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Doctor Who: The War Games

William Hartnell , Patrick Troughton    Unrated   VHS Tape
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Patrick Troughton's tenure as the Second Doctor comes to an end with this epic 10-part Doctor Who serial from 1969, which finds him at crossed swords with both a diabolical race of aliens and his own race, the Time Lords. The Doctor's problems begin when he and companions Jamie (Frazier Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) materialize on a planet where soldiers from Earth's past have been brought to fight in a battle of supremacy in order to build a super fighting force for aliens with galactic conquest in mind. In order to stop their plan, the Doctor is forced to call on the Time Lords for help--and in doing so, he must face both trial for stealing the TARDIS and possible regeneration. Historically significant in the history of Doctor Who as the final appearance of Troughton in the role, as well as for the first episode to mention the Time Lords by name and the concept of the Doctor's regeneration, The War Games is distinguished by the quality of its clever scripting (by Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke), which changed the direction of the series for the entirety of Jon Pertwee's term as the Third Doctor and part of Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor story arc.

The DVD presentation of The War Games celebrates the importance of the serial in Who history with a three-disc set that covers nearly every aspect of its production and the Doctor's place in pop culture during the time of its broadcast. Chief among the extras is a commentary track featuring Hines, Padbury, Dicks, and costars Philip Madoc, Jane Sherwin, and Graham Weston; all are featured, along with a host of additional performances and crew, in both the 36-minute "War Zone" featurette, which discusses the making of the serial and Troughton's departure, and "Shades of Grey," which examines the effect of monochrome television on early episodes such as this one. "Talking About Regeneration" discusses the Doctor's changing appearance through talks with Fifth Doctor Peter Davison, among others, while "On Target--Malcolm Hulke" kicks off a series on coauthor Hulke's imaginative Doctor Who novelizations. There's also another installment of "Stripped for Action," which covers the Doctor's adventures in comic form, as well as interviews with composer Dudley Simpson and makeup artist Sylvia James, return visits to the serial's exterior locations, and the usual subtitle production notes, promotional trailers, Radio Times PDF, and gallery of photos. Only "Devious," an amateur film made by fans, fails to live up to the quality of the other material. The Easter Egg-curious will also find treasures on all three discs, including behind-the-scenes audio, a test reel of special effects animation, and an amusing rendition of the Doctor's plea before the Time Lords as enacted by cheeky sock puppets. --Paul Gaita


Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Your making me giddie! May 22 2003
Format:VHS Tape
I am a Dr. Who fan, but I must admit I am new to the William Hartnel/Patrick Troughton era. War games is an excellent example except for the long and boring first four episodes. It gets interesting in five-ten. The only thing I truely hate are the "american" accents. They are absolutely horrible. I am not too insulted though, I do a lousy brit accent myself. I didn't think I would like Patrick Troughton(a little before my time I was born in 1970) but I do. I like Hartnel better though, but Troughton has his moments and so do his compaignions. This is the second regeneration story and vintage. Phillip Madock was good(for the little time he was in it.) James Bree came on a bit too strong I got the impression he wanted the War Chief part, but Decider Neifred in Full Circle was a better role for him.The scene I looked forward too most, of course, was the regeneration scene, just as I had in Tenth Planet. Patrick Troughton was a comedic clown to the end even in his death cries "Stop! Your making me giddie!" Odviously Jon Pertwee wasn't present for the regeneration scene and Troughton was trying his best to impersonate Jon(Was that a Jon Pertwee wig he was wearing?)
Now if only we could find Power of the Daleks...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ten episodes is a bit much March 22 2003
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This is a good story. An alien race (which look like humans) is planning to conquer the galaxy militarily with the help of the best of the earth's soldiers as weaned from the greatest wars in our history. They procure the help of a renegade Time Lord who brings all these soldiers together into different war zones on a planet that looks like earth, but isn't. The Doctor and companions end up in the middle of it, trying to help a burgeoning resistance movement defeat the plan. It drags on too long, though. The Doctor is captured and recaptured and recaptured and it gets a bit redundant and boring. And unbelievable. How many times in one person (or Time Lord's) life can he escape death? The Doctor does it so often here (including twice being saved from a firing squad), that it becomes a bit unrealistic. The BBC's continual pandering to feminism is a bit aggravating, too; Zoe knows more about war than Jamie, who is a professional soldier, does and such is obviously contrived just for "equality's" sake. Realism again is not served. It's Patrick Troughton's final show, however, and we do learn quite a bit about the background of the Doctor and his people. No actors really shine; Troughton dominates, as usual. If you are a Doctor Who fan you've got to have this; but chances are that, since "The War Games" lasts nearly 4 hours total, you won't be coming back to it time after time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The War To End All Wars Dec 12 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This is perhaps Patrick Troughton's best adventure, even though it was to be his last. but this story had the 2nd Doctor go out in style as he and his companions cross the barriers of time itself, through numerous Earthbound historical wars, to stop an alien race from creating not just a wholesale massacre, but in creating the ultimate army to unleash upon the universe. Thrown into the mix is the War Chief, who I believe to be The Master in a previous regenerative form, just as I believe the Master was also at one time The Meddling Monk. a fabulously well-paced ten part epic. I had the chance to watch this, at a pace of two episodes per week, and it worked amazingly well, as each particular cliffhanger was very effective at setting up the feeling of anticipation for what would happen next. this adventure truly marked the end of an era, and was a milestone in Doctor Who. For both Jamie and Zoe were returned to their own times, with no memory of the adventures, except for their first meeting with the Doctor, and the Doctor was recalled to his homeworld, to face judgement by the Time Lords. It was here that the Time Lords sent him into exile, imprisoning him on planet earth in the 20th Century, and being forced to regenerate, with the knowledge of how to operate the TARDIS blocked from his memory. It was sad to say goodbye to Patrick Troughton, along with Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury, but it was a marvelous adventure to end the 2nd Doctor era.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A reminder for the brilliance of black and white. Aug. 21 2002
Format:VHS Tape
There is something vernerable and bygone of B&W TV, the earliest years of Doctor Who are certainly no exception. Perhaps they are the best example. The War Games, the final story featuring Patrick Troughton as The Doctor was also the 10-ep. epic which re-painted the visual pallet of the series from monochrome to color. But there is more to this story than visual history, there is a cunning and evolving story in The War Games.
The story subtely, yet when viewed in a whole, strikingly moves from the alledged trenches of WW1 France, flits across multiple earthly wars and times, sneaks into the cold alien chamber Central Control, freezes as 2 old enemies square off in ideology and finally forces itself back to the one place the Doctor could never return-Home.
For me personally, this story is most fondly remembered for debuting the Time Lord known as The Master, the arch-enemy of the Doctor. Their emnity, hatred, and yet enduring mutual admiration first surfaced here and still thrives to this day, 33 years later. Trully, The War Games, for its importance to the mystery of the Doctor, the introduction of the Master, the departure of companions Jamie and Zoe and the return to Gallifrey is a great cornerstone to the mythology of Doctor Who. And one great story to boot!
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars The War Games
Some people may like this Patrick story but not me. This is my least favourite of the surviving Patrick Troughton stories. Read more
Published 6 months ago by eurasian1974
5.0 out of 5 stars First experience of second doctor...
Given that I'd never seen him in action before, and hadn't had previous stories to become emotionally attached, this serial was all I needed to feel the tug when this regeneration... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Dominic Caplan
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't hold up for me : (
It was with a lot of anticipation that
I sat down to re-watch this classic Troughton
finale; it had been at least 10 years since I
had seen it and I had fond... Read more
Published on Sept. 2 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars EPIC Who
This has to be my all time favorite episode. While some moments tend to be a bit slow, it's rare that it drags the show into the duldrums. Read more
Published on July 12 2003 by "Big Band" John
5.0 out of 5 stars A great send off to a great Doctor
This 10 part episode is one of the longest in the very long history of the series. However as recient films such as THE LORD OF THE RINGS & HARRY POTTER have proven; long... Read more
Published on Feb. 10 2002 by Peter Ingemi
5.0 out of 5 stars "Ive broken the most important law I have gotten involved"
War Games marks the end of Partick Troughtons run as the Doctor. Its a long but good story that once it gets going really keeps you at the edge of your seat. Read more
Published on July 24 2001 by S.D.S
3.0 out of 5 stars War Games is a great film
This film, in black and white, has the viewer spellbound until the ending credits. Made for a special audience, this movie creates the atmosphere you love in a movie. Read more
Published on Sept. 26 2000 by Karen Rhyne
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