Episode 2: The Daleks
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Susan
Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Richard Martin and Christopher Barry
The Dead Planet
Due to a malfunction in the TARDIS’s navigational circuits, the Doctor and his companions find themselves on a planet filled with radiation. As the travelers begin to explore this strange new world, they come face-to-face with an alien race that will change the Doctor’s life forever.
The Daleks was an interesting episode to watch in that I attempted to look at the action as if I was seeing the Daleks for the first time. Yes, the design is kooky and potentially silly for more modern audiences but the reasoning for the Daleks and this history presented of their race is frightening and in contrast of everything the Doctor stands for. Modern Daleks look upon humanity, and the universe, as something that needs to be eradicated as it is less than perfect. The Daleks of this episode are not reliant on the need for perfection or lack of emotion. Instead, they would continue to destroy their planet Skaro in order to survive. Creatures who refuse to consider the needs of others above their own are terrifying and horrific.
I can see why the Daleks were considered scary in the beginning. At times, I think that Daleks are used too often in the new series. For as many times as they have appeared in the reboot, the impact has not been nearly as emotional as this first episode. I know that the history of the Daleks will morph and change in later episodes.
This was a great episode to watch in that the Doctor is starting to emerge as a character. There’s bits of trickery when he lies about a TARDIS component. There’s hints of his never-ending spirit to explore and his desire to see a happy ending, even though tragedy might occur. He’s still isn’t as concerned about his companions as he should be, though that will change in later episodes. There’s an outline here of what the Doctor will be. It’s fun to nitpick his traits as he begins to evolve.
The companions continue to be a delight. I’ve been a fan of Ian and Barbara when I first watched this episode a few years ago. The chemistry between these two is fun and I can’t help but cheer along as they fight for survival. The entire team of the Doctor, Susan, Ian, and Barbara show the signs of a solid friendship.
This is the first appearance of the Daleks, a race of creatures that will later become the mortal enemy of the Doctor. It was also the first time the Daleks used the famous phrase: “EXTERMINATE”.
The navigational malfunction of the TARDIS becomes a running theme of the show, hinting that the Doctor never really knows how to steer the ship.