Sunday 18 June 2023

Episode 73: The Death of Time

The TARDIS has vanished, and the Doctor and Barbara are shocked to see a Dalek struggle up from beneath a sand dune only a few feet away from them...
It joins some more of its kind and they move off, searching for the TARDIS. As the Doctor and Barbara prepare to go and look for Ian and Vicki, they are confronted by a pair of amphibious humanoid beings. They are native Aridians.
The Daleks utilise a seismic locator device to trace the TARDIS. 
The Aridians - Malsan and Rynian - inform the Doctor that their planet was once covered in oceans, but their suns have moved steadily closer and the seas dried up. Now they have been forced to live in a subterranean city beneath the dunes. They are being hunted by savage Mire Beasts, the octopoid creatures earlier encountered by Ian and Vicki in the tunnels. These once lived in the mud on the sea bed, but have now invaded sections of the city. The Aridians are forced to destroy parts to seal them in and protect the inhabited areas. One of their airlocks is about to be blown up by an Aridian miner named Prondyn - the one which Ian and Vicki entered. 
They set off to locate them before the explosives are detonated, but are just too late.
In the tunnels, the blast knocks Ian unconscious, but kills the Mire Beast which had been threatening them. Vicki goes to find help.
The Daleks find the location of the TARDIS, buried under a new dune. They force a number of Aridians to free it. Once their work is done, they are ruthlessly exterminated. The Daleks find that their weaponry is useless against the ship.
In the city, the Doctor and Barbara are informed that the Daleks have issued an ultimatum. The Aridians must hand them over by noon or face destruction. They are now prisoners.
Vicki arrives and tells them that there is an exit not far away. A recovered Ian is there, and he has discovered that the TARDIS is just outside - guarded by a single Dalek.
Another Aridian informs Malsan and Rynian that it is time to hand their captives over to the Daleks. Barbara notices a bricked-up doorway which is starting to crumble. It suddenly bursts open and a Mire Beast emerges, engulfing one of the Aridians. Barbara wants to stay and help but she is dragged away by the Doctor as they need to make their escape. 
In the tunnel by the TARDIS, Ian organises the building of a sand trap - using a framework of sticks and Barbara's cardigan and the Doctor's coat, covered in sand. They then lure the lone Dalek guard onto the trap and it plunges into the tunnel below.
The Doctor and his companions rush for the TARDIS as the remaining Daleks converge on them. The ship dematerialises.
Studying his instruments, the Doctor discovers that they are being followed. The Daleks have vowed to pursue and exterminate them...
Next episode: Flight Through Eternity

Written by Terry Nation
Recorded: Friday, 7th May 1965 - Riverside Studio 1
First broadcast: 5:40pm, Saturday 29th May 1965
Ratings: 9.5 million / AI 56
Designers: Raymond P Cusick and John Wood
Director: Richard Martin
Additional cast: Ian Thompson (Malsan), Hywel Bennett (Rynian), Al Raymond (Prondyn)

The design for the Aridians differed greatly from the vision which Nation had for them. They had large hunched backs, that made it look like their faces were in the middle of their chests. Long black hair, a second pair of eyes in their foreheads, and arms dragging on the ground, with four fingers on each hand.
They dressed in skins made from Mire Beasts.
The description would have proven expensive and difficult to realise, so Costume Designer Daphne Dare opted to follow the script and make them amphibian in appearance. Their costumes were gold in colour. Unfortunately, the rubber cap and shell-like ears can sometimes be seen to be coming unstuck.
The Fungoids, which will appear later, were originally going to be native to Aridius.
There was also supposed to be a caged Mire Beast in the city, and it was this which escaped and caused panic which allowed the time travellers to escape - instead of the one which breaks through the bricked-up archway.
John Wood designed the Aridian city set, which uses a really impressive painted backdrop.

Whilst Aridius features mainly in studio, we do see some more of the Camber Sands location work, including an obviously lightweight Dalek gliding across the sand dunes. This included the shot of it falling into the trap. This was the one they attempted to bury and have rise up at the cliff-hanger of the previous episode.
We have our first glimpse of "Dalek stupidity" this week when the commander orders an underling to do something, only for it to just stand there - and the commander has to prompt it to get on with it.
This silliness will get worse later on.
Only three of the four Dalek props appear in this episode. Operator Gerald Taylor was not present in studio this week. One of the Daleks was given a special gimballed contraption in place of the usual sucker, to represent their seismic detector.

Rare these days, we see an example of apparent cruelty from the Doctor. Not only does he do nothing to save the Aridian attacked by the Mire Beast, and actively stops Barbara from doing so, but it looks like he pushed him under it in the first place.

In An Unearthly Child it was suggested that the TARDIS was built by the Doctor, as Susan says that she made up the name from the initials "Time And Relative Dimension In Space". This seems to be confirmed here as the Doctor talks about his time-path detector, which warns of another time machine following them on the same course, saying "It's been in the ship ever since I constructed it".
Of course, his "It" could apply equally to the device itself as to the TARDIS. It will take only one further story - seven more episodes - to show categorically that his TARDIS is not unique.

There is a neat throwback to The Space Museum when Ian asks for Barbara's cardigan and she groans "Not again!". He had destroyed her last one to use as a trail to escape the museum.
There's a nice line from Hartnell when he then asks for the Doctor's coat as well: "My dear boy, we're trying to beat the Daleks, not start a jumble sale!".
Ian calls Vicki "a little fool", and she counters by calling him "a nit".
There then follows a jokey scene as they talk about the Dalek being eaten by the Mire Beasts. 
It sounds like an ad lib when the Doctor tells them that he can always drop them back again to find out, to which Ian responds "Thank you very much" as though unscripted.

On Thursday 6th May, the day before recording, William Russell and Jaqueline Hill were photographed at various locations around central London for The Planet of Decision. Then, on Monday 10th May, Russell and Hill attended Ealing and filmed their scenes for the same episode, where they emerge from a garage near to an Underground station, as well as the sequence with stunt arranger Derek Ware playing a conductor on a London bus. All of these scenes were directed by Douglas Camfield who was beginning work on The Time Meddler.

  • Despite the fact that it is a new Dalek story, the ratings dip slightly (by half a million) and the AI falls, though only by a single point. It's the end of May, and the weather is improving.
  • The episode overran in studio due to problems with integrating the film footage. There was also no fast rewind tape machine available - essential for speedy retakes.
  • Hywel Bennett's first language was Welsh, only beginning to learn English aged four when his family moved to London. He began his acting career on stage in 1959, but The Chase was one of his very first TV roles.
  • Ian Thompson had previously played Hetra in The Web Planet for Richard Martin.
  • Al Raymond had featured as a soldier in The Reign of Terror.
  • An uncredited Aridian was Brian Proudfoot - Hartnell's location double in The Reign of Terror and Tigilinus in The Romans among other small roles. Presumably he is the lone Aridian who stumbles across the Daleks and is exterminated.
  • A photograph of the Kalahari Desert was used as an establishing shot for the Aridian surface, just before Prondyn detonates the explosives to blow up the Taltarian Lock.
  • One of the best known images from this story is a scene which never takes place in the actual narrative. The Doctor, Barbara, Vicki and Ardians Malsan and Rynian are grouped around a fallen Ian, with a Dalek in the background. This was simply one of a set of similar publicity photos taken during the afternoon rehearsal session:

No comments:

Post a Comment