Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Power Of The Daleks (Episode 1)

Originally Broadcast 5th November 1966

Written by: David Whitaker

In a nutshell: The Doctor has gone and is replaced with a strange, younger man who acts differently. Can Ben and Polly trust him and, more importantly, do they have time before they meet the Daleks?

NB. As this episode is missing from the BBC archives, this review is based upon the surviving audio book narrated by Anneke Wills and the photo-novels from DWM’s recent Missing Episodes special.

Review: The opening of this episode is the one scene in the entire show I wish I could watch. Not the first regeneration, but the first reaction to one. Ben and Polly really sell the worries of the audience at the time whilst Troughton does his best to seem strange and different from Hartnell’s performance to show he’s a new man. Small touches like the Doctor’s old ring falling to the floor are lovely moments and it’s creepy when Hartnell’s image appears on the mirror before Troughton refers to the older man as ‘The Doctor’ rather than himself. It doesn’t exactly reassure the audience. It’s surprising just how long this opening TARDIS scene is as the Doctor adjusts to his new persona. It’s certainly welcome and is definitely needed.

To write one companion as ‘the skeptic’ and one as ‘the believer’ over the new Doctor’s person is great and really plays with the audience more. It’s like having the two voices onscreen for you as you try to make up your own mind, you can choose which companion you want to side with.

It may be purely because this episode is missing, but even the planet, Vulcan, looks brilliant and effective, with all the smoke and mist circling around. It’s often been said how Doctor Who is so successful because it merges the everyday with the unnatural and that’s definitely true here as Ben tells us a story of how he used to live opposite a brewery. These lines are the bits that help us connect with the characters in order to like the series and the story more.

We’ve met some new characters and are inside a colony on the planet. Introduced to Lesterson and Janley the story really gets going, we know why we’re here now. The conversation between the duo makes this episode feel like a soap opera with the talk turning to slight threats and promises between the pair. After this we get a meeting with the Governor who is trying to find out why his colony is being investigated. It really does feel a lot like a 1960s version of Eastenders to me. The characters even bump into each other mid-scenes to give an effective front of this being a small colony.

The new Doctor!
The Doctor on his recorder is a tad annoying but his comments on wearing proper clothes is funny and something that would fit right in with all the future Doctors. The plot of him going undercover as the Examiner is also something I could easily see fitting in more with the Jon Pertwee time on the show. It also gives us a good excuse to wonder about and investigate the capsule in Lesterson’s laboratory. Once inside the capsule, it’s clear the Doctor knows what is inside, but he uses the weakest excuses in order to stop everyone going further. If he is surprised next episode when discovering Lesterson decided to go further on his own then he’s lost a lot of the old Doctor’s intelligence.

The Doctor, Ben and Polly have to go investigating into the capsule themselves, though, where the Doctor finds exactly what he expected to see. Daleks! It’s a chilling moment when the Doctor introduces us to them like an old friend. It’s a little annoying the episode ends exactly as the Daleks appear but it definitely doesn’t hinder the episode by not having them turn up before. There’s been so much to explore in this episode and the pace has been just right, it’s not been too fast but has travelled across a vast amount of storyline as well as introducing us to the new Doctor and, somehow, getting me to like him instantly. I think he definitely would appeal to the children watching, with his leapfrog and recorder playing. All in all this is a brilliant episode and definitely makes the viewers want to come back for the next episode.

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