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  • Wrapup — The War Machines

    Hello everyone, the Historian here, welcoming you to the final story wrapup for season three! Only two years late!

    No, but seriously, let’s get to the wrapup.

    PRODUCTION NOTES: Innes Lloyd and Gerry Davis had yet to put their mark on Doctor Who, having been handed several previously commissioned stories when they took over the show, but the new producer and story editor had definite ideas of what they wanted to do. The idea was to make the show both more contemporary (pulling in the teenage audience a bit more) and bring more science fiction ideas to the fore. To prepare for the former, they had Peter Purves’ Steven written out in “The Savages” and decided to not renew Jackie (“Dodo”) Lane’s contract, which ran only to the second episode of the following story. Lloyd reportedly broke the news to Lane, telling her it had nothing to do with her performance. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Understandably, she felt a bit hard done by, and refused to talk about or have anything to do with the show until the 50th anniversary celebrations in 2013. (A little time travel for you there, given the date of this entry!)

    To replace Dodo, the team came up with two characters. “Rich,” who had been planned as a Steven replacement before Dodo was dropped, became Ben Jackson, a sailor in his early 20s. Interestingly, given the problems John Wiles had encountered when he wanted Dodo to speak in something other than RP, actor Michael Craze was allowed to speak in a cockney accent as Ben, giving us a very different class of character, figuratively and literally, than the show had seen up to this point. Once the decision to replace Dodo was finalized, it was decided that an up-to-date female character, a “swinging” career girl somewhat older than any “Doctor Who girl” since Barbara Wright. They decided to call her Polly and to cast Anneke Wills, an up-and-coming actress who had visited the Doctor Who set several months before when her then-husband, Michael Gough, had portrated the Celestial Toymaker. Polly would be posh West End to Ben’s working class East End–all very trendy!

    Now let’s move on to the second part of Lloyd and Davis’ plan to revitize the show. In order to have more of a science basis to the science fiction (really science fantasy, let’s be honest) in the show, they decided to hire a Scientific Advisor. (Two words that have great resonance for Doctor Who fans!) They finally settled on Dr. Christopher “Kit” Pedlar, after asking him how he would incorporate the new Post Office Tower into a science fiction plot. He suggested a super computer attempting to take over the world using a network of other computers and robotic agents. He got the job and Doctor Who got a new story idea!

    Ian Stuart Black, after writing “The Savages,” was brought in at the last minute to replace another writer…and there I’ll leave the production side of things, save to recommend you look at this story’s Brief History of Time (Travel) page for more info!

    PROJECT REPORT: Let me start this section with an admission. While watching this story, the Project members did not realize (and, for some reason, I did not remember) that the version of the story we watched was technically incomplete, with small sections of some of the episodes too damaged or missing for the DVD. The Restoration Team used off-air recordings and reused/repurposed footage to compensate for this…which explains some of our reaction to, among other things, the battle scene in episode three.

    I feel like we really liked this story…and weren’t impressed at the same time. The ideas were certainly appreciated–much was made of the “hey, it’s the internet!” thing–but the execution, especially the War Machines themselves, came in for some derision. We were, with the possible exception of Schmallturm, happy to see Dodo go…but were unhappy with the way she was unceremoniously “disappeared.”

    On the other hand, we all agreed that Ben and Polly (or “Popeye and Eye Candy,” as they have been dubbed, regardless of how Ketina tends to type them!) were a fantastic addition to the cast. Michael Craze and Anneke Wills immediately impressed the Project. We can’t wait to see what happens to them as they make their first journey in the TARDIS!

    Here are the links to the episode discussions:

    Episode 1
    Episode 2
    Episode 3
    Episode 4

    Well, it only remains for me to add the BBC Episode Guide link and to once again thank our guest for the Episode 4 discussion, Max. Come back soon, Max!

    A Third Season wrapup will come soon–can’t say when, but soon! Until then, I remain

    THE HISTORIAN