Sunday, 22 May 2011

1x08 The Ambush

“They must be exterminated! Do you understand? Exterminated!”

11th January 1964

I like how time passes in these classics. For example, in this episode, it opens with the ending to episode seven (seeing the claw of a Dalek), then we get a fade out. On the other side of the fade, the four companions are wondering through the endless Skaro corridors. It looks like they’ve been going for hours. I don’t think I’ve ever had this experience in the new series, even when Tennant and Lady Christina are trekking through the desert in 2009’s ‘Planet Of The Dead’.

I love Ian trying to be a Dalek, you can tell its Russell’s voice on the voice modifier, which, I think makes the motionless voice of the Daleks that much more terrifying. Maybe this is one of the reasons they took off back in their first appearance? There are some great effects in this part. Not just sound, but visual as well. The Daleks cutting through the lift door works great, there’s not even a distraction with flares on the camera. As the Daleks fast approach breaking through the lift door, I’m in awe at Cusick’s design work yet again. I don’t know how he achieved this lift effect on his tight budget but he delivers time and time again.

We see our first Dalek casing destroyed here too, along with the Dalek’s very phallic looking weaponry. Once all our companions reach the top of the lift, I’m left stuck as to why the Daleks randomly have a large stone placed in the middle of the floor other than the reason they thought it’d be a great plot device if ever some time travellers came to visit. The look of the stone crashing down the lift shaft is a huge disappointment; all it accomplished was making me think ‘maybe this is where the budget ran dry?’

We divert from Ian and co. to see more of the story developing between the Thals and the Daleks. After all, it is their planet. The Dalek’s plan to double cross the Thals is set up, with some absolutely fantastic drum music showing the Daleks in hiding, ready to exterminate. Upon returning to the main cast, there’s a nice conflict of dialogue over what they can/should do about helping the Thals. When Ian decides to warn them, it is a bit of a comical over-the-top “It’s a trap!” line he delivers, a bit Admrial Ackbar-like.

The city of Skaro, named here for the first time
However, there are some fantastic camera shots as they edge out of hiding, ready to shoot down the Thals in cold blood, a shocking sight, which really display how dangerous these metal meanies can be.

After the action has finished, there’s some beautiful characterisation for the Doctor, as he tries to discover more about the planet Skaro (it’s named here for the first time) and fix the planet’s location. I’m not entirely sure how some of Skaro’s history is contained in normal film cans though. Maybe Skaro has a lot more in common with Earth than I expected.

Just under twenty minutes into the episode, there is Nation’s best, most expert, piece of dialogue I’ve ever heard. Where Ian is given his ideas about who or what the Daleks were, and their “dislike for the unlike”. There are a few minutes of Ian taking charge of the dialogue and it’s mostly really powerful stuff as we learn more about both the Thals and the Daleks.

I love how the Doctor’s logic of not interfering is transmitting itself onto Ian and Barbara, but then just as the team are about to leave the planet, we get a well shot but poor cliffhanger, which is obviously just there to give us another three episodes of Daleks to go.

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