Resurrection of the Daleks Review

The first Dalek story of the 80s. Resurrection of the Daleks was one of the darkest and most violent Doctor Who stories of the decade and provoked controversy from both fans and mainstream viewers.

It marked the only time the 5th Doctor faced the Daleks on screen (though they did appear in a tiny cameo in The Five Doctors, but they did not meet the 5th Doctor in that story.)

Plot

On 1980s earth a group of prisoners from the future attempt to escape onto the streets, but they are gunned down by two police men.

In reality the prisoners were Dalek slaves, whilst the police men are human duplicates created by the Daleks. 

Two prisoners manage to escape to a nearby warehouse, though one of them is later killed by Dalek agents.

Back in the future, the Daleks attack a prison ship and slaughter almost all of its crew. The Daleks are planning to rescue Davros who has been kept in cryogenic suspension for 90 years.

The Daleks are served by a group of human mercenaries led by a man named Lytton. Lytton tells Davros that in the 90 years he was frozen, the Dalek and the Movellan war has finished, and that the Movellans defeated the Daleks.

The Movellans were able to create a virus that attacked the Dalek mutants inside the casing, and virtually exterminated their race. 

The Daleks have now finally returned to their creator, hoping that he can find a way to cure them. Davros however is more reluctant at being used this time. 

The Doctor and his two companions, Teegan and Turlough meanwhile are dragged through a time corridor to modern day earth, near the warehouse where the two Dalek prisoners escaped too. 

There the Doctor meets the last surviving prisoner named Stein. As they explore the warehouse, Turlough vanishes, having been abducted by the Dalek time corridor.

The Doctor also discovers the military have arrived at the house to investigate the sighting of some mysterious bomb like objects.

Just then the Daleks having seen that their plan to drag the Doctor to earth using their time corridor has succeeded, send a Dalek to capture him. 

The Doctor however is able to destroy the Dalek with the aid of the military, though not before it exterminates a soldier and wounds Teegan.

The Daleks however don’t give up and send more Daleks who not only exterminate the entire military squad, but duplicate them as well.

The duplicate military squad capture Teegan and the last surviving scientist Laird, whilst the Doctor and Stein make their way to the Dalek ship through the Dalek time corridor. There the Doctor discovers that Stein is a Dalek duplicate and double agent.

The Doctor is captured and the Daleks reveal why they brought him and his companions to earth, so that they could be duplicated. The Doctor and his companions duplicates will then be sent to Gallifrey to assassinate the high council of the Time Lords, paving the way for a Dalek invasion of Gallifrey.

Turlough meanwhile meets up with the few survivors of the prison ship who try and activate the ships self destruct device to eliminate Davros, but Lytton finds them and slaughters the survivors, with only one, Mercer, escaping with Turlough.

Laird attempts to stall the Dalek duplicates long enough for Teegan to escape, but unfortunately she is captured outside by the Daleks duplicate police officers.

Laird is then killed by the Dalek soldiers when she attempts to flee and Teegan is sent to the Dalek ship, but fortunately Teegan is found by Turlough and Mercer first.

The Doctor meanwhile though almost killed in the slow, torturous process of creating his duplicate is able to escape thanks to Stein, who is able to break free of the Daleks mind control.

The Doctor, Stein, Teegan, Mercer and Turlough reunite and escape to the TARDIS which the Daleks had brought on board.

There the Doctor decides that he must kill Davros as Davros is the only chance the Daleks have of surviving the Movellan virus.

Mercer and Stein who both want revenge agree to help the Doctor, whilst Teegan and Turlough are sent back to earth in the TARDIS.

Davros meanwhile using a mind control device, has taken control of several of the Daleks human servants and two Dalek drones. He plans to use the Movellan virus to exterminate the Daleks who he has realised will never follow him, and then create a new race of Daleks loyal to him.

When the Doctor arrives in his cell he attempts to shoot Davros. Davros attempts to weasel out of it at first, but when he realises that the Doctor doesn’t have it in him to commit cold blooded murder, he starts to taunt him.

The Doctor, Mercer and Stein are distracted by a group of Lytton’s men who arrive. In the fight Mercer is killed, and Davros seals them all out. Stein meanwhile flees, fearing that the Dalek control is taking him over again.

Back on earth Davros’ two Daleks arrive along with his men to try and capture the Doctors TARDIS. The Dalek’s duplicate soldiers attempt to kill them, but the two Daleks slaughter all of the soldiers. The Daleks then dispatch Lytton and his men to deal with them, but once again Davros’ Daleks exterminate them (except for Lytton who feigns death in the battle to escape.)

A squad of Daleks arrive and begin to fight with Davros’ Daleks and human servants, but the Doctor who arrives back through the corridor kills all of the Daleks using a sample of the Movellan virus. During the fighting Lytton attempts to shoot the Doctor a few times, before escaping into the streets in disguise as a policeman.

As both groups of Daleks and all of Lytton’s men are killed, back on the station Davros attempts to leave, but he is cornered by two Daleks who knowing that he is planning to betray him, try to shoot him.

However the Movellan virus that Davros unleashed on the base kills them. Davros declares that the Daleks are dead, long live the new Daleks, but as he attempts to leave the Movellan virus begins to affect him. With his DNA it seems being similar enough to a Dalek for the virus to work, Davros screams out in denial that he cannot die as the virus seemingly engulfs him.

Stein meanwhile having managed to fight off the conditioning again is able to activate the stations self destruct sequence just as the Daleks shoot him, and the prison ship is destroyed, seemingly taking Davros with it.

With the Daleks invasion plans foiled, the Doctor prepares to leave, but sadly his companion Teegan refuses to come with him. Having seen too many good people die, Teegan says she can’t go on anymore and tearfully runs out of the warehouse.

As she watches the TARDIS leave for the last time, her final words are that she will miss the Doctor.

Review

Resurrection of the Daleks is a minor classic in my opinion. Its not quite on the level of Genesis or Day, but its a brilliant story nonetheless.

Its true that Eric Saward perhaps crams it full of too many ideas. The Daleks plan to invade the earth and Gallifrey at the same time, free Davros, make him cure the Movellan plague, whilst Davros similarly plans to turn on the Daleks and wipe them out, and create his own race of Daleks!

Still for the most part Saward is able to weave all of these different strands together and have them all interact with one another into one coherent narrative, rather than just lie, completely unconnected.

Above all else Resurrection makes the Daleks seem like a proper threat again after their bumbling performance in Destiny.

Here the monsters get to exterminate dozens and dozens of people and once again just one Dalek is shown to be a legitimate threat, with a mere two of them slaughtering an entire heavily armed bomb disposal squad.

A lone Dalek should always be portrayed as being capable of taking out at least several humans, as after all a Dalek is meant to essentially be a mini tank.

What’s more effective about the high body count in this story is that the Daleks kill people who are of no threat or importance to them. In almost every other story, whilst the Daleks have shot plenty of unarmed people, its always been someone like a rebel, or a traitor to their cause like say the Controller.

In this story however we see helpless old men just get gunned down in the streets who have no idea who the Daleks even are. One particularly gruesome scene sees the Dalek controlled policemen shoot an old man in the distance after cornering Teegan.

Whilst some have accused these sequences of being gratuitous violence, I think they demonstrate how the Daleks view all life as their enemy brilliantly. As the 5th Doctor himself says, it doesn’t matter how you react, the Daleks will always see other life forms very existence as a threat.

I like the way this story also gives the Daleks a chance to be more manipulative too. The idea of the Daleks using duplicates of their enemies to slowly manipulate and crush them from within is a terrifying concept. For the first time there is really a sense of paranoia around the monsters. Now anyone you know could be one of their duplicates. I love the way that the black Dalek states that the Daleks no longer even need to invade anymore thanks to their duplicates.

Its sad that other than a passing mention in Into the Dalek, the idea of the Daleks duplicates was never picked up on in later stories. I honestly think there is a wealth of more interesting stories to be played with using the idea.

As for Davros, I think he fares better here than in Destiny. Terry Molloy is a better fit for the character than David Gooderson. Granted the script doesn’t give him as much to do as Revelation and later Big Finish audio’s would but he still puts in a great performance and plays well off of Peter Davison.

Just like Michael Wisher there are some wonderful big hysterical rants where Molloy gets to chew the scenery, but also some nice subtle moments in his performance such as when he tells the Daleks quietly that he is very difficult to kill. Its a brilliant call back to Genesis.

This story moves the Davros/Dalek relationship on quite well as we see how Davros begins to resent the Daleks. That’s twice they have betrayed him and so really he’d be a mug to not have a back up plan this time.

Its a brilliant irony the way this time the Daleks are the ones who underestimate Davros. They assume after Destiny that he will always be willing to return to his “children” and it never even occurs to them until its too late that Davros actually wants rid of them this time.

The scene where Davros murders the two Daleks with the virus and they scream and beg for mercy whilst he ruthlessly screams “YOUR LIVES ARE OVER” is a nice little reversal of the ending of Genesis of the Daleks, where Davros having underestimated the Daleks was begging them for mercy before they gunned him down.

This story also marks the real beginning of the power struggle between Davros and the Dalek Supreme which will become a major plot point in subsequent Dalek stories.

Davros’ relationship with the Doctor is also well developed in this story. I never really thought it before, but on a recent rewatch I think that Peter Davison’s Doctor plays brilliantly off of the Daleks and Davros.

The fact that he is so vulnerable and sensitive allows the Daleks and Davros unrelenting cruelty to seem more effective than it did with say Tom in Destiny who tended to laugh in the face of danger.

5 and Davros’ confrontation is one of my favourite moments. I love the way that Davros actually considers the Doctor not being able to shoot an unarmed man in cold blood to be a sign of weakness.

I feel you can also see quite a nice build up to the Sixth Doctor in this story too. Here the 5th Doctor’s mercy causes Davros to escape and he instantly regrets it. He knows that Davros will cause more death, so for his next regeneration he decides to adopt a more ruthless persona.

Teegan’s departure is one of the most moving as well as one of the most bleak in the shows history. She isn’t killed off like Adric, but she is still left emotionally broken by the horrors that she has witnessed. Its also possibly the only time that the Doctor and a companion end things on bad terms.

The Doctor is never happy to see his companions go, but at the very least he can be happy for them. Even with Rose, he knows she is going on to a happy life in the other universe.

With Teegan however in their final scene together, the Doctor chases after her telling her that their relationship can’t end on this note, only for her to ignore him.

Its a very bold way to end any companions tenure, never mind one of the longest serving in the shows history.

Aside from its importance in the shows history, Resurrection of the Daleks stands up as a great piece of tv in its own right too.

Its brilliantly directed, the production values are of a very high quality, the sets are well designed, and whilst Sawards many different story strands at times might make the show seem a bit overly complicated, at the same time they also make sure there is never something not going on.

To be honest I’ve always thought that Resurrection of the Daleks was a great story to introduce someone to Doctor Who with. Its fast paced, its special effects are not embarrassing at all, the acting from all the leads is brilliant, the Daleks are vicious and scary, the music is subtle and effective, and its a very dark story.

It instantly betrays a lot of the negative myths that developed about Doctor Who being a silly, slow, series with dreadful effects.

Overall whilst not one of the top 5 Dalek stories, I’d still say that Resurrection is a classic and criminally underrated.

Notes and Trivia

  • Attack of the Cybermen, made the following year is a sequel of sorts to this story. It follows Lytton who was left stranded on earth at the end of this adventure. Lytton is portrayed more sympathetically in Attack than in Resurrection. He claims that he only worked for the Daleks because he had no choice. It should be mentioned that whilst Lytton had no problem with killing people on the Daleks orders, the black Dalek did still consider him untrustworthy and eventually ordered him killed. Lytton later attempts to help the Cryons save humanity from the Cybermen in Attack. Though he is being paid to help the Cyrons, Lytton nevertheless does still genuinely help humanity and the Doctor at the expense of his own life. When the Cybermen capture him, they promise to let him go if he betrays the Cryons whereabouts (which would also doom humanity), but Lytton refuses and not only withstands torture, but also cyber conversion too. His final act is a futile attempt to fight off the Cyber controller to save the Doctors life. All of this causes the Doctor to believe that he may have misjudged Lytton at the end of Attack of the Cybermen.
  • One of the Dalek voice actors for this story, Brian Miller is the husband of Elisabeth Sladen who played Sarah Jane Smith.
  • This story marks the first time that the Daleks are shown to take the fight to the Time Lords. It is regarded as one of the first strikes of the Time War in this respect.
  • A Movellan makes a tiny cameo at the start of the episode as one of the prisoners fleeing down the street who is killed by the Dalek’s duplicates. He is not identified on screen as a Movellan however, but this apparently was the original intention, and there is nothing to suggest that he is not a Movellan.
  • This story marks the first appearance of a black Dalek on tv since The Daleks Masterplan.
  • John Nathan Turner, Doctor Who’s longest running producer contributed a short interview to the DVD release of this story. Sadly it ended up being his only contribution to the DVD range as he passed away just a few months later.
  • This story marks the 8th time the Daleks try and invade the earth. In The Dalek Invasion of Earth and Day of the Daleks they invade and conquer the earth, whilst in Frontier in Space/Planet of the Daleks, Death to the Daleks, The Evil of the Daleks, and the Daleks Master Plan, they plan to destroy humanity through other means, such as a space plague, provoking a war etc.
  • When the Daleks are draining the Doctors mind, archive footage of all of the Doctors companions and previous incarnations appear except for Leela. Ian Levine, the shows continuity adviser admitted this was an oversight on his part.

 

 

Destiny of the Daleks Review

Terry Nations final contribution to the series. Destiny of the Daleks was also the only Dalek story in a span of 8 years.

Destiny of the Daleks is also notable for introducing one of the Daleks most dangerous adversaries, the Movellans.

Plot

The Doctor and a newly regenerated Romana arrive on a mysterious dead planet.

There they discover a work camp made up from different species across the universe. As they explore the ruins of an old building the Doctor is accidentally buried under rubble.

Romana goes to try and get help for him, but whilst she is away the Doctor is freed by a group of humanoids who call themselves Movellans. The Movellans take the Doctor back to their ship for his safety and tell him that the planet they are on is called Skaro, and they are here on a very important mission.

Romana meanwhile stumbles down a shaft where she is ambushed and captured by a squad of Daleks.

The Daleks interrogate Romana and after discovering that she knows nothing about the Daleks, they decide to send her to work in a mine, telling her that its all humanoids like her are good for.

Romana sees the brutal treatment the Daleks inflict on their prisoners first hand, but she is able to escape by faking her death before she reunites with the Doctor and the Movellans.

The Doctor, Romana and the Movellans discover that the Daleks are mining to below the old building where Romana was captured. The Doctor recognises the building as the remains of the Kaled bunker.

The Doctor, Romana, and the Movellans are able to make their way to the bottom of the old bunker before the Daleks where they discover what the Daleks have been looking for. Davros!

Davros despite being shot at by the Daleks has survived. His life support machine placed him into a state of suspended animation whilst it slowly regenerated his organs. Now after several centuries Davros is alive again.

Davros demands that the Doctor take him to the Daleks, boasting about how he will lead them to ultimate victory. The Doctor however reminds Davros that the monsters shot at him and left him for dead centuries ago, and begins to wonder what they could possibly want from him again.

The Daleks manage to corner Davros and the Doctor. The Doctor threatens to blow himself and Davros up unless they flee, but the Daleks begin to slaughter their own slaves in response.

The Doctor is forced to hand Davros over to the Daleks, but only on the condition that the slaves are freed, which the Daleks reluctantly agree to.

Back in the company of his creations, Davros (as well as the Doctor) discovers the real reason they have returned to their creator after so long.

The Movellans are a race of ruthless cyborgs, no better than the Daleks themselves. They have been fighting the Daleks in a war for many years, but neither side is able to triumph over the other, as they both rely on logic. Every time the Dalek battle computer attempts to launch an attack, the Movellan battle computer figures out a way to block it, and vice versa.

The Daleks hope that Davros who created them can help the monsters overcome this problem and destroy the Movellans. The Movellans meanwhile capture the Doctor and Romana and hope that the Doctor can break the stalemate for them. The Doctor however with the aid of the freed Dalek slaves is able slaughter the Movellan squad, whilst Romana stops the Movellans from detonating a weapon that would have destroyed Skaro.

Davros meanwhile grows paranoid and sends a Dalek squad of suicide bombers to the Movellan spaceship, whilst one Dalek guards him.

The Doctor however makes his way to the Daleks base and kills the Dalek guarding Davros, before detonating the bombs around the Daleks before they reach the ship, wiping them all out.

The freed Dalek slaves then leave for earth in the Movellan ship with Davros in tow. Davros is to be tried back on earth for his crimes against all of sentient life in creating the Daleks, whilst the Doctor and Romana depart the planet in the TARDIS.

Review

Destiny of the Daleks is definitely among the weakest of the 70s Dalek stories. Its not a bad story by any means, but its a shame that Terry Nation’s final script for the series is not one of his all time best.

To be fair I don’t think this is down to Terry Nation himself, rather Douglas Adams who it is known performed a major rewrite of the story.

Adams humour though great in other stories like City of Death, is a horrible fit for the Daleks. He has them bumble around, and points out their biggest weakness, their then inability to get up stairs (something which apparently greatly angered Nation.)

Worst of all however the Doctor doesn’t even seem remotely scared of the Daleks or Davros for that matter. Here he outright mocks them as idiots “you’re misquoting Napoleon” and generally disposes of them both in easy, almost flippant ways.

Not exactly a career high point.

Whenever the Doctor goes up against Davros and the Daleks, he should not only be scared, but also repulsed at how twisted their beliefs are.

You don’t really get that here. Instead as you can see from the above clip it more just feels like the Doctor views them as doofuses that he’s bored of having to deal with.

Its ironic in a way as in Classic Who, this is the only Davros story where he and the Doctor share more than one scene together, yet its the only one to contain no memorable showdowns between the two.

Still in spite of these faults Destiny of the Daleks does have a brilliant story and actually adds a lot to the Dalek and Davros saga in the long run.

Davros’ return isn’t that well handled. Its a bit silly that his life support machine kept him in stasis all of this time, but the reason the Daleks are looking for him is brilliant.

Also the relationship between Davros and the Daleks is quite interesting in this story. Here we discover that the Daleks did not intend to kill Davros, and have known he was alive all this time. Why else would they be searching if they thought he was dead?

Of course this begs the question of why didn’t they kill him, to which there is only one answer. The monsters obviously deep down do have some affection for Davros as he is the closest thing they have to a father.

Of course it could never manifest itself as genuine affection as the Daleks are incapable of that, but at the very least they could never truly kill him (which is pretty huge for a Dalek whose sole reason for existing is to you know kill all lesser life forms.)

At the same time Davros, even though he knows they will never truly accept him, can’t help but always return to them, as again they are the closest thing he has to children.

I love the way that Davros at first is delusional to believe that the Daleks have returned to him simply because they have realised that he should lead them.

When the Daleks however reveal that its just to help them with their latest problem, after which they will then most likely abandon him again, Davros is genuinely heartbroken.

We can also see the power struggle begin here with Davros reacting in rage and disgust at the idea of a Supreme Dalek.

Whilst the story might not always handle the Doctors relationship with the Daleks that well, at the very least the interactions between Davros and the Daleks is very interesting, and it sets the stage for future stories where we will see Davros and the Supreme Dalek fight for control over the monsters, as well as further examples of the twisted, father/son relationship between the Daleks and Davros.

The Daleks also are still menacing in certain moments too such as in the scenes during the Dalek camps.

We get the idea that the Daleks are a truly intergalactic threat the way that there are so many species from all over the universe trapped in their camps.

We are also given a wonderful little insight into the monsters psychology the way that they delight in persecuting humanoids because they were once humanoids themselves.

On the one hand they can’t stand being reminded that they were once in their minds, “inferior creatures”, but on the other perhaps the Daleks deep down are jealous of humanoids. After all they were once free to think for themselves, free to interact with the world around them and experience emotions that weren’t just bitterness and hatred.

Now however they spend their entire lives locked in a cage, ironically following the path set out for them by a supposedly inferior being, Davros. Perhaps deep down, there is a tiny little grain of the Daleks that is still self aware and hates being reminded of all that it has lost when it looks at a humanoid life form.

The Movellans, the Daleks sworn enemies are also a wonderful addition to the series. In a way they are quite good counterparts to the Thals, as both are humanoid rivals to the Daleks who are very beautiful, but with the Movellans, they turn it on its head by making them out to be evil themselves.

I’ve always thought it would be interesting to have the Doctor work alongside a race who were evil to stop the Daleks. After all the Daleks threaten to exterminate all other life forms in the universe, so you don’t have to be a good guy to be their enemy.

We had to ally ourselves with Stalin, one of the biggest mass murderers in human history to stop the Nazis, as ultimately the Nazis threatened everybody.

Thus the Doctors allies against the Daleks shouldn’t always be whiter than white Thals, or even just human resistance fighters who are willing to do whatever it takes. There should be a story where the Doctor has to work alongside aliens who in any other adventure would be the villains, but who are still threatened by the Daleks plans, as they are a danger to all life forms.

Sadly Destiny is the only story that plays around with that idea for a bit, as from the start the Doctor suspects the Movellans aren’t as rosey as they appear to be, but they are still not as bad as the Daleks and so the Doctor has to work alongside them for the time being.

Its a shame that we never got to see the Movellans again, barring a tiny cameo in the Pilot. The Daleks having a race of mechanical rivals is a brilliant concept, and one that worked well in the 60s with the Mechanoids too.

Another big addition to this story is the introduction of Lalla Ward as Romana. Her regeneration scene is utterly ludicrous, though its not a millionth as bad as the shit New Who has done to regeneration over the years.

Its not like they made out that she was actually dying, and thus destroyed the entire point of regeneration, and made the new actress feel about as welcome as a foot fungus like RTD did with Tennant and Smith. Its also not like they made out she can grow a new head either, or had her regeneration nuke a Dalek fleet, and at least they didn’t cast someone like Wilfred Bramble as Romana 2 for some cheap virtue signalling, headline grabbing bullshit either.

The worst you can accuse Adams of here is being a bit silly.

Still daft opening aside, Lalla Ward gets a brilliant introduction. She brings a sensitive vulnerability to the part such as when she is being terrorised by the Daleks, yet she also gets plenty to do on her own as well. She escapes the Dalek camps through her own guile and intelligence, and she later stops Skaro from being destroyed on her own, by literally kicking a Movellan to pieces.

Her and Tom’s chemistry is also brilliant too. She can match Tom’s humour and quick wit perfectly, but there is also a really obvious bond of affection between them that’s stronger than that between the Doctor and most of his companions.

A favourite moment of mine is when the Doctor discovers Romana’s grave and he is so grief stricken that he starts to pull it apart. He has no reason to think that Romana wasn’t killed by the Daleks at that point, but he just can’t accept that she is gone so he starts literally tearing the grave to bits. His joy at finding out she survived is also really sweet too.

Overall Destiny of the Daleks is a strong story that serves as a good introduction for one of the best companions in the shows history, and moves along the Davros and Daleks story arc nicely, whilst setting things up for future stories with the villains at the same time.

Its only let down by the injection of some of Addams humour into the script, which just isn’t a good fit for the atmosphere Nation is clearly trying to build, and worse undermines the Daleks and Davros as villains at certain points.

Some of the more shoddy production values let the story down too. I don’t actually mind the Daleks looking a bit battered. After all they are meant to be in the middle of a war. If anything it makes more sense than to always have them look so polished. With Davros however he just looked a bit crap. David Gooderson who plays the villain is also nowhere near as strong as Michael Wisher, though he does a fine job overall and at least tries to do something new with the part.

Wisher portrayed Davros as a power mad sociopath, whilst Gooderson explores Davros’ relationship with his creations more, showing how Davros is hurt on a personal level by their rejection of him, as well as how he is genuinely grief stricken when he is unable to help them at the end, for their sake, and not just his own.

Terry Molloy and Julian Bleach would later incorporate the fanaticism of Wishers portrayal, and the more complicated relationship between Davros and the Daleks from Gooderson’s into their portrayals.

Overall Destiny of the Daleks manages to rise above its faults however to be an entertaining story at the least, and an important one in the long history of Doctor Who.

Trivia

  • This was Terry Nation’s final contribution to Doctor Who. Overall he wrote more episodes of the series than any other writer, save for Robert Holmes. Nation also created two more iconic and successful sci fi series, The Survivors and Blake’s 7. In the later years of his life, Nation tried to revive Doctor Who along with Gerry Davies, the co creator of the Cybermen, and the creator of regeneration. Nation and Davies pitch for the show was a sequel to the original series, and their choice for the Doctor was Tim Curry. Sadly however the BBC rejected their pitch as they wanted to sell the series to America at that point. Nation passed away in 1997 in his home in Los Angeles. His work has continued to inspire such high profile figures as Joseph Michael Strayzcinski and Dennis Potter, and there was even a blue plaque placed outside his former home in Cardiff in 2013.
  • Graham Williams said of the decision to bring the Daleks back that “its something that should never work, but for some reason it always does.”
  • Prior to the broadcast of this story (which was the first in season 17) there was a trailer where the Doctor is told by a mysterious voice that he will soon encounter a race known as the Daleks. The Doctor joking responds that he has never heard of the Daleks, before reacting seriously to the warning.
  • Though Terry Nation would never write for the show again, he did still influence the next three Dalek stories to an extent by demanding that Davros be included in them all.
  • The last time Skaro is visited by the Doctor in the classic era.
  • This is the last appearance of the Daleks in 4 years, though they do make a cameo in The Five Doctors in the meantime.

Genesis of the Daleks Review

The Fourth Doctors first battle with his archenemies. Genesis of the Daleks also marked the introduction of their creator Davros who would go on to be a staple of Classic era Dalek stories from this point on.

Long regarded as one of the greatest Doctor Who stories ever made. Genesis of the Daleks has been repeated many times since its transmission and earned a place in popular culture like few other stories.

Plot

The Doctor, Sarah and Harry are abducted by the Time Lords whilst trying to return to the Nerva Beacon.

A Time Lord agent tells the Doctor that they have been taken to Skaro the home planet of the Daleks. Apparently at some point in the future the Daleks will destroy all other life forms in creation, having risen to a level of power where not even the Time Lords can stand against them.

The Time Lords tell the Doctor that he must do one of the following. Erase them from history altogether. Change their development so that they become less aggressive creatures. Or slow down their development at least so that other races are given enough time to catch up to them.

The Doctor agrees to do this mission for the Time Lords and the agent before departing, hands him a Time Ring which will allow him to reunite with the TARDIS once the mission is over.

The Doctor, Sarah and Harry discover that they have been teleported in the middle of a war zone. With the soldiers using a mix mash of weaponry from different times. Along the way the Doctor and Harry are separated from Sarah in a gas attack.

The Doctor and Harry are able to make their way to a city, where they encounter the native humanoid life forms, the Kaleds.

The Kaleds reveal the history of Skaro at this point to the Doctor. A war has been raging between two humanoid civilisations, the Kaleds and the Thals for 1000 years. All cities and civilisations have been destroyed except for one from each race.

The use of nuclear and atomic weapons has slowly over the centuries destroyed the surface of Skaro, turning it into an irradiated wasteland. Both the Kaleds and the Thals have begun to slowly mutate. Whilst the mutants, disparagingly referred to as Mutos are cast out into the wilderness to die. More and more Mutos are born every generation on both sides. Davros meanwhile a crippled and brilliant scientist is the head of the Kaled scientific elite.

The Doctor and Harry are taken to the Kaled bunker, whilst Sarah is abducted by a group of Mutos. The Mutos want to kill Sarah, but one of them named Sevrin saves her. Sadly however Sarah and Sevrin are later captured by the Thals who force them to work on their rocket.

The Thals are building a rocket to launch at the Kaled city which they believe will finally exterminate their enemies.

Meanwhile in the Kaled bunker, the Doctor discovers that Davros is creating something far worse. Davros has discovered that the Kaleds are all destined to mutate more and more over the next few generations. Davros is eager to find out what their final mutated form will be, and so he has taken living Kaled cells and subjected them to the same radiation that is polluting the air of skaro.

Davros has discovered that the Kaleds are destined to mutate into a hideous, amorphous blob like creature. After creating several of these Kaled mutants, Davros creates robotic casings to house them.

However he also tampers with the Kaled mutants minds. He removes all emotions that he considers weak such as love, compassion and pity from their minds, but and programmes a strong aggression towards all life forms that are different to them as well.

Davros believes that one race must dominate the others in order to survive, and so he wants to make sure that this new race of Kaleds will treat all other life forms as their enemies.

Davros christens his new creation a Dalek. Several of the Kaled scientists who are working on the project grow scared that what Davros is creating is evil. One of these scientists named Ronson, helps the Doctor and Harry to escape to the city of the Kaleds to warn them about what Davros is creating.

The Kaled government tells Davros that they will investigate and though Davros agrees, he decides to betray them to the Thals, declaring that they have signed the death warrant for the whole Kaled people.

Davros gives the Thals the secrets they need to breach the Kaleds protective dome. Despite the power of the Thals rocket, it will not even scratch the dome and so Davros gives them a chemical that will dissolve it.

That Thals are initially quite skeptical as to why Davros is helping them to exterminate his own people, but Davros, and his vile assistant Nyder claim that they want this war to end.

The Doctor and Harry meanwhile who had arrived in the Thal city to try and help Sarah, overhear Davros’ plans. The Doctor tries to sabotage the rocket, whilst Sarah and Harry try to make their way back to the city and warn the Kaleds.

Sadly however they all fail and the Thals exterminate the Kaled city. Davros subsequently frames Ronson for betraying the Kaleds to the Thals and has the Daleks exterminate him.

Davros then sends a squad of Daleks to the Thal city where they begin exterminating them.

The Doctor is able to help a few Thals escape and tells them to work with the Mutos as its their only chance. Most of the Thals are exterminated by the Daleks in the city.

The Doctor, Sarah and Harry are then captured by Davros and Nyder when they try to re-enter the bunker. Davros, having read Ronson’s interrogation, learns that the Doctor is from the future.

The Doctor pleads with Davros to stop the development of the Daleks by telling him of the horrors his creations will commit. When the Doctor lets it slip that the monsters will lose in the future, Davros demands to know how and proceeds to torture Sarah and Harry to make him talk.

Meanwhile in the Kaled bunker more scientists begin to question Davros, including Gharman. They attempt to organise a rebellion against Davros, and the Doctor at one point is able to wire the Daleks incubation chamber up to explosives.

He sadly however gives up a golden opportunity to exterminate the monsters. He wonders if he has the right to kill them, and that if perhaps, for all their evil some things might be better with them, as various races will unite in mutual fear of them.

Sadly Gharman’s rebellion is crush by the Daleks. Davros only allowed it to carry on to discover which of the Kaled scientists were truly loyal to him. 

The Doctor however working with the Thals and Muto survivors is able to blow up the corridor leading to the Kaled bunker, and the Daleks and Davros are sealed in under thousands of tons of rubble.

The Doctor says that it will take them thousands of years to escape, and to recover the work that has been destroyed. This will be enough to prevent the Time Lords vision of the future from coming to pass by giving other races enough time to catch up to them.

Trapped in the bunker together, the Daleks soon turn on Davros and begin exterminating the Kaled scientists who remained loyal to him, including Nyder.

Davros pleads with the Daleks, but they refuse to listen declaring themselves to be the masters. Davros realises the horror of what he has created just as the creatures turn on and exterminate him too. The leader of the Daleks then declares that though they have been entombed, they will eventually escape and take their rightful place as the supreme power of the universe.

As the Thals and Mutos leave together, the Doctor, Sarah and Harry leave Skaro using the time ring. As they vanish through the vortex the Doctor is confident that they have done the right thing.

Review

Genesis of the Daleks is one of the most highly regarded Doctor Who stories and its not hard to see why.

Its not perfect of course, as no story is. There are some moments where the production values let it down such as the giant clam scene, but overall Genesis much like the first Dalek story,  is an exciting, action packed boys own adventure on the surface, with a lot of depth underneath.

Genesis returns the Daleks to being frightening allegories for the Nazis, as well as fascism and racism in general.

The few stories before Genesis like Death to the Daleks and Day of the Daleks, though having done some interesting things with the monsters, had still in some ways reduced the Daleks to being more generic invaders.

With Genesis however the monsters are finally given a fuhrer figure in Davros.

Genesis shows us how evil, twisted men like Davros are able to seize power not just through their own cunning and guile, but rather through the inaction of those around them.

The Kaleds have so many golden opportunity’s to stop Davros but they never take them. The Kaled government give him time to plot against them when they should have just shut the bunker down right away, whilst Gharman and the other rebellious Kaled scientists similarly rather than just imprison Davros, play right into his hands and decide to hold a vote to see who should lead them.

No one except for the Doctor is aware of just what Davros is capable of until its too late.

At the same time we also see how Davros is able to play on other people’s weaknesses to his own advantage to such as the Thals who as he puts it, are so hungry for victory that they don’t care how untrustworthy Davros obviously is.

Davros can not only spot the weaknesses in others, but there is also no low that he won’t sink to either and that’s the real reason he wins. His enemies are simply not as dirty and underhanded as he is. They are reasonable, which is something he sees as cowardice.

Everything about Davros is perfect for this story. His characterisation is both complex and frightening.

To start with it merely appears that Davros is doing all he can to ensure the survival of his people, the Kaleds. However it soon becomes obvious that he is actually intending to reshape his entire race in his own image. Davros ironically despite being unable to even defend himself, despises those he considers weak, which includes even his own people the Kaleds.

The Daleks are what Davros likes to think he is. Strong, ruthless, and never willing to compromise like the supposed weak and pitiful Kaleds, such as Gharman who he derides as “someone who’ll listen to a thousand view points and try and satisfy them all.” Or even the Doctor who Davros sneers at for having compassion for his friends which he exploits when torturing them.

Its a brilliant irony at the end of the story when Davros discovers that as wretched, selfish and ruthless as he is, ironically even he is capable of some compassion and mercy after all. When the Daleks who are completely devoid of any pity turn on his most loyal followers, Davros ends up pleading with them, just as the Doctor did for Sarah and Harry’s lives earlier.

Davros learns in this moment that compassion isn’t a weakness, as ironically the Daleks are slaughtering people who could help them, even their own creator, because they are incapable of anything else. Davros finally realises just what a monster he has created in his final moments. Nothing has ever existed like the Daleks before. Even the most evil person like Davros can still show mercy to people who are loyal to him.

In this respect I can understand why some fans and critics were annoyed at Davros being brought back. His ending here is just so perfect, when he finally realises that his creations are evil, and actually tries to destroy them himself. Also I love the way the Daleks make no big deal of killing Davros, their creator, as they see him in exactly the same way as they would a lowly Thal soldier. Both of them are just other life forms and therefore the enemy.

Furthermore there is also a fantastic irony the way that Davros is forgotten. The Doctor despite being the archenemy of the Daleks had never even heard of him. The Daleks were obviously intended by Davros as being a way for him to live forever. Monsters created in his image who would terrorise the cosmos and make his name one that people would curse and fear for all eternity.

However ironically he won’t even be a footnote in the history of the universe as previous Dalek stories showed. The Daleks themselves will make sure no one remembers him as they don’t want people to know that they were created by a lesser creature.

Sadly later Dalek stories will undo all of this and simply have Davros going back to try and rule the Daleks, completely ignoring his development at the end of this story.

I do love the later Davros stories, and I think the writers did a good job in developing him from there, but I am at least sympathetic to the “Davros should never have been brought back” argument as his ending is just so stunning in Genesis. In fact its my favourite moment in any story.

Another reason Davros is so spectacular in this story is Michael Wishers performance, which is easily among the top 5 in the entire history of Doctor Who.

Wisher captures all of the fanatical, bitter qualities of the villain, as well as his craven cowardice too such as in his final moments with the Daleks.

There are moments where Wisher is eerily calm such as when he disturbingly talks of dissecting Gharman’s brain, then there are the moments where he screams so hysterically he almost sounds like one of his creations, such as during his brutal torture of Sarah and Harry.

All the other actors who would go on to play Davros after such as Terry Molloy and Julian Bleach would attempt to emulate this aspect of Wishers performance, and whilst they were both very good, I don’t think anyone ever managed it as well as Michael.

Some fans and critics have argued that Davros’ appearance here negatively impacts the Daleks who are pushed to the background. Personally however, whilst this does happen in later Davros stories, I definitely don’t think that’s the case in Genesis.

To start with we are taken to the very depths of the Daleks evil in this adventure to a far greater extent. Here we see how even the most evil humanoid like Davros, a man who has carried out a double genocide is shocked at how ruthless they can be.

Also something which is often overlooked in reviews of this story is how formidable the monsters are too. A mere 20 Daleks exterminate an entire city of Thals with no effort whatsoever.

Director David Maloney also shoots them in such a way where they seem large and foreboding, such as when the Thals and Mutos cower in the Trenches as they slowly glide by.

The Dalek voices in this story are my favourites as well. Roy Skelton, by this stage a long standing Dalek voice veteran gives them the perfect, screeching , rasping voices.

Far from seeming like nothing compared to Davros, at the end when the Daleks make him beg for the lives of his scientists and exterminate him, they’ve never seemed more evil and powerful. I love the Daleks final speech. Roy Skelton’s delivery is absolutely perfect as the Dalek’s leader spews its hatred and anger towards the rest of the universe.

This story also elevates the Daleks to being a threat to the Time Lords too. Though the Time Lords had sent the Doctor on a mission to deal with them before in Frontier in Space, here its different.

In Genesis the Time Lords are absolutely terrified of the Daleks after having seen a future where they are able to triumph over the Time Lords. They are actually willing to break their most important law and change all of history to stop the Daleks!

Understandably some people felt that this story contradicted the first Dalek story which gave a brief overview of the Daleks origins that were different to this story.

Personally however I don’t see it as that big a contradiction as after all in the Daleks, all we had were a few scant historical records, where as Genesis gives us a first hand account.

Furthermore Genesis also explains why the Daleks behave the way have done in every previous story to this brilliantly. Prior to this adventure every single Dalek that we had ever seen acted in exactly the same way. From the lowliest drone to the Emperor, they were all devoted to their cause of exterminating all other life forms in the universe. There were no Daleks who were merciful, but there were also no Daleks that even had ambitions and desires of their own.

They all thought exactly the same, despite being organic life forms. Here however we find out why. Davros had conditioned their minds to all think exactly the same, and all be devoted to exterminating other life forms.

This revelation not only explains why the act the way they do, but it opens up a whole new aspect to the Daleks personalities.

Now we know there can never be a good Dalek. Before we had just assumed that the Daleks all think the way they do because they come from a war like culture, like say the Klingons in Star Trek.

Here however we see that they are all conditioned to be ruthless, and can never change how they are.

Whilst it makes them far more terrifying, it also makes them somewhat more sympathetic ironically. The Daleks unlike say the Master, or even the Cybermen who willingly chose to convert themselves, have never had a choice in what they were. They did once, when they were Kaleds, but sadly Davros took that from them and has trapped them in this hideous state forever. There will never be a Dalek that thinks what they are doing is evil and tries to free the rest of its people, and worse they will never stop trying to conquer as they literally have no other desires or feelings, other than a lust for conquest.

Genesis really is what establishes the Daleks as the Doctors most dangerous and evil adversaries more than any other story, as it shows them not only becoming the biggest threat to the Time Lords (as well as the rest of the universe in the future), but also finally establishes once and for all that the Daleks can never be anything but evil conquerors.

Aside from Michael Wisher the other stand out performance in this story is Tom Baker.

Its a very subdued, and thoughtful performance. That’s not to say that there aren’t moments of Tom’s brilliant trademark humour, such as when he clobbers the two Thal guards, but for the most part his Doctor is a man with a very heavy burden.

Its not just as simple as blowing up the Daleks this time. The Doctor will be wiping them from history and so he has to actually think about what that means. Not only will he be committing genocide, but who knows what might change by erasing the Daleks?

For all the Doctor knows without the Daleks planets like say the Earth and Draconia may wipe each other out in a war, where as thanks to the Daleks they become united against them. Similarly perhaps the challenge of the Daleks will cause certain species to up their game and make great advances which benefit them in all kinds of ways, which they wouldn’t have done otherwise.

Its a brilliant twist in that to start with it seems like a more straight forward adventure of “destroy the evil Daleks and save the universe”, but ultimately when its crunch time, the Doctor discovers that there are no easy ways out of this situation, and the story doesn’t necessarily say that he has done the right thing either. Sarah even says that she believes they have failed at the end. Furthermore later stories will show the Doctor still struggle with the decision, and indeed over 40 years later, fans on message boards, and in reviews are still torn over whether or not the Doctor should have destroyed them.

It shows you how Nation could inject nuance into his scripts, as even when dealing with whether or not the Doctor should destroy the Daleks, his archenemies and the most dangerous creatures in the universe. He was still able to raise points, and show different sides to the dilemma to an extent that it’s still kept people talking decades on.

The Doctor’s interactions with Davros are also brilliant too. I love the way the Doctor is able to see exactly the type of person Davros is. Davros claims that the Daleks will be a power for good, as when they rule over all other life forms they will do so benevolently.

The Doctor however can see that a weak, pathetic little man like Davros just wants to use the monsters to tear everything down because it makes him feel strong.

Really there is very little to fault with Genesis. Again other than a few production gaffe’s everything about the adventure works.

It has brilliant performances, its wonderfully directed, its well paced. Even at 6 episodes it doesn’t drag, and contains some of the best cliffhangers in the shows history, such as Davros’ torture of Sarah and Harry, and the Dalek mutant choking the 4th Doctor.

Overall Genesis is not only a fantastic Doctor Who story, but one of the best pieces of British television ever made.

Trivia

  • This was the last Dalek story for 4 years. Though their return in Day of the Daleks had led to a mini revival in Dalekmania (which was still going strong during this story) and all of their subsequent appearances had been big ratings hits. Script editor Robert Holmes hated the Daleks and decided to retire them after this adventure. Fans and viewers apparently sent complaints to the BBC next year as they had gotten used to having a Dalek story every year.
  • Terry Nation who wrote this adventure said it was his favourite out of all the stories he wrote for the series.
  • David Tennant has named this as his favourite story, and the story that made him a Doctor Who fan.
  • Philip Hinchcliff and Terrance Dicks said that very little was changed from Terry Nation’s first draft for this story, which was unusual. Though some scenes from Nation’s original script were edited due to budget reasons (such as the Time Lord meeting the Doctor in a garden on Gallifrey.) Ultimately it remained mostly true to Nations original script. Hinchliff later joked that Terry’s first drafts were often his final drafts as they rarely needed to work on them.
  • This story follows on directly from the Sontaran Experiment (which followed on from the Ark in Space) and leads directly on to Revenge of the Cybermen, which in turn leads directly on to Terror of the Zygons.

 

Death to the Daleks Review

The Third Doctors final Dalek story. Death to the Daleks cast the monsters in a somewhat more unusual position of making them more vulnerable.

Plot

The Doctor decides to take Sarah Jane Smith to the planet Florana. Along the way however the TARDIS becomes stranded on a desert planet where the TARDIS is drained of power. 

As they explore, the Doctor and Sarah become separated. Sarah soon finds a large and beautiful city in the distance. The Doctor and Sarah however become separated and both are attacked by cloaked monsters. Sarah is taken by to their base, an underground cave system where they tell her that she is to be sacrificed for gazing upon their god (the city.)

The Doctor meanwhile is saved by a group of humans who take him back to their ship. They tell him that there is a space plague sweeping the galaxy that is killing millions.

The only known cure for it is parranium, which though rare around the rest of the universe, is as common as sand on this planet, Exxilon. Sadly however when the humans ship arrived it was drained of all power too just like the TARDIS.

The natives, the Exxilons are savage degenerates who worship the city. Having already killed some of the crew, the humans mission looks set to be a dismal failure.

Just then a second craft arrives on the planet. Thinking its a rescue ship the humans and the Doctor go to investigate. Unfortunately they soon discover that it is the Daleks!

The Daleks order that the Doctor and the humans be exterminated, but when they try to fire it is revealed that they are also affected by the same power drain, with their weapons being totally useless.

The Daleks and the humans regrettably form an alliance with one another. The Daleks lie to the Doctor and the humans that the same space plague is affecting them and that they are dying in millions.

In truth however the Daleks simply want to steal the parranium, destroy the surface of Exxilon to prevent anyone else from getting it, and then use it to hold humanity and the other species that are suffering to ransom. 

Along the way to the mining dome, the Daleks and the humans are attacked by a horde of Exxilons who kill one of the human party and one Dalek, by beating it to death.

All including the Doctor are captured. When the Doctor comes across the Exxilons torturing Sarah using their poison, the Doctor attacks their high priest, and he is sentenced to death as well. The leader of the Daleks meanwhile tries to bargain with the leader of the Exxilons for the Dalek and human party’s (but obviously not the Doctor and Sarah’s) freedom.

Back on their ship however the Daleks are able to replace their dead ray guns with machine guns which prove effective against the Exxilons. These Daleks slaughter their way through the Exxilons and round them (alongside their former human allies) up in labour camps to mine the parranium. 

The Daleks also attempt to exterminate the Doctor and Sarah, who escape through the cave system in the commotion. 

The Doctor and Sarah encounter a renegade group of Exxilons led by a man named Bellal.

Bellal after helping them escape the Daleks reveals the history of his planet. Originally Exxilon was one of the most advanced societies in the universe. They even visited other planets (such as the earth at an early point in its history.) 

Sadly their time came when they constructed a gigantic, sentient city. The city eventually turned on the Exxilons and nearly wiped their race out. 

The survivors split into two factions. One who worship the city as a god, and the other, Bellals group who want to destroy the city. 

The Doctor agrees to help Bellal make his way through the city to destroy its brain. The Daleks meanwhile have also realised that the city is the source of the power drain and so they not only send two humans to destroy the beacon, but two Daleks into the city as well.

The Doctor and Bellal make their way through the city’s traps and puzzles with the two Daleks behind them.

Along the way they find the corpses of previous Exxilons who failed the tests.

Sarah meanwhile along with a member of the human crew, Jill Tarrant is able to get the parranium off of the Daleks ship and onto the humans one, replacing the Daleks parranium with bags of sand.

The Doctor and Bellal make their way to the city’s brain. As the Doctor attempts to scramble it, the city creates two zombies to attack them. The zombies however are distracted when the two Daleks show up.

The Daleks machine guns have no effect on the zombies who beat the Daleks whilst the Doctor and Bellal escape. 

The Daleks bomb destroys the beacon and power is restored. Now at full strength, the Daleks reveal their true plans and state that they will launch a plague missile on Exxilon, rendering further landings on the planet impossible.

As they take off however, one of the humans named Galloway uses the Daleks own bomb to destroy their ship. 

The Doctor tells the two surviving humans that they need to get the parranium back to the colonies. As they prepare to leave however they notice the city of the Exxilons, as a result of the Doctors actions, dying. 

As it crumbles to pieces the city actually screams. Though the Exxilons are now free to rebuild their planet, the Doctor remarks that the City of the Exxilons was one of the 700 wonders of the universe, and that its a pity that now the universe only has 699 wonders.

Review

Death to the Daleks has always been one of my favourite stories. It demonstrates all of the strengths of Terry Nation as a writer.

We have a planet with a rich and detailed history, non stop action, morally grey characters, and wonderful, scary monsters.

Though its true that there are some of his old tropes here, such as a long dead city, and space plagues, its not done in a way that negatively impacts the story.

First and foremost I think Death to the Daleks is often overlooked (by everyone except for Nicholas Briggs) for the interesting way it portrays the Daleks.

In the previous Pertwee Dalek stories the monsters were not only portrayed as incredibly powerful, but also in a position of control too.

Here we see them unable to even defend themselves, and be forced to rely solely on their wits. Even when they do manage to replace their guns, then they are still vulnerable. as many of the monsters on Exillon are immune to bullets, such as the giant mechanical root that tears several Daleks to bits, and the zombies in the city that beat them to within an inch of their lives.

Whilst some critics have argued that this makes the Daleks seem weak, I don’t think so. The Daleks are shown to be extremely cunning as a result of the extra problems they have to overcome throughout this story.

For instance they are able to fix the power loss, not the humans. They not only construct weapons that are effective, but they are also able to pinpoint the source of the power drain and destroy it too.

Furthermore having the Daleks overcome all of the tests in the city reinforced to me at least how they are the Doctors equals in intelligence too, as the Doctor had been the only person that had managed to overcome them before.

The Daleks also manage to successfully dupe everyone about their real intentions until the end of the story too. Furthermore I like the way that the Daleks overall plan is not just a direct invasion. Its a very sneaky, underhand plan to steal the only cure for a lethal plague that is affecting the humans.

We haven’t seen the Daleks be portrayed as this manipulative and cunning since Power of the Daleks when the monsters were similarly put in a vulnerable position. In Power however they arguably had a bigger advantage as no one save the Doctor knew who they were.

Here however they are dealing with a group of humans who know exactly what they are capable of (including one who at first refuses to work with them after his father was killed by in the last Dalek war.) Furthermore the Exxilons are savages who want to kill them regardless, and so the Daleks are pushed to even greater extremes, but they still manage to overcome them.

The Doctors interactions with the Daleks are also quite fun in this story. Once again Pertwee works his real life dislike of the monsters into the script quite well with the Doctor not only taking a great delight in their helplessness, but also cheering a mechanical monster as it literally rips the Daleks to bits! “Yes sir palpable hit!”

Galloway, a member of the human crew takes up the position of the devious humanoid character that the Daleks work with in this adventure. Galloway’s a very interesting character overall. At first he just seems like a ruthless glory seeker. He has no regard for the safety of other members of the party, including the Doctor and Sarah, and worst of all is show to be willing to help murder innocent lives if it means he can get the parranium back to earth.

His crew mates don’t trust him at the best of times, including even their former commander who insists on his death bed that Galloway is not fit for command.

This coupled with the fact that he seems to work better with the Daleks make him seem like a villain, but ironically he ends up as the hero of the piece when he blows the Daleks (and himself) up just as they are about to launch their plague missile.

Galloway was just practical and devoted to his duty to get the parranium back to earth that he seemed ruthless to those around him. He viewed everyone’s lives as expendable, including his own for the greater good, and whilst that did lead him to do shady deals with the Daleks, ultimately he put his money where his mouth was and sacrificed himself to destroy the Daleks and saved countless lives in the process.

In a way Galloway is kind of like a precursor to Avon from Terry Nation’s later series Blake’s 7. Avon similarly could come across as a villain at times. He was not above hitting women, shooting people in the back, or even attempting to murder his friends like Vila. However his actor Paul Darrow never saw him as evil per se, more just practical to such a degree that he could appear as ruthless, and a lot of the time Avon often saved the day just like Galloway in spite of, or perhaps because of his ruthless actions.

Sadly aside from Galloway the rest of the human characters are a bit wet or bland. Still the Exxilons fortunately are fantastic creations.

Once again Terry Nation gives them a great detailed backstory, and fills their world full of strange creatures from the city to the mysterious giant hostile roots that live in the waters and caves of the planet.

The design for the Exxilons and their voices are creepy too, particularly when they first capture Sarah.

The city itself meanwhile is a very interesting concept and the sets are magnificent. I was always scared as a boy at the way the previous Exxilons who had tried to make their way through the city’s corpses were just left to rot in there.

Imagine being one of the Exxilons who failed the first intelligence test and seeing the corpses of all the others around you, knowing that you’d just be left to rot in here forever.

There’s a really effective moment when the Doctor and Bellal make their way to the centre of the city, and the Exxilon who was previously seemingly in control and monitoring their tests melts into nothing.

Its never really explained what he was, but I always thought he was a previous Exxilon who had made his way into the city, possibly hundreds of years ago, only to be ensnared by the zombies who then rigged him up to its brain, making him a part of it, and making use of his intelligence (which would explain why it has tests in the first place.)

As soon as the Doctor and Bellal arrive, then it has no further use for him and he just is disposed of. Had it not been ironically for the Daleks timely intervention, then the Doctor and Bellal would have been suffered the same fate.

The final sequence where the city screams as it dies is also very memorable too.

The only problem with the city is that the traps are a bit too simplistic and easy. Its hard to believe that so many great minds could have been stumped by them.

Aside from Galloway, the other standout supporting character in this adventure is Bellal. Bellal is an extremely lovable character. He has a somewhat child like quality to him, such as when he hugs Sarah in fear of the Dalek, yet at the same time he is also smart enough to be of use to the Doctor in the city, and a brave character when it matters, who is fighting to save his people.

His design is also brilliant. The shinning effect on his skin is very striking, whilst the mask allows the actor more flexibility in his performance at the same time too.

Many fans have said that Bellal should have become a companion and I do think he would have been a fantastic addition to the TARDIS, though the actor who played him, Arnold Yarrow might have had a hard time always dressing in that uncomfortable make up!

The only real faults I have with Death to the Daleks are very minor. Some of the production values are a bit weak, such as the root, which you can see is held up with string. Also some of the incidental music is quite grating. Some of its very good, such as the music when the Sarah first stumbles upon the city, and when the city is dying. However I would agree that the notorious jazz tune that follows the Daleks everywhere they go is terrible and inappropriate for the monsters.

Still other than these minor quibbles, Death to the Daleks is an imaginative, action packed, exciting story that uses the Daleks in a unique and interesting way.

Trivia

  • This story was originally called The Exxilons. Its name was changed to Death to the Daleks at the behest of Robert Holmes who hated the Daleks.
  • This was the first story that acclaimed Doctor Who writer Robert Holmes served as script editor on (though he was uncredited.)
  • It was during the filming of this story that Jon Pertwee decided that he would leave the role of the Doctor after 5 years.
  • The Daleks colour scheme was changed back to white for this story as the director felt they looked more menacing that way. It would ultimately be changed back to grey after this story, though white Daleks would be featured alongside Grey Daleks in Revelation and Remembrance of the Daleks.
  • Nicholas Briggs, the voice of the Daleks in the revival has regularly cited this story as one of his favourites, and has mentioned it as being a big influence on much of his work with Big Finish.

Planet of the Daleks Review

Jon Pertwee’s third outing against Skaro’s finest. Planet of the Daleks was also Dalek creator Terry Nation’s first story in almost ten years.

It also featured the first appearance of the Thals, the Daleks old enemies since the first Dalek story.

Plot

Jo Grant helps a wounded Doctor into the TARDIS. The Doctor sends a telepathic message to the Time Lords, asking them to help the TARDIS follow the Dalek spaceship to their base. In the last story Frontier in Space, the Doctor prevented the Master from provoking a war between the earth and Draconian empires. Though he was successful, he discovered that the Master was working for the Daleks, who were assembling an army to invade both empires regardless. The Masters plan was to simply make things easier for the Daleks conquest.

The Doctor blacks out after sending the message. As soon as the TARDIS lands on a new jungle planet, Jo ventures out to try and find help for the wounded Doctor.

Jo is attacked by a plant monster that poisons her before a group of blonde haired, blue eyed humanoid aliens are able to take her to the safety of their ship.

They tell Jo that they are Thals, and that they are here on an important mission. They promise to try and help her friend, but insist that she stay here for her own safety.

Whilst they are away however, an invisible creature breaks into the ship and kidnaps Jo who has passed out from the poison.

The Thals are able to pull the Doctor who has now recovered from the TARDIS. The Doctor knows of the Thal people from his first visit to Skaro and realises that they are here to deal with the Daleks plans too.

Along the way the Doctor and the Thals discover a Dalek that has mastered the power of invisibility, though doing so ultimately drained it of all power.

The Doctor also learns the name of and history of the planet he has landed on. The planet is called Spirodon, and its inhabitants, the Spirodons are a race of primitive creatures who are invisible.

The Daleks easily conquered them, slaughtered most of their population and have turned them into a slave force. According to one of the Thals named Vabor, there are only a few Daleks on Spirodon, but they are working on not only becoming invisible, but a new secret weapon that will allow them to conquer the galaxy.

Vabor clashes with the leader of the mission, Tarrant who he considers to be weak and scared. He believes that they should strike now whilst the Daleks are weak. At one point things become so tense between Tarrant and Vabor, Vabor actually pulls a gun on his commander!

The Spirodon who captured Jo meanwhile cures the poison in her arm. When she comes too he tells her that his name is Wesker, and that he is part of a tiny resistance movement against the Daleks. Jo tells him that she wants to find the Doctor, but Wesker tells her she needs to rest for now.

The Doctor meanwhile is captured by the Daleks along with one of the Thals named Codal. Two Daleks find the Thals spaceship first and decide to destroy it. The Doctor however thinking that Jo is still in there, pleads with the Daleks for her life, but the monsters stun him (as they want to interrogate him) and destroy the Thal ship.

The Doctor along with Codal is able to escape from the Daleks cell ironically by turning the tape recorder Jo left him into a makeshift weapon.

On the other side of Spirodon another Thal ship arrives. One of its team Rebecc tells Tarrant that somewhere on this planet there are over 10 thousand Daleks!

The Thals are able to make their way into the Daleks base where they are reunited with the Doctor and Codal. Though the Daleks corner them, and exterminate one of their number along the way named Marat. The Doctor and the Thals are able to escape up a ventilation system.

Jo Grant meanwhile manages to sneak into the Dalek base with Wesker’s help. There she discovers that the Daleks are planning to unleash a virus capable of destroying all life in the galaxy. After she escapes Jo is later able to stop a group of Daleks from stealing the Thals bombs by setting one off and destroying them.

She then reunites with the Doctor who is overjoyed to see that she survived, and the rest of the Thals. Despite this however tensions continue to rise between the group which results in yet another fight between Vabor and Tarrant where Tarrant assures him that next time he will kill Vabor.

Enraged and tired of Tarrant’s lack of action. Vabor takes the two bombs and attempts to launch a kamikaze attack on the Daleks. Along the way however he is jumped by Spirodons who take him too a Dalek partol. The Daleks exterminate Vabor when attempts to flee, despite Tarrant and Codal’s attempts to rescue him.

Unfortunately the two Daleks follow them back to the camp. The Doctor however is able to defeat the Daleks by pushing them into a lake of molten ice which kills the mutants inside. One of the Thals then gets inside the Dalek, whilst the Doctor and a handful of Thals disguise themselves using Spirodon cloaks (the Daleks make the Spirodons wear purple cloaks to see them.)

Wesker meanwhile having found out what the Daleks are planning foils their plot to unleash their poisonous plague on planets across the galaxy by releasing it into the Daleks base. The Daleks section leader is forced to seal himself and his subordinates in a small room to prevent the plague from escaping, as they were the only ones who were immunised, if it escapes it will kill everything on Spirodon, including the Daleks themselves.

The Doctor and the others are soon discovered by the Daleks who chase them to the lower levels of the base. 

Meanwhile the Dalek Supreme, a member of the high council arrives on Spirodon to check on the progress of the plans. He is angry at the loss of the plague and exterminates one of his subordinates in response. He demands that their army be awoken from the ice to begin the invasion of the galaxy.

The Doctor however in the lower levels is able to use the last of the bombs to cause an explosion which sets off the ice volcano near the base. The entire Dalek base as well as their army is buried under several tons of molten ice.

The thals then use the Dalek Supreme’s ship to escape from Spirodon back to Skaro. The Dalek Supreme and a few of his subordinates who escaped meanwhile chase the Doctor and Jo through the jungle, but the two are able to escape in the TARDIS. 

Despite these setbacks the Dalek Supreme insists that the Daleks have been delayed, but not defeated as the Daleks are never defeated!

In the TARDIS, the Doctor wonders if Jo, who got close to one of the Thals named Latep has regrets about not going with him back to Skaro when he asked her, but she tells the Doctor that she just wants to go back to her own planet and the Doctor obliges.

Review

Planet of the Daleks is definitely one of the weaker Classic era Dalek stories. In fact I’d say its probably the weakest of the 70s after Destiny of the Daleks.

Still that does not mean its a bad story, as all of the 70s Dalek stories are excellent (in fact they include two of the all time greatest stories from that decade, Day of the Daleks and Genesis of the Daleks.)

I’d say that Planet is an above average story. Above all else its extremely enjoyable. Nation always knew how to pace his stories brilliantly. There’s just non stop action and what’s great is that all of the cliff hangers to this story help move the plot along too. Sometimes, particularly with longer Doctor Who stories the cliff hangers can feel like they are just tossed in there at the last minute to have our characters be in some kind of peril. That’s not the case here however.

A lot of people have knocked the cliff hanger for the first episode when the Doctor acts surprised to find a Dalek on the planet despite having followed them there. However the Doctor is not surprised to find a Dalek, simply an invisible Dalek.

Nation also does a brilliant job in making Spirodon feel like a fully fleshed out world, by filling it full of diverse and bizarre creatures. Nation’s planets always felt a bit more fleshed out for this reason than other authors.

Compare say Telos in the Tomb of the Cybermen. All we see is the Cybermen and their city and that’s it. We don’t know what animals live on the planet, its history, or even see much of the planet except for the city and a few landscapes.

With Aridius from The Chase however, which only plays a minor role in the story, we get the full history of the planet’s ecosystem, of how it used to be a an ocean world before it dried up, we also get to see its animal life such as the Mire beasts, as well as the main humanoid life forms, the Aridans.

Similarly with Skaro in the first Dalek story we were also given a glimpse of the various animal life forms, such as the mutants in the lake, the petrified lizard like animal in the forest, as well the history of the planet, and various different set pieces from the jungles of the planet, to the treacherous cave system our heroes have to journey through, to the Dalek city.

Planet of the Daleks continues this tradition brilliantly. We see the Spirodons, the main humanoid life forms, as well as various forms of intelligent and hostile plant life, and hostile animals who attack the Doctor and the Thals during the night. We also get to see more of the planet, discover how it functions, and how its various species survive and live with each other too.

The Daleks themselves meanwhile in some ways are more effective in this adventure than previous Pertwee Dalek stories, whilst in others they are less.

In terms of being a direct threat they are far less dangerous. In Day of the Daleks and Frontier in Space we saw how just a few Daleks were able to slaughter their way through dozens of heavily armed humans without being slowed down for a second. Here however we see Dalek grunts get overpowered and killed by unarmed Thals and humans!

I wouldn’t say the Daleks are feeble in this story however. They are suitably ruthless such as when they ignore the Doctors pleas for Jo’s life and when they later shoot Vabor in the back as he attempts to flee. (I always loved the way that one of the Spirodons who chased Vabor is caught in the Daleks blast, but the Daleks just don’t give a shit at all.)

I think not having that many targets for the Daleks to shoot is a big problem in this story. In Day they had dozens of UNIT soldiers to mow down at the end, but here the supporting cast is just a tiny group of Thals.

Apparently Terry Nation did intend to have the Daleks exterminate all of the Thals in the final episode, but this was vetoed by Terrance Dicks and Barry Letts who were still concerned about the previous complaints of violence directed towards the series.

I think its a shame that they took this approach as had all of the Thals been killed then it would have made the story much darker, and would have certainly made the Daleks seem more formidable. Finally it would have also perhaps lessened the comparisons to the first Dalek story too.

Also another drawback is that the Daleks are not given a slimy, devious humanoid villain to play off either. In fact this is the only Classic era Dalek story after The Daleks Masterplan that doesn’t give them this type of character to interact with. Even their brief appearance in Frontier in Space gave them the Master to play off of.

Without this character the Daleks do feel a bit more like generic invaders. Its an important ingredient in the Dalek stories that I think should always be included.

Still the Daleks being an intergalactic power is explored in greater detail here than in other stories.

I like the way that the Spirodons are not freed from the Daleks rule at the end. They suffered an invasion every bit as bad as the earth in the 22nd century. The Daleks bombarded their planet, exterminated most of their population, have turned the unlucky survivors into a slave force, and have performed the most horrific experiments on them.

There is a disturbing scene where Wesker tells Jo Grant after the Daleks have captured the Doctor that if they perform their experiments on him, he would be better off dead. One can only wonder what Wesker has seen them to do other members of his kind, including most likely his friends or family.

Weskers fate is also a very dark moment as he is forced to kill himself in order to stop the monsters.

As seen with Wesker the Spirodons are clearly a race capable of both evil and good like humanity, but they are left to suffer at the end of the story. Its not because the Doctor doesn’t care about them, its because there is genuinely nothing that he can do to free them.

What’s worse is that no one else will probably even be aware of the Spirodons either. They aren’t a big galactic power like Earth or Draconia. They are just a primitive race,  who exist in a barely inhabited solar system, far away from earth or anyone else. They’ll continue to be dominated by the Daleks until the monsters have no further use for them after which they will most likely exterminate the Spirodons.

Its disturbing to think that there will be thousands, even millions of other races the Daleks will have done this too. Whole cultures they will have wiped from existence, and the Doctor, nor anyone else will ever have any idea who they were.

The same thing would have happened to humanity too in the 22nd Century. We just lucked out in that the Doctor, because of his grand daughter Susan, took a particular fondness to our planet.

But that’s the point however is that sadly the Doctor can’t help every planet that the monsters take over. Some like Spirodon he won’t even be aware of, and this story reinforces that.

That’s actually the scariest thing about the Daleks. They are a swarm across the universe, capable to erasing whole species in the blink of an eye, and the Doctor no matter how hard he tries can never hope to fully wipe them out. All the Doctor can hope to do is keep their numbers down, and save the planets that he is aware of like the earth.

When the Dalek Supreme says that they have been delayed, not defeated he’s right. Its not just the usual “you win this time hero”. The Doctor has stopped them from launching their plague and their army, but he hasn’t dented their empire, and hasn’t actually freed any world from their influence either.

Furthermore all they will have to do is free their army and recover the data that was lost about the plague, which will take them time. Maybe enough time for Earth, Draconia and other powers to regroup, but ultimately the Daleks will recover, and the Doctor will have to be ready for them.

To me this is far more frightening than in other stories where the Daleks are completely wiped out at the end. That to me makes them seem more like cartoon villains, who have to be completely defeated by the hero at the end of every story. This story instead makes them a grand force that the Doctor can have small, sometimes notable victories against, but that’s it.

I also like the way that all of the Daleks enemies in this story are aliens too. Again constantly having the Daleks be obsessed with humanity can often make them seem small. They are supposed to have the greatest empire in the universe, yet they are always obsessed with destroying, and constantly lose to our small, seemingly insignificant planet?

Here however you get the feeling that that they are a danger to the whole universe, with humanity just being one of many races they intend to exterminate, and again the fact that its not earth they have conquered means that there is no reset button where all of the Daleks have to be wiped out on Spirodon and the planet goes back to normal in a short time like in stories such as Doomsday and Journey’s End.

The Daleks are also far more active here than in Day of the Daleks. Director David Maloney really handles the Daleks well, shooting them in a way where they seem large and imposing, yet also quite fast too, which was difficult given the limitations with the props.

The Doctors interactions with the Daleks are also quite interesting in this story too. Here the Doctor is actually shown to take a sadistic delight in murdering a Dalek, exclaiming “for a man who abhors violence I must admit I took a great satisfaction in that”.  The idea of the Doctor taking a pleasure in destroying the Daleks is something that we’d see in later stories.

Its a key ingredient in their relationship that helped the Daleks to stand out as the Doctors worst foes, as whilst the Doctor is always prepared to kill, the Daleks are the only monsters he’s ever shown to be positively giddy when slaughtering.

Planet of the Daleks is the first story that really begins this aspect of their relationship.

The Doctors grief at Jo’s apparent death is also well acted on Pertwee’s part. His rage and hatred against the Daleks and desire to avenge Jo are there, but they’re subtle, and you can see it reflected when he murders the Dalek in the cell.

As for the guest characters, well they are by and large just bland good guys. The only one with any kind of personality is hot head Vabor, but he’s a complete moron.

Still Tarrant the Thals leader is played by one of the shows best guest actors, Bernard Horsefall. Its a slightly unusual part for Horsefall, as normally he tended to play more edgy or even villainous characters like Goth and Gulliver.

Still he’s really good at the dashing, square jawed hero, and he and Pertwee have a brilliant chemistry with each other too. I think Horsefall would have made an amazing Dan Dare based on his performance in this serial.

The story does have some negative qualities. As almost every review of Planet of the Daleks has pointed out, this story reuses elements of not only the original Dalek adventure, but other Terry Nation Dalek stories too. There are the invisible aliens from The Daleks Masterplan, the hostile jungle planet which is similar to Kembel, the city of the Daleks that our heroes must cross a treacherous cave system to enter, and finally there is even someone who hides inside a Dalek casing in both stories too.

Also I think the anti war message of this story is very heavy handed and clumsily done too. The final speech about not glorifying war goes on too long and sadly just comes across as patronising. It seems like either Terry Nation or Terrance Dicks were trying to emulate Star Trek here, as Kirk was often fond of giving big speeches to aliens such as the famous “We’re not going to kill today”. Sadly whilst it worked most of the time for Kirk, I just don’t think its quite as good a fit for the more alien, distant Doctor.

The production values for Planet of the Daleks are also quite shoddy in places. The scene of the monsters attacking the campfire are laughable. Its a shame because its really well written, and the actors give it their all, but all the great writing, directing and acting in the world can’t hide the fact that the monsters are just a pair of cheap eyes on the wall.

Still the jungle set is impressive, as is the set for the city of the Daleks too and most of the time Mahoney is able to get round any limitations.

The biggest fault with Planet of the Daleks is that it doesn’t really follow on from Frontier in Space that well. Other than a brief mention in episode 4 about the events of Frontier in Space are barely acknowledged. Also I think it would have been more interesting seeing the Draconians and the humans have to overcome their differences against a common threat, and the Master and the Daleks working together.

Sadly however its all tossed in the bin, and Frontier in Space and Planet of the Daleks despite being billed as essentially a 12 part epic, are really two completely unrelated stories, linked by a cliff hanger ending.

Still despite these faults, overall Planet of the Daleks is a very enjoyable, and exciting action packed adventure and a welcome return for Terry Nation to the series.

Trivia

  • The Dalek Supreme prop that was used for this adventure was an old recycled prop from the second Cushing Dalek movie. It had been given to Terry Nation after the film, and he loaned it to the BBC for use. As a further homage to the Cushing films, a few notes of music from the movie Doctor Who and The Daleks play when the Dalek Supreme first emerges from his ship and later when he first enters the city.
  • During the filming of this adventure David Bowie and his band at the time The Spiders From Mars visited the set and mingled with the cast. Bowie was a huge fan of science fiction series like Doctor Who and Dan Dare.
  • Two different stories across two different mediums have returned to the setting of this story. In the comic strip Nemesis of the Daleks, Davros escapes to Spirodon (after being captured in Revelation of the Daleks.) And revives the frozen Dalek army. In Return of the Daleks however the Daleks attempt to free the frozen army instead.
  • Whilst the Doctor foiled the monsters plans to invade, spin off material shows that there was still a war between the Daleks and the alliance of humanity and Draconia. The novel Prisoner of the Daleks featuring the Tenth Doctor is set in this time. The last great Dalek war is also mentioned in their next television appearance, Death to the Daleks.
  • This story marks the first and only time in the Classic era where the Doctor is shot by a Dalek.

Frontier in Space Review

The first of a two part story. Frontier in Space also marked the first time any of the Doctors enemies met, in this case the Daleks and the Master.

Though it would sadly be Roger Delgado’s last story as the Master, Frontier in Space is one of the best Pertwee era stories and a fitting send off for one of the greatest villains in the shows history.

Plot

The Doctor and Jo arrive in the far future. The earth empire is expanding into space, but it has come into conflict with another great power, the Draconian empire. The Draconians are a race of sentient reptile people. Though a generally peaceful race, tensions have been building up between the Draconians and the earth men for many years.

Recently both have begun to attack each others ships in hit and run attacks. Though the governments of both races deny having involvement in the attacks, war between the two empires seems an inevitability.

The Doctor and Jo arrive on a cargo ship where the crew instantly assume that they are Draconians. Jo meanwhile sees the crew as Drashiggs, ferocious giant carnivores she had encountered on a previous adventure.

Later the ship is attacked by Ogrons who the earth men still see as Draconians. The Doctor deduces that a third party is using some kind of hypnotic device to make people see what they fear the most. Jo Grant saw a Drashigg, whilst the humans of the ship saw Draconians, who humanity fears the most. Meanwhile when the Ogrons have attacked Draconian ships they have seen them as humans, as the Draconians fear humanity.

Whoever this third party is that’s employing the Ogrons (who as mere mercenaries would not have been able to think of this plan on their own.) They are responsible for all of the attacks on both the earth and Draconian ships, and hope to set both empires against each other so that they can emerge in the aftermath and take over.

When the crew come to after the Ogron attack they believe that the Doctor and Jo are traitors who were helping the “Draconians” and Jo and the Doctor are imprisoned.

On earth the Doctor speaks to the President, and at one point is kidnapped by the Draconians who believe that he is a double agent set to discredit them.

Sadly he is unsuccessful in convincing either that there is a third party plotting to provoke a war between them.

The Doctor is later sent to a prison colony on the moon. There he discovers that the third party employing the Ogrons is his old enemy, The Master!

The Master has using a forged identity become the chief of police and has framed the Doctor for several crimes. He decides to take the Doctor and Jo to meet his employers. It turns out that the Master is in the service of a greater power interested in provoking a war. The Master doesn’t say who they are, but tells the Doctor that they are very interested in meeting him.

Along the way there however the Doctor escapes and after a fight with the Master, the ship drifts into Draconian space where all three are captured by Draconians.

They are taken to meet the Draconian emperor himself. There the Master is rescued by Ogrons, and once again thanks to his hypnotic device, the Draconians see the Ogrons as humans. 

In the ensuing fight however, the Doctor is able to knock out one of the Ogrons, and after the Master escapes and the effects of the machine wear off, the Draconians are able see the Ogron for what it really is. 

The Draconians decide to use the Master’s ship to get back to earth, with the Ogron as proof of the Doctors claims. 

The Master however is able to intercept their vessel and capture both Jo and the Ogron.

Back on earth the Doctor and the Draconian Prince again attempt to convince the President of what is really going on. The Doctor asks to be allowed to use a vessel to travel to the planet of the Ogrons.

Though the President agrees, her attempts are shot down by General Williams, who had earlier torpedoed the Doctors attempts to convince the President.

The Draconian prince calls out Williams bigotry, telling him that years ago he destroyed an unarmed Draconian vessel which helped to kick off the current hostilities. Williams insists that the vessel was not unarmed, and that it was a battle cruiser. The Prince however points out to Williams that the cruiser was unarmed, as its weapons were empty, and that they had only chosen a battle cruiser as that was the only way a nobleman of Draconia could travel. 

Feeling guilty for his past sins, Williams agrees to help the Doctor find the Ogron planet. 

When the Doctor, Williams, the Draconian Prince and the team arrive on the planet however, they not only find the Master waiting for them, but that he has summoned those who employed him to provoke a war, the Daleks!

The Daleks slaughter Williams entire crew except for the Doctor, Williams himself and the Draconian Prince who are all taken prisoner.

The Gold Dalek declares that the Doctor will be exterminated, but ironically his life is saved by the Master. The Master tells the Daleks that he wants to torture the Doctor more by showing him the earth, and the galaxy that he loves so much in ruins before killing him.

The Gold Dalek agrees and leaves to prepare the army of the Daleks to conquer the Earth and Draconian empires after they have destroyed each in other in the Masters war.

The Doctor, Williams and the Draconian Prince are locked in a cell with Jo Grant. There Jo tells the Doctor that the Master has the TARDIS on this planet (which he had hoped to use to lure the Doctor into a trap.)

Jo also during a previous failed escape attempt had managed to steal the Masters fear device. The Doctor is then able to use it to hypnotise an Ogron into thinking he is a Dalek. The Ogron releases them, and Williams and the Draconian prince flee back to their home planets to warn their people of the Master and the Daleks plans. 

As the Doctor and Jo attempt to leave in the TARDIS they are ambushed by the Master and a group of Ogrons. Using the Master’s own fear device the Doctor scatters the Ogrons, but the Doctor is wounded by the Master in a shoot out before the villain flees.

Jo helps a wounded Doctor get back into the TARDIS. There the Doctor sends a telepathic message to the Time Lords, telling them to help him make his way to the Daleks base so he can stop their plans.

To Be Continued. 

Review

Frontier in Space is an overlooked gem in my opinion. A part of what makes it work is the world building it does.

We are taken into the future of humanity in so much more detail than other Doctor Who stories. Like many later sci fi series such as Firefly, Frontier in Space doesn’t present the future as either being rosey like Star Trek, or completely terrible like in Terminator.

Instead much like today technology and quality of life has improved for vast swathes of the population, but there is still sadly terrible corruption at the top, and vast inequalities and prejudice in other areas of society too.

We see many problems in the future that aren’t necessarily integral to the plot, such as the prison colony on the moon, and the radical left wing resistance movement who though fighting against an unfair system are still terrorists.

All of these help the viewer to feel as though they are watching a proper, fully fleshed out world.

Its also interesting the way the Doctor isn’t able to fix all of the problems in the future too. For instance the rebels on the moon who tried to help him escape are just left to rot after the Master captures the Doctor. Again it gives the setting a tinge of realism, as after all the Doctor can’t fix everything. When he arrives in modern day for instance he is only able to fix problems like the Axons invading the earth, rather than the energy crisis.

So here its the same. He can stop the Daleks from destroying all of humanity, but ultimately even if there are huge inequalities and problems facing human society, and good people suffering. He has to just step aside and let humanity sort its own problems out.

The main characters are also well fleshed out and acted too. The President played by Vera Fusek is quite an interesting character in that she is shown to be a fair and just woman, yet at the same time she is completely powerless against those around her, such as General Williams.

You’re not sure whether she is someone doing her best to fight against an unfair system, or just a spineless puppet who is easily manipulated by those around her.

Williams meanwhile starts out as the typical petty bureaucrat that Jon Pertwee’s Doctor has to deal with, but over time you can see that his hatred of the Draconians is really more his way of justifying his past actions

He knows that he acted rashly in destroying the Draconian ship, so the only way he can not feel guilty is if the Draconians are total monsters.

When he is faced with irrefutable proof that he did commit murder, then he realises that he must try and make amends and ends up becoming a heroic character, helping the Doctor and the Prince foil the Master.

The Draconians themselves are brilliant aliens. Their costumes are very well realised. As Jon Pertwee himself was often fond of pointing out, the Draconians benefited from having a design that could allow the actor a chance to actually use their facial expressions in their performance. You can tell that Jon Pertwee really enjoyed working alongside them which works even more in universe, as the Doctor has a great admiration for the Draconians and their culture.

Much like with his other more famous monsters the Silurians, Hulke goes to great lengths to make the Draconians seem different to humanity, but no more evil or good.

The Draconians ultimately just wish to survive. They have no desire for conquest, or any real hatred of humanity. Their culture isn’t exactly rosey, as they view women as inferior and refuse to even allow them to speak without the permission of males.

At the same time however the Draconians are shown to be far less xenophobic than humanity. Not only did the humans provoke the initial hostilities, but they also are more desperate to go to war than the Draconians are too. Its not just General Williams, the whole earth population is in support of a conflict as seen in the famous moment when a rabble rouser on the streets is shown to drum up support for exterminating the Draconians.

In contrast the Prince though arrogant and condescending, is desperate when he first meets the Third Doctor to prevent any bloodshed, whilst the Emperor is practically the only figure of authority on either side who gives the Doctor a fair hearing too and has no hatred or prejudice towards the humans.

The Emperor of the Draconians is shown to be respectful of the humans too. He even allows Jo Grant to speak in his presence, as even though women are forbidden to do so in Draconian culture, he respects that it is allowed in Earth society. The humans meanwhile regularly refer to the Draconians as Dragons in a degrading way and appear repulsed by their very presence.

The relationship between the Draconians and humanity is a metaphor for Cold War tensions. In this respect many have compared Frontier in Space to various episodes of the original Star Trek series involving the Klingons.

The frontier in space between both races is a very similar concept to the neutral zone. In some respects however I think the Draconians are a superior take on the whole cold war in space idea than any episode involving the Klingons in Star Trek TOS.

Obviously overall the Klingons are far better aliens as their society has naturally been fleshed out over the years, unlike the Draconians.

However though the Klingons were a good metaphor for the horrors of the Soviet Union. A problem I feel there was with some of the TOS Klingon episodes, was that the Federation, who were meant to represent the USA, where portrayed as whiter than white.

In the real cold war of course we know it was far from the truth. America was responsible for invasions of other countries such as Vietnam where they used some of the most obscene chemical weapons ever devised as they bombed their enemies “back to the stone age”.

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They also backed and supported some of the most brutal regimes and dictatorships such as the Khmer Rouge, and Augusto Pinochet too.

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With this in mind as much as I like Star Trek, it can feel a little bit rich when we see the Federation portrayed as the absolute good guys with no faults at all.

Frontier in Space however offers up a more nuanced and fair approach, by showing corruption, inequalities and labour camps in both societies, and not painting either as strictly the good guy.

In this respect the Daleks can be seen to return to their original role as the Nazis as they are the force that unites both the soviets and the west. The Daleks and the Nazis aren’t just fascists who want to consolidate their power. They actively want to exterminate anyone who doesn’t fit in with their idea of the master race, so naturally everyone ends up becoming their enemies too.

This idea is explored later in Genesis of the Daleks. One of the reasons the Doctor spares the Daleks is because he feels that many future worlds will become the allies with each other because of their fear of the Daleks. I’d like to think that Draconia and Earth were an example of this.

The Daleks and the Master are used effectively in this story. The Master’s plan is one of his best, to make his enemies destroy one another rather than just another invasion. Throughout the story he generally is two steps ahead of the Doctor and Jo, with both regularly playing into his hands, alongside the humans and Draconians.

Throughout most of this adventure the Doctor is desperate and struggling to get people to listen to him, whilst the Master is a respected member of the police force. That was always the best thing about the Master. Unlike the Doctors other enemies like the Daleks and Davros, the Master could turn the people the Doctor was trying to protect and even in some cases care about against him.

Delgado’s performance is excellent as always. I love the way he switches from appearing charming with Jo one minute. Jokingly telling her that she has his sympathies when the Doctor bores on about the Time Lords exiling him, but then turn vicious in a second when he stuffs her into an airlock and taunts the Doctor that he will eject her into space.

To me this is far more terrifying than making the Master just a cackling psychopath as here you never know when he is going to snap. Furthermore you can actually grow to like him when he is joking around with the Doctor and Jo, which just makes it all the more horrible when he threatens Jo and tries to brutally murder her without a seconds hesitation.

Delgado is also able to work a lot of great humour into the villain too, in moments such as his tantrum at the Ogrons for being cowards, his speech about preserving law and order (which prompts the Doctor to ask him if he is feeling well?) And his reading War of the Worlds as he provokes a war between two planets.

The only disappointing thing about this story is that it offers no conclusion to the Delgado version of the Master. To be fair it was never intended to. The plan was for Delgado to reappear next season in Jon Pertwee’s final story.

Sadly however Delgado was killed in a car accident not long after filming Frontier in Space, so it ended up becoming his swansong. As a story to go out on, he couldn’t have asked for a better script, but it is a bit of anti climactic end to his character, just to see him retreat back into the shadows for good.

The Daleks role in this story is obviously limited as they only appear at the end, but even then the writers make sure to treat them as a big deal.

Much like in Day of the Daleks, just three Daleks are shown to be dangerous. They completely slaughter a heavily armed earth expedition without breaking a sweat, and the Doctor tells the Draconian prince and Williams not to even bother firing at them as their weapons won’t even make a dent in the Daleks armour.

The voices supplied by Michael Wisher (who later went on to play Davros.) Are much better than those for Day of the Daleks. Wisher adds a the proper hysterical quality to the Daleks screeching voices.

The only disappointment is that we don’t get to see the Daleks and the Masters alliance in great detail. Though in a way I suppose its good that unlike in Doomsday neither are undermined for one another.

Still I would have liked to have seen how the two villains came to work together, as well as how they planned to stab in each other in the back. We only get a tiny glimpse of that when after the Daleks have left the Master sneers at them, that they’ll see who rules the universe once the war is over. Its a great moment, and I loved the way that the Master calls the Daleks “stupid tin boxes”, but sadly other than that this story doesn’t make much of the fact that it was the first time any of the Doctors archenemies met on screen.

Overall Frontier in Space is pretty much a perfect story for me. It has a brilliant, intelligent and engaging storyline, interesting supporting characters, a fully fleshed out world, and in spite of its ending, is a fitting send of for Roger Delgado’s Master, one of the best villains the show has ever seen.

There isn’t really anything I can fault in the story. Even from a production stand point, the sets are very well realised and the Ogron and Draconian costumes are very effective too. The only special effects failure that might have let the story down, the giant Ogron eater was thankfully cut, and only gets a fleeting cameo where we get a glimpse of how big it is.

Overall to me Frontier in Space is a brilliant story that deserves more appreciation.

What Could Have Been

In the top right hand corner is a concept drawing for the design of the Cybermen originally slated to appear in Frontier in Space.

Originally this story was to feature the Cybermen in place of the Ogrons as the Masters soldiers to attack both the Draconian and Earth ships.

The Cybermen would have been working as equals with the Daleks and the Master to provoke a war, rather than as their servants like the Ogrons (with all three planning to stab each other in the back once the war was over.) The finale episode where the Daleks capture the Doctor, would also have taken place on Telos, the adopted planet of the Cybermen, with the sets from Tomb of the Cybermen being recreated.

Sadly this was scrapped at the last minute and the Ogrons were used instead. Personally as much as I like the Ogrons, I think that it would have been better with the Cybermen. It would have marked the Third Doctors only encounter with the Cybermen. He would go on to encounter them in 20th Anniversary story The Five Doctors, but sadly he was the only Classic era Doctor never to encounter them during his era.

Also I think that had the Cybermen been used then it would have been more genuinely surprising when the Daleks showed up at the end. As it was, because the Ogrons had been introduced as their servants, then it was obvious that the Daleks had some kind of involvement from the start.

As to why the Cybermen were scrapped, no reason has been given, but there are 4 possible reasons.

1/ Terrance Dicks, the script editor during Jon Pertwee’s time HATED the Cybermen. He considered them to be boring, dull and useless. Dicks also appeared to dislike Kit Pedler, one of the creators of the Cybermen personally too. He called Pedler whiny, difficult to work with, and said that Pedler was no where near as talented as he thought he was. He said that all Pedler was good for was the occasional idea and scientific knowledge.

Dicks hatred of the Cybermen would later lead to him having them get slaughtered memorably by the Raston Warrior Robot in The Five Doctors.

With this in mind its not exactly surprising that the Cybermen didn’t appear in the 5 years he was script editor. Though they were still considered for this story, perhaps Dicks ended up putting his foot down on the decision.

2/ Jon Pertwee who played the Third Doctor wasn’t exactly enamoured with the Cybermen either. Though its true that he didn’t like the Daleks who appeared 4 times throughout his era either, the Daleks were simply far too popular to be left out of the show. Furthermore in contrast to the Cybermen, Terrance Dicks felt the Daleks were effective and got a long well with the creator of the Daleks, Terry Nation who he became friends with.

3/ Its possible that Terry Nation didn’t like the Daleks and the Cybermen meeting in this story. Whilst Nation was good friends with Cyberman co-creator Gerry Davies, he still didn’t like his monsters having to share the screen with other monsters and vetoed an attempt to bring the Daleks and the Cybermen together in the 1960s. When the Daleks and the Cybermen did finally meet in the 2006 story Doomsday, it was ten years after his death in 1996.

4/ They may not have simply had the budget to not only make the new Cybermen costumes, but also recreate the ice tombs of Telos. To be honest this seems like the most likely explanation, as the planet of the Ogrons, yet another quarry was obviously cheaper, whilst it would also have been cheaper to use the old Ogron costumes too.

Whatever the reason, sadly the Cybermen were not used, and their only appearance throughout the entire Pertwee era, is a tiny cameo in the preceeding story Carnival of Monsters.

Trivia

  • This was Roger Delgado’s last story as the Master. He was killed in a car crash not long after finishing the story. The death of Delgado, a close friend of Pertwee, as well as the departure of Katy Manning who played Jo Grant, both contributed to Jon Pertwee leaving the show next year. The Master would return just 4 years later where he was played by actor Peter Pratt instead.
  • This story and the next Planet of the Daleks, were originally conceived as one twelve part epic, with Letts hoping that it could rival The Daleks Masterplan. However again part way through production, Letts worried that one story wouldn’t be able to hold audiences for 3 months, and so they were split into two connected, but ultimately separate stories.
  • The end of this story where the Time Lords help the Doctor follow the Daleks to their base, marks the first time that there is any kind of conflict between the Daleks and the Time Lords in general, not just the Doctor.
  • Jon Pertwee always named the Draconians as being his favourite monsters. Pertwee praised them for the way you were able to see the actors mouths and eyes and therefore could act off of them properly unlike the Daleks or the Cybermen.

 

Day of the Daleks Review

The first Dalek story of the 1970s. Day of the Daleks is one of the few stories of the classic era to actually use time travel as integral part of the plot, rather than just as a way to get the Doctor somewhere.

Hugely popular at the time, Day of the Daleks helped to kick off a mini revival of Dalekmania throughout the 70s. Sadly it has become a somewhat polarising story in the decades since, with some critics slating its low key production values and poor Dalek voices.

Still overall I’d rate this as one of the best Dalek and 70s Doctor Who stories in general.

Plot

The Doctor and UNIT are called in to investigate the mysterious appearances of ghostly soldiers who have been appearing and then vanishing at Sir Reginald Styles house.

Styles is due to hold a peace conference which many (including the Brigadier) see as the last chance to prevent World War 3.

The Doctor discovers a highly advanced weapon near the house, whilst UNIT later stumble upon a soldier who has been beaten half to death. As they take him to the hospital however, the soldier vanishes into thin air.

The Doctor and Jo decide to spend the night in the house whilst Styles is away to find out what the real problem is.

In the morning they encounter more soldiers wielding futuristic weaponry, who are battling hideous, savage, ape like creatures called Ogrons. 

The soldiers leader explains that they come from over 200 years in the future. They have come to kill Styles who they claim will cause a third world war. According to the rebels Styles is a radical who will blow up all of the delegates, and himself too when he holds the conference in a few days time.

In a confrontation with the rebels, Jo Grant is accidentally sent forward into the rebels time. The Doctor then follows the rebels back to their time, where he discovers much to his horror that the Daleks now rule the earth.

After the world war that Sytles kicked off destroyed most of humanity, the Daleks saw their opportunity and conquered what was left of the human race. Most humans were rounded up into labour camps where they were forced to build weapons for the Daleks and mine the planet earth for resources.

The Daleks essentially turn the earth into a giant factory to build weapons and star ships to conquer other planets. The Daleks are also served by a race of ape like monsters called the Ogrons.

The human rebels who tried to kill Sytles are the last tiny pocket of resistance. With the aid of an inside spy, they managed to steal some of the Daleks own time travel technology with which they hoped to kill Styles and change history so that the war never happened. 

The Doctor searches for Jo in the wasteland of the future, but he is captured by Ogrons and brutally tortured by the Daleks human servants (who assume he is just another spy) for information.

The Controller however (latest in a line of the Daleks human servants who monitors the camps.) Halts the interrogation as he plans to use other means to find out what the Doctor knows. 

Jo Grant had earlier materialized in the middle of the Controllers base. After speaking with her, the Controller learned of the Doctor. Naturally when the Controller later mentioned the Doctor to the Daleks they were terrified.

The Controller believes that the Doctor can’t be broken, so he tries to trick the Doctor and lie to him that the rebels are the villains. 

Though Jo falls for his lies, the Doctor knowing who is in charge, and having seen the Dalek labour camps is disgusted by the Controller and brands him a Quisling. 

The Daleks do not recognise the Doctor (as he has regenerated since they last saw him.) So they torture him with a mind probe to discover his true identity. The Doctor resists the torture until it almost kills him, but his true identity is eventually discovered.

The Controller once again stops the Daleks from killing the Doctor, claiming that he can get more information out of the Doctor.

The Doctor however still refuses to tell the Controller anything. The Controller tells the Doctor that he does not serve the Daleks willingly, but that he thinks its futile to try and fight them as all who have tried have failed miserably. The Controller argues that he has made things easier for the people in their camps and has even saved lives, but the Doctor still views him as a traitor however.

The rebels meanwhile learn from their spy that the Daleks fear the Doctor, and so they decide to rescue him. Though many are killed in the fight, their mission is successful. The Doctor stops the rebels from killing the Controller, who is subsequently given just one more chance to find the Doctor by the Daleks.

The Doctor is able to figure out from working with the rebels that ironically Styles was not responsible for the explosion that kicked off the war. One of the rebels named Shura blew the house and himself up in a kamikaze attack against Styles. Unfortunately he was unaware that the peace conference was going on at the time. 

The Doctor and Jo head back to stop Shura, but along the way they are ambushed by the Controller and and a group of Ogrons. The Doctor convinces the Controller that he can finally free humanity from the Daleks. The Controller is skeptical at first, but eventually comes to believe the Doctor after having seen how scared the Daleks were of him. He also releases the Doctor as he feels he owes him for sparing his life when the rebels attacked.

The Daleks exterminate the Controller for his treachery, and decide to launch an attack on the conference to make sure that their version of history isn’t changed.

UNIT however are able to hold off the Dalek and Ogron attack force that arrives in the past long enough for the Doctor and the Brigadier to get Styles and the other delegates out of the house in time.

When the Daleks finally make their way into the house, they are killed in Shura’s explosion instead.

The story ends with the Doctor telling Styles to make sure his conference can go ahead as planned now, as he and Jo have both seen what will happen if he fails.

Review

Day of the Daleks is a brilliant reintroduction for the Daleks. At this stage the monsters had been absent from Doctor Who for 5 years (their longest ever break from the show, not counting the hiatus between 1989 and 2005.)

The Daleks needed a strong story that would remind older viewers why they had been such a big deal in the first place and show the new generation of Who fans how special they were.

Day of the Daleks accomplishes this by playing on all of the strengths the monsters had in previous stories.

Just like in great 60s stories like The Power of the Daleks, we get to see a manipulative side to the Daleks here, as the monsters create a situation where the humans ironically destroy themselves.

The Daleks are clearly aware that it was the rebels who destroyed the conference from the start, but they are able to trick the humans by letting them think that they have scored a victory in stealing their time machines, and planting a spy in their base. They even send Ogrons back to try and fight them in the past, all of which makes the rebels think that they have finally beaten the Daleks, when ironically they are playing right into the monsters hands.

This story also gives the Daleks a devious, manipulative human character to play off of too, which again had always made the monsters more interesting in the 60s (and would do so again for many decades to come.) Previous examples included Mavic Chen, Lesterson and Maxtible. The Controller from this story however might actually be the most interesting example of this type of character outside of Davros himself.

The Controller is not just a greedy, corrupt, power mad megalomaniac like Mavic Chen. There are moments that show he clearly enjoys being the Daleks right hand man, due to the power he can wield over other people, such as in a memorable scene where the Controller threatens the family of one of his subordinates.

Aubrey Woods plays the scene brilliantly, with the little sadistic smile on his face as the man pleads with him not to hurt his loved ones.

Still despite this its obvious that deep down the Controller does mean what he says when he tells the Doctor that he is doing all he can to help the people suffering in the Daleks camps.

He genuinely pleads with the Daleks for their slaves sake several times in the story, and is utterly horrified when the Daleks show no regard for their well being. I love the way that even with a lifetime under their rule, the Controller can still be surprised at how evil the Daleks can be. It shows you how there truly is no limit to the Daleks cruelty.

Ultimately the Controller proves where his true loyalties lie in the end when he lets the Doctor escape which costs him his life.

The Controller is someone who has spent his entire life under the Daleks thumb. He has seen countless people try and face them only to all fail miserably. Furthermore his father, his grandfather, his ancestors all lived their lives in exactly the same way too. So really its no wonder that he feels its hopeless to fight them, and that the rebels will ultimately only make things worse for future generations under the Daleks rule.

With the Doctor however he is the one person the Daleks have ever shown fear of. Whilst the Daleks have never shown even the tiniest bit of concern over the rebels. Even with all of their attacks and supposed victories, the mere mention of the Doctors name is enough to make the Daleks literally shake and panic, something which the Controller could have never conceived of before.

Ironically for all his sins, the Controller dies a heroes death. His final act of defiance to the Daleks before they shoot him is excellent as he finally tells the monsters who have dominated his entire life that he may have finally brought about their end.

The Controller also spares the Doctor because the Doctor prevented the rebels from killing him as well, further showing that unlike Chen or Maxtible or the later Davros who were all just greedy and selfish. The Controller was capable of genuinely selfless acts for others.

The Daleks finally are also portrayed as powerful and dangerous. Throughout the story they are creatures that humanity knows it can never possibly beat in a fair fight, so they have to basically cheat and change history.

People often knock the final battle between UNIT and the Daleks because there aren’t that many of the monsters on screen. In reality there were only 3 Dalek props at the BBC at that time.

Still I think this works to the benefit of the story as much like the later Dalek, and the earlier Power of the Daleks, here we see the massive damage just a few Daleks can do.

UNIT have been shown to be capable of fighting off hordes of the most dangerous aliens in previous stories. Look at their first story The Invasion where they blow up dozens of Cybermen with their rocket launchers, then there are stories like The Silurians, Spearhead From Space and Claws of Axos where they are shown to be able to hold their own against monsters like the Autons and the Axons.

Even in this story they blast their way through dozens and dozens of Ogrons. With just three Daleks however? The Daleks absolutely slaughter UNIT, who aren’t even able to slow down one Dalek!

Honestly this story I think sold the idea of one or two Daleks being capable of destroying everything in sight better than any other Classic era adventure.

Power of the Daleks showed us how they were able to manipulate people, but we never actually got to see how much physical damage a lone Dalek could do, as by the time they were ready to attack they were an army.

Here however we get to see how just 3 of them can decimate UNIT in matter of minutes. They do feel like mini tanks that just roll their way through bodies of men no problem.

The only real drawback with the Daleks portrayal is their voices. The actors (who only supplied them for this one adventure) don’t capture the anger and hysteria that the Dalek voices need to have.

The Daleks are not like the Cybermen who just speak in dull monotone voices. There has to be an emotional content there, as the monsters are driven by an irrational hatred of other life forms.

Still overall I think this is a great showing for the Daleks. It doesn’t do anything new with them per se, but it does use them in the most effective ways it can.

Jon Pertwee is also on top form in this story. Ironically he hated the Daleks in real life, but I think he works his disdain for the monsters into his performance really well. You can really feel the Doctors disgust for the monsters when he comes face to face with the gold Dalek.

Its in the scenes with the Controller however that Pertwee really shines. I love the way the Doctor doesn’t buy into the Controller’s bullshit for a second and tears into him for seemingly selling out his own people. When he condemns the Controller as a Quisling. Pertwee’s anger is understated, but powerful.

At the same time however what’s interesting about the Doctors portrayal in this story is that it actually the Doctors compassion that saves his life.

Had he not spared the Controller then his replacement, who later sold the Controller out to the Daleks and was shown to be genuinely greedy and power hungry, ould not have allowed the Doctor and Jo to escape when he cornered them.

The story overall also moves along at a great pace. There’s no padding, the mystery around the house builds up well throughout the first episode, but doesn’t drag and there is also plenty of action right the way through even with the budget limitations.

The twist that the rebels created their own horrible future is brilliant and helps the story to stand out from the usual more straight forward aliens invade earth adventures that had come to dominate the series at that point. Whilst the Daleks are the main threat. Ironically its entirely the humans who bring about their own downfall.

Even before the Daleks show up, humanity has already exterminated itself. Later the Controller describes the years of the war as being the hardest humanity ever endured, including the Dalek invasion!

Overall Day of the Daleks is a an enjoyable, action packed, intelligent story and a brilliant way to start the next generation of Dalek stories.

Day of the Daleks vs Days of Future Past

Day of the Daleks was the main inspiration on the classic X-Men story arc Days of Future Past. Its author, Johnny Byrne was a big Doctor Who fan, and openly admitted to being inspired by this story. He even joked that he was lucky not to get sued!

Days of Future Past revolves around a dark future where mankind has been overrun by gigantic robots called the Sentinels.

The Sentinels were originally created to deal with mutants, but soon turned on and exterminated most of humanity. The few unlucky survivors are rounded up into ghettos and work camps. A tiny pocket of resistance remains however, and one of the X-Men, Kitty Pryde is able to travel back to the 80s to stop the mutant Mystique from assassinating the president, which sparked anti mutant hostility and eventually led to the creation of the Sentinels.

Days of Future Past would later be adapted in various X-Men animated series including the classic 90s series, and as the 2014 blockbuster Days of Future Past (where Wolverine took the place of Kitty Pryde.)

Both Days of Future Past and Day of the Daleks follow the same basic idea. In the future humanity has wiped itself out in a war. The survivors are then taken over by horrifying, xenophobic, mechanical monsters who round them up into camps. The last pocket of resistance knows that they have no hope to beat them in a fair fight, so they travel backwards in time to change things.

In both cases the war that wiped out humanity was not only caused by a political assassination, but by a radical who believed that they were ironically helping their people. Mystique who thought she was standing up for Mutant’s rights, and Shura who thought he was killing Styles and preventing the war.

Days of Future Past is not just a rip off of Day of the Daleks. Its a classic piece of Sci Fi in its own right, that has been adapted successfully across many different mediums.

Still you can see how Day of the Daleks was its predecessor in a number of ways.

Notes/Trivia

  • Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning said this story was their least favourite.
  • This appeared to be the only Dalek story by another author that Dalek creator Terry Nation was pleased with, calling it an exciting batch of episodes.
  • The Daleks made their third appearance on the cover of the radio times to promote the first episode of this story.

  • In order to accompany this story Terry Nation wrote a short story for the Radio Times called “We Are The Daleks” which explained their origins. This story was different to the later Genesis of the Daleks.
  • A special edition of this story was later released on DVD that featured new and improved effects and a new Dalek voices supplied by the voice of the Daleks in New Who and Big Finish, Nicholas Briggs.