05 – The War Games

Intro stuff. This is fun. We are excited. More intro stuff.

First aired on 17 May 1969.

H = Historian
K = Ketina
R = Ronelyn
Sp = Spoo
MS = Minispoo
P = Photobug
A = Altair
E = Ezio

MS: No Jamie!

E: No!

P & Sp & H: He dead.

MS: No!

Sp: Piper down. They done kilt him!

H: Just a point of order, it was known that Fraser Hines was leaving the series during this story.

P: No! He dead! I’m gonna go home and cry.

E: I’m going to get there first. I’m going to cry more than you.

MS: I’m pretty sure, if Jamie is in fact dead, I’m not watching Doctor Who ever again. He is the person I come for. Because Jamie is AWESOME!

E: I’m going to high-five you! <high fives Minispoo>

H: <Security chief voice> So. We have ways of making you tell the truth. Now, better or worse? Better or worse? 1 or 2?

Sp: <points left> I’ll never tell you. <points right> I’ll never tell you. <basically miming an eye test, demonstrating which direction the “E”s are going.> War Master, meet View Master. <shunk shunk> It’s the Doctor. <shunk shunk> It’s Carstairs. <shunk shunk> It’s Paris! <shunk shunk> It’s Disneyland! <shunk shunk> It’s Scooby Doo!

<brief discussion of the contents of View Masters>

R: Do I get to make a stupid joke about that scene?

H: Of course you do.

R: Eh hem! “Not the mind probe!”

H: High-five!

Sp: It was seriously a fun prop though. It gets the point across immediately. And it allows for…ACTING!

R: This whole episode was like that.

Sp: The War Chief was fricken hysterical.

R: Exactly. But at the same time, was really cool.

K: There was a moment I was confused.

R: Just one?

K: Yes, just one. I’ve seen this one before. So, the Security Chief implies there’s a higher authority. He said War Lord? So there is a difference between War Lord and War Chief.

H: Yes.

K: I was confused a bit because the names were too similar. So, for a bit I thought they were saying that the War Chief was the higher authority, and they meant War Lord. And that was just a bit confusing.

H: Much like Hebrew National, the War Chief has to answer to a higher authority.

R: So that tableaux at the very start of the episode was like the weirdest wax museum set ever. With Klause Von Bald Head doing his little <sneers> and everyone else arranged around him like the disciples in the Last Supper painting, but with rifles.

H: Like you mean the Last Supper painting. They all had concealed carry.

R: Yeah. And they were all white guys.

H: <loses it>

Sp: Yeah, not many people were practicing good gun safety in this one.

K: At least Jamie pointed it out.

Sp: Sweeping, pointing, gesturing.

H: Well, this is Doctor Who. They do have a history of that.

P: “What does this trigger do?”

R: Well, it’s England, so they’d read about guns, but they’d never actually seen one.

Sp: Which was kind of their approach to American accents too.

K: We really have to stop making “It’s England” jokes.

H: We’re five episodes away from the end. I don’t think we need to stop doing things now.

R: Somehow, despite all of the ridiculous crap I’m going to point out about this episode that made me laugh my ass off, it ripped along at a really great pace, and it was a lot of fun to watch.

H: It was a great cliff hanger.

P: I’ve said it before. And no, I’ve never been right.

R: Usually a cliff hanger doesn’t end with the body hitting the ground with a deadly sickening thud. That’s pretty impressive.

H: Well, we didn’t actually hear the thud.

Sp: I think part of what made this episode really fly by, yet be engrossing, yet overcome occasional..

R: Attacks of side burns?

Sp: Scenery chewing…was that somebody somewhere in almost every scene was in some kind of danger, but it was a variety of dangers, presented in a variety of ways, and it all logically built off of each other. It wasn’t running around in a quarry chased by a rubber suit kind of danger.

P: Nothing wrong with that.

H: No, but it’s good to have variety.

Sp: And it wasn’t just pointless running back and forth being chased in hall ways.

K: Although there was a little bit of that.

R: And there were definitely rubber suits. <referring to the guards.>

H: Call in the security gimps.

R: <shivers>

Sp: And you can really start to see the larger overall story unfolding over the course of these episodes. In fact, at this point, it’s entirely possible that this story really does need to be 10 episodes long. As opposed to other 8 and 10 episode things that were at least 3-4 episodes of filler. A lot of why this episode worked was because we had just enough back story about all of the NPCs, not just the major ones but individual soldiers too, so there was a little bit of investment in every little scene. Again, it’s different from just running from anonymous monster of the week.

P: With a soundtrack.

Sp: <agrees> With a soundtrack.

K: So, to clarify, who was in charge of the green boxes? The War Chief, or the War Lord who we haven’t seen yet? I can’t remember, and I got their titles mixed up.

Sp: In France, they call the War Chief the Royale with Cheese.

H: To break it down, the War Chief is in charge of the general plan, apparently.

P: Who’s General Plan?

H: Stop it. Because only he had the knowledge of traveling in time and space. Plot point.

K: Ah! Okay. I got it now.

H: The security chief is in charge of security.

K: I wasn’t asking about him. I was clear on that point.

H: And the War Lord…

K: Who is new.

H: And who we haven’t seen yet, appears to be in charge of EVERYTHING. And to be the War Chief’s superior. But, it is very clear, that the War Lord is the same species as everybody else other than the War Chief.

K: No counting the humans fighting the wars.

H: Obviously.

Sp: Does that make the War Lord the War Chief Chief?

H: Cut that out.

K: So, the War Lord “hired” the War Chief to do his thing, for reasons…

Sp: Which mostly involved going like this <quick dramatic head turn>

H: He did it much slower.

Sp: I liked the dramatic holding up of the amulet and flinging it over his shoulder.

R: “Well, you know when you’re that fabulous you don’t hide your light under a bushel.”

Sp: Explains why his main mode of transport is coming out of a closet, I guess.

K: Okay. You were saying Historian.

H: What I was going to say was that it sounded like the War Chief came to them rather than them hiring him. At least that’s the way it sounded.

K: But whether they found him or he found them, they still hired him. But I get it now. It was just confusing because I was so focused on the title “War” that I initially missed the different between Chief and Lord.

Sp: The important thing is that the War Chief has to take a 90 day break between Wars.

K: But now the wars can last 18 months instead of a year, but he has to take a 6 month break.

<Discussion degrades for a bit>

Sp: <vender accent> “What part of master of time and space did you not understand? I can telecommute from anywhen.”

<discussion degrades a bit more>

Sp: <turns to Minispoo> Ignore everything I’ve said in the last 10 minutes. I am being a horrible role model.

MS: Dad, I already know that you’re a horrible role model.

H: Are we ready for final thoughts?

Sp: Not quite yet. Penultimate thoughts, because I do want to bring up the slap fight. Badly staged. Badly directed.

MS: Badly everything.

K: Except Jamie. Jamie was good. Jamie was the only thing that was good.

P: He’s dead now.

MS: Don’t remind me. You could see that they weren’t hitting each other. You could clearly see, when one of them falls on the ground, you could see that the fist went right past him. I know acting, but I thought they would at least try and cover it. Try and make it look realistic.

E: Well, back then they had much tinier TVs.

Sp: Which means missing someones head by inches would have looked like it connected.

H: It seems like that we have evidence that there is a Boer War zone as well, or something to that effect, given the captain’s attire. And I thought that was interesting.

K: But the black guy died!

Sp: Of course the black guy died.

MS: You’re setting a bad example again.

H: This is not us being bad. This is a seriously bad trope, and serious media criticisms. This is the second story in a row where we got introduced to an interesting black character in one episode only to see him die without any development slightly later. That being said, at least there was a black character, and he was treated as a serious character. And that scene last week, where he confronted the supposed confederate general was very good.

Sp: The counter part to this, of course, was the adorable scene with Jamie leaving. “You’re leaving me behind because I’m a woman?” “No! Well…yeah.” That’s a level of self awareness around the characters in sexism that leapt out of the script in a good way, and that was fun.

K: So, I really liked scientist guy, who was the Doctor tricked. I like him. I hope he lives for a while longer. He was very entertaining.

H: He was entertaining last week too.

K: Now are we ready for final thoughts?

E: They had me all set up for a great episode, with the Doctor’s wonderfully enjoyable sass and wit. And then the cliff hanger happened.

MS: That happened for me too.

P: <whispers> He deaaaaad.

E: He not dead. Don’t you dare.

P: I’m digging the prop department’s choices for props of the future world.

H: I like how the future base has only one corridor.

P: With a giant microwave in the hallway.

H: Very modular.

P: <whispers> Budget cuts. <regular voice> Those guns are pretty cool. I’m liking the truth machine. I thought that was a pretty good plot invention, displaying pictures into her brain.

H: This isn’t the first time we’ve seen where pictures are displayed directly into someone’s brain. The Cybermen did it in Wheel in Space.

P: I think the War Chief doesn’t know what he’s doing. Also, this episode seemed like it lasted 45 minutes, and not in a bad way. I agree that the period costumes were really adding to the episode.

K: I feel like they just went to the BBC prop department and went “find historial costumes and make ’em dirty!”

R: I thought that was kind of fun.

K: Fun, but simple is all I mean.

P: Looking forward to next week, although it’s going to suck not having Jamie anymore.

E: Excuse me?

<no more running joke! Moving on… Executive order.>

K: Minispoo?

MS: Okay. Jamie is not dead. He got shot with sonic waves. It could have just stunned him, not killed him.

P: It killed the other guy.

MS: Well, you do know that Jamie went up for super long. The other guys just jumped immediately.

K: Anything else?

MS: It was awesome. I always want to say that. There, I’m done.

H: It’s about to be your turn, Spoo.

Sp: Oh, crap. <pays attention> I may be reading too much into this individual episode, but I really had the sense from this episode and this story so far, that I haven’t had from recent stories in some time, that  we were coming in on the middle of events that were already happening way before we go there, and might still go on after the Doctor leaves, depending on what happens. There was just a real sense of world building and the NPCs having their own motivations and their own relationships to each other.

P: Like the two guys slap fighting?

Sp: Yes. Exactly like that. Those guys have a history with each other.

K: Not anymore!

H: Or like the War Chief and the Security Chief sniping at each other.

Sp: Yeah, exactly. These aren’t just a constellation of minor characters revolving around the Doctor solely being there as a puzzle for him to solve. It’s just a really rich setting, and that helps make these stories really engaging. Really. <thinks> Alright, question for the room, in this week’s episode, was Zoe just a damsel in distress.

R: Not JUST a damsel in distress.

H: I think I have to agree with Spoo. I think in this episode she kind of was.

R: On the other hand, unlike all the other humans we’ve seen get mind blown, she remembers the experience in detail, and when the Doctor says “can you remember the information that they told you about all of the resistance cells” her response is “well, duh.”

E: If you’re going to be a damsel in distress, be like that.

H: But she wasn’t being mind controlled like the others, she was just having her mind <ahem> probed.

R: So, the thing is then, she’s not really in danger.

K: Except for being captured.

R: But, the scene with Carstairs was actually kind of scary.

H: What I liked is the fact that he was doing it in a very mechanical way. On the one hand, it looked a little silly, but on the other he’s just not there.

Sp: <thinks for more> No. I cede the rest of my time.

H: Rrrronelyn?

R: “Tune in again next week, when we see Captain Biggles fight against the Evil Space Fetish Men!”

K: My turn? It’s hard not to hold back when you know what’s coming, so I just have to look at this episode on it’s own merit. Yeah, I’m having fun. I’m not feeling like this is too drawn out yet, which is surprising. Oh, it was interesting to learn that the transporter boxes…what did we call them…SIDRATs?  Were green. That was cool to find that out. It’s like, TARDIS is blue, SIDRAT is green. I wonder if they’re more eco friendly. Historian?

H: Well, while I did enjoy this episode, I actually think it’s the weakest one of the stories so far.

Sp: Because Jamie’s dead?

H: That being said, a weak episode of this story, is still a darn fine episode, and I’m really glad you guys are enjoying it as much as you are.

Sp: Why is this the weakest one?

H: It felt a little padded out to me. With the corridor and all that.

E: I agree. “You are a spy. I must kill you now.”

Outro stuff. Pleas for comments. More outro stuff. I am…not the Historian.