Doctor Who #125: The War Machines Part 2

"Either that telephone is dangerously out of order, or..."TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jul.2 1966.

IN THIS ONE... WOTAN builds his war machines while the Doctor de-hypnotizes Dodo and sends her away... forever!

REVIEW: Ok, so it's really strange to hear everyone refer to the Doctor as "Doctor Who" and I wish they would just stop it. Only Peter Cushing should answer to that name. There are other strange happenings in this episode, some good - beware strangers bearing chloroform - some not so good - how fast are war machines designed and assembled is only marginally more acceptable than the speed at which a tramp's death (with photo!) is published in the newspaper, apparently hours after his body was found. Looks like it was a long night! The whole story could definitely have benefited from a more relaxed time line, letting a day or two pass by here and there. Of course, you could always explain away two flaws with one stone if you considered that the reason the war machines look so silly (again with the cartoon faces) is that they had to be built from existing parts. Because while the assembly is possible overnight, those pieces had to be manufactured somewhere. Just a matter of hours with time to spare for human testing here!

Creepy hypnotized Dodo is, as ever, over-eager, but in all the wrong ways. It's not a particularly interesting performance, but at least it's not robotic, and I do like the bit where she stands facing the door, her back to us, for the longest time. After WOTAN tries to take over the Doctor via modem, Dodo shows her hand and the pain on the Doctor's face almost seems to come from his sense that Dodo's been lost. The Doctor practices a bit of hypnosis for the first time, something he'll get better at in other incarnations, and using his ring as a focus. And off he sends her to recuperate in the country, never to be seen again. Watching at the time, you wouldn't know she was gone for good. It just looks like one of those holidays the main actors occasionally get. She'll get one more mention in a later episode, but that's it for Jackie Lane. We hardly knew ye, Dodo, but then, there wasn't much to know.

As for Polly and Ben, it's only with hindsight that we know they've replaced Dodo as companion because they seem so well integrated into the plot. Polly is doing her job, and Ben comes round on her invitation for lunch, after they hit it off at the Inferno. They're the young couple who may get together at the end, but first they have to help the Doctor sort out the trouble in their lives. They'll survive if they're lucky. And yet, they've effortlessly slipped into the roles. Polly is matched to Dodo, both presented as secretaries in the previous episode, and the Doctor is already giving Ben life-threatening missions as if he were Steven or Ian, getting trapped in a war machine's efficient little spotlight.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Despite the somewhat silly war machines, collapsed time line, and soul-draining exit for Dodo (admittedly a character we never cared much about), Part 2 is the serial has a slick, filmic look and easily creates a fun new team in the Doctor, Ben and Polly.



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