Tuesday 20 September 2022

What's Wrong With... Planet of the Daleks

The story opens with the Doctor asking the Time Lords to send him after the Daleks, following the reveal in Frontier in Space that they are the power behind the Master's efforts to provoke a war between Earth and Draconia. As with all his previous missions from the Time Lords, they don't do anything to make things easy for him. He's dumped in the middle of a hostile jungle environment, and has to spend half the story just working out what the Daleks are up to, before he can start defeating them.
Terry Nation likes his "Unusual Dalek Surprise Cliff-Hanger Appearance" - be it coming out of the Thames or pushing its way up from a sand dune. Here, despite the fact that the story has "...of the Daleks" in the title, and the Doctor had asked to be sent after them, he is apparently shocked to see one revealed by black paint, and we're all supposed to be surprised as well.
What was the invisible Dalek doing wandering about the jungle by itself anyway? If part of an experiment, shouldn't it have been better supervised?

There are 10,000 Daleks somewhere on Spiridon. It is made out to be an impossibly big number, but it's not that many when you think about it. If the Earth and Draconian empires combined covered, say, 100 planets, that would mean only 100 Daleks available to conquer and then hold each world. On Earth alone that wouldn't be enough to allow one Dalek per country - they would need twice as many just for us. As universe conquering armies go, it's actually a pretty feeble force.
Mind you, the Daleks don't appear to have even conquered half of their own home planet. It is clearly stated that the Thals still live on Skaro, right next door to the Daleks.
If extreme cold kills Daleks, then why is the whole Dalek scheme based on freezing them? Why do they need to be kept inactive - by any means - in the first place?

Terry Nation has never grasped what the TARDIS really is. He has always assumed that it operates just like a conventional spaceship. He certainly never gets the infinite dimensions of the interior, as he thinks that the ship can run out of oxygen in a very short space of time. Back in The Chase he had the Doctor talk about them being unable to hang around in space as they would suffocate - as though the ship draws its air supply from the outside - and that's exactly what he's suggesting here as well. The fungus forms a shell around the exterior of the TARDIS and the Doctor starts to suffocate because of it.
(And surely the TARDIS doors, which open inwards, would be strong enough to overcome the fungus substance).
The TARDIS is huge inside (later stories will deny it is infinite, but it is certainly vast), yet the air runs out after an hour or two. The Doctor then produces air tanks, which we've never seen before. These are supposed to be an emergency supply - but they are practically empty. 
Despite his predicament, the Doctor changes his clothes. Surely even a small amount of physical exertion would deplete the scarce oxygen even faster?

The MFI-style bed and wardrobe suite in the TARDIS console room isn't wrong as such - just very, very stupid. If the Doctor does live in the console room all the time, and never uses any other area of the ship, why does he put up with a Black & White TV?
A problem with spaceships in Doctor Who ever since the very first one - Captain Maitland's in The Sensorites - the Thal craft has lots of loose items lying about, ideal for injuring the crew every time there is the slightest bit of turbulence. Having the main entrance / exit positioned right between the two engines is probably a bit of a design flaw. Did the Thals never consider burying their dead commander?
Thal pilots seem to have learned to fly at the Ice Warrior space-pilot school - they are forever crashing.

The Doctor claims it will take a thousand years to dig out the Dalek army. But the ice on Spiridon remains liquid - so it should take considerably shorter time to simply pull them out and warm them up again.
The Plain of Stones is where everyone goes at night for heat. Why have the Spiridons and Daleks not worked out that this is the most likely place to find their enemies after dark, and so plan an ambush?
Jo has the bombs well hidden - behind a tuft of grass right in front of where everyone is standing.
Marat had hardly hidden them anywhere less visible - sitting on a rock shelf where any passing Dalek might spot them. As it is, they find the bombs by using his map after he has been killed - but how do they know it leads to explosives? We can see that it is just an "X" on the map. It could be where they've stashed their sandwiches for all the Daleks know.

Not visible on screen - luckily - but the Dalek base houses a sauna, laundry, lobby, kitchen and study, as well as a couple of bedrooms. A servants' bell pull panel was used as set dressing on a control panel. (See the photo on page 45 of Volume 20 of Doctor Who: The Complete History if you don't believe it).
There are some very obvious Louis Marx toy Daleks on show - not just in the Dalek arsenal.


  1. "the ice on Spiridon remains liquid" - isn't that called water on other planets? Icecanos - how do they work exactly? That's my bugbear with this story.