January 13, 2014

Doctor Who: The Daleks

As the title suggests, this episode marks the first appearance of the iconic Doctor Who villains, the Daleks.  I hadn't realized that they showed up so early on in the series.  This serial is seven episodes.  Seven.  That's almost three hours in one sitting, which is how I watched it.  It felt long.  There was a lot of running through corridors and navigating caves and jungles.  On the other hand- the Daleks!  The Daleks are always fun.

The Doctor, Susan, Ian, and Barbara land on a radioactive planet.  They don't realize that it is radioactive, so they go out exploring.  The Doctor sees a city off in the distance, but the rest of them veto his plan to check it out.  Susan gets separated from them for a brief time and freaks out in her usual Susan way.  The Doctor makes some food from a machine in the control room of the TARDIS.  The food looks like little bars, but it tastes like whatever is requested.  Barbara and Ian want bacon and eggs.  There are a lot of extra things in the TARDIS control room other than the center console.  There are chairs, this food machine, and equipment to help run the TARDIS.  The TARDIS malfunctions when they try to leave.  The Doctor says that it is a specific part that needs mercury.  Oops, he doesn't have any mercury.  They'll have to take the part to the city and get some.  Of course, that turns out to be a big fat lie.  There isn't anything wrong with the part.  The Doctor wanted to see the city, and the Doctor is going to get his way, one way or another.  This doesn't go over well with Ian when he finds out.

They go to the city and get captured by the Daleks.  When the Daleks shoot Ian, it doesn't kill him.  It paralyzes his legs.  The Daleks tell him that if they shoot him again in a short period of time, the paralysis will be permanent.  Later on they do kill people, so I suppose the Daleks have different settings on their guns.  That's unusual.  Okay, a lot of what goes down with the Daleks and the war with the Thals contradicts what is said about all this stuff later on in the series.  CONTINUITY FUN!  For instance, series canon is that Daleks are Kaled mutants.  That's not the case here.  In this episode, they are mutants inside those casings, but they have always been Daleks or Dals.  Series canon is that a Kaled named Davros created the Daleks to be superior beings and conquerors.  In this episode, the Daleks' mutation is a byproduct of radiation from the war.  Is this really the first meeting of the Doctor and the Daleks?  He doesn't recognize Daleks.  The Daleks can't leave the city.  The Thals don't think the Daleks survived the war.  I thought that later on in the series, they paint the war between the Thals and the Daleks as a never-ending struggle since the time Kaleds were still around.  Here, the war was 500 years ago.  Also, the Daleks in this episode are powered by static electricity and need radiation to survive.  How are they supposed to conquer the universe or win a war when they always have to be on a metal floor?  They can't go outside!  Our heroes disable one by directing it onto a cloak on the floor.  The powered by static electricity and needing radiation to survive aspects of the Daleks don't last.  Now is a time to take a deep breath and forget about continuity.

The one on the right's eye stalk looks broken.

The plot?  First everyone has radiation sickness, so they need drugs.  Then the Thals are starving, and the Daleks try to trick them into meeting so that the Daleks can kill them all.  Ian has a go inside of a Dalek.  That one they disabled?  They ripped the mutant out of it, and Ian climbs inside.  It was funny hearing his voice as a Dalek.

Yes, that is Ian inside of a Dalek.

There is an interesting bit about the TARDIS lock, which does not stay true for long in the series.  They need someone to go back to the TARDIS.  Ian says he will go, but Susan says that only she and the Doctor can use the key.  There are twenty-one different ways to place the key in the lock, and if you don't do it right, the lock melts as a defense mechanism.  The thing is, this lock explanation ends up being completely unnecessary.  Ian's legs haven't recovered at this point, so Susan has to go, anyway.  Oh, Doctor Who.  You do love to over-complicate things.  This leads to a long scene of Susan running around the jungle being annoying.

Once they escape, it's not over.  It feels like it should be over.  It's not.  They have to go back because the Daleks took the TARDIS part from Ian.  Good job, Ian!  They have to convince the Thals to help them.

The Thals have some interesting outfits.

A lot of time is spent making their way back to the city.  They split up for a two-pronged attack.  There is some serious flirting going on between one of the Thals and Barbara.

How you doin'?

I'm glad Ian wasn't around to see that!  Even this early on, I think Ian has a thing for Barbara.

Oh, Barbara...

I like this episode, even though it feels too long.  I should have broken it up into two viewings.  It felt like two separate episodes.  The first was everyone trying to escape from the Daleks.  The second was everyone trying to get back to the city to fight them.  The Daleks looked like Daleks have always looked.  The Daleks talked about exterminating people.  The Daleks did their Dalek thing.

I'm eccentric! I grab my lapels all the time!


Doctor: First
Companions: Susan, Ian, Barbara
Episode: #2, "The Daleks," seven parts- 'The Dead Planet,' 'The Survivors,' 'The Escape,' 'The Ambush,' 'The Expedition,' 'The Ordeal,' 'The Rescue'
Adversary: the Daleks
Classic Lines: the Doctor: "The mind will always triumph!"; the Doctor: "You wanted advice, you said.  I never give it.  Never.  But I might just say this to you- always search for truth.  My truth is in the stars, and yours is here."  
Tuck This Away to Impress Your Friends: The Daleks' home planet is Skaro.  The Daleks unwillingly share their home planet with the Thals.  
Next Up: "The Edge of Destruction"


  1. Did the Doctor have a timer to remind himself when to take his radiation pills?

    I hadn't realized the food replicator was introduced so early in the series.

    The First Doctor was kind of a jerk.

    JL: When the Daleks shoot Ian, it doesn't kill him.  It paralyzes his legs.  The Daleks tell him that if they shoot him again in a short period of time, the paralysis will be permanent.  Later on they do kill people, so I suppose the Daleks have different settings on their guns. 

    I've heard a bit of fanon that I really like, that Daleks have multiple settings on their guns, and they always choose the ones that will cause the most pain to the target they shoot. I like that. It just seems like something the Daleks would do.

    I have a love/hate affair with the Daleks. They have a great design, but they're fundamentally ridiculous. Putting aside the stair issue, they don't have any hands. "Oh, noes! My worst enemy: A doorknob!"

    I didn't mind the static electricity. Another bit of fanon that I liked explained why Doctor encountered less sophisticated Cyberman later in their timeline in the Tenth Planet. It suggested that less sophisticated models were used for the attack, and the more advanced one remained on Mondas. Maybe something similar could be in play here? More sophisticated Daleks took off for space and left the obsolete models to hold down the fort and be jerks to the Thals?

    I've never actually seen this one. Is there any way to justify the Doctor's reaction to the Daleks with the fact that the become one of the most feared and recognizable races in the universe? Is there any way to pretend that he knows more than he's letting on? I mean it's reasonable to assume that he didn't know right away that this planet they had landed on was Skaro, but it's more difficult to justify the Doctor going "Herp Derp, what's a Dalek?"

    1. Heh, they took the radiation pills once and then that entire plot was forgotten- just like in "Destiny of the Daleks."

      Yep, the first Doctor is more of a jerk than I remember. I think he mellows out a bit as the show goes on.

      I've never heard that about the Daleks choosing which setting on their guns to use according to what would cause the most pain. That does sound like something they would do. Yeah, I love the Daleks, but at this point they can't even go up stairs. I like that in "Destiny of the Daleks" the fourth Doctor comes right out and teases them about it.

      That's an interesting theory about the Cybermen. I don't know if the Daleks would improve upon themselves and then destroy the obsolete models for being lame, or tell the obsolete models, "So long, suckers!" and leave them on the planet while they go off to conquer the universe.

      Your last paragraph- I was having a hard time with that. The Time Lords and the Daleks have such a history. The Daleks are feared throughout the universe. The Doctor gets there and doesn't know what a Dalek is. At all. He isn't pretending that he doesn't know. He has never seen or heard of a Dalek before. He learns about them and about Skaro along with his companions. I have to chalk it up to this truly being the first encounter for him. The Daleks don't even want to leave Skaro in this story- they just want to kill the Thals (as Daleks generally do). "Genesis of the Daleks" changes the origin story, anyway, so I stopped thinking about this after a bit and just went with it. Still- the Time Lords travel through time. They should know about the Daleks. Okay, I'm not thinking about this anymore. It's the second serial of the show, and I'm letting it go. :) There are so many continuity issues. I could fill every blog post with them.

  2. I ran across this quote by Carole Anne Ford this evening after watching the first episode of the Dalek story arc. Carole says, "I left Dr Who after 18 months as my character was going nowhere. In truth, I wished I had never gone into it. Afterwards all the scripts that came my way were for 15-year olds." Hard to disagree with her.

    1. That's interesting. I didn't know she had a problem with the character.


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