Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Daleks Wrapup

The Historian here, celebrating the TARDIS Project's completion of Doctor Who's second serial, "The Daleks!" It's difficult to know where to begin in an assessment of this story, given its (I think it's fair to say) overwhelming importance to the show as a whole. Without the Daleks, Doctor Who in its original "entertain and educate" remit might have lasted a year or two and be remembered by a few people who watched it as kids. But the Daleks, they changed everything, infuriating BBC Head of Drama (and Doctor Who creator) Sydney Newman, who initially saw them as the "Bug Eyed Monsters" he'd specifically demanded the show not feature. Thankfully for us, producer Verity Lambert stuck to her guns and defended the script and production...and the rest is history. Or, in our case, still to come!

And it should come as no surprise that the Daleks did change things, after the comparatively tedious caveman action of "100,000 BC." This story is dynamic and exciting and, unlike the previous one, has compelling villains. The Daleks are cold, maniacal, paranoid, and terrifying. Unlike Kal, Za, etc., it's the Daleks' pure inhumanity (made manifest in their wonderful alien design by Raymond Cusick) that makes their menace to frightening. In comparison, the Thals come off as a bit dull (but who wouldn't?), but even their story of the peaceful farmers who must relearn to fight to defend their existance gives the story its forward movement. And the development of the main cast (which, according to the documentary we watched after finishing the final episode, was added mainly by script editor David Whittaker, rather than writer Terry Nation), especially that of the Doctor, also keeps the audience watching. In only eleven episodes, we already feel a connection to these four people, a connection that will continue (and change!) as the series does. The story certainly has its flaws--it's probably about an episode too long, for one--but I think I can be confident in saying that we at the Project thoroughly enjoyed watching it!

As will, I hope become usual, here are the links: here is the official BBC episode guide listing for "The Daleks." Of just as much interest, to my mind, is Shannon Sullivan's continuing history of the show's production. Here's the entry relating the production of this story.

And, for those of you who might want to look back at the TARDIS Project's entries, here are some handy links:
"The Dead Planet"
"The Survivors"
"The Escape"
"The Ambush"
"The Expedition"
"The Ordeal"
"The Rescue"

And there we have it! Join us next week for the first part of "Inside the Spaceship" (aka "The Edge of Destruction"), where we'll learn more about the mysterious TARDIS and it's inhabitants--more than even they now know--as each member of the crew's limits are tested in ways they couldn't expect! Until then, I remain


1 comment:

Alzarian said...

It can be difficult to watch this story in isolation, as the knowledge of just how entrenched in the show the Daleks will become is always lurking in the mind. Still, it is a very strong story, and even at seven episodes, it is broken down into smaller mini-adventures so as to never linger too long on one plotthread... well, aside from a certain cliff jumping scene that does go on and on a bit too long. Good stuff.