Tuesday, March 26, 2013

EX-TER-MIN-ATE! More Daleks!

The Dalek Invasion of Earth

First Doctor  - 10th Serial

6 Episodes, Companions: Ian, Barbara, and Susan

Summary: They crew lands on Earth, in London! The Doctor is overjoyed that he got it right, and even Ian says that few years one way or the other don't matter.  Unfortunately, London is deathly quiet and seemingly abandoned, and the year is 2164 (or more likely, >2174, as that was an old calendar they found).  There are a few scavengers around, and soon they find resistance fighters, who capture Susan and Barbara.  Resistance against what? No time to answer, because Ian and the Doctor then find guys with monotone voices and Special Education helmets menacing them.  Well, that's when our old friends the Daleks come rising out of the Thames.  Now it's a race for survival, as the companions must find a way to save the Earth from the Dalek conquerors and rescue the TARDIS from under the pile of bridge!  The Daleks are turning Humans into Robomen - unwilling mind-controlled cybernetic servants of the Daleks. 

The Doctor: He's true to form here.  He readily accepts the facts around him, sidesteps direct answers to questions about himself and the companions, and brings useful knowledge to the table. Here we also have him tell us that he never takes lives unless his own is in danger, and while we have learned this to be true, in light of the slaughter of the Daleks much later, we do know that this has limits he hasn't said yet - like 'being a Dalek'.  He also says he doesn't like being called 'Doc'.  This reinforces that Doctor is a kind of name, not a title.

Companions: Susan and Barbara get in with a group of resistance fighters led by David and Jenny.  Here they aid the efforts of the fight. Barbara is pretty strong here, being quite brave in the face of the Daleks, and exceptionally cunning, masterfully tricking the dull-witted Daleks.  We also get some focus on Susan as a love interest for David.  This, ultimately, is what gets Susan, who never really got the treatment she deserved, off the show.  Susan and David's romance in Part 4 is the best development she's ever had, and it's a shame that after two episodes where she's had a good role, she gets written out, but I think the writers will do better with fewer principals to worry about.

A Roboman. Note the similarities we will eventually
see to the Hartnell-Era Cybermen.  Ear bars were the
 universal symbol of being a cyborg in the 1960's.  Certainly
 carefully e-nun-ci-at-ing eve-ry syl-la-ble
was also something robots do.
Continuity: This is the first Story I am aware of that the first images take place outside of the TARDIS, instead of showing the landing first.  We see an unidentified man (later we learn it to be a Roboman) commit suicide.  Grim stuff for a "kid's show".  Ian mentions that the Daleks had been wiped out last time, and the Doctor points out that that was a million years in the future.  I guess at this point in the Dalek timeline, they were still trying to war with the Thals, but really that gets handwaved. We also see them with a cosmetic modification that allows them to operate away from the metal streets of Skaro.  I'm not sure I buy the inconsistency of the timeline, that the Daleks are off conquering other planets and still at war back home, but it's a time travel show.  Temporal inconsistencies are going to happen. We also see the Black Dalek for the first time - an indication of color-based caste or rank.  Susan Leaves the show here, marooned by The Doctor so she can have a life with David, and help rebuild the Earth.  The Daleks plan is to repalce the Earth's Core with a rocket guidance system, turning the planet into a giant missile, or possibly just to use as a spaceship (which the Doctor says will destabilse the entire 'constellation', not Solar System.  He clearly knows more than he's letting on).  Why they want a planet they can pilot when they already have spacecraft is beyond me.  Beyond that, last time we encountered the Daleks they were far less lethal. These Daleks are seen to kill resistance fighters with one hit, and they refer to exterminating the humans as the "final solution".  We also see for the first time the TARDIS has a sound system that can be used to communicate with the outside.

Rating: Enjoy it.  This is the first time an old villain has come back.  Having never before seen the Doctor fight the same foe twice, this one has the interest factor of watching him find a new solution to an old problem.