Friday, 12 July 2013

The Power Of The Daleks (Episode 2)

Originally Broadcast 12th November 1966

Written by: David Whitaker

In a nutshell: The Doctor tries to warn the colonists about the evil of 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: What strikes me here is how the two episodes fit together seamlessly; if this episode were surviving it’d be great to fit together as a feature length movie. It feels like these two should be viewed together. The opening scene ends with the brilliant exchange of dialogue:

Ben: One Dalek?
The Doctor: Yes. All that is needed to wipe out this entire colony!

Lines like this are commonplace in Dalek stories now but back in 1966 it was different and Troughton delivers the threat with such menacing ease it really strikes into me. What makes it even better is how the Doctor falls into having fun straight after, with the Doctor commenting on “the real Doctor” before moving into Lesterson listen” and joking about his laboratory being exempt from investigation. Even Polly joins in with the tongue twister, which really helps us accept the new Doctor and give us a couple minutes of fun and light heartedness before we get bogged down in the threat of missing Daleks again.

I think it’s this episode where Troughton really comes into his own as the Doctor. Whilst he’s meant to be acting serious he’s playing with fruit and sniffing it as well as getting sidetracked by every little thing. It turns out the fruit has a hidden microphone inside. Troughton’s persona of the Doctor is to pretend he’s the thickest man in the room when he knows more than everyone else. This is no more evident than it is here and it’s only the second episode for this incarnation of the Doctor.

I can’t help but feel there’s a little too much of Lesterson and Janley in this episode. The scenes carry a lot of little snippets of information that will become important further down the line such as the politics and rebels amongst the colonists. Meanwhile the main point of their scenes is to examine and work on the Dalek. I can imagine this being really exciting to watch and scary as the Dalek twitches its appendages and eye stalk all of a sudden but with the episode no longer in the archives it just feels a little too long and unnecessary. It’s certainly nothing wrong with the writing or direction or acting, it’s purely the lack of visuals that destroy the impact of the moment.

The Doctor has gone to send a message but discovered the communications have been severed meaning nobody can send a message to Earth. Everyone describes ‘The Tenth Planet’ or ‘The Moonbase’ as the first of the base-under-siege adventures but this story is definitely shaping up to being one as well. I’ve never noticed it before and I don’t think it’s credited as one (unlike the rest of the Troughton era) but Whitaker is doing his best to close off the colony from the rest of the universe, ready for when the Daleks awake.

Something else that’s lost from the lack of visuals is Resno’s death. It comes from nowhere but the impact is a little less heavy when we’re on sound only. It’s still a great moment though and we know Dalek blasts kill (unless aimed at Ian Chesterton’s legs) so Resno must be dead. The characters are definitely evolving with Janley emerging as a manipulator whilst Lesterson being duped as a dimwit, not believing the danger of the Daleks like so many other fools in the future of the show.

The final scene is another of those true gems from the show and, I think, is the first time the programme demonstrates the Doctor’s hatred and fear of the Daleks being used against him. He instantly reacts against them whilst they use cunning and intelligence to create the impression they are a force for good by chanting “I AM YOUR SER-VANT!” It’s echoed in both ‘Dalek’ and ‘Victory Of The Daleks’ as well as many other stories and that’s a testament to the real power of this magnificent episode.

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