K: You okay there?

EG: My stomach.

K: She’s still moving. Photobug?

P: I liked the triangle based map. That was a pretty nice touch, and I want to hang one on my wall, or make a wallpaper on my computer out of it. I was pretty impressed at how shiny the standard was that the Romans were carrying.

M: I love a good Roman standard.

Sp: We know.

H: Those were sort of the symbol of the legion. So they kept them very clean, proper, etc.

K: Not just a shiny new prop then?

P: I though the plot moved pretty good for this episode. I think they did explain a lot of the backstory by going through each of the time zones.

K: With a 10 part story we should see all of the time zones.

M: Well, it seems like, while filler, that was a lot of the point of the episode.

EG: It was pretty fun. And they generally were acting like the war was more like a game. So that would make them superior than a normal human? I’m just throwing out my ideas.

H: It’s a good idea.

R: It would make them jerks.

EG: I’ll kill you and you and you, because I’m superior, and I can do whatever I want! Meeeeeeh!

K: Alright. Mr Mother?

M: It ended feeling like the next episode should be really awesome.

Sp: <throws hat at Mr. Mother, as he avoids actually saying “it was awesome”>

M: In all seriousness, it was a good setup for “my god, I have to tune in next week” as that just happened.

P: It helps when you arrive before the episode starts.

<yes, Mr. Mother was late this week>

K: Spoo?

Sp: This “filler episode” had more content than some of the plot and exposition episodes than some of the recent stories. They did a great job of explaining the plot points in dialog where needed, or with acting where needed. Just well written and well directed.

K: I’m glad we’re ending on a high note.

Sp: <sobs>

H: Rrrrrrronelyn?

R: <future voice> “In the future all men will wear hypnoglasses!”

Sp: <hypotized monotone> “In the future all men will wear hypnoglasses.”

R: Seriously, the future looked like a Devo video.

H: We don’t know it was the future.

R: Alien HQ. Well, regardless, they’re not men.

H: It’s true. They’re Devo.

K: I am enjoying this story. I can now say that the other, other thing that I recall about this story is from the American Civil War zone.

H: Ah, so you do remember the thing I thought you remembered.

K: It was memorable. But again, I can’t recall the details. I think seeing it one week at a time like this does a better job of cementing the overall specifics of each story, that we didn’t get seeing this as movie chunks. As we near the end of the project, I’m starting to get more retrospective about things.

H: When we get to the end of the project I think we’ll have some special discussions of that kind, wrapping things up. At least I’d like to.

K: So, I’m enjoying this. Still a bit of trepidation that it’s so long, but so far it’s a fun story, and I’m looking forward to more. Historian?

Sp: Take us home, Historian.

H: It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this story.

K: We know.

Sp: I think we must be going…

H: And I…

Sp: Time doesn’t wait for me. I think I must be going.

<And the room spontaneously breaks out into Boston’s Long Time>

H: I hate you all. I’ve never seen this story episode by episode like we’re watching it, and I’m really happy about how well it’s holding up. I hope it keeps going this well. And I also am looking forward to next week. In other words, I entirely agree with you Ketina.

K: <laughter>

Sp: It’s worth noting that the Historian has been sick the last couple of weeks.

P: Also, he not dead! <referring to the Doctor>

Ah yes, I think we’re back in the swing of things. See you next week and the plot thickens…and lengthens…..Until then, I remain