Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Christopher Barry and Richard Martin
The Doctor: “That's sheer murder!”
Dalek: “No. Extermination.”
After a debut which settled for giving us a trip into time, the second serial would address the space part as well as the introduction to the biggest threat The Doctor would ever had to face in the series when himself, Ian, Barbara and Susan all land on a nice little place called Skaro.
By nice, I mean the air is poisonous and nearly everyone is dead but compared to other things, this is almost the positive thing to say about Skaro. Ian and Barbara are desperate to go home but The Doctor is more eager to explore the mysterious planet they’ve landed on.
It seems that sabotaging the TARDIS in order to do this isn’t beneath The Doctor either when he claims that mercury is needed for the fluid link and they’d have to go to the city to get some. No wonder Ian can’t seem to get along with him. The Doctor can be pretty infuriating when he puts his mind to it. I’m all for exploring planets but for an older Doctor, this is a pretty reckless way of going about it really.
Of course by getting into the city, there’s more trouble when Barbara is the first member to encounter the Daleks but soon enough, The Doctor, Susan and Ian also get to meet the deranged pepper pots when they’re taken hostage by them. Worse still they’re all getting bouts of radiation sickness and the Daleks are less than sympathetic over the dire consequences if they don’t get some proper help in the next while.
The Doctor is able to get some answers out of the Daleks when it’s revealed that they’re survivors of a neutronic war with a race called the Thals (whom the Daleks are plotting to complete wipe out). With static electricity they can move around the city and anyone who opposes them usually finds themselves killed. They do of course allow Susan to get some drugs to help the TARDIS gang but that’s less out of goodness and more of need.
Even when Susan does meet up with Thals and does faithfully come back with the drugs, the Daleks still aren’t in a mad panic to let everyone go. Luckily Ian isn’t exactly in the mood to wait for the Daleks to kill and thinks it’s best to try and get out. You can’t blame the man and his method of sneaking into the casing to aid everyone’s escape is a nice trick. It’s also perfect how he just fits inside the thing as well.
Of course the Daleks aren’t thrilled with their attempts to escape and make several attempts to stop them. Not only do the Daleks not want the gang to leave but their escape also coincides with their brilliant plot to rid themselves of the Thals in the process.
The poor Thals were hoping to come up with a truce and feed themselves but the Daleks decided to use their hunger as a means of wiping them out as quickly as possible. Some Thals do get killed but thanks to Ian and company, not as many that could’ve been killed.
Unfortunately there is a flipside and the dropping of the fluid link for the TARDIS back in Dalek city was one mistake that Ian should’ve avoided. With no fluid link they’re stuck on Skaro and the gang (along with the Thals, including Alydon) have no choice but to go back if they want to go home.
Getting back to the get that fluid is a bit stretched in terms of the plotting but there’s a strong element of life and death attached to proceedings as well. Many of the Thals helping do ultimately meet their maker and even Ian and Barbara find their lives in peril as well. In a lot of ways, Ian is an effective leader but he can also be every bit as bullish as The Doctor too. Not that he would care to admit that I suppose.
With differing teams heading back, the Daleks are quick in wanting to cover the rest of Skaro with radiation. The Doctor shows the necessary smarts in trying to stop the homicidal creatures but it’s interesting that the Thal anti-radiation drug is the eventual defeat of the Daleks. Their debut here is nothing short of stunning and it’s easy to see why they’ve lasted so long as the bane of The Doctor’s existence.
The ending is somewhat more resolute. One of the Thals had a brief crush on Barbara and gave her a nice parting gift and the gang walked away from one disaster, only to collapse into another. The joys of travelling with a grumpy old man and his granddaughter, huh?
Also in “The Daleks”
The seven episodes that make up this are The Dead Planet, The Survivors, The Escape, The Ambush, The Expedition, The Ordeal and The Rescue.
Barbara: You think there's any danger?
Ian: “Not necessarily.”
Barbara: “But don't be too complacent. No, you're right, I suppose. I just wish...”
Ian: “We'll be all right.”
Episode 6 was made under the working title The Caves of Terror and episode 7 under the working title The Execution.
Barbara (re The Doctor): “Yes. Well, I suppose we'd better make sure he doesn't fall down and break a leg. Don't you ever think he deserves something to happen to him?”
Ian: “No - it’s time you faced up to your responsibilities. You got us here - now I’m going to make sure that you get us back!”
The Doctor: “Chesterton, this is…”
This story was originally scheduled to be designed by Ridley Scott, who later went on to direct films such as Alien and Blade Runner.
Ian: “We’re wasting time. We should be looking for Barbara.”
Susan: “He’s right Grandfather. We are wasting time.”
The Doctor: “Oh child, if only you’d think as an adult sometimes.”
Dalek: “Stop that noise!”
Susan: “Well, it's… it's what I'm called. It's my name. Susan.”
This was released in January 2006 as part of a box set with “An Unearthly Child” and “The Edge Of Destruction” called “New Beginnings”.
Alydon: “But supposing…”
Temmosus: “No Alydon! And you must throw off these suspicions. They’re based on fear and fear breeds hatred…and war. I shall speak to them peacefully. They’ll see that I’m unarmed. There is no better argument against war than that.”
There seems to be some general contradiction as to whether this story is based in either the past or the present.
Ian: “Well don't worry about it now, Doctor. It's happened.”
The Doctor: “Yes. But at least you’re not vindictive.”
Ian: “Well I will be if you don't get my name right. It's Chesterton.”
The Doctor: “Yes. Eh? Yes, I know that.”
It was Mervyn Pinfield who suggested that The Daleks use static electricity. It was Richard Martin who suggested that the Thal anti-radiation drug be lethal to the Daleks.
Dalek: “The only interest we have in the Thals is their total extermination.”
Susan: “What do you mean?”
This story replaced previous proposals including “Beyond The Sun” and “The Masters Of Luxor”.
First Dalek: “Now that we know of the machine, we can examine it for ourselves.”
The Doctor: “But you can’t operate it without me!”
First Dalek: “Every problem has a solution.”
The episodes were all recovered from negative film prints which were discovered at BBC Enterprises in 1978.
For the debut of the nastiest creatures ever to darken the series, “The Daleks” is a great opening for the vicious pepper pots, although in 12 years time, the debut of their master would be far more powerful. I’m also liking this caustic TARDIS a little more with each instalment too.
Rating: 8 out of 10.