08 – The War Games

Hello everyone, the Historian here, trying to resist setting up a countdown clock. Yes, we’re getting very near the end, as a certain sergeant once sang, but we still have some wonderful scenes and new revelations ahead of us! So, let’s get to the episode!

This episode first aired 7 June 1969.

<I believe he’s referencing Sergeant Pepper – Ketina>

H = Historian

K = Ketina

R = Ronelyn

Sp = Spoo

P = Photobug

A = Altair

E = Ezio

K: Oh no!

P: They gonna die.

E: If you’re gonna say it, you gotta say it right. They’re all gonna die.

P: This is certainly the episode with the most TARDIS materializations and dematerializations.

K: So apparently Salamander was “Mexican” as he had the same accent as the Mexican guy.

H: No, Salamander’s was much better. Although, yes, he was supposed to be from Mexico.

P: I really liked at the beginning when the SIDRAT appeared and in doing so covered up the episode title in a fairly effective way. It is thought the title dematerialized. Did anybody else notice that.

H: So, really effective job protecting that room.

P: Not.

H: Setup a machine gun to cover it. The machine gun is completely ineffective, within seconds.

K: The grenade was very effective.

H: Yes.

R: They hadn’t really figured out covering fire during the Boer War.

K: Mix of many wars in their little resistance army. Yet, only 2 sets.

P: Well, they certainly reused some of the audio music selections. Over and over again. Meh beh beh beh.

H: Not some of Dudley Simpson’s best work.

K: I didn’t think this one was quite as good as the last few episodes.

H: I quite enjoyed this one.

A: I did too.

R: Yeah. I thought the resistance plan was actually fairly well thought out.

H: It was the Doctor’s plan.

P: But now he’s a traitor.

Sp: I found all of the “Oh, look! The Mexican is so… bad!”

P: Machismo?

Sp: Misogynisto. Really distracting. Because they’re telling us all of this facinating stuff about the Time Lords, and how the Doctor stole a TARDIS and should join up with this other renegade dude, and then we go back to scruffy guys with wandering accents and big nacho hats.

H: This is actually the first time we’ve had any indication that the Doctor ran away from home and stole the TARDIS. First time in the entire series.

P: What? We can’t have children watching that!

Sp: Yes. It’s distracting them from all of the vital gun safety lessons all this time.

P: What, that they don’t actually hit anything?

Sp: And they’re great for scratching those ichy places on their face.

K: Anyway, I didn’t like this episode as much pretty much because of the Mexican guy. He was annoying.

R: “Your mouth is too big for such a little woman.” on the other hand though, she brung him around.

H: That’s because this is another one of those “Zoe is awesome” stories.

Sp: Meh. I liked the sentiment, I just thought it was really clumsily executed. The whole Zoe, Jamie, Mexi scene just didn’t do it for me.

K: I agree with Spoo.

H: But you gotta admit where Jamie covers the sleeping Zoe up was adorable.

K: So, <War Chief voice> “You see, I’m not the cold hearted villain you take me to be.” <Doctor voice> “Your beard suggests otherwise.” Despite not liking this episode quite as much, I did love all the scenes with the Doctor and the War Chief and War Lord. Those glasses!

Sp: I’m wondering if all of the previous episode scenery chewing just helped make him seen so much more calm and tactical by comparison in his scenes this week.

R: They’ve really set the tone for the Time Lords right from the beginning though. “Don’t worry about it, we’ll just crush them and rebuild them the proper way. Time Lords’ burden, and all that.”

H: So, do you all think the Doctor has decided to side with the War Chief to save his life?

P: Definitely.

K: No!

A: The Doctor’s got a plan.

K: The Doctor always has a plan. Except when he doesn’t. But he still manages to pull something together, even when he doesn’t.

H: The War Chief certainly thinks the Doctor would be terrified of the Time Lords.

K: Well, he is apparently a thief. News to us.

R: No, is anybody who’s watched the show until now really surprised?

H: It’s not like he’s Barbara, come on.

K: No, no. Where did Barbara learn it from?

R: <Doctor Voice> And also I still have this rock from the Cave of Skulls.

H: I like how, after all the shenanigans involving the mind control device, stealing it, getting it back, etc., it’s just disposed of in this episode. “Oh, have them take it back to the home planet and mass produce it. Get it out of the story! Go! Go!”

R: Well, it’s a sensible approach.

H: Yeah, it does make sense. It gets rid of a moving part. I was just amused.

K: A lot of work for nothing.

H: They needed a magufin to carry through an episode or so.

K: So how are they going to deprogram all the mind controlled people now?

H: Who says they are?

R: This is the first episode in a couple now where I’ve been able to say “Gimp gimp gimp. Gimp gimp gimp gimp? Gimp gimp.”

H: Yes.

<discussion of gimps. Whatever.>

R: I do have to agree. The second I saw Frito Bandito stick his head into the scene, I thought “Oh, I can’t wait to hear your accent.”

Sp: I’m still waiting.

H: What do you mean, eh?

K: As I implied earlier, a bad Salamander.

R: The Russian guy actually did a pretty serviceable “Yes, I speak English.”

H: Sort of Russian, yeah. Better than Chekov’s.

R: Well, that’s just damning with faint praise.

<derails into Star Trek and other random 60’s scifi for a bit>

K: Anyway. Slow week. Anything else?

R: Does the War Lord remind anyone else, tremendously… of Robert Llewelyn.

H: No.

Sp: Not really.

K: Reminds me of someone, but not that someone. But very dignified. Don’t know if it’s the glasses or the beard, but rather reminds me of a, sort of, hipster manager.

R: They feed the coffee beans to civets.

H: It makes me kind of want to go back to the Crusade again, to compare his Saladin to the War Lord. Same actor.

K: I like the War Lord and the War Chief. Hate the Security Chief.

H: He’s just so shrill.

Sp: Still think he would make a great Dalek.

K: Yes.

R: He’s even got the visor. “CONFESS! CONFESS!”


Sp: So yeah, there wasn’t a lot of there there with this episode, when we weren’t actually talking with a Time Lord.

<Historian continues to disagree with Spoo and Ketina. Were you surprised?>

H: I mean, seriously guys. We had the resistance plan. We had all of the location shooting with the bomb and the destruction of the communicators and the house. Not saying there wasn’t still stuff going on between the War Chief and the War Lord, but there was a lot of stuff going on besides that as well that advanced the plot that I enjoyed.

K: Spoo, would you like to rebut?

Sp: My but is ready. I agree that there were plenty of things going on, and plotwise they were good and necessary and logically flowed from what we’d scene before. And despite the misogynista’s wandering accent, he and all of his dirty dirty friends…

<and brief interruption, as, due to a spelling error, later corrected, they invent “Mickey Mouse the Men’s Rights Activist.”>

K: As you were saying?

Sp: …were very entertaining. It’s just that all of the plot elements that were not about Time Lords, all had to happen right about now. And all of the action that we saw, for all that it was either cool or hilariously poorly done, or both, well… we’ve seen that kind of action in at least 2 or 3 out of the prior 4 to 5 episodes. The Time Lord angle is new and novel and, to me, significantly advances the plot in interesting ways, and in ways that involve the Doctor the most directly. Everything else you pointed out also advanced the plot, but it had to happen. It just had to be…almost gotten out of the way. Because about the last half a dozen episodes have been building up to all that. I guess where all of this ramble is really going is, this was probably, for me, the strangest “filler” episode of the entire project, because everything that I felt like was filler-ish all had to be there, and was done perfectly okay. It’s just not what I really want to see. And I fully realize, to end this epic, epic paragraph, that some of that impression is colored by my knowing what’s coming.

K: What he said.

H: That’s perfectly fair. That makes perfect sense. Except for the description of the episode being filler. What’s you’re saying, I think, is all the other stuff is the standard “Doctor Who helps the oppressed civilization come together to defeat their oppressors.” In other words, Doctor Who standard plot number B.

K: But Base Under Siege being number A.

H: No, technically, this is number A, because it came first.

K: Well, you were the one who called it B.

H: I’m correcting myself.

K: And C would be evil technology takes over the world?

H: Maybe that’s B?

Sp: <CyberDalek voice> “And then we will proceed to plan R. Which is after converting the planet into a giant rocket…”

R: “We then turn it into a base and put it under siege.”

Sp: “Do not jump ahead to plan S like that. Base sounds. Base sounds. Whoosh! Whoosh!”

H: We are totally getting towards the end of the Project, aren’t we?

R: Yep.

Sp: It’s been a long Project.

<groans… and we calculate how many puns we have allowed Photobug in the last 5 years.>

K: Okay. Final thoughts?

E: They dead.

H: Yah think? Really?

E: <Giggles>

H: No mourning for your beloved Jamie?

E: Jamie not dead.

H: Just everybody else.

E: Just everybody else.

H: Okay. Moving on.

A: They dead.

K: Really? This is our new running gag?

A: Mine has an exclamation point.

H: We’re almost out of time for running gags. Why not?

K: Photobug?

P: I still think that I will always remember this episode as the continuous dematerialize materialize sounds.

Sp: My dreams are going to be haunted by phasing Mexicans.

P: Complete and totally shooting blanks and machine guns and pistols is the only thing I can think of, explaining anything to do with guarding this room. The first time they couldn’t shoot him with pistols at point blank. And then they brought in a machine gun and still couldn’t shoot him at point blank. Just pathetic.

H: Total agreement here.

K: And typical of classic Doctor Who.

P: That’s it. Looking forward to next week, when I’m sure someone will be dead.

H: Spoo?

Sp: <thinkin’> Nice prop work on the first of the communication devices that they smashed, when they were smashing all of them in each zone. I think that one must have been made out of spun sugar or something. It was weird.

H: It was glass, but not glass.

Sp: Just glaringly fake. And I’m watching Doctor Who, so that’s a lot.

A: Your standards were already low.

K: Okay. And there I was wondering. I thought it looked like it was made of crap cardboard.

H: Everyone…

Everyone sings: Budget Cuts.

Sp: I think I took up my allotted time with my small novel earlier. Ronelyn?

R: <War Chief> “Take him to the War Room. So I can interrogate him.” <Security Chief> “Just remember, you’re not allowed to fight in there.”

H: Is anyone else disappointed that the Security Chief’s office isn’t actually a kitchen? <pause> Nobody remembers the Ark? With the kitchen? And the monoids.

K: Not until you reminded me.

Sp: There’s be an awful lot of these.

R: And a lot of awful.

H: There hasn’t been a lot of awful.

K: But that was funny. And now it’s my turn. I think Spoo vocalized by thoughts earlier rather none succinctly. I did like this one, I just didn’t like it as much as several of the earlier episodes. And, as we wind down the end of the Project, things are getting a bit…

Sp: wistful?

K: Yes. Thank you Spoo. You continue to read my mind so well. Take us home, boss.

H: Well, I’m very excited about the story developments this week. We finally, after six seasons, have our first real glimps as to how the Doctor and Susan might have left their home planet.

Sp: In the dark of the night, with a whole bunch of sirens behind them. That’s not a TARDIS sound. That’s the cops!

R: “It looks like them Duke Doctors is in trouble.”

H: That you Waylon Jennings.

Sp: Keep going, Historian. Don’t let us derail you. <Whispers> We’re going to derail him.

H: <laughs. Looks a Spoo. Looks back. Looks at Spoo. Looks away. Thinks.> So yeah. I liked it. And I too am wistful about the end of the Project. Any last derailments?

Sp: That would require for us to have been on rails to begin with.

A: Too soon.

And there, as I almost always seem to say, we have it! Only two more episodes to go before we’re done, I’m sad to say. Hopefully, you’ll join us next week. Until then, I remain