Sunday, November 8, 2009

"The Daleks"

Hello everyone, the Historian here. My apologies about this week's episode being a little late, but Ketina, Ronelyn and I are back with this second episode of the return of the Daleks!

Episode summary: First aired 28 November 1964. The Doctor and Ian turn away from the Robomen only to find a Dalek emerging from the water and gliding towards them! The Dalek angrily asks the Robomen how the humans had gotten so close to the river. The men reply in a Dalek-like monotone that the patrol for the sector has disappeared. The Doctor, partially recovering from his astonishment, determines to pit his mind against the Dalek. He defiantly assures the creature that they will be defeated, but the Dalek angrily dismisses this, saying that the Daleks are the masters of Earth! It orders the Robomen to take the prisoners to the Dalek saucer. Meanwhile, Susan and Barbara are at the secret headquarters of the resistance group led by Dortmun and Tyler. They listen to a radio broadcast by the Daleks, ordering all rebels to surrender. One of the rebels, Jenny, tends Susan's foot and assigns Barbara to get food. Susan, too, will have to work, hurt ankle or no. In another room, Dortmun and Tyler debate the former's attack plan. Dortmun produces his new bomb and says the attack should happen at once, but Tyler thinks it would be a suicide mission. They just don't have the manpower. David returns from looking for the Doctor and Ian, having seen them captured by the Robomen. He reports this to his superiors and Dortmun bemoans the loss of two extra men. David reports that he believes the prisoners were taken to the Dalek saucer at the Chelsea heliport. Outside the saucer, Ian asks the Doctor how this could be--surely they'd seen the Daleks destroyed back on Skaro? The Doctor answers that those events happened far in the future at the end of the creatures' history; this "present" must be closer to the middle. Ian accepts this and notices that the Daleks are different; they have a small dish-like device on their backs that must allow them to travel on non-metal terrain. An invasion force, muses the Doctor, must adapt to the place they are invading. Just then two more prisoners, one of whom has killed a Roboman, arrive. The Daleks order all four to be taken on board the saucer, but the younger of the new arrivals, declaring he'll never return to the mines, attempts to escape. Ian holds the older man back, saying there's nothing that can be done and, sure enough, the Daleks kill the young man. The rest of the prisoners are escorted onto the saucer. David tells Susan about the capture of her friends, but asks her not to tell Barbara. They'll attack the saucer soon and, with all luck, Ian and the Doctor will be freed, so it's best not to let Barbara worry. Jenny brings over two Robomen helmets and she and David explain to Susan and Barbara that the Daleks, needing a larger security force (there aren't that many of them on the planet), take some of their prisoners and operate on them. The prisoners are turned into robotic men, under the control of the Daleks for a time. Eventually, the control breaks down and the Robomen go insane, killing themselves. Jenny adds that her brother was one of the early ones to be converted, which explains her hard attitude. Barbara remembers the body in the water. Susan, on hearing that the conversions take place in the saucer, silently worries about her friends. Inside the saucer, the Doctor admires the ship's construction. The older prisoner replies that it's escape-proof, but the Doctor they are taken to a cell, the Doctor tries to nonchalantly wander off, but is stopped immediately and put into the cell with the others. The Daleks watch all of this via a camera. The Doctor talked of resistance and is obviously more intelligent than average. The Daleks decide to give him "the test." In the cell, Ian and the Doctor discuss escape, but the third prisoner, Jack Craddock, is fatalistic, angering the Doctor. Ian asks Craddock how this happened, how did the Daleks conquer? He tells them that ten years ago, large numbers of meteorites began to fall from the sky and a strange plague broke out, sweeping over most of the world. This explains the signs against body dumping that the TARDIS crew had seen by the river! Craddock says the entire populations of South America, Asia and Africa were wiped out by the plague, but a cure was finally found. Meanwhile, David is telling the same story to Susan and Barbara. The Daleks, having weakened the Earth with plague, swooped in to conquer. Asked why the Daleks had come, neither man can tell either group for sure. Many men were rounded up to be Robomen, but the Dalek's ultimate objective (as far as someone living in Britain knows, anyway) is to take most human labor and use them as mine workers in a giant works in Bedfordshire. What the Daleks want under the Earth, Craddock tells Ian and the Doctor, no one knows. Well, says the Doctor, no time to worry about that. Their first goal must be to escape! In the hideout, the rebels listen to another broadcast. The Daleks claim that this is their final call for surrender, otherwise all of London will be destroyed. Dortmun chooses this moment to announce that the rebels will attack the saucer and brings out his new bomb which he says can destroy Dalek casings. The rebels cheer, but there are questions as to how anyone could get close enough to use the bombs. Barbara suggests using the captured Robomen helmets as disguises; a few rebels will wear them and bring their "prisoners" to the ship, getting them close enough to attack. Others will also attack from surrounding buildings. The attack is set to begin in one hour. Back in the saucer, the Doctor and Ian have discovered a small metal bar on the wall. They then find a glass box with what appears to be an identical metal bar trapped inside. The Doctor, after a small experiment, realizes the bars are both magnetic and he and Ian reason it out that they could be used to open the door. But the second bar is trapped in the box. Craddock had found a magnifying glass on the floor earlier and the Doctor, noticing a powerful light at just the right angle, uses the magnifying glass to focus the beam. Ian stands at one end of the box with the free magnet and the Doctor angles the beam so it melts that end. The trapped magnet breaks free of the box and clunks onto Ian's magnet. Realizing everything is powered by static electricity (the Daleks' main power source in their last encounter), the Doctor and Ian use the magnets to set up a magnetic field that forces the door to slide open. Triumphant, the three prisoners exit the cell--only to run straight into a force of Daleks and Robomen. The Doctor has passed "the test," and the Daleks take him away, forcing the other two back into the cell. A Dalek commands that the Doctor be taken to be robotized. Meanwhile, outside the attack begins! Susan, Barbara and David get ready to throw their bombs from cover, while Tyler (as a "Roboman") leads his "prisoners" towards the saucer's entrance. Things go wrong immediately when they are accosted by a Dalek and Tyler says he is from "sector 4," but there is no patrol in sector 4! David and the women throw their bombs and the attack begins! Meanwhile, the Doctor is forced down onto a table and anesthetized. As the attack outside begins, the Robomen are called away to defend, but a Dalek directs the one operating the equipment above the Doctor to continue. As the saucer rocks, the Doctor lies still as the operation is about to begin....

This week is a bit strange for the Project crew, both because of the necessity of moving things to Sunday and because we had to break our normal watching/blogging format. Instead of watching the episode, spending about twenty minutes or so discussing and then heading off to blog, we had an interruption (not an unhappy one, I hasten to add) immediately after watching this week's episode. This has meant we were unable to discuss and write while things were fresh in our minds. Because of this, we're going with a slightly different format. This week's review will be a bit of a realtime transcription of our discussion, thanks to Ketina's fancy typing fingers! [Please note: this is not verbatim! She's not that fast! But we all agreed that the paraphrasing basically got our points across.]


H: First of all, this was a great episode. We all agree on that.

R: Not quite as great as the first one, but it was still very good.

K: Yeah, it was fun.

H: I think it continued the building of the menace. Craddock's fatalism helped build the tension. The idea that humanity is in little pockets, and can't communicate with each other built if further. When Africa went silent on the radio added a heavy feel to things.

H: The two groups being told the same story back and forth was very good story telling especially for the time in television.

R: I liked it too. That was impressive.

K: *nods*

H: The ship was consistent with the Dalek designs on Skaro. That was nice.

K: However, Daleks looked like the needed to pee. They constantly moved back and forth.

R: Well, that partially indicated who was talking.

H: Yeah, but even the ones not talking did it. I think it might have been a directorial decision relating to the dishes on their backs. But that's just a guess.

K: I still think they looked like they needed to pee.

H: And that's perfectly valid.

*laughter all around*

H: Pretty much all the bits on the space ship were really great. I love the part where The Doctor tries to sneak off. It was very subtle.

R: I liked the Daleks response. "WHAT DO YOU THINK WE ARE? SOME KIND OF PUTZES?"

K: Hard to type... too funny.


*further giggling*

H: The Doctor and Ian's reactions to Kradoc, and the Doctor is saying "We've dealt with them before. We're going to escape." William Hartnell is just the best.

R: But then there was "We'll match our wits with them. We'll come out on top!" and the Dalek was like "I'M RIGHT HERE!"

K: Okay, we have to interject with super silly moment here. The younger guy who tries to run off while the Doctor, Ian, and other prisoners are being marched into the ship.

R: Guy tries to make a break. Other guys tries to help him. Ian says "You can't help him." And the escaping guy says "Help me!!"

H: The scene itself was nice and effective.

R: Yeah, the scene was fine, just the dialog was bad.

K: I disagree, I did not like the scene. So this guy is trying to run away, there is still room to run between the Daleks. And he just stands there for a good 15 seconds waiting for them to get shoot him.

H: He panicked. He was too scared to run. The Daleks could just swivel and shoot him.

R: We're arguing small unit tactics here. He was going to die in either case.

K: Yeah, but I wanted to see him gunned down in the back, man.

H: Riiight. Well, back inside the saucer. There were some good things in the cell, and some less good things in the cell. The dialog was fantastic, even the technobabble was awesome.

R: Except for the "something or other the light beams, to static electriciy something the something yadda yadda."

K: I agree with Ronelyn here.

H: First of all, I'm must say that I'm not a scientist, I'm a historian. But they did (sort of) explain this in the scene. I'm sure they took some liberties with the science. Here's how it worked. They had one metal bar that was a magnet. They find a glass or plastic case with another metal bar in it. They run the first bar over the case, determining the second was magnet. The Doctor notices above the case is a high intensity light. Kradoc has picked up a magnifying glass. Okay. So, here's what we know -- they can move the magnet in the case, but the case is too strong to get the magnet out. The Doctor stations Ian with the magnet they have at one end of the box. Then he takes the magnifying glass and directs the beam of high intensity light to melt part of the box, to weaken it enough to enable the magnet to break through.
Then they took the two magnets to setup a magnet field around the static electricity holding the door sealed to open the door.
None of this was the silly part.

R & K: Okay...

H: The silly part, was Craddock saying "hey, I found a magnifying glass on the floor." and the Doctor didn't think that anything was amiss. Even if this is some kind of device for the Daleks to leave the room, they couldn't hold the magnifying glass! This had to be some kind of a trick.
Nevertheless, the Doctor is still wonderful, with responses to lines like "You're a genius." with "Yes I know, there's very few of us left."

R: Don't forget that when the Doctor thinks he's smarter than someone he becomes overconfident and doesn't think they can trick him.

H: And that explains why he fell for the trap. A surprising intelligent bit of scripting by Terry Nation. And I use the word surprisingly intentionally.

K: Okay, that was a lot of typing. So, no screaming this week.

H: There was a yelp!

K: Oh yeah, there was, wasn't there. God I dislike Susan.
Okay, answer me this. Why was Susan, with injury, part of the plan to attack the ship?

H: Because from inside the neighboring building she was capable of throwing a bomb. Anyone can throw a bomb. I get the feeling we'll see more of the attack next week. We didn't really see the impact of the attack. But what we did see was very confusing.

K: Was that a Roboman or a rebel disguised as a Roboman who got hit?

H: It's still not entirely clear.
I thought it was funny that Tyler was made immediately (made as in they caught him).

R: "What's your operating number?"

H: But it does speak to how desperate the Rebels were, with such a rough plan. And it led to what was honestly, I thought, a really scary and disturbing cliffhanger. Over the last year the Doctor has gone from mysterious and dangerous old man to grandfather -- super granpa. A caring and wonderful, very intelligent and funny guy. And have it all taken away for him to become an agent of the villains.

K: I'm pretty sure they're going to rescue him before he turns into a robot dude.

H: But the cliffhanger is creepy. Surprisingly dark for children's television.

R: Nine year olds would be really freaked out.

K: Six year olds maybe.

H: The whole concept of the robomen, from beginning to end, is really creepy for children's television. They have their intellects taken away, become servents of the Daleks, until they inevitably break down, go crazy, and kill themselves in incredibly destructive ways.

R: Banging their head against the walls.

H: Brilliant and dramatic, but disturbing.

R: Impressive drama, creepy kids TV.

K: Anything else?

H: I thought the acting was generally great. Jenny's story was good. The conversation between Dortmun and Tyler was strong. And we haven't even talked yet about the invasion itself. Classic early 50's / 60's science fiction. "Invaders from outer space." They send the rocks with the plague to decimate the population, absolutely classic.

R: First they send the rocks, then they send the bugs, then they send the BEMs.

H: All told a classic episode. I can't wait until next week.

K & R: *nod nod*

The Historian back again. We hope you've enjoyed this little glimpse behind the scenes of the TARDIS Project. I know the format was a bit...different. (If nothing else, it got Ronelyn to directly participate a bit more!) Next week we'll probably revert to the old version, but what do you think? Should we lift the veil and uncover the mind of the Project more often? Or would you rather we, you know, didn't?

Until next week, I remain



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