Day 4 – The Savages/The War Machines
Today was another solid two adventure day much more like the Doctor Who that we all know and love. Both episodes were full of pseudo-scientific hullabalo that makes watching this type of science fiction fun.
– Steven Taylor (11 Adventures)
Once again we say goodbye to another companion. Steven leaves at the end of the adventure “The Savages.” The Doctor suggests that Steven stay behind as a mediator between two opposing civilizations (more details later). I’m not really too saddened to see Steven go. He was bull headed and just charged into danger head on without thinking about the consequences. His character did just seem like a continuation of Ian’s character except Steven didn’t really have a home to go back to.
– Dodo Chaplet (6 Adventures)
Dodo left the show during the adventure “The War Machines” not at the end, but more towards the middle. She becomes mind controlled by a computer (more later) and once she snaps out of it we are told that she went out to the countryside to rest. This sounds like a story you tell your kid when they ask where the dog went. She sort of disappears and is never seen from again. At the end of the adventure someone just tells the Doctor that Dodo has decided to stay in 1966 England. I am going to miss how she used 1960’s lingo and how the Doctor never had a clue about what she was talking about.
Polly is introduced as a secretary who gets caught up in the zaniness of the Doctor and some sentient computer (I’m getting there). I had the feeling that she was going to be a new assistant when she brought Dodo to a club for a good time. We get a good sense of what type of person Polly is and it related in no way to the plot that was going on.
– Ben Jackson
When Polly brings Dodo to the club they start talking to a sad sailor at the bar. This sailor’s name is Ben Jackson and due to this interaction he also get’s caught up in their zany adventure. During this story the Doctor drops one of his spare keys to the TARDIS and Ben picks it up. Both Polly and Ben see the Doctor step in and they decide to follow him if not only to return the key. And now we have two new companions that do not know what they just got themselves into.
The TARDIS lands in the future on a distant planet, the inhabitants of which appear to be time travel groupies. They admit to being able to track the Doctor through his adventures in time and space. This advanced civilization seems to have a created a utopia, but the Doctor feels that there is something not quite right (As a side note these are some of my favorite set ups for a Doctor Who storylines). What the civilization was doing was capturing people from outside their settlement that they deemed “savages” and pretty much sucked the life force from them. They then used this energy to keep their own people strong and healthy. The advanced civilization had a weapon of choice called a light gun, which if you were hit by you would be under control of the shooter. The only weaknesses of this weapon were literally smoke and mirrors. At the end of this adventure the Doctor gets the advanced civilization to stop sucking the life out of the savages so that they can live together peacefully. This is the point where Steven leaves the Doctor and Dodo to help mediate the two civilizations coexisting.
In the next adventure “The War Machines” the Doctor lands back in 1966 England and notices a tower that has been built that seems to be too advanced for the time. This tower houses the most powerful computer in the world that can actually think for itself. The computer’s name is WOTAN (Will Operating Thought ANalogue) Obviously the computer becomes sentient and decides that humans cannot develop Earth any further. Therefore, they must be destroyed.
WOTAN also has the ability to control/brainwash people (which is what happened to Dodo and later Polly) to help with it’s objective. The Doctor ends up having to destroying the initial computer to break the connection with the other war machines. All in all, this type of storyline was exactly the kind of shenanigans I’ve been hoping for the show. This also marks the end of Season 3. Now onto the fourth.
Continuity (Brought to you by Wikipedia)
- WOTAN is pronounced “Votan” – as, it is explained, the Norse god sometimes was. It stands, though, for Will Operating Thought ANalogue, which is indicative of its ability to connect to the human brain.
- WOTAN refers to the Doctor as “Doctor Who” – the only time the character is ever given this name within the series’ narrative (though he is often credited as such in the end titles). WOTAN also manages to discern the meaning of the acronym TARDIS.
- The story appears to end on 20 July 1966 – the date given in dialogue for the Second Doctor story The Faceless Ones, also set in London, where Ben states that that is the same date as when he and Polly joined the TARDIS.
- This serial is the only time during the black-and-white era of the series when the crew of the TARDIS is completely replaced, with the Doctor being the only continuing character.
- The Past Doctor Adventures novel The Time Travellers by Simon Guerrier is set in an alternative reality where the Doctor had not been around to stop WOTAN. The villain is never referred to by name, only as “the Machine”, and while he was overthrown thousands were left insane by his mind-control and Britain was reduced to a technologically backward dictatorship.
- The decision to set more episodes on present-day Earth was taken because the producers felt that the audience was becoming bored with the purely historical episodes that had been a major element of the show to date. As a result, this story marks the beginning of the turn away from historical stories. The next two historical stories, The Smugglers (which immediately follows The War Machines) and Season 4’s The Highlanders, were to be the last historical stories until Season 19’s Black Orchid.
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