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.

 

 

 

Timestamp #30: The Power of the Daleks

Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks
(6 episodes, s04e09-e14, 1966)

Timestamp 030 The Power of the Daleks

Hello, new Doctor! And welcome to the confusion. It’s really nice to see how the Doctor has to stabilize after such a traumatic event, presumably his first, in light of my experience with the series from the Ninth Doctor on. This new Doctor seems sinister at first, but beneath his sneaky and evasive face lurks a much more physical and clownish incarnation that is very observant.

The Doctor loves his recorder, which he seems to use as a crutch to ponder his next move. He also loves that goofy hat, which… I do not.

Meanwhile, what better way to introduce the new Doctor than with the Daleks? We also get our first look, however fleeting, at what lives inside the can. I’m really enjoying this slow build around the Daleks and their mythology. It was creepy to hear a Dalek proclaim, “I am your servant,” and it was good to see them expand into trickery beyond the normal “ex-TER-min-NATE” rolling wave of death. They actually act smart and dynamic in this serial instead of focused on a singular goal.

The Dalek does not obey the Doctor, but how does it know who he is? Can the Daleks sense him even though he looks different? There was also an inordinate amount of Dalek chanting in this serial.

Overall, a well-written straightforward, highly enjoyable adventure (partially spiced with a political thriller) to debut the Second Doctor, and one that doesn’t really need the obligatory +1 for a regeneration episode.

Some last notes: Nice reference to Asimov with the positronic brain, and somebody get that TARDIS a fresh coat of paint.

 

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Highlanders

 

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 Special #2: Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.

Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.
(1966)

Timestamp S02 Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 AD

 

It’s seems to be a standard with the Peter Cushing Doctor’s stories to speed up the pacing while simultaneously upping the production budget. This story hits the key notes, but the faster pace removes a large amount of the tension. This is readily apparent in the sequence when the Dalek emerges from the river. That big reveal just isn’t as dramatic when it moves at a breakneck pace.

Production-wise, the Dalek ship had a good new look, and wasn’t too shabby for the era. The Robomen, however, look like rejects from an unholy union of CHiPs and THX 1138. Good lord, those get-ups were silly, but at least they get their three square meals of nutritious… jellybeans?

In character notes, the police officer Tom, who replaced Ian in the plot, was a major step up from his Cushing-era predecessor. It was nice to see Bernard Cribbins again, particularly in his first voyage in the police box before he joined David Tennant as Wilfred Mott. An equally fresh breath of air was Louise, the replacement for Barbara, who was much more engaging and intelligent than her predecessor.

On the downside: Dortmun, the wheelchair-bound scientist, died a very meaningless death in comparison to his television counterpart. There was no need for him to attack them or die since the van could have very easily outrun the Daleks, just as easily as it ran the blockade moments later.

Anyway, this rating won’t count toward anything since this isn’t an official Doctor.

 

Rating for The Dalek Invasion of Earth: 5/5
Rating for Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.: 3/5

 

While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about the Peter Cushing Doctor. I like Peter Cushing, but his Doctor would have been better served with original stories. When Hollywood tries reboots in the modern day, I try to divorce my brain from what came before and offer up the benefit of the doubt. However, these two projects were designed as a near reproduction of the two Hartnell stories, so it’s almost as if the producers are asking audiences to compare in hopes that they will find the bigger, flashier, and colorful exploits to be more engaging. Similar to Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake of the classic Psycho, these projects pretty much demanded to be compared to their source material.

Cushing’s Doctor isn’t Hartnell’s Doctor. He’s far less proactive, and far less analytical, but he’s superficially warmer and easier to relate to. He would have been a worthy successor on the actual show, but in near exact remakes, he was merely average.

 

Dr. Who and the Daleks – 3
Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. – 3

Cushing Doctor’s Weighted Average Rating: 3.00

 

Onward to Series Four.

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Smugglers

 

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 #21: The Daleks’ Master Plan

Doctor Who: The Daleks’ Master Plan
(12 episodes, s03e10-e21, 1965-1966)

Timestamp 021 The Daleks Master Plan

It’s a fantastic adventure with a lot of intriguing twists and turns that the Doctor and crew stumble into. It nicely capitalized on the thread started in Mission to the Unknown, even if it used the trope of missing an important message due to lack of attention. As a result, one special agent dies and the other almost does, and once again I issue the memo to the future to install annoying ringtones on the communication consoles. If in doubt, ask Nokia.

Meanwhile, Mavic Chen, the Guardian of the Solar System and unfortunate recipient of the yellowface treatment, sides with the Daleks over his own people after preaching about peace and harmony. Politicians never change, I suppose, however I did like how masterful he was in convincing his staff that otherwise faithful agents had betrayed the government.

I did like how Katarina, a girl from ancient Troy, was puzzled over modern medicine. Katarina’s motivations for remaining with the Doctor are unique: She believes that the Doctor is a god who can get her to heaven. It’s quite fitting, given the deus ex machina nature of the Doctor, and particularly chilling in the first-ever companion death in the series. It was an understandable move given how shallow Katarina’s character was, but I was just as shaken as the Doctor and I think it was because of the pure innocence Katarina embodied.

Actually stealing the key from the Doctor was an interesting way to keep TARDIS around, and while I appreciate the creativity in blocking the obvious solution to keeping our heroes out of trouble, I am growing a bit weary of it. The old switcheroo to get the Doctor into the meeting is creative, but how does no one notice the change in his gait or his feet?

I loved Sara Kingdom, a powerful take-charge female character, and her end was chilling as well. It’s a shame that the spin-off series that would have featured her never got off the ground. I also like the footprint effects for the invisible creature, which were impressive for a show of this era and budget.

The re-introduction of the Monk is a bit odd, and it seemed like filler to get the Daleks and Chen in position to chase the TARDIS. Luckily, the writers capitalized on the story point. He did have a suitable end, and as much as I want to see more of the Doctor’s people, I think I’m done with the Monk.

“The Feast of Steven” is an episode that should be excluded from this serial. It doesn’t add to the Dalek story, and the reconstruction doesn’t do it justice. I get what they were trying for since it was broadcast on Christmas Day, but it just doesn’t fit with the plot. On a minor note, the breaking of the fourth wall was a nice touch.

Also, Steven is still an idiot. Why, why, why(!), when he knows that there are Daleks around, would he call attention to himself by yelling for the Doctor? He’s ranking up there as my least favorite long-term companion.

A few minor notes: The cricket pitch scene was humorous, and reminded me of a similar scene in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; The Doctor’s magic ring is a little too convenient for my tastes; and the final episode is a perfect conclusion to this epic story.

To wrap it up, I finally get the Daleks I know as they betray their allies in their true xenophobic and genocidal fashion.

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

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve

 

 

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 #19: Mission to the Unknown

Doctor Who: Mission to the Unknown
(1 episode, s03e05, 1965)

Timestamp 019 Mission to the Unknown

This is a nice interlude that shows the audience a slice of time and space around the Doctor Who mythos in a completely Doctor-less story. In fact, the Doctor passes by the planet at the end of Galaxy 4, totally unaware that this threat is rising to meet him in short order. This is the kind of interweaving mythology and storytelling that I dig.

This episode is pretty much James Bond meets Doctor Who with the Space Security Service and their license to kill. I really want to see the proposed series that this small entry was supposed to springboard, as it would be fun to see the Service as they hunt Daleks across the universe. Since the Doctor usually has trouble defeating them, I really want to know how a group of humans would tackle the Daleks.

By the end, the Daleks are assembling a coalition of the greatest powers across seven galaxies to defeat Earth. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the twelve-part The Daleks’ Master Plan. The Daleks seem significantly less xenophobic in the early years, but that may just be a ploy in order to destroy everyone all at once.

 

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

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Myth Makers

 

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 Special #1: Dr. Who and the Daleks

Dr. Who and the Daleks
(1965)

Timestamp S01 Dr Who and the Daleks

It’s a very basic re-telling of The Daleks, but with a faster pace and a larger budget. In this version, Barbara and Susan are both granddaughters to the Doctor, who is a human inventor called Dr. Who in this interpretation. We never find out his first name, but his surname is Who. Ian Chesterton picks up the role of  comic (often slapstick) relief, giving this an air slightly less silly (and a bit more watchable) than 1967’s Casino Royale in comparison to the James Bond movie franchise.

The Thals are essentially goths with heavy eye shadow and blonde wigs to make them look alien, and the Daleks are… well… the Daleks. In color. With bigger head lamps that don’t actually sync very well with their voices. The Daleks also picked up some home decor tips from the 1960s and 70s, including lava lamps and some very James Bond-inspired control room sets.

It was really good to Peter Cushing in a role other than Grand Moff Tarkin from Star Wars, and this presentation has me on the lookout for other films of his.

Overall, with high production values but low story content, I grade this as an enjoyable interpretation, but with nowhere near the staying power of the source serial.

This rating won’t count toward anything since this isn’t an official Doctor. Onward to Series Three.

 

Rating for The Daleks: 4/5
Rating for Dr. Who and the Daleks: 3/5

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Galaxy 4

 

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.