Thursday 18 February 2021

What's Wrong With... The Evil of the Daleks

There are many who would argue that there is nothing wrong with The Evil of the Daleks. It is regarded as the great lost masterpiece of 1960's Doctor Who, and everyone would love to see it animated if it isn't likely to ever be found intact.
I'm on record as disagreeing with this opinion, for I think it suffers terribly from padding in the middle episodes. There are four characters in this story who simply have no role to play in it - Toby, Arthur, Mollie and Ruth. I just don't see the point of their inclusion.
If anything, their presence adds to some confusion. The Daleks need Jamie for their experiment. The Daleks have Arthur under their mental control. Why then does Arthur hire Toby to kidnap Jamie - putting the experiment in jeopardy? If it is because his mental conditioning is failing, and he's actually trying to save Jamie, then this isn't made clear.
Arthur never eats or drinks - indeed he cannot, for we see him attempt to take a sip of wine and fail. Why? What possible purpose do the Daleks have for stopping him eating and drinking? And why is he slightly magnetic (other than because this is a David Whitaker script, and we all know how good he is on science).
You could argue that Episode One is also padding, as the Doctor and Jamie simply travel all over London following clues which will finally get them into the story. Again, we are presented with a number of characters they encounter who muddy the waters a little, but are irrelevant to the main plot.
The Doctor and Jamie don't reach the main plot until two thirds of the way through Episode Two.
The experiment Jamie is forced to take part in involves the rescue of Victoria Waterfield. The desired outcome of this experiment really depends on him succeeding, otherwise the Daleks don't get the data they're after. Why then make his task so potentially lethal? As well as numerous deadly booby-traps, Maxtible also throws in his Turkish manservant Kemel to try to kill him. It's surely possible to have a complex experiment that will deliver what you want, but that isn't as likely to kill your test subject before they can complete it.
What the Daleks are after is the "Human Factor" - the thing that means humans are continually beating them. Once they get it, they have it transplanted into three test Daleks. It later turns out that they don't want the Human Factor at all, but to reverse engineer this and find the "Dalek Factor". So why introduce the Human Factor into those three test Daleks if you have no use for it? They plan to blow up Maxtible's house when it's time to leave, so why take the three with them when they go - into the heart of their city? And once back, they don't properly supervise these potentially disruptive Daleks. They're left to wander about.
On a similar point, why do the Daleks take Kemel with them, but leave the Doctor behind? Their plan is actually to have the Doctor spread the Dalek Factor throughout Earth's history using the TARDIS, after they've converted him. Bit difficult, if you've left him to be blown to bits.
Then again, if the Daleks already have time travel technology, why do they need the TARDIS to spread their Factor?
And why do Daleks need to know what their own Factor is anyway? Surely they know what they do and why they do it. They never shut up about being the supreme beings in the universe. They could simply have bottled it on their own back on Skaro.
We know the house that was used as location for the filming of this story, and it does get shown on screen. The interior simply doesn't fit with the exterior. The Daleks would need to have taken over virtually the whole building to hide Victoria (without Ruth knowing about it) and use for their experiment.
Why does Maxtible have a portrait of Waterfield's dead wife on prominent display in his living room? Aspects of their relationship are never properly explained.
The TARDIS ends up outside the city at the conclusion. Maxtible claims that he moved it there, when he's pretending to be helping the Doctor. If he was pretending to be helpful, why not move it closer to where the Doctor was imprisoned? It's as if Whitaker simply needed a reason for the ship to be outside the city when it gets destroyed.
Marius Goring has a few stumbles on his lines - including calling Waterfield "Whitefield", and he seems to think that the Daleks come from someplace called Skarov.
In the same way that fans were terribly disappointed with some of the effects in Tomb of the Cybermen when it was rediscovered, I strongly suspect that there would be similar disappointments at the use of many pointy-topped toy Daleks in the epic conclusion to this story, were Episode Seven ever to resurface.
Waterfield's shop in 1966 sells "Genuine Victorian Antiques". Is this to differentiate it from the shop next door proudly advertising "Fake Victorian Antiques"?

1 comment:

  1. Just watching it for the first time (animated version). How did they set up the trap for the Doctor and Jamie. The Daleks arrive in the 19th century due seemingly almost as an accidental result of Maxtible and Waterfield's experiments and then set up an absurdly elaborate plan to capture the Doctor , Jamie and the Tardis from the 20th century. Has the whole antiques scam bee set up just for this purpose? There doesn't seem to be any other purpose for Waterfield selling the antiques . How did they knww when the Doctor and Jamie were going to be at Gatwick? Were theyjust keeping an eye open in case they passed through? I think you just have to suspend any concern about that kind of plot logic with this story, that wasn't necessarily David Whitaker's area of interest.