The One With… a magic cube... and the one where the Doctor is executed.
The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe land in the middle of no-man's land during World War I — or so it seems. They're taken prisoner and tried as spies, with the Doctor sentenced to execution.
Once they manage to escape, (and get captured again, and escape again, and...) they find out a couple of things are out of place: First off, they are not in World War I, but rather a facsimile of it, which is limited to a certain area. After reaching and crossing a strange barrier of fog, the Doctor and his companions suddenly find themselves being chased by Roman soldiers, and, after crossing the fog again, soldiers from the American Civil War. Wherever they are, apparently recreates many historical wars throughout human history for some strange purpose; and that is not all. The soldiers of the different wars don't seem to remember how they got to the front lines, and all of the generals from the different eras are apparently in on whatever scheme is going on, having futuristic communication devices hidden in their personal quarters and frequently using strange glasses to hypnotize their subordinates into forgetting and ignoring all of the many historical inconsistencies they come across.
It turns out that a race known only as "The Aliens" have kidnapped a number of soldiers from Earth's history, brainwashed them and set them to fighting replicas of their own wars. The survivors will be made into an army capable of conquering the galaxy. They are aided by the War Chief, whom the Doctor recognizes as being one of his own race, and who has provided the Aliens with Sidrats for transport purposes. However, the War Chief plans to double-cross the Aliens and seize power himself.
The Doctor and friends manage to gather a band of human resistance fighters (who were able to shake off the control of the Aliens and were wreaking havoc) to stop the wargames. The War Chief tries to get the Doctor to help him, but fails, and is shot by the Aliens' commander as repayment for his treachery.
However, the Doctor can't return all the surviving soldiers to their right places, so he calls on his own people, the Time Lords, for help.
They arrive and the Doctor is instantly put on trial for violating one of the Time Lords' prime directives — noninterference in other races' history. The Doctor argues that he may have meddled in a lot of affairs, but he always done good. The Time Lords concedes that he has a point, but that he must still face punishment for breaking their laws. He is sentenced to exile on Earth, while Jamie and Zoe are returned to their own times, though with their memories altered so they only remember their first adventure with the Doctor. The Doctor is additionally informed that he must change his appearance again... and while at the time it seemed like a simple annoyance, once the rules of regeneration were later establishednote , this meant the Doctor was essentially executed. By his own race.
This story is quite significant besides it being Patrick Troughton's farewell after three years, twenty-one stories and 119 half-hour episodes. As well as ushering in a new Doctor, and a new era in the show with Earthbound exile, this was the first time that the Doctor's race had been named, and that the reason for the Doctor's fugitive status had been explored. This is also the only time during the show's initial run that the Doctor and all of his companions changed at the same time. It wouldn't happen again for another forty years.note Additionally, this was the final serial to be produced in black and white; all serials produced after this would be made in full colour, which would necessitate a massive overhaul of the show's design work to accommodate details that would be made more visible on higher-resolution colour TVs than on the older, dingier monochrome sets of the 1960's.
During the break between seasons, the Doctor Who strip continued running as always in TV Comic. Since these strips were written before a third Doctor had been cast, they ran with the idea of the Doctor getting a stay of execution for a while and living on Earth, hiding out from the Time Lords and living in a posh hotel with the TARDIS out of action, and becoming a game show panellist, before finally being forced to regenerate by some walking scarecrows. This was the genesis of "Season 6B" , which many later writers would embrace. The Second Doctor's appearances in "The Three Doctors", "The Five Doctors" and "The Two Doctors" would most logically take place in this gap between "The War Games" and "Spearhead from Space" from Two's perspective (although there is no real reason "The Three Doctors" couldn't occur at any point after "The Invasion").
With 10 parts totaling about 4 hours run time, this is the second longest story of Classic Who behind The Daleks' Master Plan.
- The Aesthetics of Technology: This story subverts the usual Billions of Buttons control panels by having the SIDRATs controlled with oddly-shaped fridge magnets. In a way, it somewhat foreshadows the touch-screens of the iPad and smart-phones (specifically, how one can touch, drag, and manipulate the icons on a screen).
- Affably Evil: The War Chief is very polite, even when plotting to built a galaxy conquering army.
- Affectionate Gesture to the Head: The Doctor kisses Zoe on the forehead in Episode One.
- Answer Cut: When the Doctor and Zoe are discussing the advanced communication device hidden in Smythe's office, the Doctor remarks that he wonders what's at the other end of the link. The scene then changes to show the War Room at the other end of the link.
- Arbitrary Scepticism: The aliens have been kidnapping human soldiers from various periods, using time machines. But when the Doctor and his companions (who are among some human soldiers) say they're time travellers, the alien who's questioning them is sceptical, questioning their sanity. (Another alien, though, thinks to himself, "Time travellers — I wonder.") It's later explained that the aliens believe that the secret of time travel is known only to the Time Lords, who never get involved, and themselves. (The wondering alien turns out to be the rogue Time Lord who gave them the secret, and so he's quicker to consider the possibility that another Time Lord is on the scene.)
- Army of The Ages: The War Lord and his people have kidnapped soldiers from all Earth's major wars and set them against each other, planning to winnow them out and use the survivors as an army of conquest.
- As You Know: Defied in the fifth episode. The chief scientist reminds the Doctor that the recruits, one of whom the Doctor was posing as, already know what the 'great plan' of the War Chief is. The Doctor doesn't bother asking him for specifics since it would blow his cover.
- Back for the Finale: In part 10, Claire Jenkins briefly returns as Tanya from "The Wheel in Space", welcoming Zoe back as the latter returns to her own time.
- Bait-and-Switch: The Time Lords offer the Doctor a Hope Spot, by saying that they've accepted his plea that there is still evil that needs to be fought and he has a part to play in that. Then they inform him he's going to be exiled to 20th century Earth for as long as they deem proper, his knowledge of how to operate the TARDIS will taken from him, and he will be forced to change his appearance.
- Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: Twice. The first time is during the Doctor's execution (a member of the firing squad is shot by a sniper instead), the second is when the commander of the American civil war wants to shoot a rebel (he is shot by a half-brainwashed member).
- Bandito: Arturo Villar.
- Bang, Bang, BANG: The usual opening of a Troughton episode plays... his face melts into "DOCTOR WHO", and then, with thunderous and overwhelming clattering, the title cards appear, interspersed with Stock Footage of World War I machine guns in action.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: The Doctor has been convicted of espionage in wartime and has escaped from prison. He is not in uniform, or even a proper suit, and he has a gaping hole in the knee of his trousers, and yet manages to bluff the prison commander for a solid chunk of time just by knowing what to say and shouting loudly.
- Beard of Evil: The War Lord and the War Chief.
- Big Bad: The War Lord.
- Bilingual Bonus: The German dialogue between Captain von Weich and Lieutenant Lucke in the German dugout in Episode Three is translated as follows:von Weich: "Who are these people? What's going on here?"Lucke: "We have here three English civilians, Captain... They told me they come from another time in a spaceship called TARDIS."von Weich: "They are English spies. We must detain them. I'll speak with the General about it."
- Bittersweet Ending: Jamie and Zoe make it out alive. The Games are shut down. The War Lord and his cronies are killed. The War Chief seemingly dies. But, as the Doctor watches the Time Lords return Jamie and Zoe to their own times, promising they'll never forget him, he sighs in surrender, knowing they will. The Doctor is sent in exile to earth, undergoes a forced regeneration (essentially amounting to execution of the Second Doctor), and stripped of his knowledge of time travel. The final scene of the Second Doctor's tenure is him tumbling into seemingly eternal darkness, screaming in horror as the Time Lords punish him.
- Black Dude Dies First: The black Civil War soldier is the first character with lines to die on-screen; he bites it when the German general shoots him.
- Bolivian Army Ending: The Time Lords capture the Doctor, retrieving the TARDIS, sending Jamie and Zoe back to the time and place he picked them up from with their memories of their adventures wiped (which, for Jamie, was an almost guaranteed death in battle) and then exiling the Doctor to Earth after asking him to pick a new face, which we don't see.
- Bound and Gagged: While investigating General Smythe's office, the Doctor's team bind and gag his adjutant using bandages from Lady Jennifer's ambulance.
- Brownface: Mexican Bandito Arturo Villar is played by British actor Michael Napier-Brown.
- Call-BackThe Doctor: Jamie, I need to pick this lock.
Jamie: Oh, with a tuning fork?
- During the Doctor's trial by the Time Lords, he shows them some of the most dangerous monsters he has been fighting, among them the Cybermen, Daleks, Ice Warriors and Yeti.
- Comforting Comforter: Jamie, to a sleeping Zoe.
- Continuity Cavalcade: The Doctor reels off most of the monsters he's faced (in his second incarnation at least) while explaining his actions to the Time Lords.
- Cool Versus Awesome: British army versus Union army! A Roman century chasing a British ambulance! Union and Confederate troops versus Mexican Revolutionaries! All of them versus Aliens and Steve Jobs!
- Court-martialed: The Doctor and his companions land in what appears to be World War I. They are tried by a supposedly fair court-martial and found guilty of espionage.
- Dastardly Whiplash: The War Chief is a traditionalist, at least as far as his grooming habits go.
- Downer Ending: Having failed to escape in the TARDIS at the end of the story, the Doctor is executed by the Time Lords and sent into exile on Earth, while Jamie and Zoe's memories are wiped and they're sent back to their own time lines with no inkling of the wonderful adventures they had or how much they had learned. In Jamie's case, he was a Jacobite rebel being returned to Scotland after the Battle of Culloden.
- Early-Bird Cameo: The Time Lords on the Doctor's tribunal will come back again - Clyde Pollit ("Socra") has become Chancellor by "The Three Doctors", and Bernard Horsfall ("Goth") will return as Chancellor many years (and two lives) later. According to the other media, the third Time Lord also reappears, as the Time Lord Messenger in "Terror Of The Autons" and again in "Colony In Space", but in this case it's a different actor in the part each time.
- Early Instalment Weirdness:
- The Doctor is unable to speak or understand French and German soldiers in the World War I Zone. The TARDIS translation circuit would not be established until the revived series (although the ability to understand other languages was referred to as a "Time Lord gift" in the Fourth Doctor's era), but this is one of very few classic stories where he faces any sort of linguistic barrier. Notably, the First Doctor and his companions had been able to talk to French characters without any difficulty in "The Reign of Terror" and "The Massacre".
- In later appearances, the Time Lords are generally portrayed as isolationist and out of touch, allowing horrible things to happen around the Universe out of a pledge for non-interference and using the Doctor to do their work. This, their first full appearance, shows them willing to interfere directly in stopping a plan to conquer the Galaxy involving time travel that was being assisted by a renegade of their race. At the end of the story, they apparently exile the Doctor to Earth partially so he can help protect the planet. They are also much more reasonable and caring; when the War Lord's men take the Doctor and his companions hostage they don't intervene as they don't want innocents to be hurt.
- At the time of this serial, the concept of regeneration as we know it today did not exist; it is only ever referred to as a "change of appearance". Under the rules later established, the Time Lords' decision to force him to change his appearance effectively amounts to an execution. When told he must sacrifice one regeneration, the Doctor's only concern is what he'll look like in his next life. This looks very strange to those who watched "The End of Time", where David Tennant's Doctor fears his imminent death and considers regeneration a close approximation of death. (Of course, it's also easier to treat regeneration as trivial when you have eleven lives left rather than just one...)
- The Sonic Screwdriver is, in fact, just a screwdriver.
- End of an Era: In addition to being the end of the Troughton era, the story closed the book on the black and white era.
- Enemy Mine: The Resistance includes soldiers from opposing sides, starting with Jamie and the Redcoat.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": None of the aliens seem to have names — their leader is the War Lord, his lieutenants are the War Chief and the Security Chief, and the scientist who oversees the brainwashing is only ever referred to as "the scientist". Smythe and von Weich are presumably not using their real names, although the other aliens refer them as such even privately. It even extends to their home planet, which they all call "the home planet". Their species gets no name at all, unless you count the time the War Chief refers to them as "the aliens" during a conversation with the Doctor. The more junior aliens have names of sorts, but these seem to be pseudonyms adopted to fit into their time zones.note
- Evil Counterpart:
- The War Chief is a Time Lord scientist who stole a Tardis and is serving as scientific adviser to a military programme, and is trying to keep things at the base steady while hostile aliens surround it and attempt to penetrate its defences.
- The serial actually seems to imply that the War Lords are this to the Time Lords themselves in some way. Unlike the idea of the Doctor having his own individual counterpart, this idea was never followed up on.
- Faceless Goons: The War Lord's goons (presumably of his race). Mask obscuring most of the face, vaguely Nazi-like, near-100% fatality rate, almost no kills - doesn't get more faceless goons than that.
- Force-Field Door: Used in the Time Lords' detention area in the final episode.
- There are a lot of comments about the SIDRATs being "just like the TARDIS" (because of their travel abilities, the fact that they're bigger on the inside, and, amusingly, from Jamie after the Doctor has trouble controlling one) leading up to the revelation that they're knock-off TARDISes built by a rogue Time Lord.
- Boy, the Doctor sure seems to work well with the military, doesn't he?
- Likewise, this rival renegade Time Lord with the Dastardly Whiplash grooming habits and black nehru jacket and the Mind Control powers certainly seems like a character archetype worth seeing again.
- Episode 8 features the first reference to the Doctor changing appearances since it happened. Now why would they only bring it up now?
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: All of the aliens exert their Mind Control by using glasses.
- From Bad to Worse: The TARDIS lands in World War I. And then it gets worse.
- Glasses Pull: How General Smythe exerts Mind Control over his inferiors. His German/Confederate equivalent uses a Monocle Pull.
- Godzilla Threshold: When it becomes clear that, despite having brought the Games to a screeching halt, the Doctor cannot actually fix the situation that has resolved all on his own, he's forced to call upon the Time Lords to sort things out and to punish the guilty. Including himself.
- Grand Finale: For the Patrick Troughton era, as well as DW in black and white.
- Grenade Hot Potato: During the attack on the chateau, a grenade comes in through a window, and Jamie throws it out again before it explodes.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: At every level of the exercise. The guards at the prison let Jamie and the Redcoat prisoner escape because of a fake tussle, and almost let the Doctor talk his way right into their corridors and then right back out. Later, a pair of the War Lord's guards seemingly fail to notice the Doctor directly in front of them as he's sneaking down a hall.
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: Put the Security Chief and the War Chief in one room. Watch as they argue and completely devour the scenery.
- High-Class Glass: Captain von Weich's monocle.
- Human Aliens: In addition to the Doctor, the War Chief and other Time Lords, the War Lord and his race are externally identical to humans, other than being very light-sensitive.
- Humans Are Warriors: The War Chief firmly believes this, so he and the War Lord's people try to create a mighty army out of various warriors and soldiers from human history.
- Insignificant Little Blue Planet: Lampshaded by the Time Lords.
- Kangaroo Court: During the court-martial, the Doctor is allowed to question the witnesses, but they aren't allowed to answer. When this doesn't convince the two other jury members, Smythe just Mind Controls them.
- Large Ham: A few characters get moments. The Security Chief would be a Ham if he ever figured out that he wasn't a Dalek. Villar is a textbook Ham.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia/Victory-Guided Amnesia: Jamie and Zoe are returned to their respective times and have their memories altered so that they don't remember The Doctor as part of his punishment from the Time Lords.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Right before his regeneration, the Doctor says he's 'quite well known on Earth', referring to the popularity of the show. This was because, when the storyline was going to be the finale of the whole show, the Bolivian Army Ending was going to have the Doctor change his form, so as to comfort the children and assure them that the Doctor was on Earth protecting them from the monsters and could look like anything.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: When Smythe recaptures the Doctor in a Episode Seven, he's so annoyed by the trouble the Doctor's put him to that he decides to have the Doctor shot despite having been ordered to take him alive, and then report to his superiors that the Doctor was shot trying to escape.
- Mind Control
- Mistaken for Spies: systematically, by every single group of people they meet.
- Including the Aliens' Security Chief - who is half-right. (The Doctor is not working with the War Chief, but he IS a member of his race.)
- Mook Horror Show: If you squint a little, this is a Base Under Siege story with the Doctor and the humans as the monsters.
- Mysterious Past: As befitting his role in the story, the War Chief has a mysterious past involving the circumstances of his leaving Gallifrey and how he knows the Doctor. Amongst the intriguing clues, he recognizes the Doctor immediately on sight, and is also familiar with the Doctor's professional work on Gallifrey. Later Expanded Universe works suggest either Everyone Went to School Together or else he's actually the first appearance of the Master.
- Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!: When Villar balks at stepping inside a SIDRAT, one of the other resistance leaders asks him if he's scared, and he immediately insists on going first to prove that he isn't.
- "Not So Different" Remark: The War Chief is very insistent of this:War Chief: Stealing a TARDIS? Oh, I'm not criticizing you. We are two of a kind.
Doctor: We most certainly are not!
War Chief: We were both Time Lords and we both decided to leave our race.
Doctor: I had reasons of my own.
War Chief: Just as I had.
Doctor: Your reasons are only too obvious. Power!
- The Nth Doctor: Played with. We see several possible faces for the Doctor to take, complete with his objections to them, and we see him maybe begin to regenerate, but the actual change from Troughton to Pertwee never happens onscreen.
- Oh, Crap!: The Doctor's reaction when the War Chief recognises him and again when he's left alone with the resistance who think he's betrayed them.
- Our Doors Are Different:
- The Security Chief's door is designed to evoke a guillotine blade.
- The SIDRATs' doors slide outward rather than to one side.
- Outside-Context Problem: The story is mostly a story about aliens kidnapping soldiers from various time zones and making them fight each other, until the Doctor is forced to summon the Time Lords to imprison the War Chief, an evil Time Lord and get all of the kidnapped soldiers home. The Time Lords arrive and immediately break the plot, with irreversible consequences.
- Photographic Memory: Zoe's trained memory, established in earlier stories, becomes plot-relevant when the Security Chief, as part of his interrogation, shows her photographs of all known resistance fighters in an attempt to get her to identify them. She is able to remember all of them, making it possible for Russell's resistance group to contact them and join forces.
- Platonic Kissing: The Doctor kisses Zoe on the forehead as he's taken away to the firing squad. The first time he ever did so and was an improvisation by Patrick Troughton.
- Pretend to Be Brainwashed: The Doctor pretends to join the War Lords' side and demonstrates an improved version of the brainwashing process on Jamie, who is of course faking.
- Rapid-Fire "No!": As quoted above, the Second Doctor's last words.
- Ray Gun: The alien guards are armed with them, which have a Death Ray setting and a stun setting (the latter of which isn't mentioned until after Jamie is shot in a cliffhanger).
- Reality Has No Subtitles: The German and French soldiers' dialogue is not translated or subtitled. The conversation between Captain von Weich and Lieutenant Lucke in the German dugout in Episode Three is translated as follows:von Weich: Who are these people? What's going on here?
Lucke: We have here three English civilians, Captain... They told me they come from another time in a spaceship called TARDIS.
von Weich: They are English spies. We must detain them. I'll speak with the General about it.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: The Time Lords, guardians of history. They sort out the troubles with the Games and return the survivors to their correct times with Laser-Guided Amnesia to keep the events secret. Sure, they also find the Doctor guilty of meddling in the affairs of the less advanced races, but they basically give him parole and community service... except it's played with due to the Time Lords executing him prior to said community service. Also, considering we see in this serial how dangerous a renegade Time Lord can be, their non-interference except for very important events makes sense.
- Refuge in Audacity: The Doctor pretends to be a prison inspector from the ministry.
- Sdrawkcab Name: SIDRAT.
- Shoddy Knockoff Product: In-Universe, SIDRATs to TARDISes.
- Slouch of Villainy: The War Lord. The War Chief tries to imitate it.
- The Starscream: The War Chief plans to overthrow the War Lord. He is Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves.
- Starter Villain: Smythe acts as the main antagonist for the first few episodes before his superiors reveal themselves.
- Stay in the Kitchen:Jamie: Lady Jennifer, I don't think you should come.
Lady Jennifer: Because I'm a woman?
Jamie: Yea... No! Err... Well, in a way, yes.
- Arturo refuses to listen to anything Zoe says and mocks Jamie for "listening to a woman".
- Stealth Hi/Bye: When the Doctor goes back to the conditioning room to steal the deconditioning machine, he finds the scientist working on it. The Doctor leans over his shoulder and makes a suggestion, and the scientist thanks him before realizing it's the wanted fugitive who attacked him earlier.
- Stock Footage: The shot of the TARDIS in space in the final episode is recycled from "The Web of Fear" (some of the web is visible).
- The TARDIS landing on the sea was recycled from Fury From The Deep, which has meant it's among the very limited footage from that serial to still exist.
- Stuff Blowing Up: The story is seemingly set in World War I, so yes. Also, the Doctor "picks a lock" this way.
- Summon Bigger Fish: The Doctor finds himself forced to summon the Time Lords, since he's incapable of solving everything on his own. They appear, sort everything out without much fuss... and mind-wipe his companions, and forcibly regenerate and exile him for being a renegade with a stolen TARDIS.
- Surrounded by Idiots: The War Lord is extremely irritated by the War Chief and the Security Chief's bickering.
- Taking You with Me: The Doctor essentially risks this; although he forces the Aliens to end the War Games, he doesn't have the resources to send all the abducted humans back to their own time periods, so he's forced to contact his people, the Time Lords, for help. This results in the Time Lords sentencing him to regeneration and exile, but when he made that decision he had no guarantee that the Time Lords wouldn't condemn him just as harshly as the War Lord's group.
- Tap on the Head: Zoe takes out the military prison commandant with a vase of flowers. Unlike most uses, however, the Doctor checks to make sure he's okay afterwards. Jamie also knocks out a few soldiers this way.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The War Chief and the Security Chief spend a lot of time arguing with each other. The War Lord even has to tell them to pack it in like he's dealing with squabbling children.
- Tempting Fate:
- The Doctor assumes that General Smythe is a reasonable man who will listen to their case. He couldn't be more wrong.
- As Jamie and Zoe are escorted back to their own time, they tell the Doctor they'll never forget him, which. tragically, the Doctor knows they will.
- The Doctor also assumes that his punishment from the Time Lords will be little more than a slap on the wrist. Yeah.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: When the Doctor and his friends first arrive at Major Barrington's outpost, they're offered a reviving mug of tea each, which they hold through the subsequent conversation and then put down without any of them having drunk any.
- Trojan Prisoner: After escaping from General Smythe's HQ with Lieutenant Carstairs and Lady Jennifer, the Doctor realizes he needs another look at Smythe's office to find out what's going on, so Carstairs gets him back in by pretending to have recaptured him.
- Two of Your Earth Minutes: The Security Chief asks the Chief Scientist whether they have taken humans from later than "the Earth year 1917".
- Villainous Widow's Peak: Philip Madoc's War Lord has one.
- The Walls Are Closing In: Done to the occupants of a SIDRAT (including the Doctor).
- Trrrilling Rrrs: The Mexican characters do this constantly, and the War Chief does so too every now and then.
- We Can Rule Together: The War Chief makes this offer to the Doctor.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The War Chief tries to come across as one, claiming if the Galaxy is conquered there can be peace.
- Wham Episode: The Doctor's race is named for the first time; he's executed and exiled to Earth. The next season will start with a completely different cast (except for a previous guest star promoted to full cast member), a different premise, a more fleshed out backstory for the character, and in colour.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Lady Jennifer disappears about halfway through after agreeing to see to the resistance's wounded. Later, Lieutenant Carstairs says he wants to look for her, but he disappears (in a more literal sense) before he can. Word of God on the DVD commentary says that when they returned to Earth, he did find her. And married her.
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: Arturo Villar, the leader of the Mexican Resistance movements, sounds more like he is speaking in a comedic Italian accent than anything approaching a Mexican one.
- White Flag: The Doctor waves a large white handkerchief and claims it as a flag of truce when the War Chief catches him in the transport bay. Then uses it to protect his nose and mouth after shattering a vial of poisonous gas.
- You Talk Too Much!: Villar, to Zoë: "For such a little woman, your mouth is too big."