Timestamp #104: Destiny of the Daleks

Doctor Who: Destiny of the Daleks
(4 episodes, s17e01-e04, 1979)

timestamp-104-destiny-of-the-daleks

 

A new series starts with repairs from the previous one. First, K9 and his magnificent brain need a tune-up, but after he (somehow) contracts a form of laryngitis, he’ll have to sit this one out. Second, Romana thinks she also needs a tune-up, so she regenerates into Princess Astra. She cycles through several forms before deciding on the Astra in a pink version of the Doctor’s costume.

For all the drama in fan circles about Romana’s regeneration, it made sense to me. Since the Tenth Doctor was able to rebuild his missing hand within fifteen hours of regeneration, why shouldn’t Romana be able to adjust her form within the same period? The bigger question I now have: Since Time Lords can apparently make these adjustments and perfect their changes, why does the Doctor rely on a cosmic lottery each time?

Back to the story, the TARDIS is still traveling under the influence of the randomizer. They arrive on a planet with a lot of seismic activity and strong radioactivity, and as they explore, the Time Lords find a lot of concrete debris and a mechanical shaking of the ground. They encounter a group of natives who are observing a funeral. After they leave, the Doctor inspects the corpse and discovers that it was a combat pilot from the planet Kantra. The odd thing is that they are not currently on Kantra.

They pursue a landing spacecraft – “It’s not a flying saucer” is funny given the serial’s villain – and after it lands, it drills into the surface before the hatch opens. As the Time Lords move in to investigate, the ship’s unseen occupants open fire, forcing the Doctor and Romana into the ruins. An explosion rocks the building, trapping the Doctor under rubble. Since Romana cannot move the debris, she sets off to find K9 so he can help. When she arrives, a new series of explosions buries the TARDIS, preventing her from entering. K9 cannot blast out of the debris since the Doctor failed to reinstall his brain, so Romana heads back to the Doctor. She doesn’t see a mysterious figure pursuing her, and when she gets back, the Doctor is gone. Romana’s pursuer startles her and she falls down a nearby shaft while trying to escape.

The Doctor was rescued by the crew of the spacecraft – the Movellans – and they inform him that they are on the planet D5GZA, better known as Skaro. Well, that got the Doctor’s attention. The Movellans are on Skaro to wage war against the Daleks.

When Romana wakes up, she explores the area and encounters several Daleks. Meanwhile, her pursuer has rigged a rope to come rescue her and ends up watching as Romana is taken captive. Does Romana know who the Daleks are? She is very afraid of them, but apparently does not know anything about them based on their interrogation of her. The Daleks assign Romana to a labor camp.

The man who was pursuing Romana, starship engineer Tyssan, arrives at the Movellan ship and declares himself as a human prisoner of the Daleks. After he explains what he was working on and reveals Romana’s fate, the Doctor decides to go after her. The Movellans and Tyssan join him.

Working with her labor group, Romana learns about her captors and their goals. If anyone attempts to escape, the Daleks kill the entire group as a deterrent to other groups staging escape attempts. As the radiation poisoning catches up to her, Romana collapses and her fellow workers remove her body from the site.

The Daleks discover the Doctor’s intrusion and move to intercept his group. They are able to evade the patrols and end up in the control room. The Doctor recognizes a map of the old Kaled city, and tries to reason out what the Daleks are after. The patrols find and exterminate one of the Movellan sentries before discovering the Doctor’s team. The group escapes, pursued by the Daleks, and are able to climb back up the shaft. The Doctor taunts them – “If you’re supposed to be the superior race of the universe, why don’t you try climbing after us?” – before leaving. Moments later, he finds an empty grave and a healthy Romana: The Time Lady feigned death by stopping her hearts to escape the Dalek camp.

The Doctor returns to the Dalek headquarters though the back door based on his knowledge of the city. He finds the object that the Daleks are hunting for: Davros. The Dalek creator is in a comatose state after his last encounter with the Doctor, but he begins to wake up as another tremor buries a Movellan in debris. The Doctor examines the body – he was earlier told that it was against the Movellan custom to allow an alien to look upon their death – and proclaims that he was right. About what exactly? That revelation is saved for the back half of the story.

Davros wheels out of his tomb to find the Doctor, who then takes him to a blocked off room for a discussion. Meanwhile, the Daleks have finally broken through to the third level, find the empty tomb, and track the Doctor’s tracks. As they leave the area, the Movellan corpse awakens. There’s a lot of that happening in the Kaled underground these days.

As the group blocks off the room, the Doctor sends Romana and Tyssan out through a window so they can return to the Movellan spaceship. The ensuing discussion is the typical back and forth between the Doctor and the embodiment of the Dalek psyche. As they talk and the Doctor plots, the Daleks discover them and blast into the room. The Doctor threatens Davros with a homemade explosive, forcing the Daleks to back off and setting up a standoff. The Daleks up the stakes by exterminating prisoners until the Doctor surrenders, but Davros recognizes that the Doctor is not bluffing. The workers are released and the Doctor escapes, setting the explosive to remote detonation. The resulting explosion misses Davros but takes out a Dalek.

Romana makes it back to the Movellan spaceship – Tyssan was separated from her to assure her survival – and discovers that the previously dead have returned to life. They stun her, then set to work on something they call the Nova Device, a weapon that will incinerate the atmosphere and destroy the planet.

Tyssan meets up with the Doctor, and they meet up with a Dalek. They are rescued by a Movellan, but the Doctor pulls an object from her belt and she collapses. The object was a power pack, and the Movellans are robots. They continue on, finding Romana in a test chamber with the Nova Device. The Doctor attempts to free her as the counter ticks down, but is found and stunned by the Movellans.

Davros calls for a spaceship to retrieve him, but it will not arrive for six hours. He then reviews the battle fleet’s logistics and status – the details were supervised by the Supreme Dalek, but Davros has none of it and effectively strips the supreme commander of his title – and discovers that the Daleks and Movellans are locked in war, robotic fleet engaged with robotic fleet in logical impasse.

The Doctor also deduces this and, using Rock-Paper-Scissors, demonstrates that a biological influence will alter the balance of power and sway the war. This is why the Daleks sought Davros. The Movellans suggest that the Doctor should become their war planner, but he refuses.

Tyssan leads a prisoner revolt, storming the ship and systematically deactivating the Movellans. Meanwhile, Davros dispatches the Daleks, armed with the Doctor’s explosives, to destroy the Movellan ship. With the ship under Tyssan’s control, the Doctor leaves to confront Davros, but is trapped by a single remaining Dalek who did not join the suicide squad.

The prisoners attempt to defend the ship, but are no match for the Daleks. Romana leaves the group to stop the last Movellan from using the Nova Device. The Doctor distracts the Dalek guard by covering its eyestalk with his hat and causing it to explode. He then triggers the explosives, destroys the Dalek squad, and captures Davros. In the custody of the former prisoners, Davros is placed in cryogenic suspension and sent to Earth for trial.

The Doctor and Romana sneak away and watch the Movellan ship depart, then dig out the TARDIS and prepare to leave. Over a discussion of the Doctor’s ability to win by making mistakes, including a false start dematerialization, the Time Lords leave Skaro for another adventure.

It’s good to see the Daleks and Davros again, and I appreciate a story like this that has a few twists and turns. Romana’s ignorance of the Daleks is a little odd – One would think that Time Lords would learn about a serious threat like them in the Academy – but was a great way to re-establish some power to an enemy that the Doctor has easily and frequently vanquished. It also helps solve one of the big issues that I had with Romana in the Sixteenth Series: This time she’s not just playing “Doctor Lite.”

All told, this was a good start to this series.

 

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”

 

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: City of Death

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

 

 

Timestamp #78: Genesis of the Daleks

Doctor Who: Genesis of the Daleks
(6 episodes, s12e11-e16, 1975)

Timestamp 078 Genesis of the Daleks

 

The last story was an experiment in splitting six-part serials into smaller pieces to remove story padding. That two-parter is followed by this six-parter, which would be ironic if not for that fact that it’s one of the most beloved stories in classic Who. When I ask classic fans what the Doctor means to them, this is usually the story they point to.

Because of that, I was really excited to watch this one.

The Doctor and his companions have departed future Earth after defeating the Sontarans, but they don’t arrive as expected on Nerva. Instead, they are on misty planet drowning in a battle that echoes World War II. In short order, the Time Lords arrive and reveal that they redirected the Doctor to Skaro in the distant past. The Doctor is upset about the manipulation, but acquiesces when the Time Lords tell him about his mission: To interfere in the development of the Daleks. They provide him a Time Ring to return to the TARDIS after his mission is complete.

The travelers soon find a warrior, who is soon killed in an artillery barrage, and note the distinct anachronisms in everything around them. They continue on, stumble into a minefield, and eventually discover a large domed city surrounded by trenches. The Doctor theorizes that the anachronisms are due to the battle raging on so long that technology has regressed as resources were depleted. The trench is attacked by chemical gas rockets, and the Doctor and Harry are spirited into a bunker and transported into the city.

The attackers are the Thals, and the Doctor’s captors are the Kaleds, a very Nazi-like organization. The Doctor surprises the Kaled commander, who keeps referring to the Doctor as a “muto”, and takes him captive. The Doctor and Harry return to the wasteland, but Sarah Jane has already recovered and moved on, and the duo are surprised by Security Commander Nyder, who raises the alert in the base. The pair of travelers are soon captured and interrogated by Nyder, who refers to Davros, the greatest scientist of the Kaled people. He also explains that the mutos are Kaleds who have been genetically scarred by the war, and that they are exiled to keep the Kaled race pure.

They are laying this Nazi allegory on thick.

Meanwhile, Sarah Jane is on the surface being pursued by the mutos as night falls. She comes across a weapons test led by Davos, a scarred man with a third eye in a robotic chair. The test is of a Dalek, which isn’t quite autonomous yet. After the test, Davros departs, and Sarah Jane is nearly spotted by the Kaleds before being abducted by the Mutos. The Mutos fight over whether or not to kill Sarah Jane since she is a “norm.” They are interrupted by a Thal patrol who take Sarah Jane and the Muto Sevrin for physical labor.

Back in the bunker, the Doctor and Harry are delivered to the holding area where they are scanned. The scanner detects the time ring, which is physically removed under the Doctor’s protest. As scientific examiner Ronson examines the Doctor and Harry, he discovers that they are aliens to Skaro. That discussion is interrupted by Davros, who demonstrates the Dalek – known at this point as a Mark III Travel Machine – for the assembled scientists. When shifted to automatic mode, it detects the Doctor and Harry and almost exterminates them until Ronson interrupts the experiment. A furious Davros gives Ronson the night to investigate the travelers, but it must be done from their holding cells.

The Doctor discovers from his interrogation that the Kaled scientists were formed as an elite group for research, but over the years they became more powerful and influential. Ronson notes that the Doctor used the term “Dalek” well before Davros called the machine by the same name, and the Doctor reveals that he is from the future. Ronson discloses his fear that the Kaleds are becoming more evil and immoral, including experiments by Davros to create the final form the Kaled mutation. The travel machine, the Dalek, is the vehicle to house and propel that being. Ronson believes that if the government knew about any of this, they would shut down the entire program, and engineers an escape into the cave system surrounding the bunker.

The Thals are using the slave labor to pack a rocket with distronic explosives, but they are not provided any shielding or protection, so the workers will die from exposure to the material. After the first shift of rocket loading, Sarah Jane attempts to spark a rebellion and plots escape through the top of the dome. She distracts the guard and the prisoners flee. The guard sounds the alarm as the prisoners climb, and the Thals open fire, killing several of the prisoners. Sarah Jane loses her grip and falls, landing on a lower platform unharmed. Sevrin helps her recover and pushes her onward, and they nearly escape before the Thals catch up to them.

The Doctor and Harry reach the city tell the Kaled Council about the Daleks and the future. The Council won’t shut down the bunker entirely, but decide to inspect and audit the programs. As the Council adjourns, the Doctor and Harry learn about Sarah Jane’s whereabouts and set out after her. Davros discovers that the Councilors are meeting in secret and that the travelers were in attendance. He agrees to the investigation, but in secret begins his plan for complete extermination of the Kaled people by arming the Daleks with the mutations.

The Doctor and Harry infiltrate the Thal dome to discover Davros petitioning the Thal Council for peace, claiming that the Kaled Council is not interested in ending the conflict. Davros provides the Thals the means to weaken the Kaled dome and exterminate the Kaled people with their rocket. The Doctor and Harry jump two guards and steal their suits – “Excuse me, can you help me? I’m a spy.” – before rescuing Sarah Jane and the captives. Harry leads them out of the city as the Doctor works to sabotage the rocket. One of the guards triggers an anti-intrusion system and captures the Doctor.

The Doctor wakes up in the Thal dome’s control room with the bombardment of the Kaled dome underway. They launch the rocket as the Kaled scientists watch in dismay, and the Kaled dome is destroyed. Davros calls in the Daleks and orders them to exterminate Ronson before declaring their rise as the ultimate supreme race. The Doctor is freed in the Thal celebration, and the Thals see Davros as a hero of the people. After Davros orders changes to the Daleks that will remove their consciences completely, the Daleks attack the Thal dome and exterminate with prejudice. The Doctor and a Thal woman, Bettan, escape the dome and she decides to raise a rebellion.

A temporal inconsistency: These Daleks don’t require the static tracks like they did in the Hartnell era, which falls after this war’s conclusion. Did something change in the timeline to remove this detail?

The Doctor makes his way to the Kaled bunker to retrieve the time ring, and is attacked by Mutos and saved by Sarah Jane and Harry. Scientists begin to foment a rebellion against the Dalek program, but are interrupted by Nyder and Davros just as the travelers break into the city and are subsequently captured. Davros discusses time travel with the Doctor and demands that he disclose exactly how he defeats the Daleks in the future. When the Doctor refuses, Davros uses the threat of harm to the companions as leverage. I see where the Daleks get their stunning personalities and penchant for temper tantrums. The Doctor yields to Davros and provides a litany of Dalek defeats which are recorded for the future. As they take a break, Davros trusts the tape to Nyder as he sits down to confer with the Doctor. The Doctor tries to persuade Davros to abandon the Dalek project, but Davros is not swayed. Convinced that Davros is insane, the Doctor seizes control of the leader’s chair and threatens to disable it and kill him if he doesn’t shut down the program. He nearly succeeds before Nyder stops him.

Kavell, one of the leading scientists, breaks Sarah Jane and Harry out of the confinement cells. Nyder escapes, and the Doctor warns that Davros knows what Kavell is planning. The travelers set out to retrieve both the time ring and the recording of the future. Meanwhile, the Daleks have destroyed all resistance in the Thal city, and all that remains is Bettan’s rebellion. Inside the bunker, rebellion also breaks out, but Davros surprisingly orders Nyder’s forces to surrender. Davros tells Nyder that this is a ruse, as is the conference to listen to the rebellion’s demands. At that conference, the rebellion demands that the Dalek project be terminated. Davros asks for time to consider the demands, and agrees to the demands on the condition that the military and scientific elite present the demands to a vote before him.

The Doctor discovers plastic explosives and detonators, and plots commit genocide by destroying the Dalek embryos in the incubation room. He enters the chamber to place the charges, and emerges with Dalek tentacles wrapped around his throat. After being freed, he holds the conductors in his hands but cannot detonate the explosives. Does he have the right? Killing them would secure freedom and peace for the future, but the action would make him no better than the Daleks themselves. He pulls the plug on the plan when he hears that Davros is willing to discuss the demands.

That epic moment in the franchise was worth the price of admission alone. Tom Baker sells it with passion.

The travelers attend the discussion, secretly returning the Doctor’s possessions to him. Davros shows his opponents a button that will destroy the entire bunker — seriously, a big red button to destroy everything? — but no one will press it, which Davros sees as an argument in his favor because it shows weakness. Meanwhile, he has been maneuvering the Daleks to assault the rebels, and Bettan’s forces set charges to seal the bunker permanently.

Nyder sneaks out during the vote, and the travelers follow him. In the ensuing altercation, the Doctor drops the time ring, but convinces Nyder to take them to the tape recording. As the travelers destroy the tape, Nyder escapes and locks them in the office. They bring up the camera feed of the vote as the Daleks roll in and kill everyone. The travelers are soon rescued by Sevrin and start running from the Daleks, and the Doctor sends the companions with Sevrin and the rebels while he returns to destroy the incubator chamber. At this point, he’s at his last straw, and it seems that he’s willing to become the villain to save countless lives. His efforts are thwarted by a Dalek who fires on him, but the Dalek rolls over the conductors, completes the circuit, and destroys the chamber and itself.

The Daleks start the assembly line without Davros’s approval, and kill Nyder as he attempts to shut it down. They rebel against Davros, apparently exterminating him as he attempts to destroy the bunker with that big red button. The travelers escape as Bettan’s forces seal the bunker and use the time ring to return to the TARDIS.

This was a really good story, and it earns the admiration that fans bestow on it. On the downside, it is a bit padded and long, but that easily washed out by the quality and performances.

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Revenge of the Cybermen

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

 

 

Timestamp #72: Death to the Daleks

Doctor Who: Death to the Daleks
(4 episodes, s11e11-e14, 1974)

Timestamp 072 Death to the Daleks

 

Sometimes you get to go to the beach, and sometimes you get enslaved by xenophobic mutants in armored cans bent on galactic domination.

The Doctor and Sarah Jane are getting ready for a sandy vacation when the TARDIS loses all power and crashes. Main power, backup power, battery power, all of it gets drained away. Luckily, the Doctor has a kerosene lantern to light the way and they pair goes outside to investigate, but when Sarah Jane returns to the TARDIS to change out of her swimsuit, the Doctor gets pursued the planet’s natives. Sarah Jane returns and looks for the Doctor, but only finds a blood-stained lamp. Sarah Jane is pursued by the aliens and discovers a city with a large pulsing light. The city is a holy shrine, and trespassing is punishable by death. Of course, Sarah Jane is discovered and captured.

It’s a somewhat clever device to keep the travelers engaged on the planet: The TARDIS is utterly useless at this point.

The Doctor escapes captivity and encounters a Marine Space Corps expedition. The planet is Exxilon, and the expedition commander was gravely injured by the Exxilons. The humans are in search of parrinium, which is abundant on Exxilon and desperately needed to treat a plague. On their way to harvest it, their ship also lost power and crashed.

I did note that the human expedition badges look like a sideways version of the insignia from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It’s probably just coincidence.

On cue, another ship arrives. The expedition mistakes it for a rescue mission, but it is actually a Dalek ship. The Daleks disembark and try to exterminate, but their weapons are disabled by the energy drain. The combined stranded groups consider forging an alliance since the Daleks are also seeking the parrinium. The allied team returns to the mining dome, but are ambushed en route, and the Exxilons kill one of the humans and a Dalek before taking the entire group into custody.

When they arrive at the Exxilon camp, the Doctor saves Sarah Jane from being sacrificed, but is in turn sentenced to die for his actions. The Daleks negotiate terms with the High Priest, which the humans presume are for everyone’s release. Back on their ship, the Daleks who remained on board replace their ray weapons with projectile weapons, and those Daleks arrive and take over the Exxilons. The Doctor and Sarah Jane escape into the tunnels, which is where something is lurking that will complete the interrupted sacrifice. The Daleks enslave the Exxilons for mining the parrinium, and the humans are to hunt a renegade group of Exxilons in exchange for the minerals they need, as well as hunting the Doctor and Sarah Jane.

Smart Daleks. They keep evolving as the franchise carries on, as they also now move under psychokinetic power.

The Doctor investigates a tunnel as Sarah Jane waits, where she is approached by one of the renegade Exxilons. The Doctor discovers a strange tentacle that looks like the Martian eyestalks from 1953’s War of the Worlds, and it strikes at him. He evades until a Dalek arrives, which provides him a chance to escape. The renegade Exxilon offers them refuge from the patrols, and they agree.

The Doctor was actually cheering the tentacle’s destruction of the Dalek. What was that about abhorring violence?

The renegade Exxilon, Bellal, tells the tale: The civilization was once very technologically advanced, including travelling in space. Thousands of years ago, the Exxilons built the enormous city, which the Doctor thinks might be one of the Seven Hundred Wonders of the Universe. The city became sentient and drove the Exxilons out, and the Exxilons gradually degenerated into their current primitive society which worships the thing that destroyed them. Bellal and Gotal are from another, much smaller faction which wishes to destroy the City. The Daleks also plan to destroy it so they can escape the planet, which they will do by force with explosives.

The Dalek-human alliance begins to fracture as the Exxilons are not mining fast enough. After another root comes to the surface through a body of water and kills an Exxilon and a Dalek, the Daleks move the mining operation.

Bellal describes several images from the city walls, which the Doctor has seen before on a temple in Peru on Earth. He’s not saying that it’s aliens, but maybe ancient astronauts? He decides to infiltrate the city, and tells Sarah Jane to get the humans ready for takeoff when the beacon is disabled. If he fails to return, she must leave with the humans. Two Daleks also attempt to infiltrate the city, causing Bellal and the Doctor to flee through a secret doorway. The path forward is via a series of logic, mental acuity, and intelligence tests. The Daleks are in pursuit by way of the same tests.

The Doctor and Bellal reach the city’s brain after passing the tests, but the city attempts to prevent the Doctor’s meddling by creating antibodies. He completes his modifications as the pursuing Daleks arrive, and the antibodies attack the Daleks as the Doctor and Bellal escape.

Sarah Jane finds the human camp and works with Jill Tarrant, one of the expedition members, to exchange the full mineral sacks with ones full of sand. A Dalek discovers that Jill has escaped, and instead of sounding the alarm, it self-destructs from the sheer guilt of its failure. As the Daleks load their ship, the beacon is destroyed by the explosives team and power is restored. The Doctor, Sarah Jane, Jill, and Bellal are all captured, but instead of killing them, the Daleks leave the group to die when they infect the surface with the plague. They plan to use their mineral supply to corner the market and take over the weakened powers of the universe.

No one expects Galloway, however, who kept one of the Dalek explosives and suicide bombs the ship. The remaining humans wait with the parrinium for rescue, and the city dies and melts away. The Doctor laments the loss of such a wonder.

This was along the same lines as Invasion of the Dinosaurs in that it was a decent enough story, and even with some sketchy effects, it holds its own to reach a high 3 mark. Again, I round up.

 

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”

 

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Monster of Peladon

 

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

 

Timestamp #68: Planet of the Daleks

Doctor Who: Planet of the Daleks
(6 episodes, s10e15-e20, 1973)

Timestamp 068 Planet of the Daleks

 

Picking up immediately after the events of Frontier in Space, this serial ties off some loose ends from the beginning of the Doctor’s adventures.

The Doctor contacts the Time Lords telepathically before lying down and entering a healing trance. Just like the last time, his temperature and heart rates rapidly decline, but Jo is okay with this because she’s seen it before. This talent got me thinking: The Third Doctor started his adventures in another healing trance, but he stayed at his normal temperature and cardiac rhythms. Is a violent demonic summoning or a grazing gunshot injury that much more traumatic than a forced regeneration, or did the Doctor enter this healing coma during the trip from Gallifrey to Earth during his transition from Second to Third?

Or am I overthinking it? That’s always a strong possibility.

The TARDIS lands and Jo goes to find help, but finds some strange flowers that start spraying the TARDIS. She evades the flowers and finds a spacecraft, along with a corpse within. Some time later, the Doctor emerges from his coma and discovers that the TARDIS has triggered the emergency air supply despite the planet’s breathable atmosphere. He has also pulled off a quick wardrobe change from green to purple.

Jo is discovered in the spacecraft by two people who recognize Earth as a place in their legends. They are alerted to a nearby patrol, and they leave Jo in the ship’s relative safety as they set off for the TARDIS, which has been completely covered in the sap from the spitting plants. The soldiers break the sap and rescue the Doctor from suffocation. Given the sheer magnitude of the TARDIS interior, he must have been inside for a very long time to use up that much oxygen. The soldiers identify themselves as Thals, and they recognize the Doctor (and his previous companions Ian, Barbara, and Susan) from their legends.

In a quick info-dump, we discover that the plants are fungi who spread their spores by spraying, that the planet is Spiridon, and that the natives are invisible. The Thals treat the Doctor fungal infection, but Jo needs attention soon, so they set out to find her. On their way, they hear a noise and see a circular depression in the ground. After spraying the area with a revealing compound, they discover an inoperative Dalek, and the Doctor learns that the Daleks are trying to replicate the Spiridon invisibility science. Fortunately, they have had limited success.

Separate Spiridon patrols find the Doctor’s group and Jo. One of the Thals, Codal, distracts the Spiridon patrol long enough for the rest of the group to reach the ship. When they reach it, they find the TARDIS log that Jo was using, but two Daleks arrive and nearly destroy the ship and the Doctor interferes since he believes Jo is still inside. The Daleks stun him, destroy the ship, and take him away.

These Daleks don’t seem to know who the Doctor is.

The Doctor has some great motivational moments with Codal during their incarceration, including a quote: “Courage is being afraid but doing what you have to do anyway.” The Doctor tries to escape the cell with his sonic screwdriver, but fails, so he uses the TARDIS log to transmit a signal that will jam the Daleks. Meanwhile, a Spiridon named Wester (who sounds a lot like an Ice Warrior) tends to Jo’s infection, and she joins the rebellion. Several Spiridon slaves are moving vegetation samples into the Dalek base, and the pair sneak in using those crates. In a conceit for the audience watching along at home, Wester carries stuff around to show us where he is.

The Thals are surprised when a new ship crash lands on the planet. It is piloted by a Thal crew bearing a message intercepted from the Daleks to their supreme commander: There are 10,000 Daleks on the planet. Additionally, the planet has an icy core that spews out molten ice magma, which the Daleks use to cool their base. In a move very similar to The Daleks, the Thals attempt to infiltrate the base using the cooling tunnels.

The Doctor’s Dalek disruptor works, but only once at close range. He quips, “You know, for a man who abhors violence, I must say I took great satisfaction in doing that.” Really? He abhors violence while using guns and hand-to-hand fighting more than his predecessors? I’m not entirely sold on that claim. Anyway, he and Codal begin to look for a way out and discover the Thals infiltration team. They jam the door open and dodge an ice magma explosion that covers a Dalek patrol. They escape the base after retrieving the location of an explosives cache, through a vertical ventilation shaft on an improvised hot air balloon. The Doctor also discovers the massive Dalek army under ice.

Jo follows the Daleks who are also seeking the explosives. The Daleks arm the bombs, and Jo attempts to disarm them but takes a falling rock to the head. When she comes to, she takes the two disarmed bombs and hides. The remaining explosion takes out two patrolling Daleks. The Doctor’s group escapes from the shaft and discovers Jo with a happy reunion. The Doctor explains that he (conveniently) learned of the Dalek invasion force and this planet during the events of Frontier in Space, and that the Time Lords steered the TARDIS to Spiridon to stop the evil plan. The group proceeds to the Plain of Stones, a good place to spend the night since the stone formations store heat from the daylight, which will protect them from the intense cold of Spiridon night. Vaber, a Thal who is at odds with their leader Taron, steals the bombs in the middle of the night and is captured by the Spiridon slaves. Taron and Codal pursue Vaber, disguise themselves as Spiridons, and attempt a rescue, but the Daleks exterminate Vaber after he attempts to mislead them. Taron and Codal retrieve the bombs in the chaos and escape. Meanwhile, Wester stops by the Plain of Stones to warn Jo about a new wrinkle: To defeat the Thals, the Daleks have cultivated a bacteria to destroy all life on Spiridon. Luckily, they have also developed an immunization to protect themselves. The Doctor’s group develops a plan to enter the base, including luring the Daleks to the molten ice pools and submerging them, then using the casing to sneak in.

We still have no idea what the Daleks look like inside the shell at this point. Also, add two Daleks to the Doctor’s list of “non-violent” acts.

Once inside the base, Wester breaks containment on the bacteria, sacrificing himself but sealing the room so that it can never get out. As the Thals break into the base, the Daleks spot a Thal boot in the Spiridon disguises, blowing the cover for the Doctor’s team. They escape to the cooling chamber and set their plan into action. The timeline is accelerated as they learn that the Dalek Supreme is inbound, and the Daleks (who have finally recognized the Doctor) decide to capture the Doctor for interrogation by their supreme leader. The Dalek Supreme, who has a unique light-up eyestalk, is ruthless, and he exterminates the section leader for allowing the Thals to disrupt the operation.

In the chaos, Jo and Latep use one of the bombs to slow down the Daleks, and the rest of the group set the last bomb to open an ice magma vein and flood the chamber where the invasion force is gathered. They are successful, and the Daleks are re-frozen into suspension. The setback forces the Dalek Supreme to abandon the base. The Thals hijack the Dalek Supreme’s ship and return home to Skaro. The Doctor only asks that they do not glorify this adventure and that they return to a peaceful existence. Latep asks Jo to return to Skaro with him, but she declines as she is starting to become homesick after this series of adventures. As the Thals take off, the Dalek Supreme arrives and pursues Jo and the Doctor to TARDIS. The TARDIS dematerializes successfully, but the Daleks start making plans to recover their army. They are never defeated.

I still love how manic the Daleks get under stress.

Despite the inconsistencies, I had a lot of fun with this serial.

 

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”

 

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Green Death

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

 

 

Timestamp #67: Frontier in Space

Doctor Who: Frontier in Space
(6 episodes, s10e09-e14, 1973)

Timestamp 067 Frontier in Space

 

The Time Lords might be regretting restoring the Doctor’s driving privileges. This story starts with an Earth cargo ship getting ready to jump to hyperspace, but the TARDIS nearly collides with the ship before materializing inside it. The humans are already on high alert since there’s a war brewing between them and the Draconians. Almost on cue, Jo spots a ship through the viewport that looks like a derelict, but it changes shape into a Draconian battle cruiser. The human cargo pilot, Stewart, sends a distress call while his co-pilot, Hardy, goes to retrieve their weapons in preparation for repelling boarders. Hardy encounters the Doctor and Jo, but Hardy sees the Doctor as a Draconian. While the Doctor tries to talk Hardy down, Jo freaks out since Hardy appears to her as a Drashig.

Back on Earth, the human president – A woman president on television in the 1970s! – and the Draconian ambassador (who is also the Emperor’s son) are confronting each other as the distress call comes in. The president dispatches General Williams to supervise the rescue attempt, which is becoming a political football as riots break out on the planet over the string of altercations. On the ship, the Doctor and Jo are confined while the pilots deal with the Draconian assault. The sonic hypnosis field they encountered caused Jo and the pilots to see their greatest fears, hence the mistaken identities, but it seems to be only keyed into human physiology. The Draconians break through the airlock, and Hardy tries to use the Doctor and Jo as hostages. The boarders are Ogrons, not Draconians, and they stun the pilots and the Doctor while I wonder if the Daleks are not too far behind.

The Ogrons confine Jo and steal the cargo and the TARDIS, but the Doctor questions their actions after he comes to and releases Jo. The Ogron actions don’t make sense since, while they are mercenaries for hire, they resealed the airlock and left everyone alive. While he muses on this turn of events, an Earth battlecruiser docks with the cargo ship, and the cargo pilots accuse the Doctor and Jo of being Draconian spies. Back to the jail cell they go, which gives Jo the fun opportunity to brainstorm an escape from the cell.

The cargo ship arrives at Earth and the President wants to question the Doctor and Jo in the presence of the Draconian ambassador. The Doctor reasons with the President that a third party is manipulating both sides to induce a large-scale war, and after the general has them taken away, and the sympathetic president takes the political road of lodging a formal protest with the Draconian Emperor.

Speaking of footballs, our heroes certainly fit the role. The Draconians are curious about the Doctor’s claims, so they break the Doctor out and interrogate him, but he escapes only to be re-captured by the humans. The Ogrons show up and try to break them out again, this time under the guise of Draconians, which cements the idea with the humans that the Doctor and Jo are indeed working for the Draconians.

General Williams convinces the President to break off negotiations with the Draconians and expel them from Earth, but she refuses to attack them without proof. Williams uses a mind probe on the Doctor, but it overloads as he keeps telling them the truth and they keep turning up the power. The President tries compassion one last time, but ends up sending the Doctor to the lunar penal colony. On the moon, the Doctor meets Professor Dale, a member of the Peace Party, who shows him around.

The President receives criminal records from Sirius IV for the Doctor and Jo, and the commissioner arrives to extradite them. Thus marks the return of the Master, who explains to Jo that he is working with the Ogrons to overturn humanity, and has only arrived now because (surprise!) his minions brought him the TARDIS.

Back on the moon, Professor Dale is working with an overseer named Cross who has left two spacesuits for escapees to cross the lunar surface and steal a ship to return to Earth. Dale believes the Doctor’s story and asks him to be his accomplice for the escape attempt. But Cross pulls a double as he depressurizes the airlock after sabotaging the spacesuits. The Master ends up saving them and gains custody of the Doctor, fully intent on taking him and Jo to the Ogron homeworld because his employers are very interested in the Time Lord. Jo stages an impressive distraction (including a James Bond reference, which appears to be a constant inspiration for the Pertwee era) as the Doctor breaks out of the cell on the Master’s ship, dons a spacesuit, and crosses the ship’s hull to the flight deck.

I really enjoyed the accurate lack of sound in the spacewalk sequences.

The Master figures out the ruse and threatens to throw Jo out of the airlock, but the Doctor gets the jump on him. During the confrontation, neither of them see the Draconian battlecruiser approach, and they board through the airlock where Jo is being held. The Draconians take all of them hostage and set course for the Draconian homeworld, but of course, the Master signals the Ogrons for help.

The Draconian emperor unwittingly shares the Earth president’s desire of not wanting to start a war without proof, and the Doctor, who is holds a title of nobility on Draconia, tries to convince the emperor of the plot. As luck would have it, they are interrupted by an attacking Earth force, which is really the Ogrons under hypnotic guise. The Ogrons rescue the Master, and as the hypnotic field fades, the emperor is finally convinced of the Doctor’s story. The Doctor, Jo, and the Draconian ambassador take an Orgon prisoner and the Master’s police ship back to Earth to convince the president of the plot, but the Master is following to destroy the evidence. The Master fires on the Doctor’s ship, causing a distraction that allows the Ogron to escape to the flight deck. The Master’s ship docks, and they rescue the Ogron and kidnap Jo.

And the Doctor is using a gun again. Huh.

The Doctor’s ship is intercepted by an Earth battlecruiser. The president hears the tale and while she is sympathetic, the general is unwilling to help the Draconians until a certain revelation is made about his past (and previously unknown) military mistakes. They all set course for the Ogron homeworld, where the Master’s ship has arrived. The Master tries to enthrall Jo and use her and the TARDIS as bait, but she has conditioned herself against the Master’s spell. He also tries the hypnotic sound, but she resists that as well. As she is taken away, she swipes a spoon, which she later uses to escape. She signals the general’s ship as it reaches orbit, but the Master surprises her and explains that she sprung his trap. The transmitter was a short range model, and only the Doctor could have heard her distress call.

The general’s ship lands and his team is ambushed by the Ogrons, who are then driven away by a large creature called the Eater. The Master is angry, and after yet another ship lands, he ambushes the rescue party with the help of his employers: The Daleks.

It was a nice twist that was telegraphed with the presence of the Ogrons, and in this cameo appearance, they conveniently kill all of the rescuers except the Doctor and the Draconian ambassador. It’s at this point that I really missed the old Dalek ray sound and their old voices. The Master convinces the Dalek leader to leave the Doctor unharmed so that his nemesis can see Earth in flames before he is exterminated, and the Doctor gets introduced to yet another jail cell. He escapes after jury-rigging the hypnotic signal, and he sends General Williams and the Draconian ambassador back to Earth with news of the new threat. As the Doctor and Jo make their way to the TARDIS, the Master intercepts the them. The Doctor startles the Ogrons with the hynoptic signal, the Ogrons jostle the Master, the Master shoots the Doctor, and this story ends on an excellent cliffhanger as Jo helps a weakened Doctor to the TARDIS where he contacts the Time Lords and sends a warning.

This story had its moments, but overall it felt like an elaborate setup serial with some excellent performances. Jo was great, and the Master was fun to watch. Looking ahead though, it is sad that Roger Delgado would never reprise that due to his untimely and accidental death. This was a good, yet completely unintentional send-off.

 

 

Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Planet of the Daleks

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

 

 

Timestamp #60: Day of the Daleks

Doctor Who: Day of the Daleks
(4 episodes, s09e01-e04, 1972)

Timestamp 060 Day of the Daleks

 

The Daleks are back, and they seem to have recovered from the Second Doctor’s confrontation with the Emperor Dalek so long ago.

I really loved this story because of how it is framed. What starts as a simple UNIT investigation of a diplomat being stalked by strange ghost-like guerrillas ends up being much deeper than many of the stories from the last set.

Sir Reginald gets attacked by a strange human warrior with a gun who vanishes without a trace, almost like a ghost. Another guerrilla appears from thin air and is instantly attacked by an ape-like creature in an act of gorilla on guerrilla warfare. (Okay, that was a bit insensitive.) And then, as if we needed more conflict, the Daleks enter the stage, and even though they aren’t front and center in this story, they’re still menacing and sinister because they’re pulling all of the strings on all of these puppets.

All of this before we even get to the time travel, and I was riveted.

And then the creative team turned this exploration of the human condition up to eleven.

After spending a night at Sir Reginald’s house (and raiding his extensive wine cellar), the Doctor and Jo are attacked by the guerrillas and held hostage. Jo escapes and is inadvertently transported to the future. She innocently tells the Controller where to find the Doctor, and the Controller sends a team of Ogrons (the ape-like creatures) to kill the guerrillas. The guerrillas escape, the Doctor gives chase, a Dalek chases all of them, and the Doctor and the rebels end up in the future. After a series of political ping-pong events, the Doctor ends up in the care of the Controller, gets the down-low on what happened to the planet, and eventually sways the Controller’s attitudes on the peril of humanity and his role in a lineage of “Quislings“.

As events come together like a jigsaw puzzle, the Doctor discovers that these events are a predestination paradox started by one of the rebel guerrillas setting a Dalekanium bomb in an attempt to stop the future of enslavement and death from coming to pass. At that point, my jaw dropped.

This. Is. Doctor Who.

It’s hard to find highlights here because the whole story shines so brightly: I loved how the Doctor was so much more civil with the Brigadier than in past interactions, including their building trust and synergy (“do tell the Marines”); I adored the (hopefully budding) relationship between Sgt Benton and Jo; I enjoyed watching Jo finally expanding her horizons and learning to be a worthy companion for this Doctor.

The Doctor is still working on the TARDIS, and his new-found civility extends to Jo as he frankly tells her that he doesn’t want to be an intergalactic puppet for the Time Lords and their High Council. He’s moving beyond his childish temper tantrums and taking action with what appears to be a new sense of purpose. Ironically, it was the Time Lords who provided it by allowing the Doctor and Jo to travel in the TARDIS once again.

The quick (almost non-sequitur) time loop a the beginning was fascinating, especially since the recent incarnations of the Doctor are very cautious about crossing their own timelines. This thread is never mentioned again in the story and left me wondering why it was important.

On the downside for this serial, the Doctor uses a gun to kill an Ogron. Sure it was self-defense, but it was also way out of character.

I also questioned the role of the Ogrons. I mean, yes, they make great hired muscle, but isn’t it uncharacteristic for the xenophobic Daleks to even consider working with them? Or is this more of a “use them then lose them” plan like the alliance in The Daleks’ Master Plan? Speaking of the Daleks, they discovered the secret of  time travel for this story, but hadn’t they done this before?

On the new sound for the Dalek death rays, I don’t like it.

Finally, swinging back to the good things, it was nice to see that The Daleks don’t recognize the Doctor’s new face. They know that he has changed appearance before and use a mind analysis machine to determine if he is indeed the Doctor, but it took an extra step to establish that logic. Thank goodness.

 

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Curse of Peladon

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

 

 

Timestamp #36: The Evil of the Daleks

Doctor Who: The Evil of the Daleks
(4 episodes, s04e37-e43, 1967)

Timestamp 036 The Evil of the Daleks

 

Grand Theft TARDIS.

Thematically, this one is about human greed and how easily the Daleks manipulate it. Human innovation inadvertently allows the Daleks to invade Earth to kidnap the Doctor and conquer humans by decoding the “Human Factor”. The Doctor forced to cooperate with the Daleks or lose the TARDIS forever.

I did like the trials with Jamie and Kemel as they attempt to rescue Victoria, and how they were used to decode the Human Factor. Jamie’s courage, mercy, instinct, and self-preservation assist the Doctor in turning the tables on his foes and overcoming the new electronic control the Daleks have over people. That brainwashing and (for lack of a better term) assimilation sheds some light on the Dalek agents from the newer episodes, which seemed to come from nowhere.

While I thought that the Factors were silly, it was neat to see the Daleks imprinted with the Human Factor to make them act like innocent children.

Of course, when the Daleks have what they want, they they return to Skaro and destroy the laboratory (and presumably the humans as well). Upon returning to the familiar tunnels and city, I wanted to know where the Thals were hiding. We do get to meet the Emperor Dalek (who was presumably hiding during The Daleks?) and Human Factor MacGuffin is its downfall.

Maxtible and his quest for the secret of alchemy made some sense from the Victorian time era, as did the desire to imprint all of humanity with the Dalek Factor (the Dark Side to the Human Factor’s Light?) once I got past the silliness of the Factors. The entire imprinting technique doesn’t work on the Doctor, because, well, he’s alien.

We get some more teases about what’s inside a Dalek can, and we get a new companion on the TARDIS. There was also an error in the serial reconstruction: The black domed Dalek confronts finds a clearly marked Alpha in the corridor, but the Dalek is referred to as Omega.

The big negative is right back to the problem of The Macra Terror: The Doctor’s actions precipitate what he presumes to be the “final end” of the entire Dalek species. We’re talking genocide for the second time in almost as many serials. That doesn’t seem like something he would do except as a last and final resort, and certainly not without significant remorse, and I can’t help but wonder if this is a hallmark of producer Innes Lloyd or something else.

Overall, this serial could have been an episode or two shorter, but it was still an enjoyable tale with a favorite (if sometimes uneven) enemy.

 

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”

UP NEXT – Fourth Series Summary

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.