Saturday, April 17, 2010

 

Daleks – The Top Twenty!

What a weekend for the first and greatest of the Doctor’s enemies to return. Just as it looks like, after over half a century, the Daleky forces of authoritarianism and conformity might be losing their grip on British politics. And what could be happening when, after nearly half a century of symbolising Nazism, the Daleks have suddenly joined the Allies with Winston Churchill, exchanging their Noughties Bling livery for khaki drab and, perhaps, more besides…? If tonight’s brand new Victory of the Daleks leaves you wanting more, here’s my highly partial guide to the Daleks’ top twenty stories (until today):

Well, Actually…

To date – between 1963 and 2008 – there have been twenty Dalek stories. That makes picking a top twenty a very easy thing to do… Except that two of them were remade as feature films with Peter Cushing, so I’d best not go into them right now. Nor all the Doctor Who stories that aren’t exactly about the Daleks, but brought us noticeable new cameo appearances from the blob-and-metal monsters: The Space Museum; Frontier in Space; The Five Doctors; The Waters of Mars

Some of the Daleks’ most thrilling adventures, too, have been in media other than television. Many of Big Finish’s Doctor Who audio dramas have starred the Daleks or their creator Davros: Jubilee and Davros, in particular, are as good as almost anything that’s ever been on TV. Terra Firma and Brotherhood of the Daleks might just do strange things to your mind; then, of course, TV’s voice of the Daleks himself, Nick Briggs, created several epic Dalek Empire, starring such actors as Noel Clarke and, yes, David Tennant. Daleks have hit several books – though if I were you, I’d skip John Peel’s terrible two original photocopied and reassembled novels – but for me, perhaps the pinnacle of the Daleks’ off-screen success was in the stunning, beautiful TV21 comic strips of the 1960s. Untroubled by the Doctor, the Daleks were the anti-heroes of their own adventures, telling thrilling stories in gorgeous colour – if ever a comic strip needs a lavish collected edition reprint, this is it.



OK, this one’s actually mine…
 
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So the top twenty I offer below is merely one dimension of the Daleks – if the dimension seen by millions. But first, if by some strange chance you’ve never met them… Well, watch BBC1 tonight at 6.30 (and BBCHD at 8.25)! And you can read my very best old-fashioned Doctor Who Monster Book-style introduction…

Who Are the Daleks?

The Daleks are the Doctor’s greatest enemy – the personification of war in the Universe. Though apparently like robots on the outside, they are living creatures and far from emotionless, with their war-cry to “Exterminate!” all other life. Every Dalek machine has heavy armour and a camera eye, mechanical arm and powerful gun, like a fearsome personal tank driven by the creature inside. They believe themselves to be superior to every other being in the Universe, and their intelligence and appetite for destruction gives them total confidence to proclaim in their harsh electronic voices:
“One Dalek is capable of exterminating all!”
Once a human-like race called the Kaleds, they fought a terrible war with their neighbours the Thals, using everything from knives and bullets to chemical and nuclear weapons. Their planet Skaro was devastated, and both races were changed by mutation. The Kaled chief scientist Davros kept himself alive despite great age and injury, in a life-support wheelchair like the base of a Dalek. He became obsessed with similar preservation of his people. Hungry for power, he genetically modified the Kaleds into hideous mutants of great cunning and ambition, but conditioned to obey unquestioningly, to hate every creature that is different, and unable to survive outside protective travel machines he designed – the Daleks.

In one of the Doctor’s most dangerous adventures, the Time Lords sent him to prevent the rise of the Daleks, and saw how the Daleks shot their own creator because even he was not a ‘pure’ Dalek. But the Doctor decided he could not destroy the Daleks at their birth. Killing entire races is how the Daleks act, not the Doctor – and such a massive change to time could prevent too much good as well as evil from having happened.

The Doctor first met the Daleks long after their creation, when they plotted in their metal city to destroy the survivors of their enemies, the Thals. The Doctor defeated them, but he soon found that there were many other Daleks throughout time and space. The Daleks were the only other race to discover the full secret of time travel and, realising that the Doctor was a threat to them, tried to find and kill him as he travelled through time and space stopping their plans.

The Dalek Invasion of Earth


The Daleks even succeeded in conquering the Earth in the Twenty-Second Century, turning humans into zombie-like Robomen before being defeated by the Doctor. Their creator Davros also once operated on humans to create a new race of Daleks more loyal to himself, after he narrowly survived the first Daleks’ betrayal. Perhaps the Daleks’ most evil plan against humanity was to trick the Doctor into identifying “The Dalek Factor,” using it to alter the mind of every human into that of a Dalek who would obey and exterminate without question. Only the Doctor’s own cleverness turned the tables, giving Daleks free will through “The Human Factor” and plunging them into civil war.

No other monster has been such a terrible threat to all life in the Universe, so many times, as the Daleks, employing war, radiation and plague. When it suited them, they have enlisted alien servants such as the brutish, ape-like Ogrons, and schemed with greedy humans or with alien allies to advance their conquests. But whatever promises they may make, the Daleks hate all other life, and one thing is certain: all allies of the Daleks will be exterminated in the end.

With two great civilisations in the Universe both having control over time travel and one determined to dominate, eventually the inevitable happened. The Time Lords and Daleks fought each other in the last great Time War. Great tides of time damage swept the Universe, both races were destroyed, and it seemed only the Doctor survived. But there were Dalek survivors, too, with the Emperor Dalek and some of his most cunning acolytes hidden away to pose new and greater threats. The last time the Daleks appeared, the Doctor saw the destruction of a risen Dalek empire from which Davros and his creations had aimed to destroy the entire Universe except themselves. Was this the final end of the Daleks?

Often before they have seemed finally defeated – but they always come back for more…

The Top Twenty

In my own tribute to the traditional Dalek story, I’ve been horribly ill all week, so I’ve not been able to finish all the mini-reviews explaining why I think each Dalek adventure merits the position I’ve given it below. So please tune in for more, and I’ll have finished them before the same time next week. Update: …In fact, I finished by the end of Sunday. How about that? Read, enjoy, and disagree!

20 – Death to the Daleks (1974)
All Doctor Who is brilliant. But some of it’s more brilliant than other bits. If I was rating stories by the old “hit, miss or maybe,” I reckon that of the Doctor’s three biggest recurring enemies, the Master and the Cybermen might have a fairly even spread… But there’s something about a Dalek story that makes writers deliver. So many of them are stacked towards the top that it seems almost unfair to mention the handful that, when they do fall down, fall down hard (even the music here’s unspeakable). And yet even this most tired of Dalek stories has much to enjoy in it: ancient alien cultures falling to dust; Sarah Jane Smith; and the religious maniacs determined to wipe out their non-conformist naturist cousins (the ones who looked so thrillingly like living rock when I first saw their photos in The Doctor Who Monster Book as a kid). It isn’t out on DVD yet, but look out for it in the next couple of years and prove me wrong. Golden moment? The elegiac closing shots. Rather lovely.

19 – The Chase (1965)
Dalekmania gave Doctor Who its liftoff to initial mass success in the early ’60s, and they were great days for Dalek stories, too – William Hartnell faced the Daleks more often than any other Doctor, in an ascending spiral of excitement as their arch-enemy. There was one stumble along the way… The idea is to make the Daleks more impressive – first they took Skaro; then they were seen conquering our home as if the Nazis won World War II; now they can chase our heroes through time itself! Unfortunately, the analogy of a crack Gestapo squad hunting down the Resistance falls flat very quickly; a mixture of comedy that isn’t funny, sadly slipshod production and an hilarious ‘double’. But this, too, has its moments. While trying to play the Daleks for laughs in the middle doesn’t work, the opening episode’s light comedy ‘holiday’ opening with the Doctor and his friends is rather lovely, as is the story’s very end. And the climax, as the huge robot Mechanoids spit fire at the Daleks, is rather fab (even more so in those TV21 comic strips, where they’re a major space power and we can’t hear them). It’s just out on DVD, in a box paired with The Space Museum. Golden moment? It has to be the coda, as the Doctor’s companions Ian and Barbara return home in an inspired montage. My eyes get misty.

18 – The Stolen Earth (2008)
The epic finale to the 2008 season of Doctor Who, with more Daleks and returning companions than you can shake a stick at, and even more than one David Tennant. Topping the TV charts for the week, this was one of the series’ most massive successes. Well… For me, it looks glorious, and the first episode’s terrific, but the conclusion is an amazing lesson in how things fall apart. A magnificent cliffhanger turned into a great big cheating cop-out; the Doctor unable to answer Davros’ – Davros’ – moral arguments; the Doctor taking away Donna’s choice. Above all, perhaps, it’s that with the Daleks having been down (again) to one sole survivor, they then instantly regrew (again) like watercress to a huge new empire, destroyed (again) in the blink of an eye… It’s impossible to see the Daleks as a threat, or their defeat as an achievement [post-Victory: and I’m hugely relieved that their 2010 comeback didn’t make the same mistake!]. This has been released at least five times on DVD, paired with other stories and seasons. Golden moment? Sarah Jane picking up that transmission from space, and knowing exactly what it means.

17 – Planet of the Daleks (1973)
Terry Nation returns to write for the Daleks a decade after his glory days, and nothing’s changed. Well, the script hasn’t, at least. It’s almost a cheesier, dumber remake of some of the earliest Dalek stories, with none of the eeriness or subtlety – but with shaggy purple capes and added sexism! Made, in theory, as the second half of a ginormous epic, directly following Frontier in Space (with which it’s available in the Dalek War DVD box), it has the slight disadvantage that it doesn’t bother picking up the story at all. But there’s no hope for me – I quite enjoy it, particularly the early scenes where Katy Manning, playing the Doctor’s companion Jo, gets to ad-lib most of her lines and does a much better job for herself than the script does. Golden moment? The Daleks work out who the tall stranger who’s been causing trouble is. And brick themselves.

16 – Resurrection of the Daleks (1984)
A grim tale of mercenaries, death and Docklands, much of this looks terrific, it has a great score, and there are some very impressive guest stars. Unfortunately, the minor guest actors are often a bit shonky, and after a gripping first episode the plot falls apart. Half the cast never meet each other, nor the Doctor, still less have a clue what’s going on, while the Daleks’ plans get loopier by the minute. On top of all that (you can tell this isn’t a favourite trope of mine), the Doctor is unable to answer Davros’ – Davros’ – moral arguments. This one’s available on DVD both on its own and in a Davros boxed set. Golden moment? Despite having little to do in theory, the Doctor’s companion Turlough keeps stealing scenes – on hearing they’re headed back to Earth, I love his sarcastic “Best news all day”.

15 – Destiny of the Daleks (1979)
One of Doctor Who’s few direct sequels, this picks up after Genesis of the Daleks and has never really been forgiven by many fans for being nowhere near as good. Its big problem, I suspect, is that it’s such a mixture: funny and grim; beautifully designed and grotty; intelligent and impossibly dumb. Davros is rather a let-down, yet there’s some striking camerawork and sound design. Perhaps the biggest contradiction is that, although the first half tends to be very derivative and the second has intriguing ideas, it’s the ‘living dead’ opening episodes which rather work, and the ‘logic problem’ latter half that breaks up on daft details. This one’s available on DVD both on its own and in a Davros boxed set. Golden moment? I still find the tense build-up to the second cliffhanger rather thrilling, with its mixture of burial and exhumation.

14 – Evolution of the Daleks (2007)
I could probably have put my numbers 20-17 in any order; I could probably do the same for 14-11, too. This is the one that went down rather badly with most fans but, though for me the second half of the story (again) has a rather too easy resolution that doesn’t match the promise of the first, I love it for its ability both to build on Dalek stories of old and to do something very different. It’s 1930s New York, and the Great Depression has hit the Daleks in two ways: not only have they had a crushing material fall, but their leader is, quite simply, depressed. He thinks outside the casing to make himself a Dalek messiah – but the other Daleks stick to that old-time religion… All this, plus lashings of James Whale’s Frankenstein, and even musical theatre. This has been released at least five times on DVD, paired with other stories and seasons – I prefer to watch it with the preceding story Gridlock, as together they explore the same themes of loss and rebirth, heaven and hell, even (very visually) ‘up and down’. Golden moment? Dalek conspirators in the sewers, swivelling and whispering.

13 – Day of the Daleks (1972)
An intelligent story of temporal paradoxes with a great twist, in some ways this has quite a Moffaty flavour (as well as something of Planet of the Apes), and Jon Pertwee has one of his better stories as the Doctor, despite lashing out at MPs’ expenses and then drinking all the wine. It has a few faults: with interesting sets of both ‘fascists’ and ‘terrorists’ presented to us to dislike, it doesn’t maintain much ambiguity over which side the Daleks are on; and the Daleks are unimpressive, both in numbers and with very feeble voices. There are some very strong characters and ideas, though, and a fascinating story. It isn’t out on DVD yet, but look out for it in the next couple of years – I wouldn’t mind a talking book version of the novelisation, either, or even Nick Briggs overdubbing the weedy Dalek voices when the DVD comes out. Golden moment? The Doctor slouching at dinner like he’s at a Roman orgy and slapping down claims that a fascist police state:
“has never been more efficiently, more economically run. People have never been happier – or more prosperous.”
“Then why do you need so many people to keep them under control? Don’t they like being happy and prosperous?”
12 – Remembrance of the Daleks (1988)
One of the first Doctor Who stories to have an exciting pre-titles teaser, and it still grabs you today. This is a favourite of many fans, an intelligent and complex story that doesn’t pull its punches on fascism – and brilliantly made, too, with great guest stars and terrific explosions. Why, then, might you ask, do I not put it further up my list? In short, the ending, which I think makes a horrible moral mistake, one of the most offensive in the series’ history. Watch it, and see what you think. This one’s available on DVD both on its own (make sure you get the “Special Edition” version) and in a Davros boxed set. Golden moment? The first cliffhanger, when after many hints in previous stories, we see for the first time clearly, absolutely, a Dalek flying up the stairs.

11 – Bad Wolf (2005)
A story that starts as hard-hitting satire on TV – daring to confront the viewers in a way the series really hasn’t since – and finishes with the most visually stunning Dalek invasion we’ve ever seen, as hundreds of fabulous Dalek saucers swoop through space. Added to that, there’s not just the conclusion to the tantalising “Bad Wolf” storyline, but also to the whole life story of Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor, moving at last from death wish to new life. Ironically, though the first half is made up of many different reality TV parodies and the second moves inexorably towards (another) final confrontation with the Daleks, it’s the first half that tells a more coherent story for me, and the Doctor never quite manages to come up with the ‘third option’ at the end. But it’s a strong story, nevertheless. This has been released at least five times on DVD, paired with other stories and seasons. Golden moment? I’m tempted to say plucky Lynda-with-a-Y’s hideously memorable extermination, but the more hopeful choice is the moment when it all comes together for the first cliffhanger – the Doctor, the Daleks and determination.

10 – Dalek (2005)
The perfect way to reintroduce the Daleks for a new audience – one Dalek, alone, weakened, yet outthinking and outfighting (and, of course, outflying) the arrogant humans who think they’ve got it under control. Both in psychology and by action, this is all about what a Dalek is, and once again, it’s a hit… Though I still prefer the Big Finish drama Jubilee, which has the same kernel of an idea at its heart, from Rob Shearman, the same author. If the Dalek is perfectly characterised, the effect it has on the Doctor and his companion is still more remarkable. It’s a fantastic day for Rose, and a terrible one for the Doctor. Faced with a nightmare returned from the Time War – and the viewers suddenly shown what that War was all about – he loses it. Here’s a curious contradiction: in the very first Dalek story, it’s in reaction to them that the Doctor gains his moral sense; finding one here pulls his morality completely out of shape. Intellectually, I appreciate the point of the Doctor’s guilt and horror tipping him over the edge, but emotionally, making him suddenly a macho bully who sneers at intellect turns me right off. Even the Dalek can see he’s gone wrong (or, in its view, right). This has been released at least five times on DVD, paired with other stories and seasons. Golden moment? The little boy in me loves the Dalek going on the rampage. With just a teeny smidgeon of disappointment that the death-rayed victims didn’t start leaving burnt shadows on the walls.

9 – Mission to the Unknown (1965)
The only Doctor Who with the Daleks, but without the Doctor. Guess who wins? The shortest Who story ever, it’s a one-episode teaser for nearly the longest, The Daleks’ Master Plan, and like many of the best pre-titles mini-adventures, it has James Bond in it. Well, nearly. Edward de Souza takes the lead (you thought Doctor-light episodes were new to this century?) as space special agent Marc Cory, discovering a sinister SPECTRE Dalek plot in a sinister space jungle. Unlike 007, he doesn’t make it through alive. It’s a fascinating snapshot of a much grimmer series – though, sadly, a snapshot with very few pictures. It’s one of those early stories the BBC carelessly burnt, but you can listen to it on a narrated CD of the soundtrack (as part of The Daleks’ Master Plan release, and also to be given away for free with the Telegraph in a week’s time, as luck would have it), or sort-of watch it on the rather excellent free Reconstruction. Golden moment? The brutal end, when you realise you really do need the Doctor to make everything all right.

8 – The Power of the Daleks (1966)
You can tell how good the stories from this point up are: the more you know them, the more you’ll realise how relentlessly plundered for ideas they’ve been. Having now seen Victory of the Daleks, you may be interested to know that – because this was the first story ever to introduce a new Doctor, Patrick Troughton – the Daleks are essentially here to convince us that he really is the Doctor. If that still doesn’t ring a bell, as part of their cunning plan here they present themselves to humans as helpful robots, intoning “I am your sol-dier ser-vant” while the bow-tied new Doctor is a lone voice against them. The Daleks are brilliantly treated here: one lost ship rediscovered by a human colony tricks them into rebuilding a Dalek force, less a galaxy-spanning threat than a corruption from within (you might call it ‘Daleks Unplugged’). The human settlers are a bit of a nasty, squabbling bunch, though, so it’s difficult to be upset for any of them being exterminated. It’s one of those early stories the BBC carelessly burnt, but you can listen to it on a narrated CD of the soundtrack or sort-of watch it on the free Reconstruction. Golden moment? This time, the human scientist who reckons himself in control of the Daleks isn’t a robot, merely gullible. So guess what happens to him?

7 – The Daleks (1963-4)
Perhaps the most important Doctor Who of them all, this was only the second ever made, and introduced the series’ first monsters. You know what they are – from the first, a metaphor both for Nazism and nuclear war – and they’re as much the reason Doctor Who is still here today as anything else, for which we must be eternally grateful to writer Terry Nation, inspired designer Ray Cusick and determined producer Verity Lambert, who got it made. But it’s not just important because of the effect the Daleks had on the series: it’s the effect they have on the Doctor. Their ruthless plans bring the Doctor out of his detachment to make a moral judgement, and that’s the formation of the character we know today. It’s a good story, but a sheer masterpiece of design to evoke an alien world: the eerie sound, the stunning architecture and, of course, the Daleks themselves. It isn’t perfect – many of the characters are shallow, and after a strong start the later episodes simply meander – but it’s still mesmerising. This is available on DVD as part of the Doctor Who – The Beginning boxed set, and the novelisation (the first, and one of the best) is now a talking book, rather splendidly brought to life on CD by William Russell, who played the Doctor’s companion Ian. Golden moment? The wonderfully gittish Doctor discovering his morals despite himself – memorably railing in brilliant, passionate close-up against “This senseless, evil killing…”

6 – The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964)
A powerful series of images of the Daleks in a ruined London really sells this blatant ‘what if the Nazis had won?’ allegory. It doesn’t reach the same heights of design or imagination as the first Dalek story, but it’s more satisfying, probably because it keeps up the pace and has a climax that works instead of petering out, despite the Dalek plan to pilot the Earth around like an interplanetary dodgem being barking mad. Both the grimy resistance fighters and the Daleks’ tattered zombie Robomen are quite effective – their pet ‘Slyther’ less so. The Doctor’s missing for a few too many chunks of the action, but has some haunting speeches when he’s around, not least his closing goodbye. This one’s available on its own on DVD (with the special bonus that you can switch on new CGI flying saucers to replace the not-completely-convincing model), while the excellent novelisation is now a talking book, rather splendidly brought to life on CD by William Russell, with Nick Briggs as the voice of the Daleks. Golden moment? Many, but today I’ll go for the first cliffhanger, as the ruins of men stalk the Doctor through the ruin of a city – only for a Dalek to rise from the Thames behind him…

5 – The Daleks’ Master Plan (1965-6)
What can you say about a story so huge that it was originally broadcast over three months, and takes five hours now if you put the whole thing on? That’s it’s brilliant, happily, but sags in the middle – it’s almost a series of linked short stories, evoking a dangerous Universe but with an outrageous Christmas ‘comedy’ episode half-way. It really shouldn’t work, but this is The Chase done right: the devious Daleks, their alien allies and a fabulous human traitor hunting the Doctor to get back the key to their invasion of the galaxy. This epic pits the Daleks one last time against William Hartnell, their arch-foe, and sees both Doctor and Daleks at their terrific best. More than one of the Doctor’s friends die along the way – not least future Brigadier Nick Courtney – and death is never far away. Perhaps it would have been better off ditching some of the ropier episodes in the middle, but its sheer scale and the time we’ve taken to know the characters help it build up to an awesome conclusion. It’s one of those early stories the BBC carelessly burnt most of, but you can see three surviving episodes in the Lost in Time DVD, listen to it all on a narrated CD of the soundtrack (Mission to the Unknown is included), or sort-of watch it on the CGI-Dalek-tastic free Reconstruction. Golden moment? This story features the best statement of the Daleks’ arrogant superiority ever broadcast, but as I’ve already quoted that above I’ll go for the finale: the emotional punch of the climax is still harrowing today, with the Doctor seeming almost an elemental force as the series absolutely makes up its mind that he isn’t human…

4 – Doomsday (2006)
A rip-roaring season finale mixing two of the most popular Doctor Who themes: the Twenty-first Century stories’ action-packed invasion extravaganzas; and the mid-’70s favourite of the dead returning – this time, in four different scary ways. ‘Harmless,’ sentimentalised “ghosts” have a terrifyingly logical explanation as undead Cybermen storm through them; the British Empire itself threatens to rise again under the fabulous Yvonne Hartman; and, from beyond space and time, the last of the Daleks return. Which will win? The finance and technology of Torchwood? The massed millions of Cybermen? Or just four Daleks? There’s no contest – it’s almost a disappointment when they find more of them. All that, and Rose says goodbye (#1), though Jackie steals the show (despite an inspired last-minute scene-stealer from Donna to kick us all out of moping). This has been released at least five times on DVD, paired with other stories and seasons. Golden moment? That cliffhanger – the Cybermen have won. But guess who’s back to say it won’t be for long?

3 – Revelation of the Daleks (1985)
One of the most unexpected of Dalek stories, this delicious black comedy centres on Davros, a plotter, a poisonous tempter and a postmodern commentator on the action as he builds new ‘whited sepulchre’ Daleks from the bodies of the dead. A creepy, dreamlike – no, nightmarish – visual triumph, the horror at the heart of it is turning immortality into hell. Add perfectly cast guest stars, a touch of sex and politics, and what more could you ask for? Well, you might ask for more of the Doctor, but even though the script often sidelines him, Colin Baker’s striking performance still dominates as he strikes up a cracking rapport with Davros. This one’s available on DVD both on its own and in a Davros boxed set. Golden moment? A dead man entombed in a glass Dalek casing pleading with his daughter for destruction rather than become a Dalek…

2 – Genesis of the Daleks (1975)
Dark, gripping and brilliant, this is Doctor Who’s ultimate war story: the barren, shattered landscape after a thousand years of war is almost a character in itself; the Daleks are born out of a desire to end that war by any means necessary, and are never more blatantly Nazis; and the Doctor being sent by the Time Lords to stop them is today seen as the first strike in the Time War. Few stories are played with such gravity, and almost everything comes off – the odd giant clam aside – with Tom Baker’s Doctor perfectly playing the moral dilemmas (and ably assisted by Sarah Jane and Harry). The Daleks are used sparingly, but have the presence of tanks when they glide into view; the musical score is terrific; but what really counts is Davros and his story. It doesn’t take the easy route and have Davros completely in charge from the start, but using his wiles in a cleverly truncated portrait of a fascist’s rise to power, resembling an historical thriller, and Michael Wisher creates the part magnificently – intelligent, fanatical with extraordinary oratory. This one’s available on DVD both on its own and in a Davros boxed set; I remember it as the first Doctor Who you could ever re-experience at will, released as a heavy edited LP – that’s now a CD, and it’s another to be given away for free with the Telegraph in a week’s time (“Thank you, that’s what I wanted to know”). Golden moment? Davros engages the Doctor in scientific discussion, and the Doctor turns it into a moral debate. It’s probably still the most compelling scene in the whole of Doctor Who.

1 – The Evil of the Daleks (1967)
The greatest Dalek story of them all raises them from a physical to a metaphysical threat – malevolent spirits that plot to seed all humanity with “The Dalek Factor” in a darkly alchemical fairy tale. Patrick Troughton (Matt Smith’s favourite Doctor) is outstanding, and often disturbing, as he and the Daleks both lay secret plots against each other, both at their most devious, both going through the looking glass… Yet even the Doctor is taken for a ride by the Daleks this time. We see new sides of the Daleks: insidiously evil; child-like and trusting; the first appearance of the great Emperor. There’s even an apparently human servant of the Daleks with a strange magnetic force, saved by love, while another human falls into temptation. Passing from contemporary London to Victorian times to the Dalek City of the future for the epic climax, too, gives it a breadth of vision that is almost unbeatably ideal Doctor Who. Back in 1967 they knew how to do a season finale, too. It’s one of those early stories the BBC carelessly burnt most of, but you can see the one surviving episode in the Lost in Time DVD, listen to it all on a narrated CD of the soundtrack, or sort-of watch it on the rather fantastic free Reconstruction. Golden Emperor moment? Not just a terrific story, this is one of the most powerfully Liberal messages that Doctor Who has ever made. It’s the final cliffhanger where the Doctor defiantly stands up to the biggest bully in the Universe and sets out the battlefield between the Dalek Factor, to obey and to destroy, and the Human Factor – to ask questions.

Question authority. Don’t do what they tell you. And this time – the Daleks might be defeated.


So what do I think of Victory of the Daleks? Oh, I won’t know that for ages! I like to sleep on my Doctor Who reviews for a couple of decades. Well, I don’t rush things, you know? But if you want a brilliant and incisive assessment of exactly how wonderful it will be, catch Richard’s undoubtedly superb thoughts on it on Millennium’s Diary sometime in the next few days. I’m looking forward to it.

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Comments:
AS a Dr Who fan of old (and new) I was impressed with the nextgen Darleks - especially their vibrant array of colours - have the Darleks had a LGBT module installed lol!
 
I must admit to loving "Planet" when I first saw it in 1993 on a repeat, aged 13. Back then it was hard to get access to Who repeats, so it still holds a special significance.

I haven't been overly keen on any of the new Dalek stories but this week's was ok by comparison (apart from the Spitfires in space).

I thought the reference at the end to "you've seen the Daleks before Amy, you just don't recognise them" might be a metaphor for the re-rise of facism and the upcoming election, but that could be just me. Everyone else seems to think it's the new story arc of Amy's lots memory, which would be pretty lame.
 
Thanks, Chris - made me smile!

And thanks for the memory, Tom. I can see exactly why you love Planet - I have similar memories of The Five Faces repeats from 1981, back when I'd just turned ten.

I think I prefer your metaphor to a story arc, too...
 
I must agree with Chris. I really love the new Colors of the new Daleks. As a young fan of Dr. Who Alex's Breakdown of The history of the Daleks was truly Eye Opening for me. Maybe some one should make a video of Alex like this this guy Tim has.

http://goo.gl/M216

. Keep Going Alex ..
Eb
 
Thanks, Echo! I hope you look up some of those other Dalek stories and enjoy them just as much. Loved the link, too :)
 
I came here expecting to see something on the recent return of the Silurians but it looks like you are busy and (understandably) preoccupied with political stuff.

I would love to see what you think of The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood. I have bloggged on the topic just today at Lazy Luddite Log.
 
Apologies for not posting, Daniel; I wish politics explained it, but no, I've been unpleasantly ill and am doing a bit of catching up on a marginally more together morning.

I can’t say I thought the return of the Silurians was the strongest of stories, though at least it was some improvement on Warriors of the Deep and most of Mr Chibnall’s Torchwood scripts. You might like to have a read of what my beloved Richard thought of The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood, as while his reviews are very much his own, he does prod me with a stick to see if I have any insight to add (he’s brilliant at sizing up a story at once; I prefer to sleep on it for a decade or two before making my mind up). I generally agree with him, though I might have been very slightly kinder to Cold Blood – the season finale, on the other hand…

After a couple of months to think about Victory, though it's apparently one of this year's least popular stories with most fans, I really rather enjoyed it - despite being unenthused by the new looks for either Daleks or Silurians. I thought the first half was witty and intriguing, while the last 20 minutes or so if a little less interesting, at least not killing all the Daleks off again instantly, because that would be very tiresome (looks pointedly at penultimate episode). I suspect my view of it for the list above is likely to settle somewhere in the 11-14 bracket.

I've also had a fabulous poster for it delivered from Forbidden Planet, which entertainingly even has an imprint saying it was issued by the "Ministry of Defense". Which is a lovely touch, even if in the Second World War there was a named Minister of Defence to co-ordinate the Chiefs of Staff - in fact, the Prime Minister - but not yet a single Ministry, though the main government department among several was then called "the War Office," anyway. And even if the since-unified-and-established modern Ministry of Defence, using British English, doesn't spell that usage of "Defense" like that.

But I'm drifting...
 
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