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Doctor Who Serial 050 – The War Games

Synopsis: The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe arrive in a world divided into wars with Roman, Greek, Crimean War, First World War, Peninsular War, American Civil War, Mexican Civil War, English Civil War, Thirty-Years War, Boer War, and Russo-Japanese War all represented. The Doctor has to figure out how all these time periods can exist together.

The War Games is the final Doctor Who serial starring Patrick Troughton, Wendy Padbury, and Frazer Hines. It is the final story of the sixth season. It is the final story in black and white. It is the final story of the 1960s.

It is ten parts.

As soon as the TARDIS lands, they walk up a hill and find themselves in the middle of a barrage in World War I.  They quickly get captured by Germans. Just as quickly they get rescued by some British soldiers who take over the hijacked ambulance on foot.

Jamie, who is from Earth’s past asks what they are fighting for in this war. The Doctor replies, “I think it was the war to end all wars.” I think the real answer is “absolutely nothing. Death and destruction with no reason or rhyme.”

The Doctor and his companions are sent to General Smythe who has to be the creepiest dude, ever. He starts talking into his mirror and reporting from the “1917 zone” requesting another 5000 specimens.

The Doctor is tried for espionage and sentenced to death. In the most cliché cliffhanger, in an era of cliché cliffhangers, we see The Doctor about to be executed when suddenly the Germans ambush the British.

Then a TARDIS appears in General Smythe’s office. What can be happening?!?!?!

Meanwhile, Jamie is imprisoned for abandoning the Highlander regiment, where he encounters a red coat who thinks it’s 1745. Something wonky is going on.

They all escape and find themselves under fire from General Smythe’s troops. The enter some fog at the border of the map and find themselves facing a troop of Roman soldiers charging at them as they panic to get the ambulance started again. End of episode two.

They then reverse back into World War I… really? That’s the resolution? And now The Doctor is providing everyone with exposition.

“Perhaps I can pick this lock.” The Doctor should be using his sonic screwdriver.

They get captured again, this time by the Germans. Whomp whomp.

The Doctor just used the sonic screwdriver as a… wait for it… screwdriver.

The Germans have an equivalent to Smythe, he’s as melodramatic, except he wears a monocle… he’s a hipster!

We quickly meet the War Chief and see the operations outside of the war zones. The War Chief is intrigued by these renegades who claim to be time travellers. They send the troops after them, while The Doctor and crew cross another border into the American Civil War.

That definitely sounds like a TARDIS replenishing the troops. “So many of them, that thing must be bigger on the inside just like the TARDIS.” Oh shit it just disappeared with The Doctor and Zoe inside, leaving Jamie and Lady Jennifer in the 1860s.

I love how uncomfortable The Doctor is at the thought of meeting his own people. It’s been six years, and we’ve had nary a word about them1.


Oh snap! There’s a resistance! They know what’s going on, and they’re going to stop it! Not only that, he’s a tough talking straight shooter! Oh yeah!

Oh, so much exposition! How to give exposition? Put your heroes into an evil-university setting.

Yes! The War Chief and The Doctor recognize each other!

They mentioned the Time Lords for the first time ever in Doctor Who. The Time Lords being The Doctor’s species.

This story is quite long at ten parts, and it is a lot of being captured and escaping. Over and over and over again.

They hide in one of the TARDISes so the War Lord makes the inside smaller than the outside, crushing The Doctor… perhaps the best of the cliffhangers.

I don’t think that it works to have a superior baddy who is not seen but heard of here. The War Lord would make a decent baddy, but The War Chief is this supposed threat, that I don’t feel.

Is that Steve Jobs?

Zoe and Jamie lead the rebellion, to great success.

The Doctor and the rebels are able to retake the base! WOO! Except he can’t get all the innocent humans home.

The Doctor does the one thing he’s most reluctant to do, he calls the Time Lords for help.

The ninth episode ends with The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe making a break for the TARDIS in the hopes of leaving before the Time Lords arrive.

As the tenth episode opens, they obvious succeed… wait no, that’s not right. They fail.

We finally get our first view of Gallifrey2 as The Doctor faces his trial.

The Time Lords return Jamie and Zoe to their own times, it’s a sad farewell to two of the best companions.

The Time Lords decide to exile The Doctor on Earth in the 20th century.

“Your appearance has changed before, it can change again.”

Part of their punishment is to regenerate The Doctor once again. We don’t get to see The Doctor finish his regeneration as the credits role.

Goodbye Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines, and Wendy Padbury.

  1. With the exception of his granddaughter, and the meddling Monk. []
  2. Though not named. []

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