Episode 1 reviewed 30 Nov 09
Episode 2 reviewed 01 Dec 09
Episode 3 reviewed 02 Dec 09
Episode 4 reviewed 03 Dec 09
Episode 5 reviewed 04 Dec 09
Episode 6 reviewed 06 Dec 09
Episode 7 reviewed 06 Dec 09
Episode 8 reviewed 09 Dec 09
Episode 9 reviewed 09 Dec 09
Episode 10 reviewed 10 Dec 09
Written by Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke
Directed by David Maloney
Something's rotten in the state of Denmark, or so it seems. The Second Doctor and his final companions, Jamie and Zoe, arrive in the middle of a battlefield. It appears to be during the World War, and they are quickly captured.
Seemingly without reason, they are all put on trial and found guilty ... Jamie is found guilty of desertion, while the others are guilty of espionage. There is a General there on the base, and he is just a little bit, um, off. When he wears glasses, those around him fall under his control, like they're being hypnotized. He wants the Doctor killed and the others guilty, so the two other members of the tribunal do exactly what he wants.
The night before the Doctor is to be executed, Zoe wanders around the General's quarters and behind a piece of artwork finds what I think is a communications device. She doesn't pay any attention to it, instead searching for the keys to the Doctor's prison cell, but I think that's setting something up for later.
She gets the keys and goes to free the Doctor. And, of course, the General finds her and sends the Doctor to be executed. As the episode fades out, we hear gunshots.
* * *
There is a much different feel to this episode than the ones which have come before. It feels more like it's a movie, not television. I don't know if there is a new DP, or what, but it feels bigger, more epic.
Continuing from the last episode, it was gunfire, but not aimed at the Doctor. It was a sniper, aiming at the firing line surrounding him, and I think the sniper was wearing a US Union uniform. The gunshots send everyone scurrying, giving the Doctor and Zoe time to escape.
The General dude is not what he seems at all. He's got a Tardis. Oh, yes. He's using mind control, he's got all sorts of advanced tech, and he has his own frakking Tardis! Now things are getting interesting.
People are coming up with all sorts of dates. There's the Red Coat who thinks it's the mid-1700s. The Doctor thinks it's 1917. A few other dates are given, but I am so far not believing any of them. And it's all to do with this mist business.
The war zone as we know it is surrounded by mist. The Red Coat (British soldier from 1700s) says the mist surrounded him and then when it disappeared, there he was. Some of the others, including the woman named Jennifer give similar stories about the mist. Well, it gets better. Because the people inside the mist cannot go through it. See, the Doctor and his companions, along with a couple of the General's soldiers have fought their way out of the war zone and they're driving to the mist. Jennifer can't do it, the mist won't allow her to, so the Doctor has to drive. And almost as soon as they are through, they find a band of Roman soldiers riding towards them.
* * *
The title "War Games" is beginning to make sense. It's feeling like this General dude is a Time Lord. He's got his own Tardis, and is somehow traveling through time to pick warriors to fight in his games. I'm not sure what this mist business is all about. It might be connected with his time ship, or I could have it all wrong, and he's working for someone else. But that wouldn't explain how he's got his own Tardis.
The two military types who have hitched a ride with the Doctor have me curious as well. They couldn't see what was right in front of them until the Doctor forced them to see, and then their vision went all wonky and then there it was. It's like they're not just having issues with time, but their memories have been altered as well.
Speaking of the Doc, there are a few scenes here where he is pretending to be a military dude from the ministry, and he is completely over the top. I'm surprised there is any scenery left, as much as he was chewing it. Oh, I thought it was hilarious, I had to rewind it and watch it a few times just to get over my case of the giggles.
They escape somehow. The Doctor confirms that those were Roman soldiers, but now they're in another time zone, having driven through the mist.
The Doctor has this theory, and it turns out to be correct. He thinks they are in a much bigger war zone, and there are mini-zones cut off by this mist. Each one is its own separate time zone. One for Romans, one for the American Civil War, one for World War I, etc. They go back to the base we already know, the General's HQ, and find a map which confirms it.
In the middle of the map is a giant empty area, like a dead zone. They are heading for it, hoping that whatever it is, they'll get answers there.
They meet another zone's General, who also has a hidden video screen. Then we see a number of various Generals arguing, and they also let out a minor itty bitty little fact - They're not Human.
As our heroes hide from American Civil War soldiers, Tardis #2 materializes. A group of appropriate soldiers files out. The Doctor and Zoe go inside. Jennifer and Jamie move towards it, but gunfire stops them. They hide, but it's too late - Tardis #2 dematerializes.
* * *
In true classic cliffhanger fashion, at the end of every episode, they have a cliffhanger which makes me want to go to the next episode immediately. It's actually taking a lot of willpower to not do that. I'm not behind on my viewing, so I'm sticking with one per day, but it's not easy.
Among other cool things that happen here is one that sticks out like a huge red flashing beacon lit from space - the Sonic Screwdriver. The Doctor uses it briefly here. I realize he may have used it in one of the lost stories, but this is the earliest story that still exists in which he uses it.
It is one of those "did that just happen?" moments, and I loved it. Yes, I'm a geek. What's your point?
Only 7 episodes to go. This is going by almost too fast.
Jamie and Jennifer are captured by the soldiers. Zoe and the Doctor are in Tardis #2. Zoe asks if it's possible, and the Doctor is really nervous as he says he might just know who else would have a Tardis.
They find more soldiers from different periods of time. They're all under hypnosis or something like that, not really suspended animation, but not moving.
While exploring, they find early prototypes of Geordi's Visor. Putting them on, they are free to explore and nobody stops them. They find themselves attending a lecture which gives a pretty massive infodump.
Jamie and Jennifer escape, but it doesn't last long.
* * *
Interesting. Now they're on another planet and Zoe and the Doctor have a way to block the mind control.
Each of the Generals use a variation of glasses - glasses, monocle, something. But whatever it is, the same result each time - the soldiers do whatever they say, and they're completely under the General's power.
I'm kind of getting antsy. I want to see the Cybermen and Yeti and other monsters. But there's only 6 episodes to go. Yikes.
Zoe is captured and interrogated, but is rescued by the Doctor.
Tardis #2 reappears in the barn. Jamie, Jennifer, and the US Civil War soldiers are waiting for them. Boom, boom.
The Generals bicker amongst themselves. It's like watching an old married couple. They confirm there is someone higher, someone above them, called the War Lord. One of the Generals is referred to as the "War Chief."
Before Tardis #2 departs, several of the soldiers and Jamie sneak on board. When they materialize on the alien planet, they walk out into an ambush as the Doctor and Zoe watch, helplessly.
* * *
For a few minutes, I was worried we were falling into the "companion is captured, Doctor frees her" cycle, but it's episode 5 and it's the first time it's happened so far. As long as they don't do it again, we'll be fine.
The Generals were fricken hilarious. Their verbal sparring was almost like Crystal and Alexis on Dynasty all over again. I was waiting for them to start a fistfight and then fall into a pool, but it didn't happen. Maybe next time? lol
The regulars were almost an afterthought in this episode. Jamie, Zoe, and the Doctor had only a few minutes of screentime, the rest were all devoted to the guests. It's nice to share the wealth that way in these long stories.
And so ends disc one. Disc two starts tomorrow, and contains episodes 6-10.
I'm kind of getting excited for Thursday, the final episode of this Doctor. At the same time, I wish they'd hurry up and get The Krotons out on dvd.
The war peeps discover Jamie hadn't been programmed before. The security chief interrogates him, figuring out the Doctor and the others arrived on their own, not as part of the games.
The Doctor meets up with some of the resistance on the planet. They rescue Jamie and pick up a few more resistance soldiers along the way. Jamie and the Doctor stay behind. Zoe and the rest go back to Earth in Tardis #2. The Doctor has stayed behind so he can get his hands on one of the processing machines. He thinks he can use it to deprogram the soldiers.
The Doctor gets it then calls Tardis #2 back. Unfortunately, they get trapped between the control room and the ship. The war chief starts pressing controls. In the trapped room, the ceiling begins to lower, threatening to crush our heroes.
* * *
This is the first time the phrase "Time Lord" is ever spoken. That's pretty huge for the series.
Poor Jamie, he keeps getting captured. I suspect it's cuz everybody thinks he's pretty in his little dress. I mean kilt. It's almost like he's Gabrielle in the first season of Xena.
And apparently the war chief is the fourth Time Lord we've met, after the Doctor, Susan, and the Monk. All signs point to it, anyway.
If you watch carefully at the beginning, during the recap, the Doctor's pants split. Oops!
The Doctor exits, tricks the people outside, and quickly reprograms Tardis #2. They take off and land in the Roman zone.
The War Lord arrives from the "home planet," which I suspect is Gallifrey.
The Doctor, Jamie, and Carsters (the soldier who remained with them) run away from the Romans, into the 1917 zone, where they are captured as Zoe watches from afar.
The General orders the Doctor to be shot (again), and he escapes with Zoe's help (again). The General freaks out and calls for help. The war chief calls him a whiny little bitch, then he gets shot dead by one of his former soldiers. The resistance has control of the base. The war chief sends reinforcements to take them out, but it doesn't quite work - the Doctor has set up his own Mist all around the building. They have captured one of the outside soldiers. The Doctor uses the processing machine on him, proving it can work. Before they can do any more, Tardis #2 materializes. The Doctor is captured, taking inside, and Tardis #2 disappears again.
* * *
The War Lord is sort of bipolar. Well, in the same way most teenagers are. He goes from sugary sweet to wanting to rip someone's head off, back to sweet in the stretch of one breath.
If he and the war chief are Time Lords, then there are some pretty huge problems back home. Though, if they've simply stolen a Tardis (or the technology to make one) that's something else. There's only three episodes to go, and since I know for a fact that the Time Lords come into play in a pretty spectacular way in the last episode, I know it'll all get sorted out sooner or later.
It's weird. I remember back in 93, watching this whole story in one long stretch on PBS. But the only thing I truly remember is the end, the last half of the last episode. I don't know why the rest of this is all seemingly new to me, since I have seen it. Well, I am enjoying it, it just feels like I should remember it from before.
The security chief tries to interrogate the Doctor. It SO doesn't work. The war peeps keep sending Tardis 2 into the resistance HQ, but the machine gun prevents anyone from exiting the ship.
War chief frees the Doctor and they talk, privately. They confirm what we already knew - they're both renegade Time Lords, and WC tells the Doctor his plan. Basically, he's making a new army of Human soldiers to fight aliens.
Zoe and the others take out communications for each Zone, one at a time, throwing the whole game into massive confusion.
The Doctor, supposedly working with the war chief, contacts the resistance leaders and convinces them to come to him in Tardis 2. They are quickly surrounded and the Doctor loudly claims they are prisoners.
* * *
Yeah, right. Like the Doctor would really be working with the bad guys. He's up to something.
And Jamie gets a middle name here - Robert. Well, maybe he had it before, but not in any story that's been released so far.
Even 8 episodes in, everyone still seems to be having fun ... including me.
96 episodes down, a whole lot to go.
Things are coming together. Tardis 2 only has a limited lifespan. The war chief hasn't solved a critical problem with that particular model, and his goal involves getting his hands on the Doctor's Tardis.
The Doctor kisses up to the War Lord. It's becoming apparent that while the war chief is a Time Lord, all of the others are from some other alien race.
The Doctor reveals himself to the resistance leaders, proving that he's been working with them all along. Together, they begin taking over the base on this alien world. Tardis #2 is dying. There isn't enough life left in it to get everyone back to their real times. The Doctor must call in the Time Lords, which freaks the war chief out.
The Doctor, Jamie, Zoe, and Carsters leave to return to Earth. The Time Lords are on their way. As the others watch, Carsters disappears. In slow-motion, the others race towards the Tardis, trying to escape. But, they aren't able to get inside. The key is in the lock, but the Doctor doesn't have the ability to turn it, as we fade out.
* * *
I've seen a number of stories set on, or in some way involving, Gallifrey. While they are depicted as old, decrepit, blind, and any number of other bad characteristics, they are not something the Doctor fears. Here, though, they are. He stole his Tardis from them, and has been on the run ever since. And they want him back.
As I recall, the next episode has a different feel to it, and takes place almost entirely on Gallifrey, the Doctor's home planet. I'm looking forward to it.
It seems like I've just gotten started with the Second Doctor, and after tomorrow, his era is over; we're moving on to the Third Doctor's era.
I know, I know. All good things.
There is a force field around the Tardis. With great effort, they make it through and inside.
The Doctor takes off, trying to escape the Time Lords, but to no avail - they arrive on Gallifrey.
For the first time, we see a trial of the Time Lords. The War Lord is found guilty. Then, it's the Doctor's turn. He's also guilty, but of something else. The verdict is this - the Doctor will be stranded on Earth of the 20th century. His knowledge of how to operate the Tardis will be removed from his mind. Oh, and Jamie and Zoe will be returned to their own time.
The Doctor - "They'll forget me, won't they?"
The lead Time Lord replies that no, they will remember their first adventure with him, but nothing more.
And then the Time Lords force a regeneration on the Doctor. They claim they'll allow him to pick his form (something that comes into play later with Romana) but in the end, he has no control over it.
* * *
And so ends Patrick's reign as the current Doctor. While he does return for every reunion show, it's still sad to see him go. And exciting, because we are about to enter the era of color.
This episode felt like a bridge between this era and the next. It's almost not even a part of the earlier 9 episodes, instead concentrating for the most part on Gallifrey and the mythology they're building up about the Doctor's people.
We learn more about that race in this one episode than had been discovered in the previous six years, so it's a pretty monumental event.
I had read other reviews of this story. The overwhelming majority watched it either in two parts (as in, five episodes in a row one day, five the next day) or the whole thing in one marathon. I'm not sure if that would have worked for me. Doing it (mostly) one episode per day allowed me to enjoy the cliffhangers more, and also stretch out my time with this Doctor.
With a story that's 10 episodes long, though (and this story IS the longest single story that still exists in the show's history) there is the possibility it could lose some of its oomph. I dunno. All I know is, I loved the whole thing, and I wish they'd gone a different route with the departures of Jamie and Zoe. Putting them back where they were is one thing, but wiping their memories? That's just mean.
And now, Season 6B. There is a theory called the "Season 6B theory" to explain away the Second Doctor's appearances in later stories. The main issue is from The Two Doctors. In it, Jamie is visibly a much older man, still traveling with his friend. The theory goes that before they put Zoe and Jamie back where they were, the Doctor worked for the Time Lords as a sort of James Bond-type, going around and doing their bidding. After he was done, THEN he regenerated and the companions went back.
It could easily work for the Doctor, yes, but I don't think so for the companions. The reason I say this is that there is no regeneration on-screen from Two to Three. The first time we see the next Doctor, he's already in his new form, falling out of the Tardis. It's possible there could have been centuries between the end of this story and the beginning of the next one. It's also just as possible that it happened overnight.
That's the thing about time travel, there are always new timelines being created, and the past can be changed as easily as the future.