Doctor Who: The War Machines
DVD review (region 2)
Directed by Michael Ferguson
Starring William Hartnell, Jackie Lane, Anneke Wills, Anneke Wills
Release date 25 August 2008
Weird goings on in the swinging 60s involving the Post Office Tower, powerful robots and a sinister computer can mean only one thing: “Doctor Who is required!”
Utterly charming from the offset, The War Machines is something of a forgotten masterpiece. Much of this is down to William Hartnell’s wonderful performance. Though he is often thought of as the ‘grumpy’ Doctor, here he is incredibly playful, taking great amusement at his own superiority. The sight of this Victorian gentleman striding through London into a happening night spot at the height of the permissive society is one of the great pleasures of the era.
Perhaps the only let down is the War Machines themselves. Boxy and lacking manoeuvrability, they were too dull to ever catch on with the kids. Besides, we already had the far superior Daleks, who are mentioned early in the tale. It’s almost disappointing that they don’t show up, especially given that the Doctor experiences his prickling sensation!
It’s poignant that this is the last complete surviving Hartnell serial left and the only one featuring Ben and Polly, whose almost instant chemistry could well point towards them being the most underrated companions in the show’s entire run.
This release has plenty of added value, and highlights include a Now and Then feature looking at the locations and a pleasing look at the Post Office Tower hosted by Tony Benn MP! Jonathan Wilkins
Worthy of rediscovery, The War Machines may not be showy but it’s great fun.