Doctor Who: The War Machines (Story #27)

doctor who the war machines story 27 dvd cover william hartnell
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 6/10

New companions, ditches Dodo

Never feels too threatening

doctor who the war machines story #27 dodo jackie lane william hartrnell

Dodo, I kind of hate you…so if you got possessed by a computer and never returned, I’m cool with that

The Doctor (William Hartnell) and Dodo (Jackie Lane) have returned to London in 1966 and visit the newly opened Post Office Tower where a nefarious plot is hatching.  With Dodo under the control of the machine WOTAN aka Will Operating Thought ANalogue, the Doctor receives help from a woman named Polly (Anneke Wills) and her new friend Ben Jackson (Michael Craze)…and WOTAN must be stopped before London and the world falls to it!

Doctor Who:  The War Machines aired from June 25, 1966 to July 16, 1966 in the final episode of season 3 of the long running BBC series.  The serial aired in four parts and introduced the Doctor’s new companions Polly and Ben while losing Dodo.  Following the serial missing Doctor Who:  The Savages, Doctor Who:  The War Machine was collected as part of The William Hartnell Years as Story #27.

doctor who the war machines story #27 robot

Number 3 is alive!!!

A lot happens in this serial, but I also feel a nice connection to it.  I had a room in London where the BT Tower was the primary thing I could see from my window…looming there like a big mystery since people weren’t allowed in it.  Here, the Post Office Tower (as it was called then) was new and a mystery for the Doctor and Dodo.

The biggest event of this serial the jettison of Dodo and the addition of Ben and Polly.  I have only seen a few of Dodo episodes (many are lost), but I’m not a big fan of the character…it wasn’t that great of a loss to see her go though it is rather unceremoniously with her leaving half way through the serial and never showing up again (Lane’s contract expired).  Ben and Polly are a little bit of a mystery in that this is their only complete serial featuring them with many episodes missing.  They seem like fine editions though both of them seem rather generic.

doctor who the war machines story #27 ben and polly anneke wills michael craze

Looks like Ben and Polly are breaking-and-entering

The story itself is kind of fun but it just seems like a toned down Dalek story.  The “war machine” and WOTAN seem to have similar goals and it would have been nice if some tie was revealed.  It is also is notable that WOTAN called the Doctor “Doctor Who” which is unusual in the series since that really isn’t his name and is generally only said as a joke.

The machines themselves are pretty lame.  There is only actually one that is reused (not an army).  They kind of actually resemble the Daleks as well with a more tank-like form.  Like many Doctor Who episodes, the danger doesn’t seem very palpable with the slow moving machines.

Doctor Who:  The War Machines shows another change in direction of the series and the last full season for William Hartnell.  The most amazing thing about Doctor Who is its malleability over the years to adapt.  I especially like the episodes like this one which are based in Earth reality because it helps demonstrate how the show has changed over the years.  Doctor Who:  The War Machines is followed by the lost serial Doctor Who:  The Smugglers.

Preceded By:

Doctor Who:  The Savages (Story #26) Missing

Last Existing Story:

Doctor Who:  The Gunfighters (Story #25)

Followed By:

Doctor Who:  The Smugglers (Story #28) Missing

Next Existing Story:

Doctor Who:  The Tenth Planet (Story #29)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response