The Wargames – Doctor Who DVD Retro Review

Often seen as nine episodes of filler and then a universe expanding finale is anything but. Acclaimed for leading into the departure of Troughton and the descent of Old Action Worzel to Earthbound adventure there is lot more to this story. The DVD ain’t half bad either. A minefield of spoilers waits below.

It is in fact pure distilled Doctor Who in a glass after years of faithful maturing in seasoned oak barrels of imagination. The essential premise is the fantasy of any kid who has looked at his arrayed airfix soldiers or action figures and thought about troops from different eras mixing it up.

Aliens which despite no make up have a whole new level of creepy thanks to some superior performances have snatched Earth soldiers from different eras. They fight it out in their respective time zones so the aliens can have the pick of the bunch for an army of interstellar conquest. Unfortunately for the ETs even before a certain bungling doctor arrives some of the humans have broke their conditioning and form different resistance groups. Therefore we get Mexican bandits rubbing soldiers with Crimean War Cossacks, Napoleonic soldiers, Boer War Infantrymen, American Civil War Cavalry. This being 1960s Doctor Who they tend to come under British leadership of course but there are some surprisingly ‘right on’ displays of character from a British Army female nurse and a Union Infantrymen played by Patrick from East Enders.

Troughton’s Doctor is superior in this story a bundle of nerves, frolics, ticks combined with an authority when needed that is as strong as anything Tom Baker pulled up from his boot souls. The Companions Jamie and Zoë are a classic pair and rightfully so as this story demonstrates. Zoe providing brains and beauty in equal measure and Jamie a good hearted pluckiness and vim that’s very refreshing.

The villains are well played and have their own internal niggles and rivalries which add to the enjoyment a touch that would have been lost in a shorter story.

In short despite its length (I watched it as 2 equal length movies) an excellent tale.

As to the DVD – the majority of the extras are excellent. A making of that gives Uncle Twerry a full bite at the cherry and an opportunity to rightfully credit Malcom Haulke who co-wrote the excellent script. Haulke is also credited in an interesting Target novels documentary. The Doctor Who Comic Strip doc is also excellent. The only extra I had a niggle with was the ‘Time Zone’ which was pretty cheap look at the history – the World War One portion of which was a collection of clichés that ignored about 20 years of revisionism however the American Civil War and Roman sections were far superior.

I’ve yet to enjoy 10 hours of commentary – but you know what I’m rather looking forward to it.

GS Reviewer: Andrew Clark

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