Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Evil of the Daleks


  1. Lovely to see - or at least hear - a link from one story to the next as The Doctor and Jamie watch in vain as the Tardis is driven away from the airport on the back of the truck. Thus, we are dragged into the next adventure and what an adventure it is!

    This is a story with an enormous amount going for it. Initially. we have The Doctor and Jamie in contemporary London searching for The Tardis and trying to find out who took it and why. Troughton and Hines are quite brilliant and in this phase of the tale The Doctor is a kind of down-on-his luck Sherlock Holmes with Jamie as a more innocent, less educated Dr.Watson. The double act between the two which has been slowly developing since The Highlanders has reached fruition and, for me, is the strongest teaming since the initial 1st Doctor, Susan, Barbara and Ian that started us off on our mission. The ability of the two to handle drama, mystery and comedy is a joy to behold.

    The mystery of the missing Tardis leads them to an antique shop from where they are dragged back 100 years to 1866 and get involved with the results of the experiments of Edward Waterfield and Theodore Maxtible. Those results are the Daleks on 19th century earth with a new fiendish plan for domination of Earth and humanity. The BBC ability at period drama pays off in the visuals, with set, dressing and costumes utterly excellent and the plot of this phase sees Jamie become the action hero as he goes on his quest to rescue Waterfields' daughter Victoria. I love the way The Doctor manipulates Jamie into attempting this by playing on his sense of right and wrong and Fraser Hines is great in the scene where he is angry, believing The Doctor has done a deal with Waterfield or Maxtible or the Daleks. The Doctor is, of course, merely trying to find out what the Daleks are planning and outwit them and the two strands are excellently paced and exciting and lead us on to the final phase of the tale.

    This phase is set on Skaro, and the story has a spectacular conclusion as The Doctor cleverly converts Daleks with the human factor and thus begins a civil war. It's lovely to see a hierarchy on Skaro with the Black Daleks issuing orders to the now questioning regular Daleks. And, of course, at the top of the tree is The Emperor Dalek. I love this, and the audio disc captures the look of it beautifully in the commentary script. I love the panic in his Dalek voice as he orders Daleks to "not fight in here" as life-support tubes are fired through and smoke billows from his casing. I also love the fact that Maxtible is given the Dalek factor and becomes a reflection of us all as children doing our Dalek impressions - in fact, it's a stroke of genius.

    The three phases of the story make it for me one of the most successful longer serials in the history of the show. The three parts means that the pace of all the episodes doesn't slacken and the plot moves forward in each part but at the same time there is breathing space for the characters to make an impression. And the cast are uniformly fine all the way down the line - it's great to see characters like Molly Dawson and relationships like that between Ruth and Arthur given screen time alongside the traditional adventure aspects.

    Also we get the introduction of new travelling companion Victoria Waterfield. It is one of the best character introduction stories I think and I like Victoria from the start. There is a lovely bit in a cell on Skaro where she tells turkish wrestler Kemel that she'll protect him and he looks incredulously at her - she may like a scream but she has levels of courage that should stand her in good stead in the future.

    So what are the weaknesses - ahmm the plot maybe is not the most scientifically sound - that's really all I can think of -but I really don't care.

    This one of the best Dalek stories I've ever seen, in fact one of the best Doctor Who stories I've ever seen so I have no choice here its 10/10 from me. I love it

  2. Season 4 round-up: what a monumental year it was - obviously the first regeneration and the first appearances of the Cybermen are absolutely key events in the history of the show. But in terms of quality the season is, for the most part, very successful. With one very poor story in "The Underwater Menace" and one very average historical in "The Highlanders" the only real blips in an otherwise above average run of adventures, there are also some real stand-outs including 2 of the best Dalek stories in the history of the show. The season climaxes with "the final end" of the Daleks and immense promise that the next season could be even better.

  3. And we're straight into this episode with a chase scene! And the dramatic music makes me wonder if there's a bigger budget for that too...

    It's an intriguing start to the episode as people with walkie-talkies surveille the Doctor and Jamie, the Tardis gets nicked, and I'm all excited at the return of David Whitaker to the series, the man who wrote the magnificent Power of the Daleks that launched Troughton in the role, and then!

    We're suddenly slowed right down as the Doctor and Jamie attempt to do a bit of detective work for far too long. On the plus side - suddenly-appearing futuristic control rooms are always a lot of fun, but we had one in the last story.

    I'm glad to see the Beatles' association with the show continues, though, as that's pretty much all of Paperback Writer in the coffee-shop scene. And then - EPISODE ONE CLIFFHANGER DALEK REVEAL!

    Which is already becoming a bit of a cliché. Still, let's hope that never happens again for the rest of Doctor Who, eh?

    I do rather like the resolution to this particular cliffhanger, though. A Dalek appears behind someone who's not a regular as the cliffhanger - and then guns them down within seconds of the beginning of the next episode. "How did he die?" "Hands clenched... He died in horrible agony." Which has the terror of the Daleks about right.

    Jamie's winning streak with the ladies continues, but from episode two onwards, the whole thing starts to feel very padded. For no good reason we've travelled back in time to the Victorian era. Why? And exactly how long did it take Maxtible to kit out the South Wing of his house with all those deathtraps? Did the Daleks help him out? "OH. I THINK YOU NEED ANOTHER DEATHTRAP THERE." I mean, given that they're perfectly capable of travelling to Skaro, why not build the deathtraps on their own planet instead of inside an old Victorian manor house on Earth?

    It just makes no sense. The Daleks are all "WE DO NOT TRUST YOU" to the Doctor - and then leave him in charge of programming the work-out-the-human-factor machine. And Molly the Maid hears Victoria's voice, and here's another secret passage, and why the fuck are we supposed to be interested?

    There's a late rally with the new childlike Daleks, and it's nice to hear the soundscape of the Dalek city again, and the Emperor Dalek himself is impressive and shocking but it's all too little and too late.

    It's padded, and drags, and after the pure genius of The Power of the Daleks just came as a huge disappointment to me.

  4. This has an action packed opening which builds on the momentum from the cliffhanger ending of the previous story. We are quickly drawn deeper and deeper into a mystery which begins with a lost TARDIS and deepens throughout episode one. It's weird to see a character manipulating the Doctor as our curiously mannered gentleman does here.

    The Doctor playing detective is a fun thing to do with Troughtie, very fresh. And the interplay between Troughton and Hines is splendid. We haven't seen a rapport like this since Steven left the TARDIS.

    Waterfield and Maxtible are well written and make an interesting double act.

    The humanised Daleks are a lovely, sinister idea, Whitaker again subverting our Dalek expectations (as with "I am your ser-vant" in Power).

    The Daleks are treacherous and torturous throughout, just as we like them.

    The design of Skaro is impressive but the Emperor is spectacular, both in look and voice, "DO NOT FIGHT IN HERE!"

    There's immense scale to this story. We go from modern London to the 19th century and then on to Skaro while exploring concepts of humanity and its opposite. It's epic without feeling contrived or flimsy like The Chase and Master Plan. Whitaker pulls off the Dalek epic that Nation never quite managed.

    The Doctor is forced to manipulate Jamie and the way that this is written and acted is fantastic. Jamie carries episode four easily and has, by this point, become a second lead in the same way William Russell was to Hartnell. Maybe Jamie McCrimmon isn't too dissimilar to Ian Chesterton? An adventurer, and a passionate and heroic man out of time. For me Jamie is already the best companion since Ian and Barbara stole a Dalek time capsule. No contest.

    Victoria has a promising introduction. She is sparky and likeable and fits into Troughton and Hines' rapport quickly.

    The Doctor pushes a Dalek off of a cliff, is that the first time we see him kill something with his own hands?

    A word of praise for Loose Cannon's recon too. It's fantastic, the best I've seen yet.

    Better than: The Daleks' Master Plan
    Not as good as: Power of the Daleks