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"I dig your fab gear!"
—A nightclub owner likes the Doctor's clothes.
The TARDIS arrives in contemporary London, and the Doctor and Dodo visit the Post Office Tower, where they meet Professor Brett and his new super-computer WOTAN, which can think for itself and is about to be plugged into a worldwide computer network.
WOTAN decides that machines are superior and should rule the world, and hypnotises humans into building the titular War Machines, which turn out to be more than a match for the army. The Doctor uses a magnetic field to capture one, which he then reprograms to destroy WOTAN.
Dodo decides to stay around, since she's made it back to her own time (in fact, she appears to simply wander off and not be seen again), but Professor Brett's secretary Polly and her sailor friend Ben sneak into the TARDIS just as it leaves...
- A Friend in Need: Ben is first persuaded to act when he sees Polly being hassled at the nightclub.
- AI Is a Crapshoot
- Bring News Back
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Ben tells a man to stop hassling Polly, he starts a fist fight with Ben, and Polly complains — though Dodo intervenes on his behalf.
- Computer Equals Tapedrive: Not only WOTAN but the War Machines have these — the latter are mounted on the outside where they can easily be damaged by gunfire!
- Disposable Vagrant: A bum tries to sleep in an abandoned building, unaware that WOTAN is using it to construct one war machine.
- Distressed Damsel: Mind control effects on two women. (Plus the man who wouldn't leave Polly alone at the nightclub.)
- Distressed Dude: Most of the mind control victims are men. And Ben gets captured and forced to work without it.
- The Dulcinea Effect
- Fridge Logic: WOTAN tries to take over the world quickly by force, instead of slowly letting humans rely more and more on its decision-making ability.
- For Happiness
- High Octane Nightmare Fuel: Brainwashed workers building the War Machines until they collapse. Something of a Fridge Logic moment as an AI would surely realise that human beings need regular food and rest to work efficiently.
- I Am Not Shazam: WOTAN refers to the Doctor as "Doctor Who", presumably because if it said "The Doctor is required" they'd just fetch the nearest GP.
- In Harm's Way
- Master Computer
- The Sixties (remember when that computer took over the world?)
- Tin Can Robot / Killer Robot: The War Machines
- You Have Failed Me