Doctor Who Reviews 2/ The Dalek Invasion of Earth

Plot

The TARDIS takes the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan to Earth in the 22nd Century. They discover London in ruins with a strange sign that says “It is forbidden to dump dead bodies in the river”.

They also soon spot a flying saucer flying over London, but before they can investigate Barbara and Susan are taken by a group of human beings who take them off of the street for their own safety. The Doctor and Ian meanwhile are ambushed by mysterious foot soldiers before being cornered by a Dalek that emerges from the Thames.

They discover much to their horror that the Daleks have not only invaded but conquered the earth. The Daleks take the Doctor and Ian back to their saucer where they learn from a fellow prisoner how the Daleks invaded the earth, as do Barbara and Susan from the rebels.

The Daleks apparently invaded the earth by launching plague missiles hidden in metiorites. The resulting plague killed billions and split the earth up later allowing a full Dalek invasion force to conquer the planet easily. They destroyed entire cities, continents of people and enslaved the few unlucky survivors. Most were hearded into work camps, whilst a few were experimented on and transformed into slaves of the Daleks, the Robomen.

The Daleks transform people into Robomen by wiping their minds and cutting pieces of their brains out and replacing them with metallic components.

The rebels who are lead by a wheelchaired man named Dortmun launch an attack on the Dalek saucer, but unfortunately Dortmun’s weaponry is of no use and the rebels are massacred. Nevertheless they are able to save the Doctor from being robotized.

The Doctor escapes into the sewers with Susan and a man named David whom Susan begins to develop feelings for.

Barbara meanwhile escapes with a young woman named Jenny and Dortmun through the Dalek occupied London. Dortmun believing he is holding them back sacrifices himself to the Daleks. Barbara and Jenny are later captured by the Daleks when a Dalek collaborator sells them out. Ian meanwhile having stowed away on board the Dalek saucer makes his way to the main Dalek camps.

Ian later after making his way past the Dalek pet the Slither is able to make his way to the Dalek base where he discovers their plan. The Daleks wish to remove the magnetic core of the earth and replace it with a giant motor effectively allowing them to turn the planet into a giant spaceship.

Barbara is able to escape the Dalek camps by tricking the Daleks, telling them she knows of a planned rebellion against them and uses Dortmun’s old plans as proof. After being taken to meet the black Dalek she finds out that the Daleks control all of the Robomen through only one device. Though she attempts to take control of it, the Daleks stop her, but The Doctor soon rescues her and together they use the device to give the Robomen new orders to turn on the Daleks leading to a worldwide rebellion. The Doctor also with Susan and David’s help shuts off the Daleks power leaving them trapped in their machines. Finally Ian also blocks their bomb which they intended to drop down a shaft into the earth’s crust higher up the shaft resulting in it destroying the Daleks main base instead.

Whilst the Doctor Ian, David, Barbara and Susan and the rest of the humans escape the Daleks who are still trapped are caught in the blaze and destroyed.

With Earth now freed the Doctor heads off to allow humanity to rebuild, but Susan decides to stay behind having fallen in love with David.

Quotes

Dalek Supreme/ Rebels of London! This is our last warning! Our final offer! Show yourselves in the open streets. You will be fed and watered, but work is needed from you. The Daleks offer you life! Rebel against us and the Daleks shall destroy London completely. Rebels of London, come out of your hiding places. The Daleks offer you life!

David/ They dare to tamper with the forces of creation.

The Doctor/ Yes they dare and we have got to dare to stop them.

The Doctor/ During all the years I’ve been taking care of you, you in return have been taking care of me. You are still my grandchild and always will be. But now, you’re a woman too. I want you to belong somewhere, to have roots of your own. With David you will be able to find those roots and live normally like any woman should do. Believe me, my dear, your future lies with David and not with a silly old buffer like me. One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine. Goodbye, Susan. Goodbye, my dear.

Review

The Dalek Invasion of Earth is not as strong as the first Dalek story in my opinion.

Its somewhat of a shame as its purely let down by the production values. Normally of course Classic Doctor Who of all things is something that you can’t let be spoiled by its production values, however the Dalek Invasion of Earth I think is a special case. It meant to be a big, extravagant story, full of action and excitement and sadly it just doesn’t deliver as the action sequences are restricted by the budget.

It also feels more padded in places than the first Dalek story too even though its shorter.

Still despite this I still would rate this story as a classic. It rises above its shortcomings and becomes a truly exceptional story and piece of 60’s tv in its own right.

To begin with the Daleks are on top form here. Terry Nation really does his best to make them seem not only powerful but utterly pitiless too. Again the parallels with the Nazi’s are strong with the Daleks marching down familiar London landmarks waving their sucker cups in the Nazi salute evoking the fear many had during the war of a full scale German invasion.

Many have criticized the idea of the Daleks turning the earth into a spaceship, but personally I don’t mind that plan. I admit it is a bit far fetched, but I think it ties quite nicely into the idea of the Daleks trying to mess around with nature that we saw in the first story.

However the most important thing about this story is how the Doctor is handeled. Here I think we see the beginning of the character we come to know and love in the later years. The hero who never gives up and always finds a way round even the most impossible problems.

This marks the first story where we see the Doctor actually save the earth. Unlike the first Dalek story he actually takes an active role in stopping the Daleks and risks his own life many times to save others.

I think its fair to say that this could very well be Hartnells best performance as the Doctor. The finale scene where he says goodbye to Susan are among the most beautiful and poignant moments in Who history.

All of the other regulars get plenty to do in this story as well. Susan and David’s romance is well handeled. Unlike Leela’s romance with a time lord that comes out of nowhere here they build it up quite nicely and the two have great chemistry with one another.

Barbara meanwhile gets many of her best moments here too such as when she smashes the Daleks in with a truck. On top of that she able to escape the Dalek camps herself and figure out their main weakness and come up with the plan that stops their invasion!

I always said that Terry Nation often gave the female companions more to do than other writers, but you can see that here more than any other story as Barbara spends most of the story on her on alongside another strong female character Jenny.

Overall whilst it may not be my favourite Dalek story and it may not have aged as well as some other examples of 60’s Who, its still a classic none the less.

Final Rating

4 and a half stars

Notes

  • This was story editor David Whitaker’s last story as story editor. He wrote the famous “one day I shall come back” speech at the end of the story not Nation.
  • This story served as an influence on Futurama the game where the villain Mum turns the earth into a space ship to conquer the universe.
  • Having originally written a tale of the Indian mutiny for the show, Nation still had the country on his mind when writing this story. The mutiny is mentioned in “Flashpoint” and the original script had a fourteen-year-old Indian girl named Saida (played by Pamela Franklin) stow away aboard the TARDIS. Saida eventually became Jenny and the importance of the role decreased.
  •  This story served as an inspiration to “The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End” with the Tenth Doctor even mentioning the events of this story in that one “someone tried to move the earth once before, but that was so long ago”

5 thoughts on “Doctor Who Reviews 2/ The Dalek Invasion of Earth

  1. I was surprised by Barbara’s heroism in this episode. The first time I saw it the show was out of order, so she devised the plan first. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop where Barbara was turned into a fool, or relieved of her problem-solving role. It just depends on the writer, doesn’t it? The 60s episodes particularly–you never know how the women will be presented. Thank you so much for this series. Very enjoyable!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I think Terry Nation was always better at writing women than a lot of other 60’s writers. He also did another series Blake’s 7 that had very strong female characters too and Survivors his other series was one of the first ever cult series to have a woman in the lead role! When you look at the film version of this episode Barbara is exactly as you said she’s a bland, damsel that has to get saved by everyone around her. That was one of Nations strengths. He was almost the Joss Whedon of his day.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve seen a couple of episodes of Blake’s 7 in my youth. All I remember is Avon. I’d don’t know Survivors–it must have been before the Avengers, too. I thought it was Emma Peel who was the first female lead. I’m pleased to hear that Nation carried his signature writing over to other shows. I didn’t realize he was prolific as well as talented.

        Like

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