This evening, Ketina, Ronelyn, Cz and I sat down to watch the second episode of this serial. Let's get to the synopsis!
Episode Synopsis: First aired on 28 December, 1963. Ian, Susan and the Doctor look for Barbara and discover a room containing instruments, one of which is a geiger counter. They discover the high level of radiation in the atmosphere which explains their fatigue, headaches, etc.: they have radiation sickness. They are then captured by strange robot-like creatures (who shoot Ian when he tries to escape, paralyzing his legs) and taken to a holding area where they find Barbara. The creatures, identifying themselves as "Daleks," interrogate the Doctor, believing him to be a creature called a "Thal." They tell the Doctor that 500 years ago a neutron war was fought between the Daleks and the Thals. The Daleks retreated into their underground city (which they say they cannot leave) and the Thals (what was left of them) ran into the jungle where they (according to the Daleks) mutated. (It's worth noting that the hand that touched Susan last week appeared to be human and, as the Daleks are trapped in their city, it had to have been a Thal.) The Thals have managed to survive on the surface despite the radiation, and the Daleks want to know their secret. The Doctor remembers the drugs that had been mysteriously left outside the TARDIS and the Daleks agree to let one of the crew go back and retrieve the vials (although they secretly plan to take the drugs for analysis, letting the travellers die) and Susan, who is affected the least by the radiation, though she is certainly far from well, elects to go. She makes it to the TARDIS (with a follower who she does not notice) and is about to leave to return when....
Definitely an episode that continues the "set-up," we get a lot of exposition. This week, of course, we get our first full glimpse of the Daleks and they look marvelous. Although the props would get a bit ratty as the years went on, here they're brand new and quite disturbing. I can understand why people went mad for the things. As Barbara asks, are they robots? Are there...things inside? And then the Daleks confirm that the casings are just that...what's inside? Creeeeepy! And the Daleks themselves feel very different; for a while, it's not clear whether they are malicious, paranoid or what. They think the crew are enemy Thals; they apparently have no conception of any creatures from outside their world and, despite what they tell the Doctor, they don't believe his story of not being a Thal for a second. It's also worth noting that I believe this is the only (or one of the only; can anyone else think of any other instances?) time the Dalek gun is used to a non-lethal effect. In fact, the first time we see a Dalek fire, the first time we see that wonderful, simple negative effect, it is for a non-lethal shot--and it's implied that the weapons themselves are not lethal! (The Dalek tells Ian that a second shot would make his leg paralysis permanent, not kill him.) I know that Ketina will talk about Susan running through the forest, but I thought it conveyed the fact that she was both panicked and in an altered state (due to rad sickness) quite well. Speaking of which, they actually did a fairly good job with showing what they could of the effects of radiation; some of the symptoms aren't exactly television viewing, but headaches, fevers (which make you feel cold, not hot; they didn't get that one right!), dry heaves, altered states, etc., are all pretty accurate. And, of course, the idea of the neutron bomb, which kills people but leaves structures intact, was still science fiction in 1963--and very accurately portrayed as well!
I suppose I should note the "Billy-Fluff" this week of "glove" for "drug." He also seems to sit before he is ordered to, not after, but that's questionable. At this point, Hartnell seems to have been doing fine, scriptwise. The general caliber of acting is still fairly strong, though the ravages of the rad sickness kind of led to a bit of overplaying--gasping and fainting and oh, if you see what I mean. It all worked, don't get me wrong, but it's a criticism that could be leveled, I suppose. There's also the idea of "acting big" for the stage that we still see. Still, the regulars are strong in their characters and the Daleks, which should have been one-note, are simply marvelous. I, for one, cannot wait until next week! But for now, I turn things over to my compatriot. Until next time, I remain
Ketina here, with my regular silly feedback,
The good - The Daleks were awesome. It amazes me how little they have changed in 40 years. Differences certainly, but mostly subtle visual ones. Much different than how the Cybermen change over the years.
I also liked the creapy whatsits that were tracking Susan through the jungle.
The bad - As The Historian already mentioned, once more we have "running in the woods" cam while Susan is deliriously attempting to return to the TARDIS. I'm not a fan of the extreme closeups like those. I was also frustrated by how everyone was unwilling to allow Susan to return to the TARDIS on her own, even though she was the obvious choice, being the healthiest and the only one left who could open the door. The argument being that she's only 15 and clearly terrified.
And at at the very end, it was everything I could do not to scream at the TV "take the drug yourself before you leave, you idiot." My fellow viewers blamed that to the radation sickness. But I think someone who's supposed to be as smart as Susan should have figured it out. I don't like the inconsistancy with her character - sometimes smart and sometimes not so much. Inexperience vs. book smarts, I guess.
Oh, and the pace is still slow. Okay, just kidding, it wasn't as bad as it has been, :P
NEXT WEEK: THE ESCAPE