Aug. 21st, 2018

purplecat: The  First Doctor (Who:One)
We are still watching randomly but I'm so stupidly behind with writing about our viewing its not really even worth being... I don't know... something about. I blame the trains. Normally I write on the train but with the trains having been in meltdown since May there's been a lot more driving and a lot less training.

The War Machines has long been one of my favourite Hartnell stories. The Tame Layman observed halfway through that it has a distinctly Avengers-like vibe to it which may explain my fondness. In fact, it doesn't just have a distinctly Avengers-vibe it feels much more like an Avengers story than it does like a Doctor Who story. It's pacey and self-consciously contemporary in a way a lot of Hartnell stories are not (albeit without quite the stylishness of The Avengers) and arguably is as much a precursor of the UNIT stories as The Web of Fear and The Invasion.

In this tale of mad computer WOTAN seeking to take over the world, the Doctor is far from a random trouble-making alien who appears in a crisis and confounds authority. Here he is pretty much a member of the establishment, staying with Sir Charles and attending Press conferenecs. Much has been made of WOTAN saying "Bring me Doctor Who" from frantic attempts to retcon it, to the rather more astute observation that the writer and production team of the moment clearly only had the vaguest idea what Doctor Who was like as a show. An observation which, while astute, doesn't entirely explain matters. It was nobody's first attempt at Doctor Who - though none of them had been involved with the show very long. There is definitely a feeling, though, that the new brooms are beginning to sweep clean while at the same time settling in and learning the ropes.

The net result is that poor old Dodo is served very poorly - hypnotised by WOTAN and then dispatched to the country to recover, never to be seen again - while the two new companions, Ben and Polly, shine in the environs of contemporary London.

Tame Layman was very critical of the eponymous War Machines, built by WOTAN, and in particular spent a good deal of time detailing all the ways they were Not As Good as Daleks. They are, indeed, not as good as Daleks but as clunky, somewhat unconvincing, slow moving robots in Doctor Who go they are OK and benefit from some outdoor filming and a contemporary setting that encourages the extras to behave more naturalistically than they often do in Doctor Who.

I'm not sure I'd still call The War Machines my favourite Hartnell. It's storytelling is a little disjointed and its plot a little straightforward and while it wouldn't have been out of place in the Pertwee years, it doesn't feel much like the Doctor Who of its time. I'm still hugely fond of it though.

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