You Saddle the Rat and I'll Jump On
In today's viewing of The War Games, the TARDIS-like transport units are finally identified by name: SIDRAT (pronounced "side rat"). The acronym (which is quite obviously just TARDIS spelled backwards) is never defined on-screen, but apparently in the novelization it is given as Space and Inter-time Directional Robot All-purpose Transporter. Which, let's be honest, is a stretch. But hey, what can you do? Other than that, Doctor Who's longest serial continues to march on, and the forces of good are finally beginning to rally against the forces of evil.
Let's talk about that.
The War Games - Episodes 7 & 8
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
First, in answer to the obvious question "what the heck does this post title mean?": When I was a teenager I remember reading a book (I have long forgotten which one) in which one of the characters had memorized the order of the Gospels with the ridiculous not-even-a-mnemonic phrase "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you saddle the rat and I'll jump on." It is a perfectly useless phrase, one that has stuck in my brain forever for no good reason, and one which apparently nobody else in the world has ever heard. But as soon as the War Chief said the word "SIDRAT", it was all I could think of. The human brain is an amazingly frivolous thing.
As for the story, episode 7 has the Doctor escape the crushing situation by first seeming to acquiesce to the War Chief's demands, but then quickly grabbing several of the magnetic pieces from the transport room's main control panel, and then rushing back into the SIDRAT and using them to escape while the outside panel is rendered useless. They wind up back in the Great War HQ, and by the end of the episode the Doctor has used some other controls there to erect a time zone fog barrier around the entire chalet, thus creating a safe base of operations for the rebels.
Meanwhile, more bickering ensues between the War Chief and the Security Chief. Then the War Lord himself arrives (who, for some reason keeps reminding me of Steve Jobs... maybe its the turtle neck?), and takes charge. He takes a SIDRAT to the new Rebel HQ and rapidly kidnaps the Doctor and reclaims the stolen hypno-programming device.
Episode eight is notable for being the least-viewed episode of Doctor Who of the entire classic era up until after the 1986 hiatus. That is particularly ironic given that it contains arguably the most significant plot reveal of the entire classic series: in a conversation between the Doctor and the War Chief, it is finally revealed that the Doctor is a fugitive from the Time Lords, having stolen a TARDIS and run away. This scene is a setup for the events that happen at the very end of the story, and for the complete retooling of the series in the next season. It is a hugely important development, and it happens so casually that it almost gets buried in the rest of the story.
In any case, this episode also has the rebels band together and attack most of the HQ's in other time zones in a plan to pull security and forces away from Central HQ. A large rebel army is massed just outside the old barn in the American Civil War zone, just waiting for a SIDRAT to arrive and take them to the big final battle. Unfortunately, the War Lord quickly grasps what is going on, and then the War Chief coerces the Doctor into sending the rebels misinformation. Instead of the entire rebel army boarding the SIDRAT, only the key leaders of each rebel faction (along with Jamie and Zoe) get inside the device. Upon materializing in Central HQ they are promptly surrounded and taken prisoner. Roll credits!
It's hard to believe that I am only one day away from the end of both the Second Doctor's ear, but the end of the monochrome era and the end of the lost-episodes era. Tomorrow comes the big finale, and on a personal note I stand a better than average chance of finally breaking through the 270 barrier tomorrow. I am almost certainly within only a few days of hitting my lowest weight of this millennium. So yeah, that's pretty cool.
Companion(s): Jamie McCrimmon, Zoe Heriot
Episode(s): The War Games - Episodes 7 & 8
Steps Walked: 6,872 today, 854,455 total
Distance Walked: 3.57 miles today, 414.57 miles total
Weight: 272.16 lbs (five day moving average), net change -35.14 lbs