The War Games

One of the main reasons for doing a Fan Edit of Pat’s last story was the fact that it’s soooo loooong. It really does drag in the middle and there are an awful lot of Terrance Dicks’ Story Loops of characters getting captured and escaping only to get captured again and end up back where they started. So the challenge once again was to tell the story as quickly as possible but that proved to be harder than I anticipated as there is so much of the to-ing and fro-ing that you simply can’t edit out because it either gets referenced later or the story makes no sense without it.

Working out at the equivalent of a 6 part story [meaning there’s 4 episodes worth of padding, another whole story’s worth!] is probably about right for the story that needs to be told. And what a story it is, the end of the Black and White Era and The Ultimate Revelation.

DWM 316 - The War Games Cover, Art by Adrian Salmon

We forget, at our peril, that for the first six years of the show’s existence the Doctor wasn’t a Time Lord. He was Doctor Who, with heavy emphasis on the “Who” bit. Outside of the shock of his rejuvenation/regeneration in The Power of the Daleks, the biggest thing we had learned about him up until now was that he wasn’t the only one who had a Tardis. So learning that he was a Time Lord was a big deal if you’d been following the show all the way from An Unearthly Child to here.

But of course, we forget that the Lords of Time only turn up in the final episode, and as a result tend not to focus on the events of parts one to nine, a story of kidnapping on a galactic scale so huge that the Doctor cannot sort it all out without help. Narratively the subsequent trial sort of makes sense as a means to get the Doctor stuck on Earth, but you could still have had him stranded him there without it, with the TARDIS on the blink, for the next series. And it’s always interesting to think what that first year in colour might have been like if Pat had stayed in instead of Jon coming in…

Take a moment and consider what Doctor Who might have been like had Dicks and Hulke found another way to resolve the story and get the Doctor stuck on Earth and looking like Jon. Or imagine what might have happened if Pat had stayed on for one more year, the Doctor exiled to Earth, but his face unchanged? That would have made Inferno a regeneration story for a start. What if Pat was exiled to Earth but not just in the 20th century? What if the TARDIS could still travel in time, but not in space? Imagine if historicals were part of the Season Seven mk2 mix? There are plenty of other alternatives to what Bryant & Sherwin did…

war games covers

Within the narrative the Time Lords are the ultimate in Deus Ex Machina, though justifiably included. And they serve a dual purpose in their machinations by changing what the show is about in exiling the Doctor and changing his appearance.

Exiling the Doctor as a punishment, albeit an advantageous one if the Time Lords know who and what is coming down the pipe, makes sense as an appropriate way of punishing a non-conformist who loves to wander about having a butchers at the Universe when you’ve expressly told them not to. The latter makes less sense, in fact as a reason for Pat changing into Jon it’s pretty feeble. You can just imagine how the conversation went – Pat’s leaving, how do we explain the Doctor looking different again? Oh, we’ll get the Time Lords to do it, that’ll work.

the-war-games-by-steve-andrewOnly thing is it doesn’t really work, unless of course, what’s really going on is that the Time Lords are deliberately manipulating the Doctor and re-writing his DNA to make him an agent more suited to their purpose, a sort of spatio-temporal genetic engineering type thing. Which then begs the question, is the Doctor still the Doctor?

Is the Doctor we next see in Spearhead From Space still the Doctor we knew from An Unearthly Child to The War Games or is he now the Doctor that the Time Lords want him to be? And how the heck can they give him a choice of faces? How does that even work? And why do they give him a choice in the first place? What if he had chosen one of them instead? Or did they purposely give him choices they knew he wouldn’t take in order to justify them making the choice for him? Why give him the illusion of choice if they were always going to make him look like Jon from the start?

And we never actually see Pat turn into Jon, something I toyed with doing as part of the Fan Edit but ultimately decided against in favour of the transmitted version where the Doctor’s face vanishes and he spins away into the distance, vanishing from sight too. And with him, the B&W Era of Doctor Who vanishes too, even though for most people, Pertwee would still be a Black & White Doctor until colour telly became affordable.

rentaghost dvdAnd then there’s the question of Edward Brayshaw to consider. Ed is a significant figure in Who history for two reasons. The first is that he is the originator of what I dub “Mr Meaker Moments”, which is what happens when you spot an actor from Dr Who in another show. The interesting thing is that it only works one way… I used to watch Rentaghost when I was a kid, and Edward Brayshaw played Mr Meaker, the “baddie”. When I finally saw The War Games, years later, did I recognise The War Chief as Mr Meaker? No I didn’t. But when I caught an ep of Rentaghost a while later, guess what happened? I saw Mr Meaker and went “Oh, look! It’s the War Chief!!!

The second thing that makes Edward Brayshaw significant is that there’s a sizeable school of thought within fandom that believes that The War Chief and The Master are the same person. Including me.

I see no reason to disregard such a notion out of hand, it’s perfectly possible that Delgado is the next incarnation of Brayshaw. Yes we see the War Chief get shot and we assume that he is dead. But he’s a Time Lord, just like the Doctor, so there’s no reason to suppose that he doesn’t regenerate off-screen. And since Dr Jon recognises the phrase “the Master” when the bowler-hatted Time Lord mentions him in Spearhead, it could make sense for the Master to go around calling himself something else just in case the Time Lords ever did get wind of what he and The War Lords were up to. And the Delgado Master did have a thing for aliases, didn’t he…

If you think about it, that would explain why the Delgado Master has such a desire to off Doctor Jon, if his Troughton incarnation was the one who destroyed the Brayshaw incarnation’s dreams of conquest. So the Delgado Master wants revenge on the Pertwee Doctor for what Pertwee did to Delgado when Delgado was Brayshaw and Pertwee was Troughton. None of this has been confirmed by the TV Show so feel free to disagree, but to me it makes sense.

The War Games Radio Times

Anyway, before we get to all that regeneration malarkey there’s nine episodes of a gradually unfolding mystery that starts off looking as if we’re getting a World War One historical before subverting that with a bit of alien tech hidden in a wall. Once we see that, we know that we’re in for something very different indeed, ten whole episodes of it, which is far too many for a story about a Galactic Coliseum Experiment.

It’s worth noting that, for an era devoted to Monsters of all shapes and sizes, when Pat’s tenure comes to an end, there isn’t a single one of the buggers in sight. Unless you count the ones you see on the Doctor’s thought channel at the very end.  How different, and potentially much more interesting to watch for ten weeks, would the story have been if it hadn’t just been human soldiers the aliens were kidnapping? We’ll never know but Tewwance will return to this intergalactic kidnap idea years later for The Five Doctors but for this story, it’s the dessert of the epilogue that everyone remembers, not the actual meat and potatoes of the adventure that precedes it. So how do we cut it down to something more manageable and watchable?

dwm war games
EPISODE ONE

This covers the original parts 1 to 3. The title captions were screen grabbed and the black background chromakeyed out to allow them to be placed over the action. I was never that sold on the original montage of barrage guns, which is just a random collection of flashes. It also saves time. Only 15m of footage gets included from the original episode one and 17m from episode 2. The edit ends with the cliffhanger to the original episode 3. The most obvious omission is the sequence where the Dr, Jamie & Zoe end up behind German lines.

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EPISODE TWO

There`s no recap from the previous episode for timing reasons and again the screen grabbed captions are played in over the action in homage to the original. Losing the German sequence in the previous ep means this is the first we see of the alien with the monocle [Neeva from Face of Evil] but we know by now that they use those funny glasses to hypnotise people so it still works. This episode contains footage from 4 episodes [4, 5, 6 and 7 of the original] which works out at about 10m from each. And, given those problematic captions [thanks a lot, Mr Director!] see if you can spot where we cross from one episode to another…

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EPISODE THREE

Again, no recap for timing reasons. Working round the original title captions was a bit tricky in places as was timing their inclusion on the edited footage. This third part covers episodes 8 to 10, with Episode Ten being probably the most important episode in the show’s history since Tenth Planet part 4 and Power of the Daleks part 1. I`ve used about 17m worth of footage from that final episode and, yes, there are a couple of changes to that well-known climax.

First is the inclusion of some of Pat`s successors in the “choose your appearance” sequence. As a gag it was too hard to resist. And they do seem to fit their descriptions… I also took the decision to include some footage from Spearhead In Space, in lieu of a proper regeneration sequence, in B&W. As a sequence I think it really works as it makes what the Time Lords have done more dramatic & final. Pat has gone and there`s a new bloke in his place…

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doctor who meets blackadder goes forth

It’s difficult not to watch the early episodes of this story, set in the trenches of the First World War and not think immediately of Blackadder Goes Forth. As crossovers go, that would have been quite a different story, and they do all fade away at the end of the last ep, so maybe they got timescooped…

Just think, Captain Blackadder instead of Leiutenant Carstairs! As it is, this is the Whoflix version of The War Games, an epic story that was way too long originally but one that I think is just about the right length now thanks to this Fan Edit. And I do love that ending!The War Games by Ben Willsher DWM411The War Games by Adrian SalmonWAR GAMES CD

WAR GAMES CD REAR

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5 thoughts on “The War Games

  1. Once again, a big ‘thank you’ for reuploading this, as per my request – much appreciated! I’ll very much look forward to viewing your edited version – if any story really needed a trim, this is surely it! Having said that, maybe we should also be grateful it still exists – which is more than you can say for Pat’s debut.

    Thanks again, and I’ll be back with a comment or two once I’ve watched the edit.

  2. I’ve now watched your edit and must say thanks once again. You’ve succeeded in making it watchable, and vastly reduced the danger of the viewers falling asleep in the process! Well done!

  3. Great job! I *loved* the use of the other Doctors in the “choose your appearance” scene. The classic series is rerun in America on Retro TV — I almost wish that scene could be slipped in just to blow people’s minds!

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