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10 – The War Games

Hello everyone, the Historian here. Well, here we are, six years and six months after this whole crazy idea began. Well, really about seven years since I got the idea, but we officially started the TARDIS Project on the day of Doctor Who’s 45th anniversary, 23 November, 2008. We’ve had our missed weeks along the way, our lack of postings due to burnout, but we kept plugging away at the episodes and the discussions. And, as I said, here we finally are…The War Games, episode ten, the last episode of the TARDIS Project. (Although…see below for a surprise…) It’s with a bittersweet air that I say….

….Let’s get to the episode!

This episode first aired 21st June 1969.

H = Historian
K = Ketina
R = Rrrrronelyn
Sp = Spoo
MS = MiniSpoo
EG = Elfgirl
P = Photobug
A = Altair
E = Ezio
Cz = Cz

EG: That was the shortest episode.

H: No, it only felt short

MS: How could they end that way.

P: You mean, to tell me that the second regeneration for the Doctor does not involve a death.

R: Nobody said that.

Cz: They might have killed him.

P: Also I felt very sad for our companions.

H: Very excellent continuity with getting the actress who played Tasha <from the Wheel in Space> back, and the costumes for Jamie and the Red Coat.

R: Screw continuity. They butchered their brains!

Sp: They didn’t actually butcher them as much as I remember. Because I do remember this transition, and I thought that they were returned to exactly before they met the Doctor, and that all memory of the Doctor was removed entirely. I didn’t realize that they had a story’s worth of memory left.

R: It’s still freaken horrible. I would sue at the High Court of Rassilon.

H: That’s because of a problem, an error, in the script for the Five Doctors that implies that they didn’t know him.

R: The Time Lords collars were wildly insuffiently crazy.

H: Do we really want to talk about the Deadly Assassin now? The crazy collars didn’t come into play until the mid-70′s.

K: But the music on the still unnamed “planet of the Time Lords” was reminiscent of the later music used for Gallifrey. Theme wise.

H: It’s almost as if the same man composed both soundtracks.

K: Did he now? Cool. I liked seeding of the theme.

R: It’s a very Church of England-y kind of soundtrack, which I guess is kind of appropriate.

Sp: I have to say, having watched many courtroom trial themed episodes of various sci-fi and fantasy, this has to be one of the most well done. It’s so easy for the formality of that court room setting to just make things so deadly dull, but the dialog for the Time Lords was so efficient, and the Doctor was basically justifying his existence, that it just made it really fun to watch, and a really fast episode.

R: The Doctor’s dialog in this was some of the finest he’s had in the series.

P: Acting wise?

R: Delivery and writing.

K: I thought the dialog was fine, but the acting seemed over the top to me. He was very moany.

R: In places, but when he was declaiming in front of the judges I thought he had tremendous passion and, honestly it was quite convincing.

Sp: Well, the Doctor has always been at his best across multiple incarnations when he gets the chance to call somebody out on their nonsense. That was righteous, angry Doctor at his finest.

R: But that line “So you accept your charges?” “Accept them? I am proud of them!” That whole spiel was just great.

H: So, what did you guys think of the Time Lords sentence to the War Lord and his entire people.

P: A bit extreme. Also, not really true. They said we’re going to erase what you’ve done, and all of your history and that kind of thing. Wouldn’t then we not remember them? Wouldn’t there not even need to be a trial if they never existed?

K: It’s not that they never existed, period. It’s more like destroying their “souls” I think.

H: That’s just the War Lord and his gimps. The race’s planet was just placed behind an impenetrable force field. But also, we’re on the planet of the Time Lords. It’s like we’re in a place outside of time, so we’d remember the War Lord, etc.

Sp: I don’t think they actually reference the notion of a “personal timeline” until the new series. Whovians can correct me there. But, for travelers like the Doctor, they remember where they, themselves have been, even if time and reality is altered for everybody else.

K: And I have a full explantion, which is… Continuity? Doctor Who? Those are contradictions in terms. Doctor is never, ever, ever known for good continuity.

R: Yeah, you’re lucky he’s wearing the same pants from episode to episode.

H: You’re lucky he’s wearing pants at all!

P: What about Jamie?

R: <Hartnell voice> “Yes my dear Chedderbaum, I’m freeballing it today.”

Sp: You cannot constrain a Time Lord!

K: I’m letting you get away with that because it’s the final episode. You dirty people.

Sp: And, one last little set design gaffe, we could very plainly see the wall behind the SIDRAT that Jamie and Zoe left in, as the door to it was closing.

R: Also, the doors of several of the TARDISes were different heights.

H: For different sized Time Lords.

K: Who knew the Doctor was a sizist? “He’s too fat!”

Sp: Real Time Lords have curves.

H: Well, the Doctor did have a point that his appearance would be judged when he was on earth.

Sp: Oh, was it ever.

R: I would like a cravat like that.

Sp: So, Minispoo, did you appreciate getting to say goodbye to a Dalek one more time, before we were done with the Project?

MS: It was a memory. It was good.

H: So, Minispoo, you have been part of the Project for a little over half your life.

MS: When did we start this?

H: We started in late 2008, but you came in around 2010.

MS: That means I was either 4 or 5.

H: Yeah. So, how do you feel about finishing with us?

MS: It’s sad.

K: Awwww…

MS: It’s also kind of good.

K: You get your Friday nights back?

P: I hope not.

H: Well, it’s a big accomplishment for you, I guess.

MS: Yeah, it is.

K: How about more about this episode and story first, before a full Project retrospective.

R: So, my immediate thought, when they said “You have to come home for your trial” was “Oh, not that Trial. That one’s years away yet.”

H: Or the other trial. We haven’t had a good trial in the new series.

P: I was relieved when they called them the witnesses. They’re just fine!

R: We’re going to put them in witness protection! Jamie, you’ll be a math wiz and live in the 23rd Century. And you’ll have breasts.

K: And we won’t let you wear a skirt anymore.

<laughter>

R: Also, did anybody think it was odd that, apparently, when the Time Lords took crime scene photos of the War World…

H: It was all historical…

R: Yeah. They sent sketch artists to all of the areas before cameras were invented.

P: Well, the cameras didn’t work as well.

H: So they used historical documents. They’re Time Lords, give them a break.

K: No.

R: We didn’t use crime scene photos, we just looked the time zones up on Wikipedia.

P: What’s a Wikipedia? <invented well after the 60′s>

R: Oh, and I’ve got to say “gimp gimp gimp… gimp gimp gimp… giiiimmmmp!” one last time. I was completely shocked when they came out of the SIDRAT. It was one time on Doctor Who where I got to go “whhhhaaat?”

MS: Wait a minute. SIDRAT is TARDIS spelled backwards. I just figured it out.

R: You’ve just taken your first steps into a larger world, you dork.

MS: I’m more of a geek.

K: Aww. A 11 year old geek!

Sp: Speaking of 10 year old geeks, hey Elfgirl?

EG: Yeeeessss?

Sp: What’d you think.

EG: Um. I thought…it was…bwa nah nah! Doctor Theme music! I’m not even going to explain.

H: Okay then.

Sp: Do you think what they did to the Doctor was fair?

EG: Ummm…

MS: No!

EG: I think half of it was fair. I think it wasn’t exactly fair because they said he had to be in a new form in order for him to adventure, but I think it was fair, because heck, he broke the law, stole a TARDIS, and broke a ton of Time Lord rules. So I thought it was definitely fair.

R: <Time Lord voice> “You are, quite literally, in Time Out! See what I did there? Hahaha!”

MS: I’m just imaging bobble head versions of a normal Time Lord, and a bobble head version of the Doctor. And he’s like “I don’t want to be in a time out.” “No, you’re in a time out!” “No! At least give me my TARDIS.” “No!”

H: It’s almost as though you speak from experience.

P: Isn’t “Time Out” a Dave Brubeck album?

K: Okay. Moving on?

R: So, do we think that Galifrey’s defenses…

H: Where?

Sp: Quiet you.

R: Have always sucked? Or, did the Time Lords let the rubber suited schmuck brigade sneak into the court room, and incidentally murder a couple of people.

K: Well, the people they murdered would have just regenerated.

MS: What if the Time Lords let that happen so that they would have the excuse to disintegrate the War Lord?

H: I think that’s what happened.

K: I also don’t think the Time Lord’s planet has defenses for incoming TARDISes, because that doesn’t happen much.

R: So they just let two guys from maintenance give up their vital regenerations to make a point in a court?

H: Well, it is the Time Lords.

R: Touche.

MS: They are jerks.

R: Although I did find myself picturing the two guys going “look at this console? He’s had the parking break on for the last 45 billion miles!”

K: No. The parking break is not on. Other TARDISes make the same sound.

H: That was just River giving him crap.

Sp: I think we’re at it?

H: Really? Wow.

R: Wait! One more! The shot of the TARDIS in space…

H: Yes. All of it’s reused. It was reused from Fury from the Deep. Reused from Web of Fear.

Sp: One more time.

Sp & R: Budget Cuts!

H: So, final thoughts? Ezio?

E: Dang. <shrug>

H: That’s all you got? For the entire story?

Sp: Ten episodes? 6 ½ years? Dang? <twitches.

E: Dang, that was awesome. <laughs and cries>

MS: Go to your happy place, dad. <gives him a hug>

H: Altair?

A: Previous episode had an amazing cliff hanger, but this one beat it.

<Brief discussion of how awesome of Spearhead from Space is.>

Sp: Wait. Altair, you’ve been with the Project for years and you’ve hardly said anything. You’ve got to have something else you’ve been dying to say.

A: To be totally honest, I have serious attention span issues. And there have been episodes where I’ve barely remember anything that actually happened.

Sp: You probably missed the bad ones, so it’s okay.

A: I’ve noticed the ones were I didn’t catch what was going on, you guys trashed those anyway.

K: There’s been a lot to this Project.

H: Photobug, it is your turn.

P: I think this story represents the largest span of Earth history in a single episode I have ever seen. To have Roman warriors coming from one direction, and World War 1 soldiers coming from another, sort of mind tripped me a little.

R: Yeah.

P: It’s weird to me to realize that in the same land, completely different armies have marched. And I don’t know why I never thought it that way. Because I always thought the Romans fought is one distinct piece of history.

H: You don’t think of it as a continuum. Isn’t history awesome?

P: Yeah.

H: Do you have anything more you want to say?

P: This first introduction to the Time Lords is very satisfying to my viewer experience. Bear in mind, this is the first time I have seen the first two Doctors and their episodes, and have not seen the third Doctor at all.

K: Guess we’ll have to fix that later. But that’s not part of… “The Project”

P: So my head did grow during this episode. Which I think is the point of this story. It’s not just to entertain, but to edumacate.

H: Okay. Next is Elfgirl.

EG: I… I liked it. I liked it. I liiiiked it.

MS: You’re going to have to do my “It was awesome” because I’ve actually got something to say.

EG: Do your “It was awesome” thing?

MS: Yeah.

EG: <Sings to theme of “Everything is Awesome”> Doctor Who is awesome! Doctor Who is awesome The TARDIS Project is always awesome!

H: Cz? Final thought?

Cz: I always like main plot more than side quests, so this episode was really interesting to me. I want to see next weeks.

MS: There’s no next week. The TARDIS Project is over this week.

Sp: They start being in color!

Cz: Really?

K: Yep.

H: Did you have anything more to say, Cz?

Cz: How big is the gap between that episode before that episode and the next? In filming?

H: This was June of 1969, and Spearhead was September or October.

Cz: So, that was pretty normal I guess. Did people have to suddenly buy color TVs to see it?

H: They broadcast it color, but black and white TVs would still show it in black and white. A lot of people saw the Pertwee episodes in black and white. Alright, next is Minispoo.

MS: Okay. So I have a thought. Whenever somebody says “Doctor Who” I think TARDIS, Doctor, Jamie, Dalek, and styrofoam rocks.

<laughter>

P: At least that never changes.

MS: Yeah.

H: Minispoo, a lot of people say that they have “their Doctor.” Who’s yours?

MS: The Doctor that’s the newest.

H: Peter Capaldi?

MS: The Doctor that is today.

Sp: He means David Tennant, actually.

H: Do you like him better than Hartnell or Troughton?

MS: Yeah.

Sp: So, do you like the first Doctor or second Doctor better?

MS: Oh, that’s a good question. <thinks> The second Doctor.

Sp: Yeah. Why?

MS: Well. The first one… they both have the same like, smarts. But the first one was more slow for me. And then, with the second one, it had more attitude, faster, really good for me.

H: He’s growning up.

Sp: And, I already know the answer, Jamie, so I’ll ask it this way, can you think of any other companions, besides Jamie, that you really, really liked?

MS: Zoe.

Sp: Why?

MS: She like, um… a Earth version of the Doctor. Like, not a space lord thing, but like the Doctor.

H: So, I’m wondering if some of it has to do with him being really, really young since he’s seen the other companions. Jamie’s been around for years by now.

MS: No, I’m just really attached to Jamie. I really don’t remember the scenario where when Jamie went into the TARDIS with the Doctor. I don’t remember. And then, to me, it looked like he turned into a… it looked like he pulled out a katana, just running at him. And the guy with the gun was like “He’s stupid… oh, wait, he’s coming! Oh no!” Also, it was awesome. <whispers> It’s a tradition. Deal with it.

K: Okay. Spoo?

Sp: <thinks> This whole story works really well as a transition to the next Doctor by simultaneously giving them a whole new bit of background to play with, with the introduction of the Time Lords, and then immediately yanking that away by exiling him to Earth.

R: Doctor Who, Deep Space Nine.

Sp: Kinda. It gives the Doctor so much more depth knowing what he stands for, and what he had overcome, and now we have this story, in the back of our minds, as we go on to Pertwee. Also, while I’m on the subject of Earth, I did think it was a clever minor bit of foreshadowing when the Doctor was making his case for all the good that he’s done, and all the evil that he’s fought, and, with the exception of the Daleks, every strong example that came to mind for him, was something on Earth. So, it felt very natural for the Time Lords to decide “Well, you like Earth so much, well here” and basically shove his nose in it, like a dog that was bad.

P: You like cigarettes? Your going to smoke the entire pack!

Sp: So, yeah. Sad to see Zoe and Jamie, not just leave, but leave behind who they became, and what they learned. I mean, the Time Lords undid an entire semesters worth of Women’s Studies worth on Jamie. And just so many great experiences and wondrous sites and growth for both of them, but especially for Jamie, and now they’re just back to “some guy.”

K: When we see it later with Donna it’s so sad. But this reminds us that Donna isn’t the first time that happened. It’s so tragic to see the memories wiped for Jamie and Zoe. I get why, but it’s still sad.

A: Perhaps Jamie will dream of an airplane and think it was bad haggis.

H: There has been plenty of spin off books and audios that imply that the Time Lords “memory wipe” might have been less than successful. But their canonocity is debatable.

K: My headcanon is that they remember.

Sp: And finally, my final, final thought…the Doctor seemed okay with this sentence pretty quickly, because his last, and strongest objection, was about his appearance. He could roll with the TARDIS being swiped from him. He could roll with being locked to one primitive planet and one century, after his objection. But, the thing that he kept really getting fixated on, was his right to choose his next regeneration.

R: <Doctor voice> “Are you going to make me a ginger or not?”

MS: The TARDIS technically isn’t the Doctor’s. He stole it. It’s not his.

R: To quote another great British series “Look, property is theft right? Therefore theft is property. So this ship is mine.”

K: The TARDIS is the Doctors because the TARDIS is the Doctors.

Sp: Everything else is just a SIDRAT. Rrrronelyn?

Everybody: Rrrronelyn?

R: <Time Lord voice> “Daleks? Oh, I’m sure they’ll never cause us any trouble.”

<laughter>

R: And in regards to the Project, it may stop, but it never ends.

H: Thank you.

Sp: For the last time, take us home, Historian.

K: I don’t get to go?

H: You get to go.

K: No I have to think of what to say. I agree with the initial comment that this episode felt fast, even if it wasn’t. Not a lot happened, yet it was packed with anticipation, suspense, new stuff, and mystery. The scene through the dry ice, or whatever it was, was particularly interesting.

Sp: Yeah, where the hell did that come from?

P: It seemed like a left over unused prop to me.

R: <big voice> A planet where side walks are made from clouds! And shower curtains hang from the sky!

K: It actually reminded me a little of where we find Jamie in the Two Doctors, years and years later. This made me think of that freaky space station…that made no sense, but whatever. Blah blah, “season six,” blah blah. Time Lord outfits were cool, and a bit subtle. How they go from jump suits to crazy colors is quite a leap. And I totally recognized the actor who played the lead Time Lord. Anyway, those aren’t really final thoughts, but those were interesting things I noticed. And I enjoyed it. And, despite the busy hands and fingers, I will miss this. Historian, take us home.

H: This was a fantastic story to end the Project on, and a fantastic exit for the Second Doctor. I know we’re going to have a party next week, but I just want to take a moment to thank everybody for helping me make this absolutely insane idea a reality. I’ve had a lot of fun. And I think we all have to say…

Everybody: It Was Awesome!

It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…

…OR HAS IT? (Dun dun dun!!!)

A long time ago, April 11, 2009 to be precise, I promised something. An obligation that the Project had to fulfill. And next week, we will finally do it–watch the one episode that the Project missed. That, and PARTY! Until then, I always remain

THE HISTORIAN

NEXT WEEK: MARCO POLO EPISODE SIX, “MIGHTY KUBLAI KHAN”

Sp: Yes, that’s right. An entire Project about travel, is going to time travel.