March 4: The War Machines Episodes 2 & 3

My goodness!  Dodo is under the influence of the enemy and trying to betray the Doctor!  Has this ever happened before on the show?  I should know, I've been watching the thing, and I can't recall anything like this (a bit of hypnosis in "The Velvet Web" (The Keys of Marinus 2) maybe, but that's about it).  It should be faintly terrifying, turning the previously safe and trustworthy into the opposite, but it never quite feels that way.  Instead it feels more matter-of-fact, as if to say, "Oh yeah, I guess this is what the story's doing now, OK then."  Maybe it's just because, as The War Machines has existed in the archives for 30 years (and as far as my experiences are concerned it's never been missing), its major plot beats and twists have become overfamiliar from repeated rewatchings.  But you'd still think that this twist would engender some sort of reaction beyond, "Oh, all right then."

Dodo's final moment on Doctor Who. (The War
Episode 2) ©BBC
It probably doesn't help matters that this part gets overshadowed by the nonexistence of Dodo's departure.  The scene starts off great: Dodo suggests they go visit Professor Brett again, so the Doctor phones ahead to make sure he'll be around.  So WOTAN tries to take over the Doctor via the telephone, which leads to an amazing scene where the Doctor is trying to pull the handset away from his head with both hands.  Dodo tries to tell him it's okay, contact has been established -- only it hasn't.  "It was as if... as if something enormous and terrific was trying to absorb me!" the Doctor cries.  Out of context it's a bit silly-looking, to be honest, but viewed in sequence with all the other stories, it's quite terrifying, much in the same way that Dodo's takeover isn't.  We've never seen the Doctor quite this scared and vulnerable before.  The moment quickly passes, but the memory lingers.  But then the Doctor regains his composure and successfully deprograms Dodo.  "I think she'll sleep for 48 hours," the Doctor says.  Sir Charles offers to take her to his home in the country, where his wife will look after her, and that's it for Jackie Lane -- we never see Dodo again.  There's a reason it's considered the worst companion send-off ever; she doesn't get any sort of proper goodbye whatsoever (and, to jump ahead briefly, the Doctor's departure is shot on location while Jackie Lane was still around, so there really is no excuse).  But goodbye, Dodo Chaplet; you often reacted in the strangest way to things, but you were fun in a cheeky sort of way.

Well, at least we've got companion surrogates Ben and Polly hanging about.  Polly gets captured pretty early on, undergoing the same hypnosis as Dodo, but Ben gets to do some investigating of his own, which leads him to the warehouse where one of the War Machines is being built and tested.

A War Machine chases after a soldier. (The War Machines
Episode 3) ©BBC
There's a bit of action in episode 2, but episode 3 of The War Machines is where the action really lies.  Ben gets to scramble around at the beginning, and then the action focuses primarily on him and Polly, as he sees what's going on, is captured and put to work, and then escapes to warn the Doctor. The Doctor gets Sir Charles to call in the army (more or less), which leads to a pretty good fight scene in the warehouse, as one War Machine takes out a squad of soldiers.  Of course, this is one of the scenes that was rather heavily censored, which means that we don't quite the full effect -- full props to the Restoration Team for restoring it the way they did, but there are a number of repeated shots and such that most certainly weren't in the finished product.  Nevertheless, we see the War Machine shoot down soldiers, cause their weapons to jam, and be impervious to any form of attack.  And then it gets loose into the street, and begins to bear down on the Doctor...