Sunday, September 28, 2014

Power of the Daleks

The Power of the Daleks

Second Doctor, First Serial, 30th Serial.

6 episodes, Companions: Ben, Polly

Summary: Following his "renewal", The Doctor searches for his new persona, playing flute, reading his old selves' diary, and changing his outfit.  This Doctor is a tad bit more methodical, checking the monitors and such, but he's also acting very strangely.  Ben thinks it's not the Doctor, Polly thinks it is. It soon becomes apparent that it is the Doctor when they find themselves on a strange planet - the Earth colony of Vulcan, which has just discovered the remains of some Daleks! As things go on, the scientists on Vulcan reanimate the Daleks, Which pretend to be servants so that they can further infiltrate the colony, and replicate themselves.

The Doctor: Radically different from anything we've come to expect for the last 3+ seasons.  He plays a flute, for one thing, where the First Doctor had no time for such fripperies. His responses to the Vulcan governor are very Doctor, however.

"I'm the Examiner."
"Why are you here?"
"To examine!"

Initially intrigued by the mystery of the murder of the real examiner, it is the discovery of Dalekanium, and a capsule made by the Daleks that catapults the Doctor from his wobbly flute-playing confused self to reveal who he always is - the Doctor!  Apart from the new personality quirks, he's recognisably the same character, and that helps.

Companions: Ben and Polly of course know nothing about 'renewal' or about the Daleks, but they do understand what the Doctor is like. Their first exposure to the Daleks, though, is unique. They see it without the shell, something seen by companions only rarely. They immediately believe the Doctor when he insists they are dangerous and should be destroyed, which is odd only because they do not necessarily believe that he is the "real Doctor".

Ben uses Cockney Rhyming slang, which I don't recall him doing before, but it serves only to demonstrate that the Doctor is goofy. Unfortunately, other than that, Neither he nor Polly is particularly strong or useful. The companions are decidedly extras on their own show. Worse, Polly plays the victim again, always a plot twist I despise. 

Continuity:The terms used here is Renewal, not Regeneration. This does establish the Doctor's confusion upon a regeneration, however, something that will come up a lot, but we will eventually see Time Lords (Romana) that are not similarly effected. The strong and perfect metallic nature of Dalekanium (although it is not called by that term) is established. It resists acid, corrosion, and other agents. The Daleks do a great job of putting one over on the Humans, seeing sneaky Daleks is kind of fun.

Rating: Bear it.  It's a 6 episode long reconstruction, so that's a huge strike against it. Troughton does a great job being likable and unique, but that's not really enough to carry the entire Serial. The story drags on, with very little happening for the the first four episodes. The continuity of having both Troughton's first appearance and a new, and both creepy and fun, Dalek story is worth the time, but only just. I feel like I definitely would have judged it differently if it weren't a reconstruction, and sadly most of Torughton's era is going to be filled with them, so you and me, we're going to have to get used to it. The story's great once you get to the back half of Episode Three, though, so I say give it a shot.