Monday 30 July 2012

The TARDIS - Access All Areas

By the time we get to Edge of Destruction we have already learned quite a lot about the TARDIS. Here then is an introduction to the Doctor's Space - Time machine, in 20 easy steps.

1. It's bigger on the inside. We have to wait until the Pertwee era for it to be termed "Dimensionally Transcendental". The interior exists in a different dimension to the exterior shell - the doors providing an interface between the two. As such it can be as big as you like inside. The full extent of the Doctor's ship has never been defined, though we know it used to be bigger. In Castrovalva he jettisoned 25% of the mass in order to provide the thrust needed to escape one of the Master's traps. Romana's bedroom, and one of the swimming pools have also been jettisoned. There is a lovely scene at the start of Robots of Death where the Doctor explains the size issue using two cubes - one bigger than the other. When it's further away, the larger box appears as though it could fit in the nearer, smaller one.

2. It can change its appearance to blend in with its surroundings. This is achieved by the Chameleon Circuit. Unfortunately, the Doctor's circuit broke down when he landed in London 1963. It was obviously already on the blink, as Police Call Boxes were already heading for obsolescence at this time, and why would a Police Box blend in in a junkyard? It wasn't until Attack of the Cybermen, that the Doctor attempted to fix it. It still didn't work.

2(a). The TARDIS does not have a cloaking device - no matter what the eighth Doctor says...

3. It has a Fault Locator. Seen only in the earliest stories, it is a massive machine to the side of the control room. I suppose it is so big because so many things tend to go wrong.

4. There are several control rooms. We don't know how many - as some of them may be the same room redecorated. Up until Masque of Mandragora we assume it is the same control room which the Doctor has been using - redecorating occasionally. In this story we see the secondary wood-panelled control room.

The second and third Doctors appear to have used it in untelevised journeys - as they've left stuff behind. In Time Crash the fifth Doctor refers to the decor as the "desktop theme". In The Doctor's Wife we learn that the TARDIS has stored all the previous control rooms in an archive. Control rooms can be moved around within the ship - so that the main doors always lead in and out of them.

5. It has a library. Seen just off the control room in The Movie.

6. It has a swimming pool. More than one apparently. Seen in The Invasion of Time.

6(a). It has a library in a swimming pool (The Eleventh Hour)....

7. Power source. In Edge of Destruction the Doctor says that the power source is located beneath the console, and its strength is indicated by the rising and falling of the time rotor. In The Mind Robber we find that the ship has a Power Room near the control room.

In The Movie, the ship appears to be powered by the Eye of Harmony (or a fraction of this, as it should be buried deep beneath the Panopticon on Gallifrey). In The Runaway Bride the Doctor tells us that Huon particles have some role to play in the TARDIS power systems.

8. The Cloister Room. Seen for the first time in Logopolis this is a quiet corner where the Doctor can ruminate to his hearts' content.

It is the location of the Eye of Harmony in The Movie. The Cloister Bell is an alarm - sounding only in the gravest of emergencies.

9. Bedrooms. In the early days, companions had fold down bunks to sleep on.

Later companions would get a proper room to themselves. Nyssa had a little laboratory in hers. There may be a limited number of bedrooms - as Turlough was offered Adric's old room instead of a vacant one.
Amy and Rory had to put up with bunk beds until their room got jettisoned.
We have never seen the Doctor's room - he may not even have one. Perhaps he only ever catches 40 winks in the control room. In Planet of the Daleks he had his own bed unit in the control room. Very IKEA.

10. There is a clothes store, with costumes from many different planets. Romana is able to pick up a Taran outfit which perfectly fits the era they visit. The Doctor gets his own outfits from here each time he has regenerated. 

Strangely, we have never seen the Doctor use any of the costumes himself when he lands on an alien world - nor does he encourage his companions to use them, apart from a couple of occasions. Indeed, when have we ever seen him pick up a costume to add to the collection?

11. Telepathic Circuits. Used by Jo to bring the Doctor back aboard the TARDIS after he has been ejected into the Temporal Vortex in The Time Monster. Seen again when the injured Doctor sends a message to the Time Lords after the events of Frontier In Space.

12. The ship is in a state of Temporal Grace. Meaning that you are not supposed to be able to use guns or other weapons when in flight. This was stated in The Hand of Fear when Eldrad tried to harm the Doctor. Nyssa certainly believed this to be the case and was surprised that Cyberguns worked in the ship.

If it did ever work, it was just a fib by the time of Let's Kill Hitler.

13. How do people breathe in the TARDIS? Planet of the Daleks suggests that the ship draws its air from the outside - which is why the Doctor almost suffocates when the ship is smothered by alien fungus. He brings out an emergency oxygen supply - but hasn't kept it replenished.

If the ship does indeed need to land and replenish the air supply - like a whale surfacing every so often - how do the occupants survive long journeys?

14. People who travel in the TARDIS become saturated by harmless Artron Energy. The Doctor had high levels of this as noted by Co-ordinator Engin in The Deadly Assassin (he's surprised as most Time Lords travel only occasionally, if at all). It is Artron Energy which Rose unwittingly uses to revitalise the lone Dalek, and Mickey to activate the Genesis Ark in Doomsday
It is also Artron Energy that causes the daughter of Amy and Rory to be conceived part Time Lord.

15. The TARDIS lock. No ordinary Yale lock, despite appearances. Susan says that there are 20 false permutations which melt the lock as a defence mechanism. In The Sensorites the eponymous aliens steal the lock. The Doctor states that forcing their way in would destroy the dimensional stability of the ship.

For The Movie, a different key opens the lock, which has a fake fa├žade. With the new series, it has reverted to an ordinary latchkey.

16. Defence systems. In The Krotons, we see the HADS in action - Hostile Action Defence System. The ship relocates a safe distance away when attacked. When faced with impending break up, as in Terminus, the ship latches onto the nearest vessel. The ship is incredibly hardy, surviving falling down mountains, direct hits by V2 bombs and immersion in the power source of the Dalek Crucible.

17. Take off / landing. The TARDIS generally materialises and dematerialises, passing in and out of the Temporal Vortex. On occasion, however, it can take off and fly in more conventional style. It descends from the sky in Fury from the Deep, and in the new series has been seen flying on many occasions.

18. The scanner. The camera which feeds the scanner appears to be housed in the lamp on the roof (the Doctor asks Susan to step back so he can see her more clearly at the end of The Dalek Invasion of Earth). Cut dialogue from The Sensorites stated that the image was monochrome. Initially the scanner was a TV monitor on the wall, but it later became a much larger mechanism built into the wall (it's in one of the roundels in Claws of Axos). According to Full Circle the scanner shows what ought to be outside - not what really is.
By the ninth Doctor, the scanner was another TV monitor hanging above the console. (It could get all the sports apparently). The eleventh Doctor's TARDIS has two scanners - the one above the console, and a large circular one on the wall near the doors.

19. The Zero Room. A negative space free of any technological influence, which Time Lords can use to aid the regeneration process. The Doctor was able to levitate in his. Unfortunately the room was jettisoned in Castrovalva, but the remaining doors were imbued with the same properties.

20. Sentience. Last, but by no means least, the TARDIS is no mere machine. It is a living thing with a "soul" of sorts - a sentient matrix. In Edge of Destruction it is able to send messages to the travellers to prevent their destruction. These were not just mechanical actions - it could affect their minds and make clock faces melt. When the Doctor explains about the Telepathic Circuits in The Time Monster he clearly states that "she" is a living thing. The Doctor always identifies the TARDIS as feminine - going so far as to call her "Sexy" when alone... 
The Doctor's Wife finally establishes the true nature of the Doctor's relationship with the TARDIS when it's matrix is transplanted into Idris. We learn that the ship chose him as much as he chose it - wanting to explore the Universe as much as he did and deliberately leaving its doors unlocked so he could steal it. Its erratic navigation is also explained, as the ship takes him to where he needs to be rather than where he always wants to be.

Sunday 29 July 2012

That Was The Week That Was 29.7.12

A little thing called the Olympic Games is in town for the next couple of weeks. Wasn't going to watch the opening ceremony but I'm very glad I did. As barmily British as you can get. Loved the Bond piece. Of course, in the middle of the lengthy pop musical section, around one billion people across the globe got to hear the distinctive TARDIS (de)materialisation sound.

We have now been promised a new trailer for series 7 - scheduled for 8pm on Thursday 2nd August. Fans of the excellent Merlin series get a trailer the following evening.

DWM reached its 450th issue. Very little in it about the new series. Moffat runs through the stages where each script has reached. Interesting article about a series that never was, starring Jon Pertwee (Starwatch).
There is a sizeable tribute to Caroline John - which brings us to the biggest, saddest news of the week.

Romana actor Mary Tamm passed away. There are some uncanny parallels between the two companions. Both featured in only one season. Both were introduced as more adult, erudite characters, intended to be an equal to the Doctor. Both are denied a departure scene.

There was a further loss at the end the week with the death of Geoffrey Hughes, who played the enigmatic Victorian clerk Mr Popplewick in The Ultimate Foe - the final 2 episodes of Trial of a Time Lord. He played the popular character of Eddie Yeats in 'Coronation Street' for several years, was Hyacinth Bucket's slobbish brother-in-law in 'Keeping Up Appearances' as well as having roles in 'The Royle Family' and 'Heartbeat' amongst many others.

Things to look forward to in the coming week - that new trailer, and The Greatest Show In The Galaxy is released on DVD tomorrow.

Friday 27 July 2012

Cancellation Crises? Stay Calm and Carry On...

As I mentioned in the Story 3 post the other day, Edge of Destruction almost became the swansong for Doctor Who. This was purely down to cost - and a general lack of support for the programme throughout the BBC.
Verity Lambert was able to pull a rabbit out of the hat by pointing out that the costs for the expensive TARDIS set were due to be spread across 52 episodes - not just 13. It therefore made financial common sense to extend the run.
The row about the inadequate studios Doctor Who was forced to use almost lead to another cancellation - this time the plug being pulled by Sydney Newman himself. If better facilities weren't offered, he would cancel the show - so the "Return of the Daleks" would not be made. In other words, it was a piece of  brinkmanship. The Daleks were so popular the BBC were sure to give in.

Strangely, the departure of William Hartnell did not trigger any thoughts of cancellation. The working relationship between the star and producer John Wiles had broken down to the extent that Hartnell was going to be axed midway through The Celestial Toymaker. Made invisible in this tale, he would reappear with a new face - all the work of the Toymaker. In the event, it was Wiles who walked, and Hartnell stayed on for a few more months to regenerate into Patrick Troughton.

The next potential cancellation took place in his first year - as ratings were down and there was uncertainty about whether or not the audience would accept the change. The arrival of Frazer Hines as Jamie certainly helped the programme - and its new star - settle.
Ratings picked up, but towards the end of Troughton's tenure, started to slip again. So it was that the next cancellation crisis occurred with the changeover to Jon Pertwee, and to colour. New producer Barry Letts was actually tasked with looking into a replacement, non Sci-Fi, programme, as the BBC now had the rights to broadcast the American Star Trek series.

Letts ushered in a period of popularity and stability. And then Tom Baker happened. The programme became such a staple of Saturday early evening TV that its future was secure for the next 10 years - even after Tom's departure. Peter Davison was already a popular actor with the viewing public thanks to his role as Tristram Farnon in 'All Creatures Great and Small'. The 20th Anniversay helped keep the programme firmly in the public eye - and new producer John Nathan-Turner knew how to play to Fleet Street. And then Colin Baker happened.

As with the first cancellation crisis, a lack of support from the BBC did not help the situation -especially when the chief critic was the man in charge. Baker's characterisation of the Doctor, and the levels of violence, were cited as the reasons for putting the programme into hiatus in 1985. The BBC said it was just being temporarily rested, its budget needed for the launch of 'Eastenders' - but it was the axe. Public / fan outcry was such that the BBC had to perform a U-Turn - but the writing was on the wall.

The BBC would commit to some more Doctor Who, but after this series (the 23rd) there would have to be a new TARDIS incumbent. Colin Baker was sacked.

The programme staggered on for a further 3 years, loved by fans but not by the Corporation. In 1989, it was rested again. This time it probably was a genuine rest - rather than an axing. Whatever, plans to reinvigorate it in the same form it had been for 26 years never materialised. Instead only an injection of co-production money would be considered. The Movie did not lead to a cancellation, as it simply wasn't picked up for series in the first place.

These days, it seems hard to believe that the BBC would commit financial and credibility suicide by axing the programme - and yet that's exactly what the Great British Press would have you think - on a yearly basis.
Doctor Who is so big, global in fact, that anything about it is newsworthy. (A recent British murder, the tragic case of actor Gary Suller, was headlined in the papers as "Doctor Who Actor Murdered").
The press does not care (or hasn't cottoned onto the fact) that the television landscape has changed. Overnight ratings are meaningless in themselves. So what if one week Doctor Who is beaten by the execrable 'Family Fortunes' game show? I don't think many millions will be adding to FF's viewership via the internet and other viewing platforms, or buying a DVD boxset. And I'm pretty sure Character Options have no plans to release a Vernon Kay figure (though they could always repackage a Silent...).
So next time it is a slow news day, and you read that the BBC plan to take Doctor Who off the air in two thousand and whatever, relax. Calm down - and carry on enjoying.

Thursday 26 July 2012

Mary Tamm

More tragic news as it is announced that Mary Tamm has passed away. She played the first incarnation of Romana throughout Season 16 - the linked Key To Time stories.
She was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, in March 1950, to a Russian mother and Estonian father. She attended RADA and started her acting career with Birmingham Rep in 1971. By the time she was offered the role of Romana, she had already played a starring role in the film of 'The Odessa File'. Initially reluctant, she only accepted when it was explained that her character would be a fellow Time Lord who could match or even better the Doctor - and not just another "damsel in distress".
Her character's finest moments come with The Androids of Tara where she got to play 4 roles - Romana, Princess Strella, and killer android versions of each.
She left after just the one season because she felt that there was nothing more she could do with the part. She had subsequently said that she offered to do a regeneration scene, but was never invited to do so.
Post Doctor Who, one of her best known roles was as Penny Crosbie in the soap 'Brookside', from 1993 - 96.
She returned to the world of Doctor Who through the Big Finish audios - appearing as Romana as well as other characters. A documentary about the Rollright Stones is presented by her on the Stones of Blood DVD.
She released an autobiography "First Generation" in 2009, and had been planning a second volume at the time of her death.
Another sad sad day for fans of Doctor Who.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Story 3 - Edge of Destruction

In which the TARDIS has suffered a catastrophe that has rendered the time travellers unconscious. Barbara is the first to come round, followed by Susan. They recognise each other, but act strangely, as though they are not quite sure of each other. When Ian wakes, he is initially unemotional and disconnected. The sight of the Doctor lying on the floor with a cut head elicits only a practical response. Susan is horrified to see that the main doors are open, then collapses again when she tries to approach the control console.
The Doctor, head bandaged, and the school teachers try to work out what has happened. They do not appear to have crashed. One suspicion is that someone, or something, has made it onboard without their knowledge.
Susan, somewhat paranoid, attacks Ian with a pair of scissors - believing him to be responsible, after an overheard conversation in the darkened ship.
The scanner shows a strange sequence of images. A tranquil country scene, the savage jungles of the planet Quinnis, then another planet (Skaro?), followed by a galaxy, followed by a blinding flash. The doors open when the country scene is shown, and close when Quinnis appears.
The Doctor thinks the teachers have sabotaged the ship - to force him into taking them home. Emotions run high, and the Doctor decides everyone needs to calm down. He drugs the coffee. With everyone asleep, he examines the console. Ian appears to attack him - increasing his suspicions about the teachers. He will throw them off the ship at their next destination.
Other strange things then happen which point in another direction. The Fault Locator shows a general breakdown throughout the ship; the numbers on a clock face, and their watches, appear to melt; and the warning sounds to indicate the ship is in imminent danger of destruction.
It is Barbara who works out what is going on - a series of clues by the TARDIS itself, to prevent its destruction. The melting numbers show they have no time left. The control console only lets them approach the part with the scanner controls as it wants to draw their attention to this. The sequence of images represents their planned journey - departing from Skaro and heading back through time. The Doctor had used the Fast Return Switch to try to get them back to London, 1963, but a tiny spring has stuck - causing them to hurtle back too far -  to the cataclysmic explosion at the birth of a solar system (or maybe even the Big Bang itself?).
The spring is fixed easily enough, but the trust between the travellers will take a little longer to mend.

This two part story was written by script editor David Whitaker, and was broadcast between February 8th and 15th, 1964.
It has no guest artists, no monsters, and no sets other than the TARDIS. The story serves to allow the audience to really get to know the 4 main characters - and for them to get to know themselves - without any extraneous distractions. In this it certainly succeeds, and by the end of it the relationship between the characters is changed forever. Despite the odd hiccup, it will be one of friendship and trust from now on.

Of course, this story was never actually intended to see the light of day. It had to be written quickly (hence the authorship by the show's script editor - a practice frowned upon generally) and the lack of guests / sets etc. Doctor Who had been promised a 52 week run, but suddenly a few weeks in, concerns were raised about the costs of the programme. It was decided to pull the plug after 13 episodes. The first two stories accounted for 11 episodes, so a further two were needed to finish it off.
Edge of Destruction might well have been the final Doctor Who story (making the 'Beginnings' DVD box set a 'Complete Series' instead).
For many years, fans believed that the reason for this two parter was that the sets for Marco Polo were not ready in time - but this was never the case. Verity Lambert managed to sort out the finance issues and the Doctor would get to go to Cathay after all.

Despite being only two episodes with no other characters, the story did manage to court controversy - mainly due to the scissors scene. The BBC Children's Department, who felt they ought to have control over Doctor Who, were quick to complain about this sequence. Any sort of violence that could be imitated by children was banned, and Lambert was forced to apologise. Dalek extermination - fine. Sticking a pair of scissors through your mattress - bad.
There are two directors attached to this, one for each episode. The Daleks director Richard Martin handles the first part, and newcomer Frank Cox gets some work experience with the second. Martin gets to handle the bulk of the tension and claustrophobia in his half.
The TARDIS becomes a spooky, threatening place in the half-light. The ship truly becomes the fifth regular for this story. As well as the full scale control room, which we won't really see again, we also get a view of the living quarters (spartan, with fold down couches). The Fault Locator makes its final appearance, and there is a return for the Food Machine. The Doctor explains a little about the power source (trapped under the console) that would destroy the ship if it escaped.

We get another reference to the fact that the Doctor and Susan have had more adventures before the encounter in the Totter's Lane junkyard. They nearly lost the TARDIS on the planet Quinnis (in the Fourth Universe? Is Susan referring to parallel universes, or has she meant to say something else). 
Hartnell gets a lovely soliloquy on the birth of planets towards the climax (which would have been even better if he hadn't missed bits of it out). 

That climax is a bit mundane after all the mystery and suspense of the build up - nothing more than a broken spring. The apparent sentience of the TARDIS (which the Doctor seems totally unaware of) will feature again - though not until the later Pertwee era.
Cliffhangers for this story are:

  1. The Edge of Destruction - as the Doctor studies the controls, a pair of hands clutch him by the throat.
  2. The Brink of Disaster - Susan and Barbara find the footprint of a giant in the snow outside the ship.
What you might not know: In the original draft of the script, it was Ferdinand De Lesseps (architect of the Suez Canal) who gave the Doctor his ulster coat - not Gilbert & Sullivan.

Monday 23 July 2012

Assimilation Squared Issue 3

My copy of issue 3 finally arrived today. Obviously, if you haven't got yours yet, read no further.

Last time, the Enterprise-D, with the TARDIS crew aboard, had arrived above Delta IV to find a huge Borg-Cyber Fleet in orbit. This issue, naturally, starts with them doing a runner and hiding out in a handy nearby nebula (a Star Trek staple).
Beforehand, the crew got a look at the apparent leader of the combined army - a Cyber Controller with a few Borg bits added on.
When Commander Data checks the archives to see if there is any record of these "Cyber-Men", they come upon a report by Captain James T. Kirk of the original Enterprise.
There then follows a marvellous little adventure with the original crew (Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty) encountering Revenge-style Cybermen, and helped by a mysterious Doctor, dressed in a floppy hat and over-long scarf...
This episode is "remembered" by the Eleventh Doctor.
Whilst the main stroryline is presented in a photo-realistic style, once the original crew appear, the panels switch to a more basic comic book style, with simpler lines and bright primary colours - in keeping with the 1960's show.
 Nods to Revenge of the Cybermen include a black helmeted Cyberleader, and the susceptibility to gold (the covers of the original ST communicators are made of the stuff handily enough).
One minor gripe is the Fourth Doctor's hat - it's tiny and totally out of scale.
 The story is really starting to pick up now, after the necessary introductions of the first two issues. The Doctor is still having memories of things he shouldn't have, and whatever's going on seems to go back a long way into his, and the Federation's, past.

PS. Guess what Spock's referring to:
"Fascinating. Gelatin confectionery, dusted with starch, and moulded into the shape of a small child".

Sunday 22 July 2012

That Was The Week That Was 22.7.12

Have decided to do a little summary of the week's news and other miscellaneous items each weekend from now on - stuff perhaps not quite deserving of a post on its own.

Firstly, a recent job advert at BBC Cymru suggests a Docu-Drama on the birth of Doctor Who is indeed on the cards. Job was in the drama department, for a 5 month period and knowledge of Doctor Who (and CGI work) was essential. Pretty much points to the rumoured 50th Anniversary piece (possibly scripted by Mark Gatiss?). This has been reported by SFX and The Doctor Who News Page amongst others.
(PS - don't bother applying - applications closed last Wednesday).

This week (Friday 20th), Matt Smith dispatched one of his army of Mini-Me's to open the Cardiff Doctor Who Experience. It's housed in a large blue box, the inside (disappointingly) the same size as the outside.Various monsters in attendance. I haven't actually been to the Experience in any of its guises (despite its long stint in London) so I will endeavour to visit this soon.
Smith couldn't attend in person as he has been off at the San Diego Comic-Con. Only real news to emerge from this were the 3 new episode titles. UK fans (miffed at being denied the new BBC Licence Fee Funded Clips - an annual gripe now) are still waiting to see what they will get in recompense. Brand manager Ed Russell tweeted we would get something special shortly - maybe a new trailer? Looks like the new series might be kicking off in only a few more weeks after all.

DWM's 450th edition is out on Thursday. Love the rather stark, uncluttered cover. Doesn't give much away about contents, though a tweet from editor Tom Spilsbury promises both Troughton & Smith interviews, and a Dalek feature by stalwart operators Nicholas Pegg & Barnaby Edwards.
The August 22nd issue of SFX will be previewing the new series with interviews and set reports.

Lastly, on a sad note, the man responsible for the Fifth Doctor's costume - Colin Lavers - has passed away. He costume designed Four to Doomsday - Davison's first story in production. He also worked on The Power of Kroll,  The King's Demons and The Five Doctors - getting to dress 4 Doctors, 8 companions (including the Brigadier and Sarah) and the Master all in one go.

Saturday 21 July 2012

The Continuity of the Daleks

Just where does The Daleks fit into Dalek history? Continuity for the Masters of Skaro has long given rise to headaches and argument amongst fans. The problem is compounded by their ability to time travel, as well as inconsistency in the writing of Terry Nation himself and the numerous production teams.
Setting aside the new series' post-Time War chronology for now, only a handful of stories have fixed dates:

  •  Power of the Daleks - 2020.
  • The Dalek Invasion of Earth - post 2164.
  • Day of the Daleks - parallel to The Dalek Invasion of Earth (22nd Century).
  • Frontier in Space & The Planet of the Daleks - 2540.
  • Mission to the Unknown - 3999 / 4000.
  • The Daleks' Master Plan - 4000.
The earliest Dalek adventure - as it is their creation story - is of course Genesis of the Daleks. I suspect that The Daleks comes next. These Daleks are quite primitive and have never ventured out of their city, and it seems to be their first post-war encounter with the Thals. With Davros "dead", they have devolved in some ways without him - no longer able to travel outside as in Genesis (they cross the wasteland) and now reliant on static electricity from their metal floors. The Daleks are destroyed at the end of this adventure, however. Also, in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the Doctor refers to this adventure as being in the Daleks' far future. Then again, it has formed a Thal legend by the time of Planet of the Daleks. I think the Doctor has got it wrong in Invasion, and the Daleks were not totally wiped out at the end of The Daleks. There may have been another colony elsewhere on Skaro.

The date of 2020 for Power of the Daleks comes from the Radio Times and an on-screen continuity announcement. It doesn't feature in the actual programme. These Daleks are also reliant on static electricity, implying an early date in their evolution. However, this story takes place nearly 150 years before The Dalek Invasion of Earth, in which the Daleks need collection dishes on the back of their casing for energy generated from their Mine HQ in Bedfordshire. The date for Invasion is clearly set out on screen with the finding of a desk calendar for 2164 - so the story must take place within a year or two after that date.
The Daleks of Day of the Daleks have re-invaded Earth from the future. They acquire time travel for the first time somewhere between 2540 and 4000. (Perhaps the Master offered them some limited technology at the time of Frontier in Space?). The Daleks of Day... match the Frontier ones, down to the gold leader.

Certainly by the year 4000 they have advanced time travel technology - able to construct and pilot a dimensionally transcendental time machine. This machine (which has been referred to as a DARDIS) first appears in The Chase. Though broadcast before The Daleks' Master Plan, I actually think it comes afterwards. There doesn't seem to be enough justification for the Daleks to hunt the Doctor down through time and space after just The Daleks and Invasion. His involvement in the defeat of their invasion is minimal, whereas he is single-handedly responsible for the ruination of their Master Plan.

Another story we might be able to place is Death to the Daleks. There is reference to humans having fought a war with the Daleks. Could there have been such a conflict after Frontier / Planet of the Daleks? Did the Daleks decide to attack the Milky Way despite the loss of their army on Spiridon, and get their metal backsides kicked by a combined Earth - Draconia force? Perhaps. The level of technology is closer to this era, rather than the time travelling Daleks of 4000. 

In Power of the Daleks, the creatures recognise the Doctor - despite him only just regenerating. This might be explained by their time travelling in Evil of the Daleks, or that story is earlier. Evil was intended to be the final end of the Daleks. I suggest it was a civil war from which they survived. It certainly isn't post 4000, as they have to rely on Maxtible's time travel experiments to reach 1866. 

Harder to place are the 4 Davros adventures. In Destiny of the Daleks, he is found in the ruins of the Dalek city - not just the Kaled bunker - implying it takes place hundreds, possibly thousands, of years after Genesis. Resurrection of the Daleks takes place some 90 years later, and Revelation of the Daleks some time after that. With Remembrance of the Daleks, Davros has the time travel technology to return to 1963.
Perhaps these stories take place after 4000 - hence Davros' absence throughout all the earlier broadcast stories. We know Skaro is still around in 4000 as the Black Dalek summons the time machine from there in Master Plan. It is destroyed by the Hand of Omega at the end of Remembrance

A couple of minor issues still remain. What are the Thals doing still living on Skaro in Planet of the Daleks? Unless they have an impregnable forcefield, the Dalek space empire would have wiped them out. Perhaps around the 26th century, the Daleks have abandoned Skaro, and only return prior to 4000.
Lastly, when does the Dalek trial of the Master take place in The Movie? Skaro is the location, and the Doctor's time stream is tied to the Master's - so it must be post Remembrance. It may actually be New Skaro - or The Movie's continuity is just rubbish...

So here's my personal Dalek chronology. Feel free to disagree.
  • Genesis of the Daleks
  • The Daleks
  • The Dalek Invasion of Earth / Day of the Daleks
  • Power of the Daleks
  • Frontier in Space / Planet of the Daleks
  • Death to the Daleks
  • Evil of the Daleks
  • Day of the Daleks (invasion originates from)
  • Mission to the Unknown
  • The Daleks' Master Plan
  • The Chase
  • Destiny of the Daleks
  • Resurrection of the Daleks
  • Revelation of the Daleks
  • Remembrance of the Daleks (Davros originates from)

Friday 20 July 2012

Story 2 - The Daleks

In which the TARDIS materialises in a petrified forest on the plant Skaro. The time travellers haven't noticed the radiation meter warning from the end of the previous episode. Exploring, they first come upon the body of a strange metallic creature, then see a huge futuristic city on a barren plain. The Doctor is determined to explore it, but the school teachers are against this - wanting to be returned to Earth.
Though apparently a dead planet, Susan is sure someone had tried to touch her in the forest. The Doctor sabotages the TARDIS fluid link in order to make sure they will have to visit the city, to find some mercury.
Someone is heard prowling outside the ship that night, and in the morning a box of glass phials is found - possibly dropped by the nocturnal visitor.
Once in the city, the group is split up. The Doctor, Ian and Susan find a laboratory where a Geiger Counter reveals they have been exposed to high levels of radiation. They are then captured by the city's mechanical inhabitants - the Daleks. Ian is temporarily paralysed by their weaponry when he tries to flee, and they soon find themselves reunited in a cell with Barbara.
The Daleks eavesdrop and learn about the phials - which they realise are Thal anti-radiation drugs. The Doctor learns that there were 2 races on this world - Daleks and Thals - and they almost destroyed each other in a terrible neutronic war many years ago. Whilst the Thals developed drugs to survive, the Daleks retreated into their protective metal shells.
Someone has to go and collect the drugs - and only Susan is fit enough. Back at the TARDIS she meets a tall blond humanoid - Alydon of the Thals. He explains that his people are peaceful farmers whose crops have failed, and they have come here to seek help from the Daleks. Susan agrees to help arrange this.

The Thals are invited into the city, but it proves to be a trap. The time travellers must escape from their cell to warn them. In doing so, they discover that that the Daleks are hideously mutated creatures.
Everyone flees back to the TARDIS where the Thals have set up camp. Before they can leave, the Doctor learns that his fluid link has been left in the city - confiscated from Ian by the Daleks. They have to break back in.
A plan is devised whereby Ian and Barbara will accompany a group of Thals, led by Ganatus, on a hazardous trek through a mutation-filled swamp. The Doctor and Alydon will create a diversion at the front of the city.
The Doctor and Susan are recaptured, and learn that the Daleks cannot use the Thal drugs, so are intent on further irradiating the planet.
After their trek through the swamp, Ganatus' group must traverse a lethal cave system to break into the city. Both Thal groups attack, and the Dalek power supply is damaged in the fighting. They need static electricity to survive, and without it, die.
The Thals can make use of the Dalek food supplies, and the time travellers retrieve the fluid link.

This 7 part story, broadcast between December 21st 1963 and February 1st 1964, was written by Terry Nation.
It is most significant, obviously, for the introduction of the Daleks (though the metallic Magneton creature becomes the programme's first ever monster). Their first appearance was supposed to be a month or two later, but the proposed second story (Anthony Coburn's The Robots, aka Masters of Luxor) fell through. The Daleks should have followed Marco Polo in story order. Luckily, Nation had submitted his script early and so it could be brought forward.
The history of Doctor Who might have been entirely different if an earlier draft had been produced. In this, the Daleks and Thals blamed each other for starting the war. The Doctor investigated and discovered that when combined, their records showed that it was an unknown third party hidden in space who had launched the first attack. These other aliens turn up and decide to make amends for what their ancestors had done - and the story ends with the Daleks and Thals becoming friends...

Terry Nation was famous for the brevity of his scripts. He did not spend  much time with detail, and so designer Raymond P. Cusick had a blank canvas when it came to the Dalek props and their city. Associate producer Mervyn Pinfield suggested simply using a man covered in cardboard tubes painted silver. Cusick did not want to use a humanoid shape, and Nation had spoken of the strange gliding movements of the Georgian State Dancers. The first designs for the Daleks were of cylindrical robots without arms or legs.

Realising the operators would have to stand inside for long periods, he amended the design to give it a squatter base that would allow for a seat for the operator. (An early thought was for it to contain a tricycle frame). The arms of the first design would have been operated puppet-like with strings. 4 props were built by specialist model-making firm Shawcraft of Uxbridge, West London.
Famously - or rather infamously - Nation made a great deal of money out of the Daleks, whereas Cusick only got a belated ex gratia payment of £100.
The intention was that the public would not know there was someone inside, that they were fully mechanical props. Actors were chosen to operate them, as they needed to synch the dome lights with the dialogue - fed into studio by actors Peter Hawkins and David Graham.
Directors Richard Martin and Christopher Barry wanted the voices to emphasise the creatures' claustrophobia - trapped inside their shells.

The regulars get a lot to do in this story. The Doctor is still not someone we can wholly trust - sabotaging the ship and putting everyone in jeopardy to get his own way for instance. There are moments of charm - such as the scene with the food machine (bacon & egg flavoured Mars Bars). The scene where he sabotages the Dalek antenna is also a joy.
Susan has to venture into the storm-lashed  forest at night on her own - believing the Thals to be monsters. Ian and Barbara get the bulk of episodes 5 - 7, as they embark on their trek through swamp and cavern.
The story was supposed to be 6 episodes long and the addition of a seventh is noticeable with some padding in these later episodes.
Barbara even acquires an admirer in Ganatus. (He won't be the last).

The story's main theme is Xenophobia - the dislike for the unlike. The Daleks are basically Nazis, intent on exterminating the Thals just because they are not like them - not just because of previous history. Other themes explored include pacifism in wartime and the instinct for survival.
Sydney Newman had specified from day one that Doctor Who should not include any BEMs (Bug Eyed Monsters) and was initially horrified by the Daleks. He relented only when Verity Lambert explained these underlying themes, and that they were complex, tragic creatures, desperate to survive at any cost, rather than the generic motiveless monsters of 50's Sci-Fi.

The cliffhangers for this story are:

  1. The Dead Planet - trapped alone in the lower levels of the city, Barbara is menaced by a sucker-tipped arm.
  2. The Survivors - having made it safely to the TARDIS, Susan must now make the return journey.
  3. The Escape - the claw-like hand of a Dalek creature emerges from beneath the cloak it has been wrapped in.
  4. The Ambush - the time travellers realise the vital fluid link has been left in the city.
  5. The Expedition - Thal Elyon is attacked in the swamp. Barbara wonders what they've let themselves in for.
  6. The Ordeal - Ganatus' brother, Antodus, has fallen into a ravine - and is threatening to drag Ian in after him.
  7. The Rescue - in flight once more, the TARDIS is plunged into darkness and everyone thrown to the floor.
A very good introduction for the Daleks, the story overall does have a couple of flaws. One is the obvious padding of the trek sequences, and the other is the somewhat anti-climactic climax. Unfortunately for fans of a certain age, we had read the novelisation (with its glass leader Dalek) or seen the Peter Cushing movie - so the final battle in the Dalek city can appear a wee bit underwhelming. 

Things you might not be aware of:

  • Above is the second version of the cityscape. Episode 1 had to be remounted during the later episodes due to sound problems (talk-back from the studio gallery). Cusick was unhappy with the original Shawcraft city model, as they had simply copied his scribbled ideas literally. The remount gave him the chance to improve it.
  • Both the hand that taps Susan on the shoulder in Episode 1, and the Dalek claw at the end of part 3, belong to AFM Michael Ferguson - who would go on to direct Doctor Who - beginning with The War Machines. (It was a gorilla claw from a joke shop, covered in vaseline).
  • Early artwork depicting the Daleks - such as the 1964 Dalek Book - show a number on the dome and a circular speaker grill between the gun and sucker arm. This is because the artists were given reference photos taken during rehearsals. The domes were numbered so the director knew which Dalek was which, and the circle was actually a roll of tape - needed to soften rough edges of the mid-section after William Hartnell cut his hand. The crew would leave their tape roll in the mid-section for convenience, removing it before filming started.