Episode 30: The Power of the Daleks

The Power of the Daleks

Episode 30: The Power of the Daleks
Second Doctor
Companions: Polly, Ben
Written by David Whitaker and Dennis Spooner
Directed by Christopher Barry
Wikipedia Entry

Description
As the Doctor emerges from his first regeneration, he finds himself in a battle for survival against his deadliest enemy.

Evaluation
I’m excited for when I can stop reading adaptations. It’s not to say that I don’t enjoy reading them but I’m finding it hard to maintain this blog as my concentration wanes with each written adaptation. It’s taken me six months to finally start reading the Second Doctor’s first story. I’d like to finish the Second Doctor’s adventures by the end of the summer or September at the latest so I can dive into my growing DVD collection. Must push myself in the coming months.

The story begins as the Doctor emerges from his first regeneration into the Second Doctor. Ben and Polly are understandably confused by everything that has happened and are quick to doubt the Doctor when he claims that he is still the Doctor. As the story progresses, Ben and Polly begin to believe the Doctor’s claims but only through trial and a lot of tribulation.

The adventurous trio find themselves on the planet Vulcan where a colony has been created. The Doctor is mistaken for someone called The Examiner. The actual Examiner had been killed mere moments of his and the Doctor’s arrival. The Doctor pretends he is this Examiner to discover the lay of the land and why the man had been assassinated.

What the Doctor discovers is something far more deadly: the Daleks have returned. Unfortunately, the Doctor not only has to deal with the threat of the Daleks but the greed and desires of some of the colony’s officials.

The overall story was fun and I could imagine being entranced if I had the opportunity to watch instead of read the program. In terms of the guest characters, why are humans so stupid? Well, not stupid, but our desire for power does tend to lend towards destruction. This is a serial about the power of money and how, if it isn’t checked, becomes far more important to safety or even common sense.

Despite the exploration of this common trope, the story was well written and it was fun and exciting to read once I pushed myself into the story.

Historical Mentions

A fleet of heavy transport aircraft and dark helicopters bearing the logo of UNIT – the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce – settled down later that day by the Cyberman saucer. A select team of men led by Lieutenant Benton of the English division of UNIT secured the saucer, but found no signs of life.

This was the first mention of UNIT that I’ve encounters so far. It should be noted that this adaptation was written in 1993 so this mention would have been tacked on to create continuity towards the Third Doctor. Sarah Jane Smith is also mentioned in this prologue.

The Doctor refers to his regeneration as a renewal.

According to the Doctor, at the time of his first regeneration he had been traveling for seven hundred and fifty years.

The Doctor produces a flute, one of the Second Doctor’s signature products, while searching for his diary.

The metal triangle the Doctor takes from the laboratory is similar to a piece that Susan took from their first adventure on Skaro.

 

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Episode 21: The Dalek’s Master Plan

The Mutation of Time

Episode 21: The Mutation of Time
First Doctor
Companions: Steven, Katarina, Sara Kingdom
Written by Terry Nation and Dennis Spooner
Directed by Douglas Camfield
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Nightmare Begins
Day of Armageddon
Devil’s Planet
The Traitors
Counter Plot
Coronas of the Sun
The Feast of Steven
Volcano
Golden Death
Escape Switch
The Abandoned Planet
Destruction of Time
(Missing #1, #3, #4, #6, #7, #8, #9, #11, and #12)

Description
The Doctor faces his greatest enemy with the fate of the Earth in the balance.

Evaluation
Dear BBC,

Honestly guys…out of all the episodes to be destroyed, you had to choose the huge, massive, epic twelve part blow-out. It would have made this review a lot more easier if you had not deleted these episodes.

Sincerely,

Me, the annoyed viewer

I’ve been sitting on this review for a bit because I just can’t seem to commit to reading the second part of this adaptation. I don’t know if it’s because of its scale or because the story just isn’t connecting as I hope it would. I have some quotes and notes from the first part of the adaptation but this is one of those times that I just have to walk away. Maybe I’ll be able to come back and look at this installment with fresh eyes but I have to move on to the next episode. I miss talking about Doctor Who and this blog was a nice escape from my busy life.

There might be one reason why I’m having problems updating this blog beside the aforementioned busy schedule; the new Doctor Who episodes have simply drained me. There’s no life in the series anymore. You can see the actor’s trying but it feels like fan service instead of earnest storytelling. I miss the heart of the show, which is messing with the heart I had for the classic seasons. Talking with my friends about the program I have discovered that I’m not the only one who has this feeling.

So, the plan is to push through this feeling and start blogging again. I love the First Doctor. I love the adventure he presents and I love his companions (though Steven needs to tone down the sexist attitude ASAP). Thank you, Katarina for your sacrifice. I wish we could have more episodes with you. While the previous companions had many examples of how dangerous it can be to travel with the Doctor, you were the first one to show the audience that it’s not always fun and games.  Thank you, Sara Kingdom for being a badass. You were amazing and interesting and I wish we could have had duel adventures with you and Katarina. Thank you Bret Vyon. Your moral ambiguity was fun to watch and I wish we had more of your story as well.

And with that, let’s move on. Let’s begin that push towards the next chapter.

Historical Mentions
The only appearance of Sara Kingdom and the first death of a companion.

Episode 16: The Chase

The ChaseEpisode 16: The Chase
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Vicki
Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Richard Martin and Douglas Camfield
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Executioners
The Death of Time
Flight Through Eternity
Journey Into Terror
The Death of Doctor Who
The Planet of Decision

Description
Fleeing from the Daleks, the Doctor and his companions find themselves being chased through time and space.

Evaluation
I liked this episode and then I was deeply annoyed by this episode. The initial premise of this serial was interesting; Daleks chasing the Doctor throughout time and space. Yet, the serial only goes about fifty percent in the effort/presentation. Some of The Chase scenes involved historical scenes that could have been edited and pushed for four parts instead of the longer six parts. The pacing is off and I felt bored at some times which should have been the opposite effect. The best part about the historical Chase bits was the Peter Purves scenes in New York. It was quirky enough that the sequence could be as long as it was.

I thought the opening sequence with the Time-Space Visualizer was very interesting because it reminded me of the Guardian of Forever in the original Star Trek series episode The City on the Edge of Forever. A quick Wikipedia search led me to discover that this particular Star Trek episode premiered in 1967, two years after this episode of Doctor Who aired. I can’t help but assume that writer of that Star Trek episode, Harlan Ellison, might have been a Doctor Who fan or was aware of the program.

The first part of the serial should have been the benchmark that the rest of the installments should have achieved. There is a great suspense to the first episode with the companions being separated from each other and the TARDIS. The first time that Barbara and the Doctor sees the Dalek emerging from the sand is chilling. It serves as a reminder that these creatures are horrifying and worthy of being one of the Doctor’s greatest enemies.

One of the problems that I have with this serial was that there are many “convenient” moments within the episodes that explain how the Doctor is being followed or how he escapes. While it’s fun to see these technical aspects of how the TARDIS operates, I can’t help but be annoyed. This feeling comes up again with the double Doctor plot. While the clone robot Doctor plot was fun to watch the manner in which it was presented was a little laughable. The voiceover from the fake Doctor was not lip synced very well and the fake Doctor was far too skinny to be an exact replica of Hartnell. I can’t help but wonder why they didn’t just use Hartnell for those scenes.

The final battle scene with the Daleks and the Mechonoids was a great ending. I feel that the beginning episode and the last episode were the strongest parts of the serial. The installments in the middle should have been edited to fit within these exciting episodes.

DVD Note: I usually don’t comment on the special features of the DVDs but the third disc of this DVD set has this great documentary about Daleks. “Daleks Beyond the Screen” Highly recommend.

Historical Notes
The cowboy character at the Empire State Building was played by Peter Purves, who would later play Steven Taylor, the new companion introduced in the last part of this serial.

This is the second time that Ian has destroyed one of Barbara’s cardigans, having destroyed one to use as guide through the Space Museum.

Book Evaluation
I found the book to be a little bit more fun in terms of back-story than the serial. In terms of storytelling, the serial is better but not by much.

In terms of the back-story, this almost felt like an encyclopedia for all things early Who. Okay, maybe not that extensive but I found myself writing down little things that I found interesting if I were ever to create such encyclopedia.

Things of note:

  • When the Daleks discuss their greatest enemy, there is mention of how the Doctor has changed his appearance many times over the years. While this adventure was set in the First Doctor’s adventures, I can’t help but wonder where the Daleks were in their timeline in relation to the Doctor’s timeline.
  • The book mentions that is almost 750 years old but had yet not reached his first regeneration.
  • Vicki mentions that in her timeline on Earth there had been work towards inventing a machine that would allow historians and scientists to tap into the Time Vortex to witness and record events of history. It should be noted that Vicki stems from the 25th Century. I couldn’t help but think of Captain Jack Harkness and the Time Agency of the 51st Century. It’s interesting to note the evolution of the understanding of time and how it affects science work throughout Earth’s history. As the humans were just beginning to understand the Time Vortex in the 25th Century, how long did it take before the Time Agency of the 51st Century to be a full functional time travel entity?
  • Often times the Doctor displays a great deal of arrogance that jeopardizes his companions. While this a past issue with the Doctor, and will be for the future incarnations as well, it’s distressingly annoying to read. I do realize that this is more of a youthful issue with this incarnation but it makes the Doctor seem entirely too careless when his companions’ lives as well as his own are on the line. This is made even more apparent when Vicki is left behind at the The House of Frankenstein, forced to fend for herself, and to sneak onto the Dalek vessel in order to regroup with her fellow travelers.
  • The book explores a lot about the technology of the TARDIS and the Dalek ship, particularly with one scene in which Vicki is trying to make contact with the TARDIS using radio transmissions. The Daleks also create a replicate Doctor. Since I have only begun in my Doctor Who viewing adventures, I can’t help but wonder if this is attempted by the Daleks later in their encounters or is this a one-off attempt?
  • Steven discusses a great expansion period that Earth experiences in the future but were distracted by the Draconian conflict and then the Third Dalek War.

In terms of the character development, I think the serial presentation is the better of the two in that showing the emotions the Doctor tries to hide when Ian and Barbara leave is more impactful than how the adaptation presents the scene. The book adaptation left me feeling that it was a mundane exit as opposed to the serial in which I found myself crying and hugging my couch pillows. I do appreciate how much sass Ian has when he talks to the Doctor. The Doctor is never has forthright as he should be with information and can be condescending when he explains things to his human companions. Ian retaliates with sarcasm and wit which irritates the Doctor is the most amusing fashion.

 

Episode 15: The Space Museum

Space Museum_ChaseEpisode 15: The Space Museum
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Vicki
Written by Glyn Jones
Directed by Mervyn Pinfield
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Space Museum
The Dimensions of Time
The Search
The Final Phase

Description
The Doctor and his companions discover they’ve landed in the future of their own timeline.

Evaluation
I really like the premise of this episode, how the TARDIS pushed the travelers farther into the future. The first part of this serial is pretty strong and I think that if they had kept the invisibility aspect of the storyline it would have made for more compelling television. Unfortunately, the idea fizzles at the start of the second part and never fully develops the potential that was showcased in the first part. There are deeper issues in this episode that should be explored, but sadly are not.

Before we go ahead of ourselves, let’s discuss the strengths of this serial. The first part explores how the TARDIS travels from one place to another, using the different dimensions of time and space. What happens when there is a miscalculation in regards to the fourth dimension, time? Are you far ahead enough to see your future? Can you change the future that you see or must you be an unwilling participant in events yet to come? How do you prevent the future when you see a glimpse of it in your past/present? Does it matter what we do in our solutions/actions or is it already pre-determined? A lot of this is discussed between Ian and Barbara during the later parts of the serial, which I think are the more interesting parts of this episode.

The larger piece of this serial is why the Moroks created the Museum in the first place. To invade a different planet and to create a museum on said planet to display their conquests is a crazed notion that works for this storyline. What better way to showcase your great acts than on the blood of others. While the overall acting and design of the characters is slightly minimal, the overarching evil of the Moroks is frightening and should be considered a lesson for those who can see past the simplicity of the storyline. It’s also a commentary about how one can become so bored after everything has been accomplished. The Moroks have done it all and seem to be longing for some form of adventure once again. The Xerons have no clue about how to reclaim their land, and have to bullied into revolution by Vicki’s desires to leave the planet with her companions in one piece.

As I mentioned before, I truly believe that they should have kept the silence/invisibility aspect longer than just in the first episode; or at least through mid-third part. Or there should have been a better connection between the Doctor and the companions with the Xerons or Moroks. It’s an “interesting’ installment and serves as a great starting point for the perils of time travel and fixed points of time.

Final Note: The leader of the Xerons, Tor, was played by Jeremy Bulloch; a man who would later have a claim to Sci-Fi fame with his role of Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back.

Historical Notes
The Museum contains a diverse collection of artifacts from around the universe, including a Dalek shell.

 

Book Evaluation
One things that was glossed over in the serial was how the TARDIS created the bump in time travel. There is a larger explanation within the book that helps discuss how the TARDIS protects itself from such occurrences. The TARDIS clock has a built-in memory and will adjust when a time friction occurs. This explains why the companions and the Doctor were asleep when they landed, blacking out their actions for their protection.

There is a bigger description about the Moroks and the Xerons in that the travelers witness the Moroks killing Xerons as the try to escape. There is a ruthless quality to the Moroks that was only hinted at in the visual presentation. It also highlights the lack of weapons that the Xerons currently possess, showcasing their position as a peaceful planet.

Like the visual serial, the question of action becomes a larger issue with the story. Do our actions change what will happen or are the actions following the line of destiny?

It’s a quick little story that flows well; far better than the visual presentation. I would recommend reading the novelization first before watching the serial as I found myself zoning in and out of the visual presentation. At lease with reading ahead you won’t find yourself as lost as I did with my first screening of the episode.

 

Episode 10: The Dalek Invasion of Earth

Dalek Invasion of Earth

Episode 10: The Dalek Invasion of Earth
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Susan
Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Richard Martin
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
World’s End
The Daleks
Day of Reckoning
The End of Tomorrow
The Waking Ally
Flashpoint

Description
The Doctor and the Daleks face off for the fate of Planet Earth.

Evaluation
I know I’ll repeat this again in the end but this episode is completely brilliant. The characterizations, the story, everything was spot on. It was also the first time that filming was conducted outside of the studios. The empty city of London was a wonderful bonus for the story, showcasing the terror of a planet in ruins. Granted, there are always some cheesy aspects of the production. There’s a small animation sequence towards the end that amused me but as it fit with the storyline quite nicely, I didn’t think too much about it.

The acting skills of all of the cast continues to be impressive. The facial expressions of Ian and the Doctor at the end of the first installment was breathtaking, even more so as the horror of their situation becomes apparent for both the cast and the viewer. There’s hints of the future Doctor in the second installment. Ecceleston was fantastic in that he would always be quick to the chase and was annoyed when no one else was. Hartnell’s Doctor begins to showcase this when he dismisses a fellow captive, pushing him aside when he continues to blather about without adding anything useful. The scene is a delight and wonderful for those who have come to Who first with the reboot and later for the early episodes. (And like many Doctor Who episodes, it never quite works out like you think it will).

This comes up again in the later part of the episode when the Doctor stands confident and strong as a we see through the view of a Dalek his attack against the humans and the Time Lord. And like many future adventures of the Doctor, we find that it’s because he took a chance, a gamble, and won. This, again, begins to push the idea that the Doctor has moved from a runaway traveler to a man who will fight for injustice in the universe.

I was initially worried about the Susan/David relationship but there’s genuine chemistry between the two characters that tugs at the viewer’s heartstrings. Even when the Doctor is confronted by David’s respect for an elder’s opinion, there’s a sense that David is attempting to impress a potential in-law. The entire sequence is adorable. The ending was very emotional and more prove that Doctor Who is more about heart than just science fiction.

Barbara’s side story continues to show her strength as a character. One of the best scenes in this episode is when Barbara pushes through a Dalek barricade using a fire truck. When Barbara and Jenny, one of the fighters against the Daleks, are captured in the middle of the fifth episode, the woman who sold them out remarked that they would have been captured eventually. It was only because of Barbara’s continued belief of good character that is her downfall. It’s because of moments like that this that drama of the traveler’s situation becomes heartbreaking. Survivors are shown to be pitted against each other just for a chance to live. People will sell out each other just for a can of food.

The idea of using the Earth has a spaceship is quite brilliant. The question that I can’t help but ask is why did the Daleks choose Earth as their primary target? It’s not something that is discussed in the episode and only because I have knowledge of future episodes do I have a small understanding of their reasoning. I wonder if Barbara and Ian ever realized their role in the Time War that would consume the universe before the Ninth Doctor emerges.

On a side note, the robomen look like early versions of Cybermen. I can’t help but wonder if they were the inspiration; even more so when David mentions that there is a transfer process from human to robomen.

Overall, this episode is one of my favorites. The story and characters are engaging. The impact of this episode has a ripple effect to future episodes in regards to Daleks, companions, and the role of the Doctor as the protector of the Earth.

(PS: My favorite moments will always be the humans against the Daleks. You’ll know what I mean when you watch the last episode.)

Historical Notes
Thanks to the discs on their backs, Daleks can now move without the use of magnetization on metal floors.

The Dalek Supreme has a pet called the Slyther, a nasty creature that attacks Ian and Larry.

Susan’s last adventure with the Doctor, Barbara and Ian. She stays with David to rebuild Earth and to create a life for herself.

 

Episode 2: The Daleks

Dalek Edge of Destruction

Episode 2: The Daleks
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Susan
Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Richard Martin and Christopher Barry
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Dead Planet
The Survivors
The Escape
The Ambush
The Expedition
The Ordeal
The Rescue

Description
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.

Evaluation
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.

Historical Notes
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.