The Satan Pit

This is your freedom. Free to die! You’re going into that black hole and I’m riding with you!

The Tenth Doctor

Synopsis

The Doctor faces off against an enemy that defies all of his beliefs, whilst Rose and the rest of the Sanctuary 6 base fight for survival against the Ood, possessed by the Beast.

Review

I feel that The Satan Pit does manage to live up to it’s preceding part, but on reflection it does have more flaws than The Impossible Planet. There are some great moments and the story does a lot really well, but there is some shaky characterisation for Rose and some strange directing decisions, but good guest cast performances save this one.

The writing and direction are largely good. Whilst The Impossible Planet was a lot of set-up without a lot happening, this feels much more like an action movie. Perhaps its the sequences in the service shafts that make me feel like that, which can only remind me of Die Hard. There are also the scenes with the Doctor and Ida discussing their beliefs about the existence of a devil, which are nicely written. I feel like I’m nit-picking to find flaws with this story, but I do have an issue with the sped-up effect of the guns shooting, which just looks a bit weird, and the eventual encounter with the Beast is a bit disappointing, as it would potentially have been interesting to see a showdown between the two with a fully powerful Beast. All in all, though, this is a very well written and directed episode, utilising the talents of its leads and guest cast well.

The Beast is a powerful adversary and harnesses the vocal talents of Gabriel Woolf to its full extent, and he is brimming with malice and trickery. Ultimately the Beast using the Ood against the crew of the Sanctuary Base makes a statement about humanity: even in the future they discriminate against other races. Zack notes that when his surviving crew are crawling through ventiliation system that he cannot trace the Ood as the Torchwood Institute who sent them on the expedition did not quantify them as a life form, a complacency that really has come back to bite them on this mission. Obviously this would be explored further in Planet of the Ood, but the Beast uses this to his full advantage. I have praised Gabriel Woolf, and it is only fair to also praise Will Thorp for his performance as Toby, especially when he is possessed. The moment in which his eyes briefly turn red as he tells the Ood to hold off is particularly creepy and he is good in the climatic scene as he, Zack, Danny and Rose are in the rocket escaping from the black hole.

Whilst I may have problems with the relationship between the Tenth Doctor and Rose, it doesn’t bother me very much here. Even the Doctor’s concluding speech to the Beast doesn’t make me want to scream, which can only be a positive. What does bother me is that Rose seems to undergo very inconsistent characterisation here, seesawing from a character in control of her environment to one who is constantly seeking the confirmation of the Doctor. There are two examples of this in the opening quarter of an hour. The first is where she immediately becomes simpering and helpless following the Beast’s first speech and turns to the Doctor immediately for assurance that Satan doesn’t exist. The second and, in my opinion, worst example of this follows the Beast’s speech to the crew of the Sanctuary Base, where Rose is told that she will die in battle very soon. Whilst this line is obviously meant to make the audience fear for Rose getting out of this story alive, the script has Rose ask the Doctor what the Beast means by this, when it is very clear to everyone. It does make me wonder whether there was a more convoluted or enigmatic line spoken by the Beast originally which was simplified, but Rose’s response to it was unchanged. It is an understandable reaction to be upset after being given such news, but Rose’s reaction feels forced to make her seem lovelorn and almost childlike, then she almost immediately flips to taking charge of the crew she is with. No matter what the circumstances, it doesn’t really give Billie Piper much to work with and is symptomatic of the problems with her characterisation throughout Series 2, which is perhaps particularly telling when compared to Series 1.

Whilst we’ve seen the Tenth Doctor with other characters in recent weeks – Tommy in The Idiot’s Lantern, Mrs Moore in The Age of Steel and Madame de Pompadour in The Girl in the Fireplace spring to mind – his partnership with Ida feels a bit different, perhaps because they are completely isolated in the majority of their scenes together. This adds some intimacy to their scenes together as they discuss what their beliefs are whilst confronted by something claiming to be the origin of the stories of the Devil in established religions across the universe. When Ida tells the Doctor that she doesn’t want to die, it is a great example of a simple line being delivered effectively and you completely believe that they are in that situation. Claire Rushbrook and David Tennant deserve a lot of credit for these scenes, as they are entirely acted in those orange spacesuits and seen through visors, but these scenes still feel intimate and moving.

But I don’t want to die on my own.

I know.

Ida Scott and the Tenth Doctor

I feel that I would be remiss not to mention some other guest cast members, namely Danny Webb and Shaun Parkes. These two actors do such a good job with these parts. Jefferson almost seems to fit stereotypically into the turncoat role in Classic Who, but here he is fundamentally a force for good, ultimately sacrificing himself to buy the others time to escape the advancing Ood. It is made all the more effective that the audience never finds out what dark secret lurks in his past, as we are allowed to judge him purely based on his actions in these two episodes. Equally, Zachary Cross Flane is a character who, despite a frankly awesome name, would be all too easy to be portrayed as either too competent or unsuitable for his command and Parkes treads this line to perfection. The scene where he has to have Rose subdued in order to evacuate the base could come across badly, however, here it is perfectly portrayed. Parkes encapsulates the character’s conflicted feelings about going against Rose’s explicitly stated wishes combined with his feeling of responsibility for everyone still alive on that base to get away as quickly and safely as possible. Ultimately he takes the decision that he believes is right and his statement afterwards is one that would not seem out of place coming out of the Doctor’s mouth in other stories:

I have lost too many people. I am not leaving you behind.

Zachary Cross Flane

Verdict: A strong conclusion to a good story, The Satan Pit is a highlight of Tennant’s first year as the Doctor. 9/10

Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler), Danny Webb (Mr. Jefferson), Shaun Parkes (Zachary Cross Flane), Claire Rushbrook (Ida Scott), Will Thorp (Toby Zed), Ronny Jhutti (Danny Bartock), Paul Kasey (The Ood), Gabriel Woolf (Voice of the Beast) & Silas Carson (Voice of the Ood).

Writer: Matt Jones

Director: James Strong

Behind the Scenes

  • This episode was originally broadcast on 06/06/2006.
  • The closing scene was Billie Piper’s final scene as a regular cast member as Doomsday had been filmed as part of an earlier production block.
  • This story nearly featured the return of Davros as the production team were not sure who should be at the bottom of the titular pit.

Best Moment

It’s a small moment, but the reveal that the mind of the Beast is still possessing Toby after Rose, Danny and he manage to escape the Ood is subtly handled and really well done.

Best Quote

There it is again. That itch. “Go down, go down, go down”.

The urge to jump. Do you know where that comes from, that sensation? Genetic heritage. Ever since we were primates in the trees. It’s our body’s way of testing us. Calculating whether or not we can reach the next branch.

No, that’s not it. That’s too kind. It’s not the urge to jump, it’s deeper than that. It’s the urge to fall!

The Tenth Doctor and Ida Scott

Previous Tenth Doctor review: The Impossible Planet

Further Reading

The Age of Steel

The Idiot’s Lantern

The Girl in the Fireplace

The Ice Warriors

We only fight to win.

Varga

Synopsis

The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria arrive in the midst of the New Ice Age, where the human race are attempting to keep advancing glaciers at bay using an ioniser. A team from the Brittanicus Base find a frozen warrior in the glacier, which revives once it has thawed out. Unfortunately, it is an Ice Warrior from Mars and his comrades and spaceship are still frozen in the ice, and he sets about planning to conquer the Earth.

Review

The Ice Warriors is a fun, if flawed story, introducing a villain who is probably in the ‘B’ List – I don’t think you’d have many casual viewers or people on the street able to identify the hissing Martian menace easily. I enjoyed this story, but it does definitely have some flaws associated with stories with a longer running time and the conclusion is a bit of a let down.

There are some interesting ideas here, some as fundamental as the setting of the Brittanicus Base inside a Victorian stately home, as per the war effort in the Second World War is a really nice touch and the juxtaposition between the house outside the control room and the advanced computer inside is a really good idea. More centrally, there is the conflict between base commander Clent and scientist Penley, which leads to Penley leaving the base as the TARDIS materalises. This essentially boils down to trust in technology, and with characters like Storr, an acquaintance of Penley, we have a character who does not trust in science at all. Clent, a self-professed coward, dares not go against the advise provided by his computer, which leads him to the point of paralysis towards the climax of the story when the computer predicts that the result of using the ioniser to attack the Ice Warriors’ ship will result in an explosion that will wipe out the base. Penley, whilst a scientist, seems to maintain his trust in humanity making decisions for himself, and taking on the risk that this involves, as seen by his willingness when helped by the Doctor to destroy the Ice Warrior spaceship.

Ultimately though, the conclusion lets this story down. It is problem that is generally shared with the six-part stories that they do feel overly long and this story is no different. Some are able to justify it and pull something out of the bag in the final part, however, The Ice Warriors closes with the reveal that the destruction of the spaceship is ultimately small and inconsequential. This makes it feel like most of the story, in which various characters have been trying to calculate and investigate what the damage would be feel like treading water for the majority of this story’s run time. I also struggled quite a lot with the sense of geography in this story – I couldn’t visualise where locations like Penley’s hideout and the Brittanicus Base is, which was more of a problem when it came to the Ice Warriors beginning their attack.

The Ice Warriors themselves look fantastic, and the set designs here are really good. From watching the behind the scenes documentary on the DVD, I know that the caves were made from polystyrene, but I honestly could not tell. It really stands up from this point of view. Derek Martinus’ casting of bigger actors to be in the Ice Warrior suits also really helps the audience buy them as a threat. The effect is only enhanced when we get to see Ice Warriors alongside Patrick Troughton and Deborah Watling onboard their ship later on in the story, where they tower over the Doctor and companion. In the course of my research for this review, I found out that Troughton is the joint-third shortest actor to play the Doctor with William Hartnell – only Sylvester McCoy and current incumbent Jodie Whittaker are shorter. The Ice Warriors do feel like a threat and their hissing voices are really sinister. Although they are never going to reach the heights of Dalekmania, it is easy to see why the production teams for the Troughton and Pertwee eras brought them back and why they were brought back for the revived show in 2013.

In terms of the central cast, Troughton is on fine form again here, and he seems to really have hit his stride when it comes to playing to the Doctor. Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling don’t really have a lot to do here, with Victoria playing the part of damsel in distress for long stretches of the middle episodes. Amongst the guest cast, Peter Barkworth stands out as Clent, the seemingly robotic base commander, who does show that he is still capable of compassion when Arden and Jamie go off to investigate what has happened to Victoria. It is a good decision to have Clent have a pronounced limp and more intriguing that the reason is never elaborated on – perhaps this was a decisive moment behind him putting his trust in computers rather than humanity. Peter Sallis is good as Penley, even it took me a while to realise that it was him! Having grown up on Wallace and Gromit and occasionally seeing Last of the Summer Wine, it took me a while to realise that it was him. He does provide a good counterpoint to Clent and their relationship is very believable.

Verdict: The Ice Warriors has some good ideas, but unfortunately fails when it comes to its conclusion. The Ice Warriors are great and the sets look amazing though. 6/10

Cast: Patrick Troughton (The Doctor), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield), Wendy Gifford (Miss Garrett), Peter Barkworth (Clent), George Waring (Arden), Malcolm Taylor (Walters), Peter Diamond (Davis), Angus Lennie (Storr), Peter Sallis (Penley), Bernard Bresslaw (Varga), Roy Skelton (Voice of Computer), Roger Jones (Zondal), Sonny Caldinez (Turoc), Tony Harwood (Rintan) & Michael Attwell (Isbur).

Writer: Brian Hayles

Director: Derek Martinus

Parts: 6

Behind the Scenes

  • The first appearance of the Ice Warriors. Writer Brian Hayles originally envisaged to resemble human soldiers in medieval-style space armour. It was costume designed Martin Baugh who suggested that they be reptilian.
  • A real bear was used for the film inserts, which were specially filmed for this story. It was hired for a day’s filming at BBC Ealing for a fee of £70.
  • Episodes 2 and 3 remain missing from the BBC Archives and were recreated using animation for the 2013 DVD release.

Cast Notes

  • Michael Attwell would later appear in Attack of the Cybermen opposite Colin Baker.
  • Angus Lennie appeared in The Terror of the Zygons.
  • Peter Sallis was originally going to play Striker in Enlightenment, however, due to industrial action delaying the schedule, he had to withdraw from the cast.

Best Moment

I quite like the moment where the Doctor walks into the control room of the Brittanicus Base completely unnoticed and starts basically being the Doctor.

Best Quote

In 2 minutes 38 seconds, you’re going to have an almighty explosion! The readings say so!

Well, how can you possibly know that? I haven’t even — I haven’t even processed them through the computer yet!

I don’t need a computer.

The Second Doctor and Clent

Previous Second Doctor post: The Abominable Snowmen

The Doctor Dances

The world doesn’t end because the Doctor dances.

Rose Tyler

Synopsis

The Doctor, Rose and intergalactic con-man Jack Harkness are trapped in an abandoned hospital by an army of those infected by the Child’s plague. Will they get to the site of Jack’s supposed space junk and discover ground zero for the plague?

Review

The Doctor Dances ultimately sticks the landing and maintains the feeling of fear, whilst successfully bringing Moffat’s debut story for televised Doctor Who to a great conclusion. This, along with Dalek and the finale, really stand out as examples of the best stories of the first series of the revival and obviously were important in securing a future for the show.

Go to your room! Go to your room! I mean it, I’m very very angry with you. I’m very very cross. Go to your room!

I’m really glad that worked. Those would have been terrible last words.

The Ninth Doctor

From a writing standpoint, the story really works well even if it does have a ‘love saves the day’ conclusion, which I feel works here. Even the resolution to the cliffhanger works, which nine times out of ten it probably wouldn’t. The script is full of good and quotable lines, some of which are quite funny, without detracting from the feeling of threat and menace that the Child has built up over the the preceding episode. There are moments in this episode where the writing and direction combine to create unsettling and nerving moments, such as the scene in the Child’s room, where the reveal that the tape that the Doctor, Jack and Rose have been listening to has run out and the Child is actually in the room works really well. This is a great example of the Doctor’s pride coming back to hurt him – he is proud that his ‘go to your room’ gambit worked, without realising the consequences of this until it is too late. Equally, moments like the transformation of the Zombies remains unsettling, especially in the scene where Nancy is handcuffed at the crash site to a soldier who has been infected. There are other moments where the Child isn’t on screen but still feels present, like when the Doctor and Rose are trapped in the Albion Hospital with his voice carrying over the speaker, or the typewriter scene. The direction is pretty solid, and I particularly enjoyed the pullback into the TARDIS from Jack’s ship at the end of the story.

The London Blitz is great for self-cleaners. Pompeii’s nice if you want to make a vacation of it though. But you gotta set your alarm for Volcano Day.

Captain Jack Harkness

Equally, the resolution surrounding the origins of the Child and the Nanogenes feels organic. The Nanogenes seem to be introduced innocuously enough in the first part, but when it is revealed that they have caused the mutation of Jamie into the Child it seems logical. It is set up quite well and makes sense within the confines of the story as to why they are converting the other humans. Jack’s con seems almost too good to be true until it is revealed that the Chula vessel is a hospital ship containing the healing sub-atomic robots, whilst the Doctor realising how he can use them to fix the problem that they have created is quite a nice way of tying the story up.

This story can be seen to be the start of a change in the Doctor-companion relationship. In the original run, while companions like Susan and Leela left the TARDIS to get married, there was little to no hint of sexual tension between the Doctor and his companions, whilst in the TV Movie, the Eighth Doctor kissed Grace Holloway, a controversial moment at the time. Here, with the metaphor of dancing, the Doctor is made to feel romantically accessible for the first time. Whilst I am not a fan of the execution of this going forward, especially when it comes to the Tenth Doctor and Rose, I can see why the production team wanted to do something like this, to reflect changes in television in the intervening sixteen years. Ultimately, the resolution of this story addresses taboos about sex, single parenthood and teenage pregnancy in the 1940s, and the story also does talk about how sexuality has changed over time, with Jack being an example of how it has evolved between the 21st and 51st Centuries, whilst Nancy uses prejudices at that time to blackmail Mr Lloyd.

The cast do a great job here. Eccleston plays the Ninth Doctor perfectly, and even though he looks awkward when he has to dance, it feels in character for the Doctor. Whereas David Tennant feels as though he is comfortable in romantic situations, Eccleston is much more like Matt Smith, feeling as though he is uncomfortable with them. Equally, the Doctor’s relationship with Jack is good, and unlike Adam, once Jack realises that he is culpable for the problem he takes steps to resolve it. Billie Piper is good as Rose here, and keeps a cool head to get her, the Doctor and Jack out of some tight corners in the Albion Hospital. Nancy continues to demonstrate that, if circumstances were different, she would be a perfect companion, with her resourcefulness evident when she gets the tools necessary to break into the crash site.

Verdict: The Doctor Dances wraps up a great story, full of horror elements combined with some great moments of humour. 10/10

Cast: Christopher Eccleston (The Doctor), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler), Albert Valentine (The Child), Florence Hoath (Nancy), John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Luke Perry (Timothy Lloyd), Damian Samuels (Mr Lloyd), Cheryl Fergison (Mrs Lloyd), Joseph Tremain (Jim), Jordan Murphy (Ernie), Robert Hands (Algy), Martin Hodgson (Jenkins), Richard Wilson (Dr. Constantine), Vilma Hollingberry (Mrs Harcourt), Noah Johnson (Voice of the Empty Child) & Dian Perry (Computer Voice).

Writer: Steven Moffat

Director: James Hawes

Behind the Scenes

  • The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances won Steven Moffat his first Hugo Award working on the show. By the end of his run, he would have won four Hugo Awards and been nominated a further nine times.
  • The first single-story episode since Doctor Who and the Silurians where the titular character’s name appears in the title. This happened infrequently for episode names in the Hartnell era (eg: The Death of Doctor Who (The Chase) and A Holiday for the Doctor (The Gunfighters). Since this episode, it has featured frequently with the next occasion being The Doctor’s Daughter.
  • Dancing is used as an innuendo for sex here, a motif that Moffat would reuse in The Girl in the Fireplace.
  • This story was originally going to be followed by an episode written by Paul Abbott in which Jack would learn that the Doctor has been manipulating Rose’s life to create the perfect companion. This would have shown the circumstances behind Rose receiving the red bicycle for Christmas, however, Abbott proved to be unavailable to write this story.
  • The second cliffhanger to be resolved in the pre-credits sequence. The first was in World War Three. This practice largely fell out of favour, with the pre-credits sequence generally being a recap of the first part.
  • Early drafts featured Jamie’s father, who would appear to silently and anonymously assist Nancy and the orphans. His identity would have been revealed in the climatic moments of the story, revealing that he was German, giving an alternative reason for Nancy to be ashamed.

Best Moment

I really enjoy the “Everybody Lives Moment” – a moment of pure joy for the battle-damaged Ninth Doctor.

Best Quote

Who has a sonic screwdriver?

I do!

Who looks at a screwdriver and thinks “Ooh, this could be a bit more sonic”?

What, you’ve never been bored? Never had a long night? Never had a lot of cabinets to put up?

Jack Harkness and the Ninth Doctor

Previous Ninth Doctor review: The Empty Child

The Dalek Invasion of Earth

We are the Masters of Earth!

The Daleks

Synopsis

The TARDIS lands in London in the 22nd Century, and the city is very different to how Ian and Barbara remember. The Daleks have invaded and it is up to the Doctor to stop them once more.

Review

The return of the Daleks in Doctor Who’s second season kickstarted Dalekmania in Britain in the 1960s. Whilst their first appearance was successful, there was something about seeing the alien menace travelling the streets of London that really brought it home to the contemporary audience. This is still a great story, even outside of the post war/Cold War context it was originally broadcast in, and would have convinced production teams, both at the time and subsequently, that Earth invasion stories would work for the show. If this had flopped, then it is hard to imagine stories like The Invasion and the early Jon Pertwee era taking the same form that they did.

As is standard with Doctor Who of this era, the production values are a bit shaky. Richard Martin’s direction looks fantastic when shooting on location; for instance, the iconic shot of the Daleks trundling over London Bridge still looks fantastic. On the other hand, we have the footage of the attack on the Dalek saucer, shot on studio which feels really flat and I personally struggled to tell what was going on as the camera remains static for most of this sequence. The less said about the visual of the Dalek saucer flying over London, the better really. Most of the set filming seems to kill the pacing completely. There is also the issue of the Slyther, which looks like a human under a weighted blanket which removes any kind of feeling of fear that the viewer might have had and the alligators in the sewers under London are just laughable.

From a writing standpoint, this is a pretty solid Terry Nation script, with some issues. He leans more heavily into the Nazi influence of his famous creation and uses ideas and fears about what would have happened had they invaded Britain quite heavily here. FOr instance, the Chief Dalek is black, like the SS uniforms and the prisoner camp in Bedfordshire is very similar to the concentration camps, complete with a Dalek commandant. I really enjoyed the first part, World’s End, as it does really good work to establish the tone and feeling of an invaded Earth from the opening shots of the Roboman walking into the Thames and the large poster forbidding dumping bodies in the water. The first part does so much well, keeping the action between the Doctor and his companions for the majority as they begin to investigate where they have landed, before guest characters come into the narrative, taking Susan and Barbara away from where the TARDIS has landed. The first part culminates with the Dalek emerging from the water, which despite questions about what it was doing there in the first place, is iconic and would have been a surprise to viewers in 1964. Having built up this momentum, the second part completely kills it. The puzzle set for the Doctor to prove his intelligence – the key in the crystal box – feels like padding by Nation to bulk this out to six parts and ultimately completely unnecessary. It does establish some of the main guest cast, like the rebels, but it is ultimately a lot of people sitting around and not doing much, until the poorly directed attack on the Dalek saucer. The remainder of the story is largely pretty good and Nation manages to recover the tone and feelings he established in the first episode, so it is to his credit that this does not derail the story completely.

The return of the Daleks is good, and they are aided here by the Robomen, human slaves converted to their means by their helmets. The Robomen show the sadistic nature of the Daleks, as they are enslaved to their will by the helmets but ultimately, their conversion to Robomen will ultimately kill them, necessitating more humans to be captured and thus converted. This cycle highlights their view that life other than Dalek life is completely worthless. Sadly, the Dalek voices are pretty poor and had me longing for the consistency of the Dalek voices under the stewardship of Nick Briggs at times. There is a section of dialogue in the second episode where I cannot for the life of me work out what the Daleks are saying after the Doctor manages to solve the puzzle and break himself, Ian and Craddock out of their cell. There is also a moment of humour later on where they attempt to interrogate a headless mannequin in the Civic Transport Museum, which does go some way to undermine them a little bit. Ultimately, I’m not sure what the point of them removing the core of the Earth is, except to give them a James Bond villain style plot, but it does give me an amusing mental image of the Daleks flying the Earth through space, smashing into planets like an interstellar dodgem car.

I never felt there was any time or place that I belonged to. I’ve never had any real identity.

One day you will. There will come a time when you’re forced to stop travelling, and you’ll arrive somewhere.

Susan Foreman and David Campbell

This is an episode which the Doctor can be seen to complete his journey to heroism and it is in marked contrast from the character we saw attempting to kill a caveman with a rock in An Unearthly Child. We see him here refuse Tyler’s gun and he ultimately feels a responsibility to defeat the Daleks and put the Earth back on track. Ian gets to do the more action-orientated bits as usual, and Barbara acts as a counterpoint to Jenny, a rather pessimistic rebel. She also gets some strong moments, such as driving a truck through a Dalek roadblock, and she remains hopeful of overturning the Dalek occupation, despite Jenny’s defeatist attitude. Of course, the biggest talking point of this story is the departure of the Doctor’s granddaughter, Susan. It is, of course, very problematic that she leaves to marry a man that she has just met, although David Campbell was in this much more than I remembered. Having only watched this story once before, I thought that it was a bit more jarring, but they do actually spend some time together in the course of the story, but not enough to justify being written out in this way. That being said, the closing scene is really well written by David Whittaker and well acted by William Hartnell and Carol Ann Ford. I thought that Carol Ann Ford was pretty good throughout this story and gives her best performance here, and she and Peter Fraser do a good job with their time together, especially the scene where he tells her . Of course, as the show developed and ideas around Gallifreyans having longer lifespans than humans were introduced to the show’s mythos, the less comfortable the idea of the Doctor abandoning Susan is.

Verdict: The Dalek Invasion of Earth marks a successful return for the Daleks, despite some issues with the script and direction. 8/10

Cast: William Hartnell (The Doctor), William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright). Carol Ann Ford (Susan Foreman), Bernard Kay (Carl Tyler), Peter Fraser (David Campbell), Alan Judd (Dortmun), Martyn Huntley and Peter Badger (Robomen), Robert Jewell, Gerald Taylor, Nick Evans, Kevin Manser & Peter Murphy (Dalek Operators), Peter Hawkins & David Graham (Dalek Voices), Ann Davies (Jenny), Michael Goldie (Craddock), Michael Davis (Thomson), Richard McNeff (Baker), Graham Rigby (Larry Madison), Nicholas Smith (Wells), Nick Evans (Slyther Operator), Patrick O’Connell (Ashton) & Jean Conroy and Meriel Hobson (Women in the Woods).

Writer: Terry Nation

Director: Richard Martin

Parts: 6 (World’s End, The Daleks, Day of Reckoning, The End of Tomorrow, The Waking Ally & Flashpoint)

Behind the Scenes

  • Working titles included Daleks Threaten Earth, The Invaders, The Daleks (II), The Return of the Daleks and The Daleks in Europe. Working titles for Episodes 4 and 6 were The Abyss and Earth Rebels respectively.
  • This story features the first departure of an original cast member, Carol Ann Ford. Ford would reprise her role in The Five Doctors and Dimensions in Time and has also appeared as Susan in numerous Big Finish audio plays.
  • The story originally would have seen a new companion, a 15 year old girl called Saida, stow away onboard the TARDIS and become the new companion. However, this idea was scrapped and the character was replaced by Jenny.
  • William Hartnell was injured when the ramp to the Dalek saucer collapsed, causing him to land awkwardly on his spine. He was temporarily paralysed and once he recovered, it was decided to give him the week off, and Edmund Warwick, his stand-in, deputised for him.
  • The final speech from The Doctor to Susan would be used again to introduce The Five Doctors and would feature twice in docudrama, An Adventure in Space and Time, delivered once by David Bradley and once in its original form. The scene was written by script editor David Whittaker rather than Terry Nation.
  • The final story to be script edited by Terry Nation.
  • The Daleks start to use their famous catchphrase “Exterminate!” in Flashpoint. Previously, they had used the phrase “Exterminated”.
  • Following the success of Dr. Who and the Daleks, the adaptation of The Daleks, this story was also adapted into a movie, Dalek Invasion of Earth 2150AD, again starring Peter Cushing as Dr. Who, and also featuring Bernard Cribbins. Cribbins would go on to play Wilfred Mott, grandfather to Donna Noble and companion in his own right. The film underperformed at the box office and so would be the last story adapted for the cinema.

Cast Notes

  • Bernard Kay appeared in The Crusade and would go on to appear in The Faceless Ones and Colony in Space.
  • Martyn Huntley would appear in The Gunfighters.
  • Michael Goldie also appeared in The Wheel in Space.

Best Moment

The cliffhanger at the end of Episode One with the Dalek emerging from the River Thames. As much as the Dalek being in the Thames makes no sense, it is a fantastic culmination of a great first part.

Best Quote

One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs, and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine. Goodbye, my dear. Goodbye, Susan.

The First Doctor

Previous First Doctor review: Planet of Giants

The Time of the Daleks

We are the Masters of Time!

The Daleks

Synopsis

The Doctor has always admired the work of William Shakespeare. So he is a little surprised that Charley doesn’t hold the galaxy’s greatest playwright in the same esteem. In fact, she’s never heard of him.

Which the Doctor thinks is quite improbable.

General Mariah Learman, ruling Britain after the Eurowars, is one of Shakespeare’s greatest admirers, and is convinced her time machine will enable her to see the plays’ original performances.

Which the Doctor believes is extremely unlikely.

The Daleks just want to help. They want Learman to get her time machine working. They want Charley to appreciate the first-ever performance of Julius Caesar. They believe that Shakespeare is the greatest playwright ever to have existed and venerate his memory.

Which the Doctor knows is utterly impossible.

Review

The Time of the Daleks feels impeccably researched, or at the least like the writer showing off his knowledge about Shakespearean plays. Whilst the idea at the heart of this story is undoubtedly a good one, ultimately, the story is not the strongest. It is to the credit of Nicholas Briggs, the director, in making Paul McGann’s first meeting with the Daleks not be an unmitigated disaster, and the central premise is sound enough to see this through.

The idea at the core of this one is pretty solid – William Shakespeare has been removed from history, causing humans in New Britain and Charley to gradually forget him. It is a plot that would only work for a story set in this location, as the concept of remembering Shakespeare is almost weaponised. It is certainly powerful enough to convince the opposition to General Learman that the poet and playwright disappearing from history is a plot by the ‘benevolent’ dictator and a side effect of her attempts to develop a means to time travel. As bizarre as it sounds, hearing the Daleks, and in the opening moments, Rassilon, quoting Shakespeare as Skaro’s famous children prepare to detonate their temporal extinction device is really quite powerful and well done. This is probably the most verbose we ever hear the Daleks and I appreciate that this probably won’t be for everybody but I rather enjoyed this aspect of this story. I think that it’s good to see different things attempted with the Daleks, and although this does eventually and inevitably dissolve into traditional Dalek action, it is at least to this story’s credit that they try and do something a bit different. The idea of time travel through mirrors is a nice one, if a bit silly, and something that we would see on the television in Turn Left. My favourite moment was probably the transformation of Learman into the Dalek mutant and the suicide of a ‘failed’ Dalek to include her in their plans. It’s a lovely moment, almost like body horror in audio and is executed really well.

Nick Briggs’ direction of this story does help it slightly, especially with the sound design and background music. There is a nice bit of piano that teases the arrival of the Daleks, and of course we get the traditional Dalek heartbeat. One of my favourite things in this story was the effects used on the voices of Viola and Charley as they attempt to use the mirrors to time travel, distorting their voices, which is a really nice way of realising this on audio. His key role of course, is the Daleks, which it feels obvious to say that he does well here, but having a solid presence in a story like this is always useful, playing the usual Daleks and the Supreme. He also has a lot more work to do than normal, given the fact that the story gives the Daleks more to say than usual.

I feel that the first two parts are good, but starts to fall down in the concluding two parts. It almost feels as though there is enough material to be put into two stories here – one, with the Daleks invading Earth through its history, and the other with Shakespeare (and maybe other famous literary figures) disappearing from time and the impact on time and the present. I will never criticise a writer for doing their homework, as it were, but Justin Richards feels as though he throws every possible Shakespearean reference at this and not all of them work. Part of the problem might be that there are too many characters, and certainly the majority of the guest cast don’t make much of an impression. The exception to this is Mariah Learman, played by Dot Smith, who ultimately wants to be the only person who can remember Shakespeare as she descends into insanity, bemoaning the fact that his skill is taken for granted. Smith is really good in the role and makes the most of this part, but I don’t think the other guest characters are written as well, and so this causes them to feel quite similar.

Whilst Paul McGann and India Fisher do put in decent performances, this isn’t the greatest Eighth Doctor and Charley story ever. In fact, I think this story could work with any Doctor/Companion pairing, with nothing really to tie it to these two other than the final scene, which links into the ongoing arc surrounding Charley.

Verdict: I actually managed to talk myself up in the course of writing this review. There are some interesting ideas in The Time of the Daleks, but a promising start leads to a bit of a convaluted ending. 6/10

Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charley Pollard), Dot Smith (General Mariah Learman), Julian Harries (Major Ferdinand), Nicola Boyce (Viola), Jem Bassett (Kitchen Boy), Mark McDonnell (Priestly), Lee Moone (Hart), Ian Brooker (Professor Osric), Nicholas Briggs (Dalek Voice), Clayton Hickman (Dalek Voice/Yokel), Robert Curbishley (Marcus), Ian Potter (Mark Anthony/Army Officer/Tannoy) & Don Warrington (Rassilon).

Writer: Justin Richards

Director: Nicholas Briggs

Behind the Scenes

  • This story marks the first credited appearance of Rassilon in an audio story. He appeared at the end of Seasons of Fear, but was not credited.
  • The first Dalek story for Paul McGann – despite the Daleks briefly making an audio cameo at the start of the TV Movie, the Doctor and the Daleks did not share any scenes.
  • Whilst the Doctor has met Shakespeare on a number of occasions, this is chronologically the first meeting between the two.

Cast Notes

  • Dot Smith appeared in Dalek Empire as Milvas.
  • Julian Harries also appeared in Bloodtide.
  • Nicola Boyce appeared in Embrace the Darkness and would go on to appear in Neverland.
  • To hide the fact that Shakespeare was being portrayed by a woman, Jemma Bassett was credited as Jem.
  • Mark McDonald would go on to appear in Neverland, as well as featuring in the War Doctor audios and had previously appeared in Embrace the Darkness.
  • Following on from his appearance in Embrace the Darkness, Lee Moone would go on to appear in Neverland.
  • Ian Brooker had previously appeared in Embrace the Darkness.
  • Clayton Hickman designed a lot of DVD and Big Finish CD covers.
  • Robert Curbishley has appeared in numerous releases across the Main Range and UNIT releases.
  • Ian Potter has written a number of stories for both novels and Big Finish.

Best Quote

It’s a strange partnership where they do all the work and we get all the reward.

Major Ferdinand

Previous Eighth Doctor Review: Embrace the Darkness