2 – The War Machines

The War Machines episode 2 discussion:

Sp = Spoo
H = Historian
SG = SpookyGrrl
P = Photobug
K = Ketina
M = MisterMotherR = Ronelyn
Cz = Cz
Sc = Schmallturm

Sp: Doctor Who?

H: Yeah, that’s kind of an open question in this story.

Sp: There’s nothing open about it. They refer to him as “Doctor Who” like four times.

SG: Is this the first time they refer to him as Doctor Who?

H: Yes. This is one of the only times in the series they ever do. He’s generally just referred to as The Doctor, except in a couple of story titles.

P: I noticed right away

K: I remember from last week in the finale. I’m pretty sure we talked about it in last week’s write up.

Sp: So apparently the War Machines have been assembled to fight the combined alliance of Ethan Allen and Ikea.

M: You know it’s funny how “Prof. Exposition” never mentioned that, since he was explaining EVERYTHING that was happening.

H: So, on a different note, something that I found very impressive watching this time – one the tremendously good integration between the location film segments and the studio segments. Normally there’s a definitely break between the two, but here it was almost seamless.

K: I noticed every time.

Sp: But, within reason. That’s as good as they were going to get it.

H: I was also very impressed with the size and detail of the studio sets. It definitely shows they had a lot more space than in the first series. The Covent Garden set and the warehouse set were both very impressive.

R: Instead of “humm… at least we are on Mars” <bumps into the wall>

P: I was impressed with the on location shooting, if there even was any.

H: Yes. This had some of the most major on location shooting we’ve seen yet.

M: I had a really hard time not giggling every time I saw the magnetic tape reels on the sides of the Armored War Machines.

H: Well, you know, 1966.

K: Yeah, I was thinking “Just take out the tape drive.”

Sp: Run up and stick a stick in one of the spokes.

R: Fridge magnets… clunk… Wrrrrrr….

H: So, speaking of the War Machine itself, did anyone else notice the huge continuity glitch in the testing? In half the shots it was War Machine labeled number 9, and in the other half it was number 3.

Sp: I thought they were just testing multiple machines.

H: No, they were changing shot to shot. I think there was one in the studio and one on film.

P: Also, perhaps it’s big enough for people to stand inside of it and move around.

H: Probably someone sitting in a chair like the Daleks.

M: I figured it was one of the warehouse carts.

SG: I thought it was just a washing machine.

M: Unbalance the load so it will move. Quick, throw in another towel on the side.

R: That did raise one continuity thing for me. The War Machines have a tank tread in the middle that sticks out the front. Towards the very end they apparently got that part working and it was rotating when it moved. For the rest of it, it just wasn’t moving at all.

Sp: I didn’t think it was a tank tread. More like a hobo grinder or something. You saw how all the workers pig-piled on “Mr. Sitting on a Parkbench” guy.

M: Yeah, poor Aqualung.

Sp: Yeah, it was all my willpower not to say, whenever they showed him “Hey, Aqualung!”

R: Did we mention the creepy scientific strangers with their bottle of candy.

M: Oh yes, the “Inspector Gadget” villains.

K: Was that chloroform?

Sp: Unintentional humor how the scientist just revealed his bottle. Like “anytime, just bring him over here.”

M: Wanna come see my Klein bottle?

Sp: So there wasn’t a heck of a lot to say about this episode because “Professor Exposition” said it all.

Cz: How come that one guy they were all like “You, stand there!” and he did?

H: Because he was hypnotized.

R: Wotan is saving humanity, not the humans.

M: And now we know the origin of the Chumbly technology.

K: I thought it looked a little the Dalek guns. Especially the smoke effect.

R: Every Doctor Who weapon from this era either went Foosh or Flash.

H: I’m going to take issue with Wotan saving humanity not the humans. He was only going to save the humans who are serving the computers.

P: I think Wotan sees this world as perfect as long as he can get rid of the people.

H: And I think that was established in the first episode.

Sp: And boxes. Too many boxes, too many tables.

Cz: So, I don’t remember what this guy said, but it reminded me of the Daleks vaguely. He was like “Eliminate…? Yes, Eliminate!”

R: Yes, I see what you meant. It started low like a question and then loud.

Sc: First off, I thought that Hartnell’s acting when he was trying to describe the attempt of Wotan hypnotizing him was really good. And also, I have the feeling we’ve seen the last of Dodo somehow.

Cz: Yaaaaaaaay!

H: I can neither confirm nor deny.

K: Can I confirm it?

H: But, speaking of this, what did folks think of Polly and Ben again?

M: <mock tone> I think it would be really cool if we saw more of them in the future.

R: <robot voice> They are sufficient. They can be allowed to continue. And need not be ELIMINATED!

Sp: But only if they did not bring more boxes and chairs.

M: Yes, I found it difficult to be frightened of the table smashers.

P: I’m thinking a bit of rust or a large magnet will end them.

Sp: It’s the hypnotized people that are more scary than boxy McPunch-a-lot there.

Cz: I miss the swamps.

Sp: Because the hypnotized people just failed their saves instantly.

H: They’re creepy.

Sp: Even the scientist who knows what Wotan can do couldn’t resist him, and The Doctor, who is The Doctor, almost didn’t and came away with a ringing headache and almost didn’t understand what’s going on. That of Wotan’s power is way more scary than the War Machines.

H: I think it’s the idea that someone could be <snap> taken over like that rather than the execution of the acting. Although I think the hypnotized Dodo was kind of chilling.

M: Yes. It wasn’t Dodo, but the hypnotized scientists that killed it for me. It wasn’t the acting, but the writing that they had the scientists endlessly explaining what was going on.

R: Prepare to pad the episode. Pad the episode. Episode padding is complete.

Sp: Yeah, Dodo’s acting… they actually gave her something good to do.

H: One of the first in a long line of the Doctor’s companions being hypnotized.

Sp: Have we seen The Doctor hypnotizing or un-hypnotizing someone before?

H: I can’t remember. I think the ring was used for something like that once already.

K: He used it in the Web Planet…

H: He used it in The Dalek Master plan when they got locked out. But I feel like he’s used before, but I could be wrong. It’s been three years’ worth of stuff we’ve watched.

K: Wow!

H: Final thoughts?

Cz: <mumbles> I wasn’t really watching it.

Sc: I thought the scene where they told the guy to stand there and tested the weapon was really good. It showed how careless they were with humanity. It was funny, but at the same time you were cringing.

P: Death shouldn’t be entertaining.

R: I agree. I was expecting the conditioning to break down at that point.

M: It would have been more horrific if he tried to run.

Sc: I think it was more horrific that he didn’t run.

H: I think it would have been more dramatic if he’d run, but more horrific if he didn’t.

Sp: But we had the resistance in the previous episode.

M: Maybe not tried to run, but maybe reacted at the last second instead of just falling down. Screamed or something. But it’s a minor point.

R: “Doctor Who?” “Yes.” “That’s what I’m asking.” “That’s the man’s name”

P: I thought he played on second?

M: No, Who’s on first!

H: I dunno.

Entire Room: Third base!

M: I just want to reinforce that I enjoyed every part of the episode that did not feature hypnotized scientists.

Sp: So the thrilling bar sequence? The engaging cab ride? And the collective hypnotized mugging of a bum?

M: <thumbs up>

P: It’s not a bum. We call them homeless now.

Sp: It was the 60’s, they were bums then.

K: Is it a bum or a hobo. We said hobo earlier…

P: First of all, the War Machine, pretty cool in visual effects for the amount of money they did not spent.

K: But?

P: But, I they would be easy to defeat in almost any battle field, just looking at them.

H: Well, they are made of plywood.

SG: They were only assembled in a matter of hours, so obviously it’s some shoddy workmanship.

P: They’re like made by Volvo or something.

M: Yes, that’s where they got these props. It was Volvo’s attempt to do a Mini.

P: I’m not as into it this week. I agree that the acting by not really acting. All of hypnotism does not really grab me at all.

Sp: Look deeper into the show’s eyes…

SG: So, one – I liked that the Doctor is hanging around a club called “The Inferno” until it closed down. Two – coming in after only seeing one or two episode of a story line – what I thought was interesting was just the story line itself in the period it was written. In the 1960’s it was right at the cusp of technology changes happening very quickly. So there was a general fear that either the scientists themselves would misuse the technology because the population didn’t understand what they were doing, or a fear of if the scientists were brainwashed by some other influence. Like the government controlling things.

H: This script was an original idea of a scientist, not specifically a sci-fi writer.

SG: But it was just interesting to see, of that time period, things carrying over. So I felt that the hypnotizing of the acting but not acting take was very appropriate because it gives the feeling of something really flat. Of the actor itself just irrelevant of what was going on.


H: Please, stop!

Cz: Oh, that ridiculous noise.

R: That’s the sound that computers make!

Cz: <blank stare with mouth agape.>

<general laughter>

Sp: I believe I’ve quipped enough that I yield the floor.

K: The thing about Dodo was that I felt that her acting was so solid in this episode. Okay, it wasn’t her acting that I would complain about but what they had her character do.

M: It was the writers, not her acting. Blame it on the writers, they kept making her do stupid things.

P: The writers never learn, they always make them do stupid things.

M: Well, someone has to get them in trouble.

P: To advance the plot, someone has to do something dumb.

K: But my point, I thought her acting was really good in this one. Bye bye Dodo.

P: I thought the bar scene was interesting. The bartender didn’t want them to call the police because she didn’t want to lose the bar’s license, and missing person be damned, let ’em die. Also, I thought the overall party scene in the bar, which was awesome in the first episode, completely fell apart in the second episode.

H: They were closed. To be fair, it was 3AM. Anyway, really most of what I wanted to say has been said. I’m enjoying watching it again, it’s better than I remembered it, like most of these, because I haven’t seen it in a long, long time, and I’m looking forward to seeing next week’s, and we’ll see if Dodo reappears or not.

K: Uhuh. Sure we will. Dodo. Uhuh.