Tag Archives: Dalek

After a Break in Transmission Service has Resumed

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peter-capaldi-will-be-keeping-his-scottish-accent-for-doctor-who

Regular readers of the Doctor Who Mind Robber would be aware of the paltry output from this esteemed blog in recent months. Whilst roughly correlating with the eight month absence of the Doctor from our television screens, the cause of this tardiness is much deeper and sinister than that. In Australia our community has been confronted by an evil arguably greater than that ever encountered by our hero and his companions. More malignant than the Cybermen and with less empathy than the Daleks, Tony Abbott’s Coalition Government is seeking to restructure the very fabric of Australian society by the decimation of our Social Welfare System and the redistribution of collective wealth to their Master, Big Business.

Here is a meme the author created not long after the September 2013 Federal election.The text quoted are the words of Davros, the creator of the Daleks,  in Part 5 of The Genesis of the Daleks (1975) (with slight amendment) to Tony Abbott. The similarities between Davros and Abbott are most striking.  Enjoy!

Here is a meme the author created not long after the September 2013 Federal election.The text quoted are the words of Davros, the creator of the Daleks, in Part 5 of The Genesis of the Daleks (1975) (with slight amendment) and now attributed to our “Esteemed Leader” Tony Abbott. The similarities between Davros and Abbott are most striking. Enjoy!

The author of the Doctor Who Mind Robber has been caught in an abyss of political activism against this creeping fascism and has been known to surface occasionally to blog on this terror at The Abbott Proof Fence. The return of Doctor Who with the magnificent Peter Capaldi at the helm is a most welcome respite from the terrors that confront Australian society daily. Whilst it is unlikely that much progress will be made on our Ultimate Doctor Who marathon in the short term (we are ready to meet the Third Doctor in Season 7), the Doctor Who Mind Robber will nevertheless provide weekly reflections on Series 8 from the perspective of an old series fan with a fetish for history and continuity.

Sit back, adjust your sets and await the recommencement of transmission. Enjoy the ride!

 

Vivien Fleming

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The Evil of the Daleks

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Season four draws to a close with the Daleks’ last appearance in Doctor Who for five years in The Evil of the Daleks. Ranked 18th in the Doctor Who Magazine’s Mighty 200 poll of 2009, this serial bears all the hallmarks of a classic. The most highly placed Second Doctor story in the poll, The Evil of the Daleks displays a hitherto unseen darkness in the Doctor’s character. By melding the BBC’s panache for period piece Victoriana drama and the futuristic world of Skaro, the serial arranges the Daleks in a threatening new light.

The Doctor looks on as Edward Waterfield and Theodore Maxtible discuss their experiment

The Doctor looks on as Edward Waterfield and Theodore Maxtible discuss their experiment

Written by David Whitaker, The Evil of the Daleks in part draws upon Whitaker’s own Dalek cartoons which were a feature in TV Century 21 magazine. Published over 104 issues in 1965 and 1966, the Dalek cartoons featured a Dalek Emperor, the titular head of the Daleks not hitherto encountered in the television series.  In cartoon form the Dalek Emperor was more similar in appearance to the 1988 Dalek Emperor of Remembrance of the Daleks than the large elaborate one of The Evil of the Daleks. That a Dalek spin off cartoon should influence the television production of Doctor Who clearly exhibits how iconic the Daleks had become in the mythology of Doctor Who during those early years.

The Dalek Emperor first appeared in the David Whitaker penned Dalek cartoons published in TV Century 21 magazine

The Dalek Emperor first appeared in the David Whitaker penned Dalek cartoons published in TV Century 21 magazine

The Dalek Emperor of the comics was more faithfully reproduced in the 1988 serial Remembrance of the Daleks

The Dalek Emperor of the comics was more faithfully reproduced in the 1988 serial Remembrance of the Daleks

The Doctor co-operates with the Daleks in putting Jamie to a test in saving the daughter of Edward Waterfield, Victoria who has been imprisoned by the Daleks. In doing so the Doctor engages in an uncharacteristic argument with Jamie with the sole intention of utilizing reverse psychology to obtain his own ends.  The Doctor tells Jamie that he has never purported that “the ends justify the means”, however Jamie consider this to be mere words.  “You and me, we’re finished.  You’re just too callous for me”, Jamie says to the Doctor. “Anything goes by the board.  Anything at all”.

Jamie's task is to save the companion-in-waiting, Victoria Waterfield, from the Daleks

Jamie’s task is to save the companion-in-waiting, Victoria Waterfield, from the Daleks

The test which Jamie was undertaking would enable the Daleks to plot and distil those essential human characteristics that had until then always permitted humans to defeat the Daleks. Courage, pity, chivalry, friendship, and compassion were some of those virtues and emotions that Jamie exhibited in his trial to rescue Victoria.  When three dormant Daleks were impregnated with the “human factor” they behaved in a somewhat unexpected manner. Episode five ends with the Doctor being taken for a “train” ride by a Dalek.  “Jamie, they’re taking me for a ride” the Doctor exclaims in delight, “they’re playing a game”.  Episode six opens with the Doctor advising that the Daleks are only children, but will grow up very quickly – in a matter of hours, in fact. He advises the baby Daleks that Jamie is a friend and to their delight gives each of them a name – Alpha, Beta and Omega.

Jamie and the Doctor drink coffee in a cafe during episode one

Jamie and the Doctor drink coffee in a cafe during episode one

Despite their childish play the Daleks do not take on the comic like features that they did in The Chase. The Doctor’s oldest foes remained menacing because  of their radical and quick transformation back to their dangerous and menacing form. By impregnating a large number of Daleks with the “human factor” the Doctor incites a Dalek Civil War as the humanized Daleks question the orders of their superiors. Never before had the Daleks questioned “why” they automatically follow commands.  This was very much a human trait. Notwithstanding that total genocide of the Daleks is a possible consequence of the Civil War, the Doctor nonetheless  encourages their destruction.  This is very much at odds with the classic stand of the Fourth Doctor in Genesis of the Daleks.

The Evil of the Daleks – 3D Animation – Prelude to the Civil War

Victoria's father, Edward Waterhouse, sacrifices himself to save the Doctor

Victoria’s father, Edward Waterhouse, sacrifices himself to save the Doctor

The chief human baddie, Theodore Maxtible, looks surprisingly like our most common images of Karl Marx.  I wonder if that was intentional? Although the Daleks were conjured into Maxtible’s 1866 Victorian home by mistake, he is nevertheless keen to make what he can out of the Daleks’ technology.  Waterfield co-ops the Doctor and Jamie’s assistance against their will but for the more honourable cause of having his daughter freed.  Waterfield is disturbed by the death that surrounds him and his complicity with the destruction caused. When he accuses Maxtible of constantly avoiding reality – that people are dying because of them – Maxtible remains indignant. “We are not to blame for everything that has happened” he said “No English judge or jury would find it in their hearts to convict us of one solitary thing”. The legality of what they had done was not Waterfield’s concern, but clearly the morality of it.  He went on to state that he would confess his role in everything once Victoria was released.  Unfortunately that opportunity was never afforded to him as he sacrificed his life to save the Doctor.

The character of Theodore Maxtible, played by Marius Goring, bears an uncanny resemblance to Karl Marx

The character of Theodore Maxtible, played by Marius Goring, bears an uncanny resemblance to Karl Marx

The real Karl Marx

The real Karl Marx

The “human factor” in The Evil of the Daleks would re-emerge in a somewhat different form, as DNA, in the Rob Sherman penned Dalek in 2005. In the first Dalek story of New Series Doctor Who, companion Rose Tyler replenishes a long dormant Dalek by placing her hand upon it.  Her DNA enables the Dalek to regenerate its casing and break free of the chains that have bound it. Later the Dalek experiences human emotions as a consequence of the human DNA.  Psychologically traumatised by emotions that are alien to Daleks, the Dalek commits suicide after commanding Rose to order its own death.  The “human factor” in The Evil of the Daleks, which precipitated questioning, the Dalek Civil War and ultimately the (temporary) Dalek destruction, had the same decimating effect on the pepper pot’s psychology and continued existence in Dalek.

Rose Tyler comforts a Dalek in the 2005 episode Dalek, thereby transferring some of her DNA to it

Rose Tyler comforts a Dalek in the 2005 episode Dalek, thereby transferring some of her DNA to it

Rose is compelled to order the Dalek's own destruction as it is psychologically traumatized by its human DNA

Rose is compelled to order the Dalek’s own destruction as it is psychologically traumatized by the human DNA

The Evil of the Daleks has aged badly in respect of its racial stereotyping of the character of Kemel.  Played by the West Indian born Sonny Caldinez, Kemel is a Turkish wrestler and strongman for Maxtible.  Although possessed of almost super-human strength, Kemel is both unintelligent and mute. He’s almost the kind of character that you would expect in a First Doctor story, as William Hartnell was unfortunately infamous for his intolerance of all but Caucasian Englishmen. Sonny Caldinez would go on to play an Ice Warrior in each of the four Ice Warrior themed serials in the Classic Series, The Ice Warriors, The Seeds of Death, The Curse of Peladon and The Monster of Peladon.

Sonny Caldinez played the role of Kemel, a Turkish wrester and strongman

Sonny Caldinez played the role of Kemel, a Turkish wrester and strongman

Sonny Caldinez subsequently appeared as an Ice Warrior in four Classic Series stories.  He's seen here with the Third Doctor and Alpha Centauri in The Monster of Peladon (1974)

Sonny Caldinez subsequently appeared as an Ice Warrior in four Classic Series stories. He is seen here with the Third Doctor and Alpha Centauri in The Monster of Peladon (1974)

The Evil of the Daleks does leave us with perhaps one of the Doctor’s best ever quotes.  In speaking to Terrall the Doctor says,  “I am not a student of human nature.  I am a professor of a far wider academy, of which human nature is merely a part. All forms of life interest me”. “Professor” is the name that companion Ace playfully called the Seventh Doctor, but I’m rushing ahead of myself here.  Join me for my next review where Season five opens with the first 100% complete Second Doctor serial, the iconic Tomb of the Cybermen.

The Evil of the Daleks was originally broadcast in the UK between 20 May and 1 July 1967.  Episode 2 is available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

The Evil of the Daleks was originally broadcast in the UK between 20 May and 1 July 1967. Episode 2 is available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Power of the Daleks

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“The Doctor was a great collector, wasn’t he”, the strange little man with the ill-fitting, improvised clothes said as he rummaged through the large chest.  “But you’re the Doctor” exclaimed a confused Polly.  “Oh, I don’t look like him” quipped the man.

So began the journey of the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, as he recovered  from his “renewal” as though he’d been on an LSD trip.  In fact, the reference to LSD  comes directly from the production notes.  This was 1966, of course.  When Ben had told the “old Doctor” that the ordeal in the Cyberman ship was “all over”  (The Tenth Planet) the Doctor had replied by saying “What did you say, my boy?  It’s all over.  It’s all over.  That’s what you said.  No, but it isn’t all over.  It’s far from being all over”.  The “new”  Doctor had strangely chuckled “It’s over.  It’s over” as he scrambled to his feet upon regenerating. Whilst the Doctor’s “renewal” may have been over, his journey to be understood by his companions was only beginning.

Upon renewal the Doctor is in a confused state, as if he'd been tripping on LSD

Upon renewal the Doctor is in a confused state, as if he’d been tripping on LSD

Quietly hostile and prone to referring to himself in the third person, the Doctor evaded answering uncomfortable questions by playing a recorder retrieved from the chest. The sceptic Ben was infuriated by the Doctor’s behaviour  and didn’t believe the man before him to be the same person as the “old Doctor”.  Polly, however, was more willing to believe and recalled the old Doctor’s comment to the effect that perhaps his old body was wearing a bit thin.  No one had exited or entered the Tardis so surely this stranger must be the Doctor. It would take a Dalek to recognize the Doctor by sight, towards the end of episode two, for Ben to finally believe that the “new” Doctor was one of the same as the “old Doctor”.

Ben, Polly and the new Doctor with his 500 Year Diary

Ben, Polly and the new Doctor with his 500 Year Diary

The Dalek’s recognition of the Doctor, and the Doctor’s visible fear of his oldest foe, was a superbly climatic scene which undoubtedly influenced Rob Shearman as he wrote Dalek, the pepper pots’ debut in Season 1 of the 2005 series.  Watch the short clip from Dalek below and marvel at the Ninth Doctor’s fear when he hears the monotone voice of the Dalek say “Dock Toorrr”. The Doctor’s fear as he runs to the door is just palpable. Were The Power of the Daleks not lost and we could watch the serial in its full glory, then I suspect that the Second Doctor’s fear, as he backs into a chair as the Dalek focuses his eye stalk onto him, would be  just as unmistakeable.

That The Power of the Daleks should be an influence on the writers of new series Who should come as no surprise. The serial is critically lauded as perhaps the best Dalek story ever and is undoubtedly held in higher regard as a consequence of its missing status.  The soundtrack is smashing and the few fragment clips of the Daleks absolutely superb. You can even excuse the production team for the reasonably obvious cardboard cut-out Daleks used to swell the numbers in crowd scenes.  We hear much chanting of “exterminate, annihilate, destroy” and  “Daleks conquer and destroy”, whilst also seeing the construction of Daleks for the first time.  Whilst proceeding down the conveyer belt their mutant insides are plonked inside and seen by viewers for the first time in their live state.  The Dalek mutants seen in episode of 12 of the Daleks’ Master Plan were in a regressed form. What makes the Daleks all the more frightening is that they are initially so compliant and obliging.

The Power of the Daleks – Surviving Dalek clips

The similarity between the Series 5 episode Victory of the Daleks and The Power of the Daleks is remarkable.  In both stories the Daleks originally portray themselves as servants of humans.  In Power the Dalek chants “I am your servant”, whilst in Victory their incantation is “I am your soldier”.  In both stories the Doctor is increasingly frustrated at everyone’s refusal to take his concerns about the Daleks seriously.  Wildly cognisant of the Dalek’s evil reputation, similar fear and frustration would be instilled into the viewers as well.  As Toby Hadoke stated in Running Through Corridors, “… with us, the audience, more aware than most of the characters involved in this adventure just how deadly these creatures are.  It’s like watching kids playing with a hand grenade, but being stuck behind soundproofed glass and unable to issue a warning”.

Victory of the Daleks Trailer

Victory of the Daleks bears distinct similiarities to The Power of the Daleks

Victory of the Daleks’ antecedents can be seen in The Power of the Daleks

Many of the humans in The Power of the Daleks are not particularly likeable.  A rebel group within the community are planning a rebellion, however their grievances are unclear.  Unlike the young double eye-browed rebels in The Space Museum whose oppression one could empathise with, even though they were the most useless revolutionaries ever portrayed on TV, these rebels are bullish and ignorant.  Prepared to sacrifice anyone to achieve their ends, they make the Daleks in earlier episodes appear positively gentlemanly. Whereas the humans were unable to fathom the Cybermen’s lack of empathy in The Tenth Planet, it is in The Power of the Daleks that the monsters express the very same disbelief about the humans.  A Dalek innocently asks, “Why do human beings kill human beings?”

The Power of the Daleks - Title Card

It’s invariably the ignorance of humans, and the Rebels’ preparedness to co-opt the Daleks to their cause,  which is the reason for their downfall. After using the humans to acquire the materials necessary to construct new Daleks, they have no further need for humans and destroy them.  The Daleks are at their evil best and it’s a great shame that the visuals have been lost because the telesnaps make the massacre at the end look magnificent.  Ultimately, however, the Doctor saves the day by destroying the Daleks.  Or does he?

The Daleks are at their frightening best in The Power of the Daleks

The Daleks are at their frightening best in The Power of the Daleks

What puzzled me was why the Daleks needed to be charged in Power of the Daleks whenever they were not on metal, yet the Daleks seen in The Chase and The Daleks’ Master Plan didn’t.  Wood and Miles in About Time 2  posit cheekily that these Daleks must have been exhausted from their 200 years spent at the bottom of the mercury swamp or not fully-charged as they were fresh models straight off the production-line.   One wonders how viewers can pick up these continuity discrepancies in the early years of Doctor Who, and yet the writers could not.  Perhaps it was because the serial was written by David Whitaker and was the first Dalek serial in which Terry Nation had no input.

The Power of the Daleks was originally broadcast in the UK between 5 November and 10 December 1966

 Loose Cannon’s VHS cover art for The Power of the Daleks. The Power of the Daleks was originally broadcast in the UK between 5 November and 10 December 1966

 

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

 

REFERENCES:

Robert Shearman and Toby Hadoke, Running Through Corridors.  Rob and Toby’s Marathon Watch of Doctor Who (Mad Norwegian Press, Des Moines, Iowa: 2011),

Tat Wood & Lawrence Miles, About Time. The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who. 1966-1969 Seasons 4 to 6. Mad Norweigan Press, Illinois, 2010.