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THE DALEKS


Chase - Posted on 01 November 2009

1

This episode is everything everyone says DW is but often the show is not. For one thing science marvels are introduced in the TARDIS and without. The sets are atmospheric and somewhat clastrophobic, the petrified forest and the metallic petrified animal lizard thing are most unusual. Then there's the city...even more clastrophobic. The WHOLE thing is very alien and this takes it time and does not rampage us with humanoid aliens any time soon...just one hand that touches Susan's shoulder in one scene and the hammering sound outside, heard from within the TARDIS (unusual in itself maybe but it was on the scanner) makes this entire thing just eerie. It is truly a classic ep as the foursome venture outside and together and separately explore the forest and later, the city, thanks to some sabotage by the irksome Doctor, who also displays quite a bit of charm.

The characters start to cement themselves together, despite differences; Susan's flower is forgotten about by Ian who crushes it by accident without even realizing it...to rush to Barbara's aide... a matter of survival perhaps. And again later, Susan's flower is forgotten about by her when she senses something in the forest and Carole Ann Ford is so good here. Later in the ship in a Food Machine Room (an amazing machine indeed and an idea that food can be made smaller will be one that astronauts will use I think and in LOST IN SPACE they are pills!), Barbara relates to Susan as the Doctor had hoped. Ian also seems to be leading even though in AN UNEARTHLY CHILD by ep4 or so, Ian told Kal that the Doctor was their leader. Ian is certainly braver and more strong. The Doc here sometimes talks to himself, sometimes mutters, and sometimes flubs but not much.

Barbara's getting lost in the smaller and metallic almost antiseptic maze of the city below is something of a vast achievement for the show, creating rising terror and a feeling of being trapped in a giant maze. I'm not sure the elevator can be seen as an elevator but it is and that cliffhanger is a gem of a classic as the plunger moves in at Barbara when the lift opens! And she screams and the theme music starts! Just great. I felt bad for her but the travelers should not have separated and this entire ep is just a great one, giving us a sense of adventure, mystery, danger, alien-ness, and terror and a feeling of being out there somewhere out of your depth. Ian tells Barbara to just believe they will get home.

I like Ian saying he hopes his food doesn't have a tinge of ancient Greece and the Doc says of the bacon that it should not be salty because, "It is English"---a Hartnell ad lib.

The Doc just wants to go explore the city and the others talk him out of it but he has plans of his own and the ship is out of mercury in the fluid link. Ian says, "Fellow Travelers" and some of fandom's lingo starts in this very episode.

Truly amazing!     

      

2

Lots going on here visually anyway. I must confess that when I first watched this, it was too many episodes all at once, for channel 21 showed it all in one go and it was just too long. I had seen both Peter Cushing Dalek movies and while I liked the ideas in those, I was not taken with the idea of THAT as a series. I didn't think they were very good especialy the first one. 

In this, the designs are great: the city, the forest, the Daleks, the Thal overcoat, and even the smaller TARDIS set seen here when Susan returns to it. For the most part the Ship is called the Ship but it starts to get called THE Tardis as opposed to just TARDIS, which was rarely said, at least up to now.

This first sighting of the Daleks is amazing and Russell. Ford, and Hartnell in this recording, I think, had just heard the news that JFK was shot. This must be the first time the Doctor gets an enemy to tell him information just as or after he's been questioned: here, it's about the Thals. Originally, the Daleks were going to put the four on trial for Thal crimes committed in the war. Originally it was the year 3000 and the war took place about 2000 years ago or 1000, I can't recall from the DVD text. In any event, NO year is mentioned and in light of other Dalek histories and stories, I like to think of this as the far past possibly since and there's no getting around this, or maybe there is: the Daleks DO NOT know the Doctor and he does not know them. Now, one might argue that somewhere, somehow both their memories were wiped and that when schooled Time Lords MUST have been taught about the Daleks somehow! But maybe it's an alt universe or a changed timeline or maybe time is changed here in this story or will be later on. Who knows? For this story, the Doc and the Daleks meet for the first time and had no previous knowledge of each other.  

Oh, we get a good look at Barbara's calves. The cast play sick and scared very well. Susan's plight through the forest perhaps went on a bit too long but it was well done with a point of view running sequence. Ridley Scott of ALIEN had been approached and he drew up some plans for either the city of the Daleks. I'ts odd to think that 20 years or so after this ALIEN will come about AND earlier than that, STAR WARS.

Hartnell gets one flub or so when he says, "Anti radiation gloves" and then corrects himself with "drugs". Personally I love the flubs he makes and one is never too sure that he didn't do them on purpose, by mistake or both as when he later plays another part in THE MASSACRE, he does not flub as that character.

In Dalek Control, we see a screen that shows parts of the DOCTOR WHO opening visually. This will happen again in the series in various says (DEADLY ASSASSIN for one and possibly FRONTIER IN SPACE or PLANET OF THE DALEKS). There's one curious moment when the Daleks realize they will be getting their drugs and "Yes, at last we have a chance" and then all of them start droning about this or chattering or something...it sounds very unDalek like but it's kinda funny.

The DVD text tells us that an old goofy scientist akin to DOCTOR WHO uses a ruse to go explore in PATHFINDERS, which had Malcolm Hulke somehow involved.

It also tells us the storm Susan finds herself in is the decarain which every ten years washes away the radiation, which is scientifically impossible. Particles can be washed away but not the radiation itself. This also goes on a small bit about the neutron bomb, which destroys people but not the buildings.

In any event, this episode is pretty good with the plot building over time and yeah, it's a bit slow but it has the space to do so and it's much more realistic that Ian is still hurting in his legs and effected by the radiation just like the Doctor, who's hit hardest and Barbara. I made  no mention that in the first ep, Barbara jokes that the Doc desrves something to happen to him.

The Doctor also confesses about the fluid link he stole just so he could come to the city to explore it. This is carried out later in almost every Doctor (Davison's "Why do I always let my curiousity get the better of me" and Tom's "What? ANd not know where I've been, I wouldnt sleep at night" and Tennant's "We could always leave" laugh with Rose in THE IMPOSSIBLE PLANET). He also in villainous manner, tells Ian he will not wait around to find Barbara but he and Susan will go. She decides not to and Ian decides to hold onto the fluid link forcing the Doc to take responsbility for himself and his actions. It all fits in well together and the mystery of what the Thals look like and what their motives are holds the story and makes it move on...another good ep.

           

3

The Daleks are more mobile in this and conniving. I don't understand why Susan signs the note "Susan" if she didn't trust the Daleks to be honest with the Thals or maybe she did but just wanted to escape? Not sure about that major plot point: it the Thals already knew Susan didn't trust them...why did they trust them at all? And if Susan felt that way, why sign it at all?

The escape was well planned and the thoughts going into it are good. Not sure why the Daleks didn't just move them to a new cell to overhear them but there you have it. This the first time we hear the word EXTERMINATION and the first time we see a part of what is inside the Dalek: at the cliffhanger we see the claw come out from under the Thal Cloak that Ian and the others used to push it onto. Despite not have a plunger that can kill, the lone Dalek is still quite dangerous. The fact that the Doc is pushing the Dalek guard and HE thinks that will fool the Daleks is very silly but there was other way to do it unless Ian found something inside to re-turn on the Dalek machine inside.

Not much else seems to happen in this and there's a lot of talk but it's pretty much necessary to flesh out the characters and the Thals in particular. I can't believe one of the actors playing a Thal says this aftrer one of them says, "We're all working toward the same end,"  and the other ones says, "If that doesn't have a double meaning..." ! WTF! Funny anyway.

Hartnell's hair...wild!

This ep is not bad and furthers the plot along even if it is a bit slower than the other two before it.      

4

Ian works the mechanism and takes control but later on they resort to pushing him around again for some reason, possibly due to the magnetism being put back on but they didn't know that until after they resorted to trying to push him again.

Ian being stuck and not being able to get out is very claustrophobic and effective.

I must say the escape, the lift trouble, Ian being stuck in the Dalek casing, the Thals approaching and not able to hear the warnings the travellers are yelling from a sound proof room, all of it is very tense and exciting. Ian is brave but there's one thing I didn't like: he seems to wait sheer minutes to warn the Thals that they are walking into a trap and he stands there while the Thal Leader Temmous or something like that name is talking to the Daleks and waits just seconds before he's killed to shout a warning. Later on he tells Alyodon that he was sorry he was late! He wasn't late! He got there early. I don't remember the movies much and don't care to rewatch them just yet but I feel that if memory serves me correctly, the Ambush was much better depicted there than here. In any event, I also can't tell who got killed besides Temmous. I think two were injured possibly and possibly one other was mentioned killed or maybe one was shown dead. Not sure. That's poor execution (pun?) IMO. It could have been better handled but perhaps since it is a childs' series, they didn't want to focus too much on more death. Tem's death was pretty grim especially as he's the one that felt they needed to make peace and was hopeful. The Daleks are great villains in this and absolutely horrid as beings. They are very methodical here and here we hear the word "EXTERMINATE" for the first time. The Doctor seems very hopeful as he talks to the Thal female, who steps back from Ian in a very stage like way. Once back in the forest, Ian remembers the fluid link being missing...WTF? Their very lives depended on it. How could he forget that?

The history of the Thals and Daleks is interesting but I wish we had seen the drawing of what the original Dalek looked like. This is somewhat unclearly YEARS before Davros or perhaps YEARS and YEARS AFTER HIM? Who knows.

This ep is not bad and is very tense. I just think the ambush could have been dealt with better. Hartnell makes a flub of some kind as he tells Ian they will send the blip back down for him instead of the lift. The lift adventure was well done as was the blistering wall beside Ian as a Dalek fires at him there. The music in this is very tense and alien and well done even if the DVD text tells us there are only about 20 Minutes of it spread across 7 episodes, probably reused. Susan cares about the plight of the Thals and that's a good trait. Carole Ann Ford's daughter is named Miranda, the name of the Doctor's daughter or adopted daughter in an 8th Doctor novel and later a cancelled comic book (which may have had only three issues of six or five planned and after the first issue it's pretty lame).        

Lots to say here, I think. First thing that comes to mind is the moral dilemma of the foursome vs each other vs the reality of it. They do want the Thals to fight for them and yet...are they correct in that the Daleks will find a way out of the city? Yeah, in a way since the Daleks are planning to launch a neutron bomb to give themselves more radiation. This strand of the plot, that radiation was what the Daleks wanted is lost in me since they seemed to want the drugs against the radiation or was that in the movie?

In any event, the scenes of Ian trying to convince Alydon to fight are particularly good and well handled and the in fighting between Barbara and the Doctor on one side and Ian and Susan on the other with the Thals in the middle are all well done, very well scripted, and tense and realistic and well acted. Unfortunately, about 8 minutes into the episode and just after those scenes, we get a Dalek...well, acting strange and calling for help and then moaning and groaning. It's quite funny, if you get my drift and sounds like...well le'ts move on.

There seem to be MANY Daleks about and moving about and they move about better than before, however, some of their dialog is slow and delivered slowly and it gets a bit...I dunno, tedious so that I was willing them off screen at times. Hartnell's hair seems to change in one short scene as he exits the TARDIS or is near it with Susan.

The DVD text tells us that at once point it was decided (in script form) that the Daleks should have doctors! And then someone suggested it be a life preserving room area with Daleks manning it. The script/early plans also had leeches attacking the gang that made their way through the swamp and a snake attacking Barbara. This swamp stuff and losing people to the trip made this a dangerous world and universe and the movie version made me feel the same when I saw it. It's grim, determined, and a bit sad in a way but it works here.

One can talk of how great the jungle looks in PLANET OF EVIL and it does but here the junge, the swamp, and the city look fantastic. The swamp in particular is very well done and the sound effects add to it. The thing that Ian sees rising from the swamp is very creepy and scary and even he's put off by it and put off going through the swamp ...for good. I dn't know how anyone can sleep in that swamp area! Russell is acting his socks off IMO and it's great. Alydon at one point seems to go to sleep with his head at Barbara's knees!

Mention of the Thals: this being a Terry Nation script (the first ? The first to make him famous?) many of them will die but truth is that almost all of them are likable people and eyt a bit different than us and peaceful, even the two brothers who seem to have fled when they were in the swamp before and having seen terrible things there, maybe lied that they only recovered a body of one of the men without knowing what happened to them. They are even likable. Of course it helps they are wearing such strange outfits and all of them seem blond.

In any event, this ep drags just slightly and only when the Daleks are on screen giving us plot points AGAIN. This is odd in that some future Dalek stories, the dragging is on when the Daleks are off screen.

I'd still give this ep a 5/5 just for being, just for existing and for trying so hard. And visually.

Oh forgot to mention one early scene in an earlier ep: Barbara suggests (correctly) that maybe something is living in the Dalek machines and that maybe they are just more than just robots...that's all well and good and she's right but SUSAN laughs like a nut job. What is up with her? She does this a few times and it's annoying and stupid. ANd she's clearly not.          

6

This is much more fast paced than the previous ep but by today's standards it is still somewhat slow and maybe a bit stagey. Still, it is pretty good and goes by fast. The rock face is well done and the danger given all it has to be given. The original script had bloated spiders menacing Barbara. There was also a gas leak in the cave that one of their candles sets aflame beneath them as they jump over the cliff gap. This might be the first time that the cliffhanger of this ep is resolved in the next by one of the people in jeopardy actually dying. The acting is still pretty good even though the actor who plays Ganatus is trying to get his brother NOT to turn back and says, "You must go back."  Poor Antodus, he's played for the coward but he's kind of right in what he says but in the end in the next ep he gives his life to save Ian and maybe his brother too as they were being pulled down, Ian even telling him he's a fool moments before he cuts the rope and kills himself to save Ian and Ganatus. The cave set is pretty good even if one of the walls that Barbara clings to gets a slight crack off from her hand. Ian's yelling down to Ganatus earlier on was a bit...not as good as Russell usually is but it holds up.

The Doctor is now, believably fast, the Doctor we know. He scolds the Daleks for this senseless evil killing, tells them they can work and use their minds to help themselves and others survive, he marvels as his own mischief against the Dalek machinery and he's leading rebellion! He also laughs absentmindedly...and mentions diddling about but he does just that, revelling his own sabotage so long that he and Susan are surrounded by what looks like a lot of Daleks. He also forgets to keep down and Susan has to remind him and lock her arm around his to get him to get down...a nice character bit. He laughs at this. Later, he and Susan are sitting, surrounded by Daleks...all very iconic bits almost as much as the Daleks themselves.

The DVD text tells us that the Daleks were in big demand in four or five different places, maybe more including kids' shows, a Pathos or something like that newsreel, and a market or two as well as being planned to guest star on different tv shows. It seems that by this ep, Daleks just took off and even got fan mail. Honestly, looking at this today, it might be hard to see why but if you think about it, they are FANTASTIC as bad guys and their design is just so different. In addition to the original design, if not the back story to them (I believe it was stolen from somewhere else), they have those voices AND most important of all, they ARE NOT robots but beings inside travel machine...and they are fearful of those unlike themselves. They haven't totally got the Nazi thing down yet but they are well on their way.

Again a good ep and played totally straight and convincingly and Hartnell is just CHARMING in this!             

7

This episode for some reason reminded me of the Davison era. We have Ian taking on the Doctor role, the girls being Tegan and Nyssa, and the Doctor...being Adric!!!! Yes, every mocks Adric but if you look closely you will find that the Doctor is not too far off the character of Adric or maybe JNT wanted Adric to be like the Doctor, I dunno. In any event, the Doctor, when chained up, is about to give away the secrets of the TARDIS (is he bluffing?), spilling more than Adric ever spilled and later on, anxious to get inside the Tardis because he's hungry. In addition, Ganatus looks around at the dead Daleks and says, "There should have been another way."  Just like the Doc in WARRIORS OF THE DEEP's ending. 

In any event, this episode is a good ender and we get the first kiss on the cheek and the first kiss on the mouth (at least I think Barbara got Ganatus on the mouth). Truth be told, the fight sequence at the end is a bit...clunky even by 1930s and 40s FLASH GORDON standards but it does the job. Susan gets a Thal coat and Barbara gets some materal. And say, when did Barbara start actually wearing Thal (men's!) pants!? Just why didn't' the Daleks close every opening the city? Every door? Then the Thals and the Doc's party would have been well and trulyl #$%^ed.   The Doc and Susan are kept in an execution chamber or rather that is what it was called and their execution was to being in the original script and the sadist Daleks were so interested in watching it that they did not see the Thals and Ian arrive to kick their skirts. In any event, the execution chamber was built but not called that or used or at least part of it was built. I have to stop writing "in any event".  Just why do the Daleks keep Susan and the Doc alive and chained up?

The DVD text tells us some odd things about the original scripts: the Doc finds more about the history of the Thals and the Daleks and finds out that both were attacked at the same time but  A THIRD RACE, one not from Skaro!!!! These aliens are returning so the Daleks and the Thals team up together to rid the planet of the third race!!! It turns out that these aliens sought the planet and waited a long time before returning because the radiation had to wear off and they realized the error of their ways and now wanted to make amends and help both the DaLeks and the Thals rebuild!!!! Not sure but these aliens may have either been invisible or unseen in the scripts. Interesting. Very interesting.

The dying Dalek asks for mercy. Interesting. 

We get a padded goodbye scene but it's charming and a TARDIS in trouble ending so popular at the end of some of Tennant's stories. Everyone shakes and there's blinding light. It was supposed to be the doors opening in the original script.             

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