The War Machines

Wikipedia says this was the end of ‘season 3’… whatever a season was back then. It’s an appropriate enough ending, as the Doctor and Dodo return to late 60s London to discover a new advanced computer is trying to take over the world by brainwashing people and sending out robotic tanks across the country.

In the WOTAN control room at the top of the BT tower, the Doctor puts the computer's intelligence to the test.

In the WOTAN control room at the top of the BT tower, the Doctor puts the computer’s intelligence to the test.

‘Present day’ Earth stories may become an easy way out, but they’ve been fairly infrequent in this series so far, and I rather like them. Not only do we get a look at 1960s culture and references, but the production can be comparatively lavish, with outdoor filming, a large human cast and no need for pokey little wooden sets. Even the British army gets involved!

WOTAN brainwashes people and has them build war machines.

WOTAN brainwashes people and has them build war machines.

This four-part story also features the “brand spanking new” post office tower (BT tower), the top of which is the home of the computer-gone-evil WOTAN. Both the computer and the war machines are very dated now, with their whirring motorised parts, paper print-outs and typewriter noises, but since it’s set in the 60s, they can rather get away with it. It’s still kind of creepy even now.

A war machine runs amok in the streets of London.

A war machine runs amok in the streets of London.

Dodo all but disappears after episode 2. She briefly enjoys the nightclub life with the two new people they meet, Ben and Polly, before being taken over by the WOTAN computer, but after the disaster, she relays a message of thanks and tells the Doctor she’s staying behind. She’s safe and apparently happy to stay, so fair enough.

Having saved the country (and the world?) from the machines, the Doctor leaves, but not before his new companions (cockney sailor boy Ben, and posh blonde Polly) enter the Tardis unaware of what it truly is. Two young Londoners, Ben is a sailor in the Navy, temporarily on leave, and Polly worked with the WOTAN computer. Ben has a bit of a crush on Polly, calling her ‘Dutchess’, and has a cockerny accent. They both seem nice enough.

Ben and Polly meet shortly before joining the Doctor.

Ben and Polly meet shortly before joining the Doctor.

As Dodo departs, I will summarise and comment on her role.
She could have been a constant annoyance, with her way of talking and her disregard for common sense, but she became bearable by the end. Her accent seemed to become more posh over time, and she stopped doing such stupid things. At first, she didn’t mind being whisked away through time and space, as she explained she didn’t have any family to miss her. She went along with it all quite willingly, really – although it did take her a while to realise she had travelled through time and space. She actually thought the Ark ship they first land within was a zoo! Though she improved, on the whole I wasn’t keen on her. By sheer chance, Dodo ends up more or less where she left, in 1960s London.

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