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Daleks in Chester!

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A few weeks ago I was heading down to Cardigan for my neice’s wedding. To break up the journey, my wife and I decided to stay for a few days in Chester. Chester is a walled city and since it was a nice day, we walked along the wall. Partway along is the Charles I tower and there was an artist in residence there. To my joy, I found that he had decided to incorporate Daleks and the Doctor into his artwork of Chester. The above picture features the Charles I tower and those fans of the classic series may recognise the source picture featuring the Doctor and the Dalek from the serial “Planet of the Daleks”.

If you find yourself in Chester, I would suggest you find the artist who was very happy to chat to me.

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Doctor Who is back

It’s been a while since I have updated this site but I hope I won’t be so long in between posts. This post will be my thoughts on the first episode that was shown on Saturday 19th September 2015. If you haven’t seen it yet, I must warn you that this post will contain spoilers. In fact, I’m waffling here deliberately so that if you encounter this post and it has the opening few sentences or paragraph, I can let you know of the spoilers ahead well before you may accidentally encounter them.

So anyway, the first episode was called “The Magician’s Apprentice”. I enjoyed the episode but I felt it had more of an end of series feel to it, especially after what happened with Clara, Missy and the TARDIS. As a finale, that could be comparable with Sherlock’s dive and needs more time to allow the shock of what we have seen sink in. I imagine there will be all kinds of guesses for what happens.

There were a lot of details within the episode that harked back to the past years of Doctor Who. The relationship between the Capaldi and Gomez reminds me of the dynamic between Pertwee and Delgado. It is not too difficult to believe that they may once have been close and I think that in both cases, it’s the performance of  Delgado and Gomez that especially highlights this (looking back at Pertwee’s line at the end of The Master’s first story about how he is quite looking forward to matching wits against The Master makes you wonder about The Doctor’s sanity and common sense). Gomez’s Master/Missy also shares Delgado’s Master’s love of children’s programs with her coming through the square window line (referenced from a children’s show called “Play School”). Delgado’s Master was seen enjoying an episode of “The Clangers” during his confinement in the story “The Sea Devils”.

In classic series Doctor Who, a Dalek or Cyberman story was often a great excuse to insert a snippet from an earlier story featuring an earlier Doctor and that was the case once again with a line from Davros’s first story that was especially pertinent. The story ended in familiar territory too with the Doctor holding a gun at Davros that was reminiscent to the scene when the 5th Doctor holds a gun on Davros.

Another thing I noticed was Missy’s ring that reminded me of the ring worn by the first Doctor.

We also find ourselves on Skaro again. The Doctor has visited Skaro on surprisingly few occasions and oddly enough, Tom Baker, who was Who for the most amount of stories, only faced the Daleks twice both stories taking place on Skaro (and also these were the only stories with Davros on Skaro too). It was nice to see the different types of Dalek (something hinted at in Asylum of the Daleks but some had a “blink and you’d miss it” appearance).

I shall be looking forward to next weeks episode and hope that the resolution isn’t too much of a disappointment.

What did you think of the episode?

The Chase

The Daleks return

To chase the TARDIS through time

Another farewell

The Doctor has taken a space visualiser from the space museum (the previous story, click here for more) and watches a few moments from history, including an appearance of The Beatles. The crew then land on a planet that resembles Tatooine from the Star Wars universe (although not as vast). Vicki and Ian go wandering off while the Doctor and Barbara soak up some rays from the multiple suns.  A sound emanating from the TARDIS  leads the Doctor to realise that the space visualiser hasn’t been switched off but when Barbara goes to turn it off she sees that on the screen, the Daleks are in hot pursuit of the time travellers. The Doctor is unsure how far behind they are but decides that they must leave quickly. Unfortunately, Ian and Vicki have gotten themselves in trouble. Episode one ends with a Dalek rising up through the sand and you can hear it straining as it rises to the surface which is reminiscent to the end of episode one of the Dalek Invasion of Earth.

But if you think that The Chase is confined to just this planet, you would be wrong. The Daleks rather helpfully dig out the TARDIS (that was covered after a sandstorm) and have a short moment where one Dalek commands what seems to be a teenage Dalek judging by his response to some orders, the crew manage t race back into the TARDIS and head to earth for the next few episodes stopping of in a sailing ship, the Empire State building (hmmm I wonder if the TARDIS sensed any Dalek activity connected to this building…see Daleks In Manhattan [a long way away in my quest]) and a building occupied by Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster.

But the finale of the story takes place on the planet Mechanus and features the first doppelgänger of the Doctor as the Daleks create a duplicate of the Doctor that is designed to infiltrate and kill. The planet of Mechanus is very odd in that the surface is very smooth but has a fungal plant life but it is on this planet that a foe was to appear to rival the Daleks…the Mechanoids. These are kind of spherical dodecahedral who have similar mobility issues as the Daleks but the final battle between the Daleks and Mechanoids takes place on a smooth floor. The Mechanoids did appear in comics but never returned to the classic series. They have, however, made a reappearance in the Big Finish audio story The Juggernaughts that features both Davros and the Daleks.

As far as Dalek stories go, this isn’t one of the best but does have some interesting features.The Dalek design here becomes the classic series design with the slats on their middle appearing for the first time. The Daleks learn time travel. And for the second time in three appearances, the story concludes with a departure. This time, Ian and Barbara use the Dalek time machine to return them home (which Vicki and the Doctor watch on the space visualizer).

In the previous story, a Dalek was featured in the space museum and the story was the first (but by no means the last) to feature the Doctor visiting a museum [something that River Song in the new series has relied upon]. Perhaps the Daleks too thought that this behaviour would help them in tracking down the Doctor at the start of this story and donated several Dalek shells to numerous museums across the galaxy. It would certainly be a more reasonable explanation for the Dalek exhibit in the space museum.

  1. The Executioners
  2. The Death Of Time
  3. Flight Through Eternity
  4. Journey Into Terror
  5. The Death Of Doctor Who
  6. The Planet Of Decision

 

A Dalek is silenced ~ R.I.P. Roy Skelton

It is with sadness that I heard of another death of someone who had an important role in Doctor Who’s history.

Roy Skelton starred in many episodes of Doctor Who (including one appearance as a character who is invisible) but he will be most fondly remembered within the Doctor Who universe as being one of the voices of the Daleks.

Roy’s first contribution to the series was to provide some of the voices of the Monoids from the William Hartnell story, The Ark. (The actors couldn’t provide the voices due to them having a ping-pong ball in their mouth which was painted as an eye). He next provided the voices for the William Hartnell finale, The Tenth Planet, the story that introduced the Cybermen. The voices in this story are quite sing-songy (listen to the soundtrack if you can or try the Big Finish story, Spare Parts, to hear these voices). The Cybermen have had many types of voices over the years but these were quite unusual.

His first “appearance” as a Dalek was in the Patrick Troughton story, Evil of the Daleks.

The Daleks were not used again until Jon Pertwee was the Doctor and the Daleks were a late addition to the story that became Day of the Daleks (with a plot not too dissimilar from The Terminator). This was the Daleks first TV appearance in colour and a gold Dalek was seen in this story. The oddest thing about this story is the Dalek voices. They don’t have the menace of previous Daleks, a reason could be that Roy wasn’t providing the voices for this story. There could have been more difficulties with this story because producer, Barry Letts, and script editor, Terrance Dicks, had proceeded without asking Terry Nation permission to used the Daleks. A meeting was arranged and apologies said and an offer to write another Dalek story offered.

This story was to be Planet of the Daleks which featured the return of the vocal talents of Roy Skelton and this was the story I alluded to earlier in which he also played Wester, an invisible Spiridon who aided Jo Grant to recover from a fungal infection.

His next vocal appearance was for the classic Tom Baker story Genesis of the Daleks. Michael Wisher had also provided some Daleks in Planet of the Daleks and Death to the Daleks but in this story, Wisher played the creator of the Daleks, Davros which left Roy Skelton to provide the voice of the first Dalek.

His next appearances were in front of the camera in the Terry Nation scripted Android Invasion and Sarah Jane Smith’s final story, The Hand of Fear (although he is well camouflaged).

He provided Dalek voices for Destiny of the Daleks (the last Dalek story to be scripted by Terry Nation) Revelation of the Daleks and Remembrance of the Daleks (featuring Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor respectively).

If you know your Doctor Who well, you may have noticed that he has featured alongside all but one of the Classic Series Doctors. He did make  a brief (vocal) appearance appearance in the twentieth anniversary special, The Five Doctors which featured Peter Davison.

His rasping voice is the voice I most associate with the Daleks as I grew up in a time before video and DVD releases and repeat showings were few and far between (usually saved for an anniversary or other special occasion).

Roy Skelton also provided the voices of Zippy and George in the children’s television series, Rainbow but it is his work on Doctor Who that I will remember hm most fondly.

My thoughts go out to his family and friends.

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)