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Recap: Doctor Who S3 E10 "The War Machines"

"Doctor Who is required- What? His name isn't 'Doctor Who'? Well, it's too late to remind me- we already used up all the retakes the studio is allowing!" note 

"I dig your fab gear!"
— A nightclub owner likes the Doctor's clothes.

The TARDIS arrives in contemporary London, and the Doctor and Dodo visit the Post Office Tower, where they meet Professor Brett and his new super-computer WOTAN, which can think for itself and is about to be plugged into a worldwide computer network.

I think we can all see what's about to happen here, can't we?

WOTAN decides that machines are superior and should rule the world, and hypnotises humans into building the titular War Machines, which turn out to be more than a match for the army. The Doctor uses a magnetic field to capture one, which he then reprograms to destroy WOTAN.

Dodo, having been hypnotized by WOTAN, decides she's had enough adventure. Since she's back in her own time, she decides to stay there. In one of the lamest departure sequences for any companion, she isn't seen after episode two and says goodbye to the Doctor in episode four via a note, delivered by Polly. The Doctor leaves, but not before Professor Brett's secretary Polly and able seaman Ben Jackson enter the TARDIS while trying to return a missing TARDIS key to the Doctor.

Watch it here.

Tropes

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot
  • Bring News Back: Ben escapes to tell the Doctor and others what WOTAN does.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: When the Doctor arrives at the Inferno club, Polly comments that he "looks a bit like that disc jockey". Presumably she means Jimmy Savile, which makes it a somewhat unfortunate comment now...
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Ben tells a man to stop hassling Polly, he starts a fist fight with Ben, and Polly complains — though Dodo intervenes on his behalf.
    • Though to be fair, he did tell her "be careful who you encourage" - implying it was her own fault she was harassed by that fellow.
  • Computer Equals Tape Drive: Not only WOTAN but the War Machines have these — the latter are mounted on the outside where they can easily be damaged by gunfire!
    • Justified in that the story was set in 1966.
  • Continuity Nod: Another evil force will hole up in the Post Office Tower during the Sixties in the Ninth Doctor comic, "The Love Invasion". When Nine remembers the Tower from this adventure, he remarks, "That, Rose, is one unlucky building."
  • Credits Gag: For the first three episodes, WOTAN is listed last under the cast as a cast member playing 'himself'.
  • Damsel in Distress: Mind control effects on two women. (Plus the man who wouldn't leave Polly alone at the nightclub.)
  • Disposable Vagrant: A bum tries to sleep in an abandoned building, unaware that WOTAN is using it to construct one war machine.
  • Distressed Dude: Most of the mind control victims are men. And Ben gets captured and forced to work without it.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Her: Dodo.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Ben fights for Polly rather quickly.
  • Five Rounds Rapid
  • For Happiness
  • A Friend in Need: Ben is first persuaded to act when he sees Polly being hassled at the nightclub.
  • Idiot Ball: Plenty from WOTAN — its hypnotised slaves work like machines until they drop (WOTAN should know that the inefficient humans require regular food and rest) and it tries to take over London by brute military force instead of using its role as an advisor to the government to manipulate events.
  • In Harm's Way: Ben is morose because he's on shore duty.
  • Master Computer
  • The Power of Friendship: The mind-controlled Polly clearly sees Ben escaping, and says nothing. When someone asks after him, she explains, but when he asks her why, she does not know, and after a moment, starts to remember that he had been her friend.
  • The Sixties: Remember when that computer took over the world?
  • Special Guest: Real-life newsreader Kenneth Kendall plays himself in news reports about the War Machines.
  • Tin-Can Robot / Killer Robot: The War Machines
  • Worst News Judgement Ever: The death of a tramp makes the front page of The Times. Actual deaths in 1966 included writers Evelyn Waugh and C.S. Forester, actors Buster Keaton and Montgomery Clift, comedian Lenny Bruce and Captain Cook's 200 year-old tortoise. Their deaths did not make the front page of The Times.
  • You Have Failed Me