Sunday, 18 May 2014

Know Your Daleks - Spaceships

AKA: Earth versus the Flying Saucers. These days the Daleks predominantly travel around in saucer-shaped spacecraft. This just happens to be how they managed to get to Earth in around 2157 to invade us - as seen in 1964's The Dalek Invasion of  Earth. Due to the SFX of the day, these appear a bit Ed Wood - pastry cutters dangling on strings in front of a photo of the Houses of Parliament, as you can see above. Their appearance is kept to an absolute minimum. Unlike the Aaru movie version of this story, we don't get to see their destruction at the climax - it happens off screen. The craft are specifically referred to as "saucers" throughout the story, and there is a distinctive Saucer Commander rank. Saucers have equipment aboard for robotising human prisoners.

For their next outing, the Daleks take a leaf out of the Doctor's book and adopt a dimensionally transcendental Space / Time machine. This is known - quite unofficially - as a DARDIS. The Dalek time-ship is much more reliable than the TARDIS - it is able to gain on the Doctor's ship and, of course, gets Ian and Barbara back home at the conclusion of the story. (Landing two years late is probably due to the Doctor's programming rather than the craft itself). The craft has a central control console, and a chamber in which dubious duplicates can be manufactured. There are odd circular panels that spin, some with spirals and some with squares, and one of these counts down to materialisation. There is more than one level, as we see a Dalek descend in a lift at one point. The "DARDIS" will reappear in the 1965/66 story The Daleks' Masterplan.

Sadly, none of the three existing episodes feature Dalek spaceships - and there are no telesnaps - so we can only hear characters describing these vessels and not see what they look like. A bit of one of their craft is visible behind Steven and Sara in the image above.

Our next clear look at a Dalek craft is with the photographic material which we have for Power of the Daleks. A small vessel, that can fit into Lesterson's laboratory, it has a stubby, oval outline. As the story develops, it appears that this vessel is also dimensionally transcendental - as we see a huge production line which could not possibly fit into the small vessel we have seen in the lab - unless they knocked through into a disused bit of the Vulcan colony.

During the Jon Pertwee era, the Daleks revert to saucer-shaped spacecraft. Planet of the Daleks sees the Supreme arrive on Spiridon in the vessel above. A very simple, functional design, this double-tiered ship might be reserved for the senior Daleks, as only a few months later we have a different design which is even more basic in appearance.

Death to the Daleks sees this other saucer-like craft. The interior is devoid of any embellishment. These ships appear to contain little Police Box models, for target practice. If the two-tier ones are for the nobs, then these ones might be the workhorses of the Dalek fleet.

We then have a long wait to see another Dalek craft. The more standard spaceship design seen in Resurrection of the Daleks might not actually belong to them, of course. It is referred to as the "Dalek Cruiser", but it may have been supplied by the mercenary Lytton.

The ship that travels to Necros to collect Davros (in Revelation of the Daleks) has more of a saucer shape, nothing like the one that rescued him from the space prison.

Remembrance of the Daleks features the massive, elongated mothership - covered in a hexagonal pattern - as well as the shuttle which lands at Coal Hill School. The shuttle has a vaguely egg-box design. Does it blow the windows out every time it lands? We know it has landed at the school at least once before. Wouldn't want to be the janitor if it does.

And so we come to the new series - and the Daleks adopt the classic saucer design from here on in. They first appear in Bad Wolf. The Emperor travels in a massive version. Apart from the "DARDIS" there has never been any consistency when it comes to spaceship interiors. Throughout the RTD era, we get a standard pattern decorating the ships - a warm honeycomb pattern on the walls and pillars.

The Cult of Skaro sit out the last great Time War in a Void Ship. This spherical craft - which possesses no mass and can't be measured in any way until activated - housed four Daleks and the Genesis Ark. A bit of a tight squeeze, but then to Dalek Sec and co. it might have felt like they were in there for only a few seconds - time being meaningless in the Void.

With The Stolen Earth, the Daleks finally get a great big Death Star-like space station - the Crucible. This vessel is also the machine that drives the Reality Bomb - one of Davros' madder ideas. Who would the Daleks rant at if they were the only creatures in existence?

New Paradigm - old saucers. The one seen in Victory of the Daleks has a gizmo that can affect electricity on Earth - turning on all the lights in London in the middle off the Blitz. Sadly, the recent spaceship interiors are thrown out, and the space we see is a fairly featureless metal box.

The Dalek Parliament, rather than being based on Skaro, appears to be held in another vast saucer - in orbit above the Asylum planet.

Saucers were again seen in the last two televised adventures to feature the Daleks - Day of the Doctor and Time of the Doctor. Not spaceships as such, but worth mentioning, are the armoured flying gun platforms which the Daleks operate in both these stories.

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