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The Daleks

Landing on Skaro

Leading to first encounter

With iconic foe

Dalek

The Daleks

 Ok, here we go…the story that unleashed the Doctor’s most notorious foe. This story was originally to have been six episodes but was extended to seven with a cost-effective two-part story (set entirely in the TARDIS) to follow. This would give the show a total of 13 episodes if the decision was made not to continue with the series. Thirteen may seem like an odd number (well, it IS an odd number, a prime number too) but 13 is a quarter of a year which is approximately a season weatherwise and allows schedulers to place shows in certain slots.

Back to the show. a BIG 20/20 hindsight with regards to this episode is how weak these Daleks are when compared to the iconic monsters of hate they would become. These Daleks can’t even leave their city (even the very first Daleks seen in Genesis of the Daleks manage to leave the bunker) and when they become inactive/die their eyestalk slowly points skyward.

But if you can watch the story with fresh eyes, the Daleks have a very strong presence. I think an important aspect to this is the decision buy the production team that they should not be men in suits. There is nothing about the appearance of a Dalek that resembles a human. Sometimes necessity can be the mother of invention and the last-minute (and cost cutting) decision to add a sink plunger to this foe meant that for years afterwards, children can raid the kitchen  and, grabbing a handy wire whisk, can run around shouting “EXTERMINATE!” in my..er I mean their best Dalek voice with a saucepan on their heads.

This episode is also the first to feature a maguffin [something that only seems to exist in order to drive the story]. In this case, it is a fluid link. The crew step out of the TARDIS and Barbara asks if they are on another world. The assumption is made that the previous story is set on earth but there is nothing to confirm that. The crew land in a petrified forest but the Doctor thinks the rest of the planet is as lifeless until they spot a city in the distance. The are on the verge of leaving without visiting the city when the Doctor causes the TARDIS to malfunction by removing the aforementioned fluid link. Claiming they need mercury (which they don’t have on the ship) they must go to the city if they wish to leave.  This story also sees the Doctor suffering from radiation sickness. He is affected more than the others which is in contrast to other stories when he can switch himself off for a while.

Then there are the Thals. They have gone through a complete cycle of mutation and have ended up as a humanoid peace-loving race. If memory serves, they only appeared in two more Doctor Who stories, Planet of the Daleks and Genesis of the Daleks. They never quite made the impact that the Daleks did (mind you, neither did the Mechanoids or the Movellans).

This story is very important in the history of Doctor Who as it has the framework that many future sci-fi adventure stories would follow. The crew aren’t quite a team yet and there are dubious ethics in this story. First the aforementioned incident of sabotage by the Doctor, then Ian convinces the Thals to fight the Daleks principally so that the crew can recover the fluid link (which was confiscated by the Daleks when they were captured).

If you think that some of the incidents I have spoken about sound familiar, then you may have seen Doctor Who and the Daleks, a film adaptation featuring Peter Cushing as Doctor Who. A second film, the Dalek invasion of earth 2150AD was also made (which was an adaptation of, you’ve guessed it, the Dalek Invasion of Earth).

[Picture taken of poster that came free with Doctor Who Magazine of a 1960’s era Dalek ~ these props were still being used in the 70′ and 80’s but had been given a “paint job” for when they appeared in colour]

  1. The Dead Planet
  2. The Survivors
  3. The Escape
  4. The Ambush
  5. The Expedition
  6. The Ordeal
  7. The Rescue*

*Not to be confused with a story of the same name (this is not the last time that this potential confusion will arise)

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3 Responses

  1. Good review Simon. I wonder if “Who” would have have been such an iconic or as long running series without the “shouty pepperpots?” Some “cultlural historians” argue that the Daleks are an artistic treasure of the 60’s almost on the par of The Beatles. I would argue that while “Evil” & “Genesis” are better stories, the first story & “…Invasion of Earth” burned the monsters, and the series, into the mind of the British TV’s audience forever.
    Current fandom loathes “Victory” not because of the rather odd ending, (where do the Daleks actually go?), but because of the highlighter-pen-coloured-with- JLo’s- butt restyling. You can change the Doctor, the Tardis & even the genre of the show, (watch the 3rd Doctor’s first series,) but clearly not the hostess trolleys from hell.
    I think the Daleks are wonderful but I would like to go a series without seeing them; in fact, why not only show them again when you have something original to do with them ?

  2. […] story (along with the first Dalek story) was adapted into a feature film. The robomen in the film looked more ferocious but I kind of […]

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