Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Story 36 - The Evil of the Daleks

In which the Doctor and Jamie are just in time to see the TARDIS being driven off on the back of a lorry. It is July 20th, 1966, and they have just said farewell to Ben and Polly. The ship has been stolen by a criminal called Kennedy, who has been employed by antiques dealer Edward Waterfield. Kennedy leaves a series of clues to bring the Doctor and Jamie to Waterfield's shop after it has closed. Kennedy decides to rob his employer - unaware that he is in turn employed by the Daleks, one of which exterminates him. Waterfield dresses in Victorian fashion, and the Doctor notices that all his goods appear to be genuine - yet brand new. He and Jamie walk into a trap. They are gassed, and wake to find themselves in the country mansion of Theodore Maxtible, just outside Canterbury in Kent. The year is 1866. Waterfield is also here.

Maxtible and Waterfield are amateur scientists, interested in time travel experiments. Maxtible also dabbles in alchemical studies - wanting to turn base metals into precious ones. Their experiments using static electricity caught the attention of the Daleks. They abducted Waterfield's daughter, Victoria, to force him into travelling forward in time to kidnap the Doctor. The Daleks have identified that they are often beaten by an unknown "Human Factor". They want to discover what this is and programme it into themselves - making them invincible. The Doctor must conduct an experiment on Jamie - measuring all his thoughts, actions and emotions as he is tasked with saving Victoria from her captivity elsewhere in the house.  A series of potentially lethal traps and challenges will be placed in his way - including Maxtible's Turkish manservant Kemel. When Jamie saves the servant's life, he joins forces with him. Victoria is rescued.

The experiment proves a failure, however, as three Dalek test subjects - which the Doctor dubs Alpha, Beta and Omega - develop playful friendliness instead of vicious cunning. The Daleks are recalled to Skaro and take Maxtible, Kemel and Victoria with them. They leave a powerful bomb behind to blow up the house, but the Doctor, Jamie and Waterfield use the scientists' time machine to follow them to the Dalek homeworld.
The Dalek Emperor decides on an alternative plan. If they cannot have the "Human Factor" then humanity will be subjected to the "Dalek Factor" - turned into mental Dalek drones. The three altered Daleks begin to question their orders - which the Daleks cannot tolerate. The Doctor sabotages the "Dalek Factor" machine so that it humanises more Daleks - but not before Maxtible has been enslaved. Soon, civil war breaks out on Skaro between the pure Daleks and the humanised ones. Kemal and Maxtible are killed, and Waterfield dies saving the Doctor. He and Jamie will have to look after the now orphaned Victoria. The TARDIS had been brought here by the Daleks, and it is now retrieved. As the Dalek city burns, the Doctor wonders if he has finally seen the last of his old enemies...

This seven part adventure was written by David Whitaker, and was broadcast between 20th May and 1st July, 1967. It marks the end of Season 4. Only Episode 2 remains in the archives, though the soundtrack and telesnaps exist for the missing parts. It is significant for the introduction of new companion Victoria Waterfield, played by Debbie Watling, and as being the last Dalek story of the monochrome 1960's. It was almost the last Dalek story in Doctor Who full stop. The civil war really was supposed to be "the final end".
Terry Nation had decided to launch his creations in their own series in the US - utilising the Space Security Service elements of his last Dalek stories. Apart from a brief cameo in the final episode of The War Games, and a cardboard cut-out in The Mind of Evil, the Daleks won't be seen again until 1972's The Day of the Daleks.
Nation was still too busy working on his more lucrative ITC sub-Bond series, so the writing of the Daleks returned to Whitaker - who in some ways knew them better than their creator.
Whitaker adds to their mythos by introducing the Emperor and its black-domed inner retinue - elements which would be brought back in 2005's The Parting of the Ways. A gold domed Emperor had been a mainstay of the 1960's comic strip Daleks, and Davros also became Emperor in Remembrance of the Daleks. There's a black-domed Dalek in their Asylum also.

Without the additional TARDIS crewmembers, the relationship between the Doctor and Jamie is finally allowed to shine. There is a wonderful scene when Jamie learns about the experiment - after the Doctor has been forced to keep silent about it. Jamie is furious at the Doctor's apparently callous behaviour and threatens to abandon his travels. The Doctor is heartbroken at hurting his friend - even though he was secretly trying to preserve his life.
Debbie Watling is a fine actress, but her character is a bit of a throwback after Polly. She is the archetypal  frightened screamer. It will only be in later stories that we get to see her real mettle as the character gets its (limited) development. It is interesting to think that, only a year ago, the idea of a companion from history was deemed unworkable. Now, there are two.
The principal guest actor is Marius Goring as Maxtible. He was famous for his roles in a number of Powell and Pressburger films, and he would go on to play The Expert from 1968 - 1976.
Waterfield is played by John Bailey, who had played the unnamed Commander in The Sensorites, and would reappear as Sezom in The Horns of Nimon.
Episode endings for this adventure are:

  1. As Kennedy rifles the safe, he fails to see a Dalek materialise silently behind him.
  2. The Daleks are eager for the experiment to begin - unaware that Jamie has gone missing.
  3. In a darkened wing of the house, Kemel advances menacingly towards Jamie.
  4. Jamie and Kemel have found Victoria, but a Dalek suddenly appears.
  5. Instead of exterminating him, the Daleks decide to play "trains" with the Doctor.
  6. The Emperor reveals the captured TARDIS and announces that the Doctor will seed the "Dalek Factor" throughout human history.
  7. The Doctor watches the Dalek city burn and ponders their final end - but one of the creatures remains alive...

In 1993, the fanzine Dream Watch Bulletin voted this the best Doctor Who story ever. It regularly features in Top 10's. To be brutally honest, it is far from perfect. The story is horrendously padded in the Victorian sequences with a wholly disposable sub-plot involving Maxtible's daughter, Ruth, and her boyfriend Arthur Terrall, and a thug called Toby. Jamie takes an age to reach Victoria, and the Skaro section only covers the final two and a half episodes. I really think this would have made a far better shorter story.
When the Daleks do appear, they are at their most devious and cunning, and there are some nice sequences in Episode 1 with the Doctor and Jamie in incongruous settings such as a trendy coffee bar. A great story - but far from the best.
Things you might like to know:
  • Kemel is played by Sonny Caldinez, who will appear as an Ice Warrior in all four of their stories - including Ssorg and Sskel in the Peladon tales.
  • The production team had been very disappointed with the Chameleon space station model in the previous story, and it is from this point onwards that special effects are pretty much taken over by - and credited to - members of the BBC visual effects team.
  • This story has a sequel with Children of the Revolution - a DWM comic strip in which the Eighth Doctor encounters humanised survivors from the civil war. Another DWM strip - Bringer of Darkness - entirely contradicts this. So much for the comic strips as canon...
  • For my views on the civil war being the "final end" I would refer you to an earlier post entitled "Continuity of the Daleks".
  • Of all the clips that the Doctor could have shown Zoe at the end of The Wheel in Space, why did it have to be one covered by the existing episode???... Damn!!!

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