“The Dalek Invasion of Earth”

I have to admit, I didn’t like this serial while I was watching it. Two reasons: 1) The “Robomen” looked and acted very silly. 2) I didn’t understand why the Daleks were there in the first place. They want to move the Earth… why? To turn it into a giant war machine? Okay, I guess that’s pretty scary.

Looking back on it, though, it was actually pretty good. The deserted London was really creepy. Some interesting new characters were introduced, and my favorite crew members play a big role, too. Plus, this serial marks the return of the Daleks, and thus Doctor Who’s first recurring baddie.

So, the Daleks have taken over the world and have converted almost every human into mind slaves called Robomen. However, the mind control only works for so long; after that, the Robomen die. Because they’re not human anymore. Whatever. After running around avoiding Robomen for a bit, the Doctor and Ian are captured, while Barbara and Susan find a hidden resistance group.

The Doctor and Ian sit in their cell, trying to figure a way out, while another cell-mate is asking the Doctor annoying questions. Here, the Doctor says one of the funniest lines I’ve heard so far, while handing the guy an unnecessary piece of equipment: “Take this and shut up.” It’s just, wow, the Doctor’s really angry! The line seems really out of character for him.

The Doctor and Ian eventually escape the cell, but the Doctor is captured again and is going to be turned into a Roboman! Gasp! So the resistance comes to save the day with high-powered explosives that don’t do much. Oh, well. The Doctor is rescued, at least.

After the attack, Ian is left on board the Dalek ship. Susan and the Doctor end up traveling with a bunch of resistance members, one of whom is Susan’s love interest. Hooray for Susan.

BUT HOLY DAVROS BARBARA ENDS UP RUNNING DALEKS OVER WITH A TRUCK SOMEHOW! That’s awesome. As a Barbara fan, I appreciate this moment of Dalek destruction.

The Dalek ship takes Ian to a mine where apparently he will spend the rest of his days. The Daleks want to be able to pilot the Earth around. I don’t know. They’re going to lower a bomb into a mine shaft. Anyway, somehow Ian ends up INSIDE the bomb capsule while trying to disarm it. Sure. The Doctor arrives and manages to stop its descent in time for Ian to escape. Through technobabble, the bomb is able to go off without destroying the planet, and instead just destroys the Daleks. All of them. Yep, the entire Dalek invasion force relocated to that one mineshaft. Well, I suppose it’s plausible.

The TARDIS crew get ready to leave when the Doctor notices that Susan has grown very attached to that certain resistance member. He ends up locking her out of the TARDIS, and tells her that she needs to make a life for herself. His parting quote is particularly touching: “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.”

I really, really, didn’t like Susan, and was glad to see her go, but this moment was sad. And also confusing. What’s so bad about Gallifrey that the Doctor can’t just drop her off there? And why was she even with the Doctor in the first place? I think some of my questions might be answered (if vague spoilers of The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors have anything to say about it), but it is a little weird just leaving her so abruptly.

Oh, well. At least she’s gone. And now there’s a void that can never be filled. Or can it? The Doctor needs a replacement companion, and there’s one waiting for him in the next serial, The Rescue!

“The Daleks”

When I first came to this serial, I was pleasantly surprised. I had no idea how old the Daleks were! They have truly been around since the very beginning, which is amazing.

The TARDIS lands on an unknown planet with high levels of radiation. Seeing as the Doctor was trying to get to 1960s Earth, it’s funny how after all these years he still hasn’t learned to pilot the TARDIS correctly. Susan implies that there has recently been problems with the TARDIS’s flight, and that the Doctor was actually quite good at flying it before. In any case, the Doctor is upset at even the indication that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. The more things change, the more they stay the same!

The Doctor is still hoping to ditch Barbara and Ian, so makes up some story about how he needs mercury for the TARDIS in order to get them to travel to the city they can see in the distance. The First Doctor is very mean and grumpy! It was quite a shock.

As they journey into the city, Susan stops and makes a remark about how colorful everything is. This threw me for a loop. I had previously irrationally imagined that the First Doctor and his friends existed in a world of black-and-white, simply because the film was monochrome. It struck me strange that Susan would even know what colors were! I think that line was put in simply to get the viewers’ imaginations going. People in the sixties had much more active imaginations than I do.

Once they reach the city, they decide to split up in search of mercury. If there’s one thing that any adventurer should know, it’s DON’T SPLIT UP!!! Inevitably, Barbara is trapped in a small room and attacked. The first episode ends with no clue as to who her attacker is except for a view of a strange probe, which later viewers know to be the first ever footage of a Dalek plunger.

Again, after the first episode I lost track of what was going on, and thus don’t remember everything correctly, if at all. Barbara definitely ends up being captured, and Susan eventually joins her, I think. The Doctor and Ian meet the Thals, who have been struggling to survive on Skaro’s irradiated surface and provide anti-radiation drugs to help the TARDIS crew. We learn that the Daleks and the Thals were once a single race, but they mutated because of the radiation. I guess.

Even though the Thals are extremely peaceful and initially refuse to resort to violence to rescue the captives, the Doctor eventually persuades them to mount a two-pronged attack. I need not point out how hilarious it is that the Doctor is encouraging violence. Actually, I did just point it out. It’s hilarious.

So the city full of Daleks is attacked, and we see the first uses of Dalek weaponry. The laser-thing makes an odd static-y noise, which frankly is the exact opposite of what I or anyone else would expect a futuristic gun to make. The actual projectile is never seen, so I assume it is invisible. The negative effect is very nice, though, so you know what’s happening. I’m glad so much stuff has been kept the same over the years.

Eventually someone figures out that the Daleks can only move via static electricity with the floor, so all they need to do to destroy the Daleks is to power down the floor. Awesome! To get to the main room, Ian decides to disguise himself inside a Dalek armor shell. Hilarity ensues. But not before we get a tantalizing glimpse of what a “real” Dalek looks like: a small black crab-like thing. It quickly scurries out of view, but I wonder if it’ll ever be featured again, or if the Dalek model will simply change to the one-eyed tentacled thing we all know and love.

Now, back to Ian in a Dalek shell. Picture it…

Bam. Now that’s awesome.

Eventually everyone ends up in the control room, having taken advantage of the Daleks lack of peripheral vision and in some cases dementia, as a couple of times a Dalek stares straight at our heroes and then obliviously slides past. The Doctor shuts off the power, the Daleks stop moving and presumably die, everyone’s happy, Susan (or Barbara? I honestly can’t remember) says goodby to a Thal love interest she acquired along the way, and the TARDIS departs, hopefully back to Earth.

It was strangely exhilarating to see the first Daleks. How could anyone have ever guessed that these huge, bulky, slow-moving salt-and-pepper shakers would turn into such an integral part of the show?

The thing that is strangest about these early episodes is that there is no music in the background, not even to transition to different scenes. “The Daleks” had this extremely creepy background noise thing that was probably the only thing that made the Daleks scary. It’s like a note being played backwards, followed by a bass note. Seriously, go and listen to it. A quick youtube search fails to find a video, but it’s playing in the background of this site: http://www.thisplanetearth.co.uk/main/index.html (full link provided so you will trust me. Or something. I dunno, it seemed like the right thing to do). Imagine THAT playing while you are surrounded by ridiculous-looking pepper shakers who are hell-bent on killing you. If that doens’t scare you, I doubt anything in Doctor Who ever will.

The website I linked to, incidentally, sells life-sized Daleks, TARDISs, Cybermen, Weeping Angels, and more! Huzzah!

As I was saying before, the TARDIS departs, ready to set sail back to Earth when–whaaaat? The ship is lurching back and forth? What could this possibly mean? Stay tuned until next time, when the TARDIS teeters on The Edge of Destruction!