09 – The War Games

Hello everyone, the Historian here. Return with us the the Unnamed Planet and see what happens in this penultimate episode of both this story and the Project! Let’s get to the episode! This episode first aired 14 June 1969.

H = Historian
K = Ketina
R = Ronelyn
Sp = Spoo
MS = MiniSpoo
EG = ElfGirl
P = Photobug
A = Altair

R: I do not want to wait a week.

<General laughter>

EG: So, the Time Lords are the Doctor’s people, his kind, but…and they would be upset of what he became?

H: So, we found out, while you were away, that the Doctor has a secret. He left the Time Lord’s home planet illegally, and stole the TARDIS.

EG: No wonder the Time Lords would be mad at him. But I still think that it’s bad that I had to be with my mom and missed such great stuff. <EG missed the last few episodes due to scheduling issues.>

<EG goes on to be excited about the impending summer vacation, which starts in a few weeks.>

Sp: Before we get into any Time Lord stuff, which, as I think I have asserted before, is “the good part”, my first reaction is that this week had that same necessary feeling as one of the recent episodes. Like there were a lot of scores settled, and plot threads resolved, and just things that had to happened because of everything that came before, and because we knew this was part 9 of 10.

K: But unlike most stories, most, if not all, of the plot points were resolved in this penultimate (he he I said penultimate) episode. Items that would, more typically, be resolved in the final episode of a story. So that was different. Other than what happens to the War Lord, and obviously the Doctor and party, everything has been resolved.

Sp: Which, see Ronelyn’s previous point. I don’t want to wait a week either.

H: Too bad.

Sp: Oh, I know. It’s intended as a compliment. It’s not often, in a story this big, that they could introduce a new Big Bad this late in the story, and still make it feel like it’s supposed to be there, and it has potential to be really cool. And I’m trying really really hard to separate current viewer knowledge with meta knowledge of what this story is, and where we’re at.

H: I’m going to make one current viewer knowledge point. Did you all notice the box that the Doctor put his S.O.S. and his thoughts and the entire situation into?

K: Couldn’t have missed it.

H: Did it remind you of something you’ve seen a little more recently?

K & A: Yes.

P: No.

H: In “The Doctor’s Wife”, a Matt Smith story, he recovers one of those boxes sent by the Corsair. It was intended to be a direct reference to this story.

K: So…only took 40 years to have a call back there.

H: Another amusing thing about the communication box, and about watching this in HD, after the little shot with it disappearing, I could see the gaffer tape that marked the spot where the prop was supposed to sit.

K: It’s just tape left behind when they were setting up the travel machines. Messy floor. War Lord people not good with cleaning floors…too busy trying to kill people.

P: Do you know how hard it is to clean when you’re all dressed in leather?

Sp: No, I don’t. And neither do you.

R: Speaking of dressed in leather… <sings> gimp gimp gimp gimp…gimp gimp gimp gimp.

<you get the idea. It’s basically the Spam song.>

R: And speaking of gaffer tape, did anybody catch the definitely supposed to have been dead guard standing in the background in the scene where everybody’s beating up the Doctors?

<several confirmations>

R: There’s a guy back there “I’m trying to say out of the shot. I’m captured, that’s it. I’m just going to stand here and pretend to be captured. Can’t find the exit around here…”

Sp: So the Doctor was at his most alien for this episode.

H: Or his most inscrutable.

P: You know I just think, if I was in his shoes, I would have sent it just before stepping into the TARDIS.

K: I was thinking much the same. But it sort of makes sense if the Time Lords were going to arrive at the location where the box was sent from first. I figure the Doctor thought they’d be too busy dealing with the War Lord to go after him immediately. And, if the “Mexican” guy hadn’t slowed him down, they probably would have escaped in time.

R: “Seyalloh tu mah lllleeeefrennnnn!” <shoots ground repeatedly>

K: It’s like the guards were below him? What was going on there?

R: Below, and to the back, and to the left.

Sp: He did say the guns never missed, and that was clearly the case.

R: Yeah, he never miss the floor once.

K: He will kill them with ricochet.

R: If he doesn’t get them with his accent first.

K: Eh?

R: <”””Mexican””” accent> “Huaat aalse hyu duu wuth preesonurrs?”

Sp: To my previous point, about the Doctor seeming really alien in this episode, the little ritual to assemble the box, was just out of left field.

H: The fact that he must have been carrying around the pieces of the box all this time.

K: Yeah. If we’d seen him go back to the TARDIS at any point, that might have made sense.

P: He make it out of thought. If you’re sending a message, and it’s all thoughts, why not create the box out of thoughts too. I’ll side step any thinking outside of the box as well, too. <approved pun of the week/weak.>

H: But, yeah it is a cool idea.

K: <laugh> that was abandoned for 40 years.

R: <Doctor voice> “Actually, I just made it up with coasters I picked up at the Hard Rock Cafe.”

K: Actually, it looked like parts similar to those that they were controlling the SIDRATs with.

H: Almost as if it was Time Lord technology.

K: Or more plastic bits, anyway.

Sp: Oh, and of course the slowing down effect attack thing, at the very end, to keep our heros from escaping.

H: That was cool.

Sp: Also very alien.

R: Another silly moment from the episode: when they shot the security chief…

<general laughter>

R: Yeah, but beyond that, when he grabs his face, and drops to his knees, my immediate thought was <Security Chief voice> “My..glasses..my glasses..I can’t see…without my…glasses!”

H: So, I have a theory about why the Security Chief, or the actor who played the Security Chief chose to play the character that way the whole time. I think he was told that the character was alien, and he was trying to “play that up” with his speech patterned.

Sp: As good a guess as any.

H: Unfortunately, or fortunately, they must not have told the actor who played the War Lord, thank god.

K: I think it just made him more annoying, and gave the War Chief all the more reason to fricken kill him. I was disappointed that the War Chief died. I was not disappointed that the Security Chief dead.

Sp: If we’re just going by speech patterns, there’s several characters that should have died. <Captain Sulu voice> “Helm, target that accent and fire!”

<discussion side lines a bit>

P: So both guys that died ended up with their feet higher than their heads as they fell.

H: And then there’s the chair where you must sit sideways.


R: And the fantastic scene where the War Chief puts his hand on the Doctor’s shoulder, and the Doctor gets the “bad touch! I’m going to have to wash that shoulder now.”

K: Yeah, I was worried for the Doctor there, for a bit. Precurser to Doctor/Master.

H: Are we ready for final thoughts? I hate to be ready for final thoughts, as this is one of our final, final thoughts…

Sp: Penulimate final thoughts…

A: I’m looking forward to next week.

P: Well, it’s clear the episodes where someone is going to die at the end of the episode, is clearly over now. So many questions about the Time Lords…

K: And most won’t be answered.

P: And let’s start with, if they’re the Time Lords, why don’t they just appear at the beginning of the episode, or right at the moment that he summoned them. Next one, if they have remote controls for TARDISes, why don’t they catch the Doctor earlier?

K: They explained that.

R: It was almost like, if you run a car on pure ethanol, it will rust earlier. So if you run it on remote, it will wear out too quickly.

K: Do the Doctor did not steal a TARDIS that would run with a remote, because he wanted one that would last.

P: I liked the wrap up that this story presented. It feels more like 9+1 than 10 episodes, for what’s coming up next.

H: I thought the soundtrack was really good this week. How’d you like it. Especially at the end, when they were running towards the TARDIS.

R: We may have encountered our last encounter with the door bell that’s also a dessert topping. That’s used as an alarm, that’s just as an alert, that’s used as a phone ringing, that’s used as a 21 gun salute.

P: Yeah, and go turn off all of the buttons until one of them worked.

H: Well, he didn’t know which button it was.

P: But one of them could have been labeled neutron bomb.


Sp: I loved how the control panel had a little bit of give to it.

P: Little? It deformed at least 4-5 inches.

Sp: Plywood does that.

R: It’s a space-age polymer. It’s just not a very good one.

P: So, as for the soundtrack, it didn’t kill. It was nice, and it didn’t go over the top, as usual. I thought the stage fights were better, but still funny.

R: Yeah. They ran hot and cold.

H: In the same fight.


Sp: Points for originality though. I mean, who…what fight choreographer would say to themselves, “self, how am I going to make this visually interesting. I know…we’ll have them pass the guy around them between them, like a joint at a party. And, you get to punch him, pass to the right, and you get to punch him, pass to the right, and you…swing back and…punch him!”

H: Dude, don’t bogart that gimp guard!

Sp: Yeah man, it’s punch, punch, pass.

K: That was the best part of the fight scene! I love that he got to Jamie, and Jamie was like “Aww… he’s already down.”

P: At least in this episode they learned to put the camera straight onto the arm angle, so you couldn’t tell that they didn’t make contact.

R: Mostly.

P: And, as stated before, both actors decided to play their death scene from the same playbook.

K: Maybe they were directed that way. Overdramatic death scenes.

R: Maybe the problem is that they had under dramatic life scenes.

Sp: Burn.

H: Oooh. That was deep. But I wouldn’t say…

R: What it was deep in?

H: But it was deep.

P: There certainly were really good group scenes, at which point almost everybody was moving. One example was the Doctor and Team running down the hallway to hear the death coming down the docking room. Another fine example is when we had all of the resistant chiefs moving around, and they still stayed in character as they moved.

H: Yeah. Silly accents aside, the physical acting in this episode was pretty good. Minus the ability to aim guns.

K: Why can’t they aim guns? I just don’t get it.

R: Most of them were fine. It’s just captain Mexico.

K: I loved Jamie’s outfit in this one, with is gun holster.

P: I really liked Jamie’s kilt with bandiers around it. They seemed to go perfectly with the kilt. And they were very subtle. It took more than one glance to notice them.

K: Mister Mother will be bummed he missed this one.

H: So will Ezio.

P: This is gunna sound weird, but I, in my mind, think of this episode as being in color, even thought I know it’s in black and white. There was so much detail, and, I don’t know, it just felt like color instead of sterile black and white.

H: We’ve said that about other episodes before, some Hartnell ones, but not in a really long time.

P: I definitely saw some Jamie legs at one point. I like this episode, there was a lot, a lot of plot movement. Yeah, I didn’t expect it to end the way it did, for sure. Looking forward to wow, the last episode? It makes me sad. 🙁

EG: Um.. it was good, confusing, but really good, that it fixed up all of the confusing.

H: So you enjoyed it enough that you didn’t care that you were confused?

EG: Yes. Which is good.

K: And I think if she’d seem them all, she wouldn’t have been confused.

H: Minispoo?

MS: What? It was weird, especially that trigger happy dude.

Sp: Anything else?

MS: <sleepy voice> It was awesome. And that’s the closing.

K: Spoo?

Sp: I liked that they spent exactly as much time as they needed to, to show the companions protesting when the Doctor is trying to leave them behind for their own safety, and then he eventually relents, and off they go. That’s the kind of scene that’s really easy to drag out and overdue. I do think some karmic justice was served to pretty much all thems that needed it. Include the Doctor, judging from where things are headed. It was kind of an abrupt goodbye to Carstairs, given how central he’s been to the story..

R: But that’s also in the grand tradition.

H: And it also shows how scared the Doctor was. “Can’t stop for goodbyes. Goodbye! Let’s go!”

Sp: I do think that it was entirely approprate that Carstairs wanted to try to go find Lady Jennifer, in that instant I would not have been surprised if Carstairs had wanted to ask to come with. He had the companion glow.

R: “May I come with you Doctor? I’d really rather do that then go to Gallipoli.”

Sp: I think what little technobabble we got seemed to fit. I didn’t think it was a cheat to have the explanation that we did for all of the SIDRATs running out of power.

K: I liked that the War Chief was like “I don’t have time to explain this in a few words, Doctor.”

Sp: And my final penultimate final thought…

MS: Finally.

Sp: <laughs> Is that, and I’m being a little meta here, the presentation of the Time Lords, here in this episode, is so much better than most of what we’ve seen in New Who.

H: That is a can of worms. We can talk about the Time Lords after we’ve seen them more next week. Let’s just say that, you could say that starting in 1976.

Sp: There is just so much menace and awe and mystery around them, I think I like this approach to the Time Lords and just Doctor Who history than a lot of what comes later to flesh all of that out. And, of course, Patrick Troughton is…the man. He played a great range of emotions and motives here, and, now that I’m thinking on it, one of the reasons I like this presentation of the Time Lords is that it just inspires this fear and desperation and near panic that we’ve almost never seen. And Patrick being Patrick of course, plays it brilliantly. Not looking forward to next week.

K: Aww.

Sp: I will be sure to bring the box of kleenex.

H: Rrrronelyn?

R: <Security Chief voice> “Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. I. Knew it. The War Chief. Is A. Traitor. Now. I must inform. The. War…waitforit…Lord.”

K: Is that it?

R: Yeah. Dude, I’ve been spitting out stuff all evening. Most of the rest of my notes are just “gimp gimp gimp gimp.”

MS: I thought of something else. The War Chief that was trying to be in cahoots with the Doctor, he’s like a bit tattle tale. “I knew that. I’m gonna tell the War Lord!”

Sp: So, if someone had one of those recordy things in the Security Chief’s office, and replayed it fast, would he talk like normal?

H: Yes.

K: My turn?

H: Yes.

K: So, just to be more silly, but there was word game we played as kids. And this story totally made me think of it. Security Chief –> War Chief –> War Lord –> Time Lord. See, you replace one word with the next phrase and make a new phrase. Anyway. Silly, I know.

R: Ah ha.

K: So, I’m really glad that we get an entire full episode, or what appears to be that, with the Time Lords at the end. That will be nice, to avoid the resolution being rushed, although I hope it doesn’t involve filler either. Anyway, looking forward to next week, if looking wistful as well. Historian, take us home.

H: So, I’m just gonna say, I feel bad for Carstairs. He’s looking for Lady Jennifer, and he clearly cares, and the Time Lords just send him back where he came from, and presumably, he back where she came from, and they’ll probably never meet.

R: Oh, come on. They’ll probably both show up in a Torchwood episode.

K: Or join it.

H: It’s just feels to me like a bit of doomed romance.

P: Who’s a romantic here? It’s nice that you have a healthy heart for that.

H: And I too, am both excited and kinda sad to get to next week.

MS: I’m just sad, I won’t be here.

And there, as I always seem to say, we have it! Next week is the big finalé–join us, won’t you? Until then, I remain