Doctor Who Reviews/ The Dalek Invasion of Earth

After the massive success of the first Dalek story, requests for the monsters return flooded the BBC and so naturally they were brought back, not just once but for two encore appearances in season 2.

The Dalek Invasion of Earth not only upped the scales from the first Dalek story, but also brought the monsters into everyday surroundings, marking the first ever invasion earth story in Doctor Who’s long history.

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 who 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. Its 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. The direction is also somewhat more inconsistent than the first story as well.

The action sequences are quite sloppy and underwhelming. I don’t think action sequences were ever Richard Martin’s strong point to be honest.

That said the sequences of Barbara, Jenny and Dortmun fleeing through the Dalek infested streets of London are very well shot. Not only do the Daleks seem large and imposing but its genius having them march down so many familiar London landmarks as it really gets across the idea that these monsters have completely conquered humanity.

I think Richard Martin’s strength as a director was always in the more atmospheric, low key moments.

Arguably the scene that suffers the most from the poor budget is the Slythers attack. I think the Slyther was a truly terrifying idea, and its presence is built up effectively. Also Ashton’s death is probably one of the most horrible in all of 60’s Who as he is dragged away by the creature and eaten alive!

Sadly however the Slyther in contrast to the mutants from the first Dalek story is just too crummy looking.

Despite these short comings however I still would rate this story as a classic nonetheless.

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.

In their first story whilst they were menacing, its true that they obviously they were greatly limited by not being able to leave the city. Here however we get to see them hunt down people in the streets, feed them to giant mutants, torture and brutalize them in their camps and perform horrific experiments on them.

The Robomen are a truly chilling concept. They play on the old idea of being turned into a monster, body horror, as well as a man being transformed into a machine a good few years before the more famous Cybermen would.

I always remember being scared of this story more than any other Dalek adventure because here it wasn’t just a simple case of the Daleks would zap me. The Daleks capture people, strap them

The parallels with the Nazi’s are strong in this story too 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.

Whilst the message of the previous Dalek story was to make a stand against people who hate you just for who you simply are, this story is more about never giving up even after all seems lost.

Naturally this story tends to draw on later periods of the Second World War, such as the Nazi occupation of France with the Dalek resistance fighters having clearly been based on Le Resistance.

As a result this adventure is somewhat darker, and more pessimistic than the first Dalek serial. The first Dalek story saw all of the Thals unite to fight the Daleks, but here we see many humans such as Ashton who are only in it for themselves, others who simply give up and even some who work with the Daleks and betray their fellow humans, such as the mother and daughter who sell Barbara and Jennie out to the Daleks. These people can be seen as metaphors for real life Nazi collaborators like Quisling.

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 handled. 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 is definitely one of the most beautiful and poignant moments in Who history.

Once again Terry Nation also makes sure that all of the other regulars get plenty to do in this story as well. Susan and David’s romance is well handled. 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’d say along with The Keys of Marinus (another Terry Nation story) this is probably Barbara’s best story in Classic Who

Overall whilst it may not be my favorite 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

Legacy

The Dalek Invasion of Earth marked the first time we saw aliens invade the earth in Doctor Who and therefore served as something of a template for many future invasion earth stories across both old and new who.

The idea of monsters marching down familiar London landmarks as seen in this story with the Daleks marching down Westminster Bridge would be something many more 60’s stories would later use, such as the Invasion with the Cybermen marching down St Paul’s, The Web of Fear and the Yetis in the London Underground.

Elements of this story would also resurface in many subsequent Dalek adventures too. Day of the Daleks features an alternate version of the events of this story where the Daleks invasion of earth was never repelled, whilst the 2008 adventure The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End was inspired by this adventure and even featured a similar plot of the Daleks moving the earth through space.

Notes

  • This was story editor David Whitaker’s last adventure as story editor, though he would continue to write for the series until Jon Pertwee’s first season. 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 was inspired by the Dan Dare comic “The Reign of the Robots”. The Reign of the Robots sees Dan and his companions return to earth after a 10 year absence only to discover that his archenemy the Mekon has conquered the earth in his absence and enslaved humanity. The Mekon rules the human race with his robot servants that he controls with a speaker in his chair. At the end of the story Dan and his friends are able to take control of the speaker and give the robots new orders to turn on each other, bringing about the end of their invasion.

5 thoughts on “Doctor Who Reviews/ 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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