“The War Games” is a good solid Doctor Who story. With ten parts, it does drag a little in the middle but overall it was enjoyable. It started well and gripped me from the start and it ended brilliantly. Part ten was one of the best episodes of Patrick Troughton’s era and one of the most important of the show’s history.
Once the Doctor knew he had to call on his own people; the Time Lords, to help him defeat the War Lord we could see that he was worried. We’d never seen or heard of the Time Lords before so it was interesting to see how the Doctor would react. Like companion Jamie, viewers thought his people’s arrival would be a good thing, but the Doctor knew differently. Once they’d sentenced the War Lord, the Time Lords soon put the Doctor on trial as we found out why he travelled through time and space. It was a fascinating episode that set the tone for the character’s development for the next 47 years. Finding out that his people had immense power and couldn’t die barring terrible accidents, made it clear the Doctor found himself in a sticky situation once he’d been caught. Their debut appearance was key to how we perceive the Time Lords. Of course we’d been with the Doctor for six years, but getting an insight into their society and laws helped us understand what the race was truly like. As they sentenced the Doctor to exile on Earth and made him regenerate, we saw that although they could appreciate the Doctor’s willingness to help, they weren’t kind or generous enough to overlook his so-called crime of meddling. The Time Lords were awkward and powerful customers.
When we discovered why the Doctor had run away from Gallifrey, his reasons made us fall in love with the character even more. He’d gone against his own people to help make the universe a better place and although we partially knew that before this episode, this was when we found out the risk the Doctor was taking to do so. Revealing the trouble he knew he was in really cemented how brave and selfless a character the Doctor is. The episode helps us understand the character’s mindset throughout the show since then. Why he keeps travelling, why he always wants to help and why he’s so reluctant to go home is all made clear in this episode.
Overall, “The War Games” is a crucial story in Doctor Who history. Without it, we might not appreciate the Doctor as much as his motives and philosophies are made clear. We also find out what sort of people the Time Lords are and why the Doctor doesn’t see them all as allies. Despite Patrick Troughton’s rather laughable regeneration scene, this entertaining classic story is a must watch for all Whovians.