Tag Archives: The Genesis of the Daleks

The Seeds of Death

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The Doctor had long shown himself to be adept at time travel, however it was not until the 1969 serial The Seeds of Death that he was seen to man a more conventional form of space transportation, a rocket.  That the Doctor and his friends should find themselves on a rocket to the Moon should come as no surprise given that this serial was broadcast in early 1969 and the Apollo 11 landed the first humans on the Moon on 20 July 1969. What is more astounding is that in the world of Doctor Who rockets are perceived to be outdated and an anachronism.  In The Seeds of Death Professor Eldred is the curator of a space museum who spends his spare time secretly working on a rocket.  All transportation is now carried out by T-Mat, otherwise known as transmit, a form of instantaneous particle matter transfer. Even motor cars have become redundant and the T-Mat system is used to transport people and produce throughout the world.  There is a T-Mat relay on the Moon and it is from there that the Ice Warriors intend to commence their conquest of the Earth.

Jamie, the Doctor and Zoe arrive on Earth following their adventures with The Krotons

Jamie, the Doctor and Zoe arrive on Earth following their adventures with The Krotons

The Doctor is covered in foam as he attempts to gain entry to the Weather Station

The Doctor is covered in foam as he attempts to gain entry to the Weather Station

That there is no alternative transport to T-Mat is extraordinary, particularly as the sustenance of the whole world is dependent upon its operation. This extreme example of “putting all your eggs in one basket” was what led the Doctor and his companions to risk their lives in an untested experimental rocket.  It appears that together with world famine, local stock-piling of goods has long since ended. Although the details provided in The Seeds of Death are sketchy, it appears that the T-Mat system is operated, if not wholly owned, by a corporation named Travel-Mat.  What Travel-Mat’s relationship is to the governments of the world is not specified. Perhaps Travel-Mat is the world government? Travel-Mat certainly has some relationship with the United Nations as Professor Eldred describes Sir James Gregson as the United Nations Plenipotentiary.  Radnor clarifies this by saying that Gregson is the Minister with special responsibility for T-Mat. I suspect that the climate change sceptics with whom I frequently debate would revel in declaring The Seeds of Death to be an accurate prediction of their New World Order conspiracies. Come to think of it, most climate change deniers know so little about science that they’d probably think the mistaken “science” of The Ice Warriors is correct.  Distinguishing fact from fiction can at times be difficult for some, hence the premise behind The Mind Robber!

T-Mat employees wear an unfortunate uniform with their underpants on the outside

T-Mat employees wear an unfortunate uniform with their underpants on the outside

Arguably the most powerful person employed by Travel-Mat is Miss Gia Kelly, the Assistant Controller, who inexplicably is the only person who completely understands T-Mat.  Again the question arises as to what would happen to this world-wide transport system, on which the distribution of all Earth’s food is dependent, if Miss Kelly suddenly became indisposed. It’s a pleasant development in Doctor Who to have a women in such a powerful role and not be denigrated for her gender by fellow on-screen workers. Kelly even managed to escape the sexism inherent in the UNIT soldiers’ praise for Zoe in The Invasion, when they said that she was “prettier than a computer”.  That being said, I’m at a loss to understand why Kelly was portrayed as so officious and unable to smile.  What does this say about our perceptions of powerful women? Do women that attain the giddy heights of success necessarily relinquish all vestiges of humanity in the minds of others? Even a casual observer to Australian politics in recent years would be cognisant of sexist vitriol thrown at our former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. Being “deliberately barren” was perhaps the most offensive of them all.  I would posit that the writer Brian Hayles’ portrayal of Kelly is an example of this offensive stereotyping of successful women.

Miss Kelly is the only person who truly understands T-Mat.  She is pictured here with the rocket countdown reflected onto her face

Miss Kelly is the only person who truly understands T-Mat. She is pictured here with the rocket countdown reflected onto her face

Gia Kelly is arguably the most powerful person working for Travel-Mat

Gia Kelly is arguably the most powerful person working for Travel-Mat

Unfortunately I have a concern with the Doctor’s ethics in The Seeds of Death. At the serial’s end the Doctor sent the Ice Warriors’ rockets onto an orbit close to the Sun by transmitting a fake homing signal.  When the Warrior Slaar told the Doctor that he has destroyed their whole fleet, the Doctor’s response was that “you tried to destroy an entire world”. Given that the Doctor believed these Warriors to be the only survivors of their species, he was effectively committing genocide. Whilst we all now know that the fleet didn’t comprise the last of the Ice Warriors, that’s not the point.  The Doctor acted in a similar manner to the Daleks in The Evil of the Daleks and to the Drahvins in Galaxy 4. In my review of Galaxy 4 I discussed in some detail how the Doctor’s apparent genocide of a race was at odds with his classic moral deliberations in The Genesis of the Daleks.

The Doctor kills the first of many Ice Warriors

The Doctor kills the first of many Ice Warriors

Akin to Brian Hayles’ problems with science in The Ice Warriors, The Seeds of Death is similarly tainted.  Remarkably, whilst the Ice Warriors collapsed when the temperate reached 60 degrees Celsius, the humans exhibited no ill effects at all.  Not a bead of sweat was seen to develop on a single brow. This story did, however, again exhibit Hayles’ apparent concern for things environmental. The plant consuming foam which emerged from the Ice Warrior’s seeds would eventually result in the removal of all oxygen and the death of humans as the atmosphere became more akin to that of Mars.

The Doctor discovers that water destroy's the Ice Warriors' seeds

The Doctor discovers that water destroys the Ice Warriors’ seeds

Technology had also caught up with Doctor Who by the Ice Warrior’s second appearance. Filmed inserts for episodes were by then being produced during the recording of the previous stories.  Because of the 1968/1969 Christmas/New Year break, some inserts were filmed up to six weeks prior to the recording of the episodes. It’s for that reason that careful observation will show that within the same episode the Doctor can at one point have particularly bushy side-burns, and the next moment has none.

The Doctor discusses retro rockets with Professor Eldred

The Doctor discusses retro rockets with Professor Eldred

When Jamie suggested that the Doctor should use the TARDIS to travel back to the Moon the Doctor was quick to advise that “the TARDIS is not suited to short range travel”.  It’s a shame that the Eleventh Doctor  didn’t remember that  when he decided to take the TARDIS for a quick hop to the Moon to run her in during The Eleventh Hour (2010).  He didn’t come back to Amy until two years later!  The Doctor also seemed to have forgotten exactly how much of an unpleasant time he’d had when last he visited a space museum (The Space Museum). Quite naturally Zoe knows how to pilot a rocket so she necessarily went up in my esteem, yet again.  She also has a photographic memory.

Clearly the Eleventh Doctor had forgotten that the TARDIS is not suited to short range travel in The Eleventh Hour (2010)

Clearly the Eleventh Doctor had forgotten that the TARDIS was not suited to short range travel in The Eleventh Hour (2010)

Amongst her many skills, Zoe can pilot a space rocket

Amongst her many skills, Zoe can pilot a space rocket

With the conclusion of The Seeds of Death we say goodbye to the last monster story of Patrick Troughton’s tenure.  Not only is it the final monster serial of the 1960s but also of Doctor Who’s monochrome era.  Troughton’s penultimate adventure, The Space Pirates, has no aliens although it does have a space cowboy who is almost as bad, in a frightening sort of way!

The Seeds of Death was originally broadcast in the UK between 25 January and 1 March 1969

The Seeds of Death was originally broadcast in the UK between 25 January and 1 March 1969

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

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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.

Galaxy 4

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Galaxy 4 cover

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder then no better example could be found than in the premiere story of Doctor Who’s third season, Galaxy 4.  It’s at this stage that you’d anticipate me summarizing the moral thesis of the story as my opening catch phrase alludes to.  Not so!  The beauty to which I refer bears no relationship to the relative physical characteristics of the Drahvins and the Rills, but rather to the viewer’s appreciation of the serial.  In their book Running Through Corridors, Rob Shearman and Toby Hadoke approach a marathon watch of Doctor Who with the intention of finding the good in each and every story – even the downright shockers.  Despite their best endeavours,  neither Shearman or Hadoke could find much to endear them to Galaxy 4. I beg to differ, and as such am perhaps one of the few fans who genuinely love the serial.

Even Rob Shearman and Toby Hadoke had difficulty finding the good in Galaxy 4

Even Rob Shearman and Toby Hadoke had difficulty finding the good in Galaxy 4

It’s probably because I’m a woman that I find the concept of a female dominated alien race somewhat appealing.  The Drahvins, natives of the planet Drahva in Galaxy 4, are a most practical bunch.  When the Doctor and Steven ask the leader, Maaga, if all their race are female, Maaga’s response if most abrupt – “Oh, we have a small number of men, as many as we need.  The rest we kill.  They consume valuable food and fulfil no particular function.”  I almost squeal with delight whenever I watch that segment, but please don’t tell my sons.  They’ll probably find it hard to sleep at night!  The Doctor responds cheekily by saying, “Yours must be a very interesting civilisation”.  If ever there was an understatement, that’s one.  When Maaga later offers to free Steven if he takes the Drahvins off the planet in his ship, his retort is classic.  “Oh, yes, yes.  But even assuming I believed you, that on the way you didn’t decide that I was eating too much food, there is a snag … I can’t operate it”, he states. There are no flies on Steven.  He’s a bright one!

The Drahvins with a Chumbley

The Drahvins with a Chumbley

The Drahvins that the Doctor and his companions meet are small in number and comprise only four in total.  All have long blonde hair and wear unflattering green and white uniforms.  All but the leader, Maaga, are drones.  Bred purely as soldiers, the three are without intelligence and cultivated in test tubes.  Whilst Maaga is a living being, she considers the soldiers to be mere products, and inferior ones at that.  “Grown for a purpose and capable of nothing more”, she says, “To fight. To Kill”.  The soldiers are programmed to obey all orders on command and to offer themselves up to death if they fail in their mission. Like the Tribe of Gum in An Unearthly Child, the Drahvins cannot understand human kindness and why a person might sacrifice their life for another.  While Maaga eats real food, the soldiers subsist on tablets only.  Steven endeavours to reason with one of the Drahvin and convince her of the inequality of this class based system.   Before he can succeed Maaga enters the room and stops the conversation.

The Drahvins in colour.  Their dresses were actually green.

The Drahvins in colour. Their dresses were actually green.

The soldiers’ lack of intelligence is the cause of constant frustration to Maaga.  Charged with finding a new planet for colonization,  she was lumbered with soldiers to assist her.  All thinking is left to her and the drones lack even the intellect to imagine the Rills dying on a white exploding planet.  Death and destruction are things Maaga intellectually craves,  but killing is undertaken in an automated and routine manner by the drones.  They are incapable of enjoying the process of killing. Maaga is one sick and twisted psychotic individual!

The Drahvins in combat mode

The Drahvins in combat mode

It is little wonder that the writer, William Emms, saw fit to have the Drahvins all killed at the story’s end.  They’re not nice people, even if the thought of a planet with limited men might appear momentarily enticing.  Both the Doctor and the Rills’ failure to rescue the Drahvins, although logical, is morally troublesome.  The Rills had long offered to transport the Drahvins home, notwithstanding their longstanding aggression against them.   Earlier in the serial the Doctor had even stated to Maaga that neither he, nor his companions, kill.  And yet, the Doctor leaves the Drahvins on the planet knowing full well that within minutes it will explode.  Compare this, for a moment, with the Fourth Doctor’s classic moral dilemma in The Genesis of the Daleks.  The Doctor is afforded the opportunity to destroy the Daleks forever, and yet he hesitates.  Does he have the right to commit genocide, even though the Daleks are evil reincarnate and will cause death and suffering to millions of people?  Sarah Jane certainly considers it morally acceptable but the Doctor is not so sure. By the Seventh Doctor’s tenure, however, such moral  concerns appear far from his mind when Skaro is seemingly destroyed in Remembrance of the Daleks.

Is it morally correct to kill the Drahvins?

Is it morally correct to kill the Drahvins?

That Galaxy 4 featured humans produced by test tube, 13 years prior the first in vitro fertilisation (IVF) birth in 1978, is quite marvellous.  The story canvassed the moral issue of cloning three decades before the birth of Dolly the Sheep in 1996.   Future science, rather than science fiction, was at the core.

Maaga, the Drahvin leader, isn't a clone

Maaga, the Drahvin leader, isn’t a clone

I opened with the phrase  “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.  This, undoubtedly, was the major theme of the writer, William Emms.  The beautiful people in the serial, the Drahvins, are actually morally bankrupt and psychotically evil.  Given their blonde hair, I suspect the Drahvins to be modelled on the Nazis.  Not unlike Hitler, their leader  Maaga rallied her troops’ support by openly lying about the “enemy”. The Nazis lead the German people to incorrectly believe that the Jewish people were the cause of Germany’s economic woes. Maaga convinced her people that the Rills had killed a Drahvin soldier and were necessarily evil.   Maaga had actually killed the soldier herself.

Steven, the Doctor and Vicki encounter Chumblies for the first time

Steven, the Doctor and Vicki encounter Chumblies for the first time

The Rills are the “ugly”  of the story and even consider themselves to be physically unbearable to all but their own kind.  They are great big green blobs that can only breathe ammonia. They are, however, the good and the just of the story.  Notwithstanding having their spacecraft shot down by the Drahvins, they offer assistance to the stranded women when both peoples are marooned on the planet.  They continue to offer the hand of friendship almost to the end.   They immediately forgive the Doctor for sabotaging their equipment and attend to the repair without seeking the Doctor’s assistance.  Like the Sensorites, the Rill communicate telepathically.  Having no vocal chords they speak through the robotic Chumblies.

A Chumbley with four Rills in the background

A Chumbley with four Rills in the background

I cannot end this review without mention of Chumblies.  I love the Chumblies.  They’re cute and chumble around in a most endearing fashion.  So named by Vicki for that very reason, it’s somewhat amusing that the Rills had no problem using this adopted nickname when referring to their robotic assistants.  Surely they already had a name for them!  “Bring back the Chumblies” I say to BBC Wales, and while you’re at it, a big stuffed Chumbley would look rather nice on my bed!

Maaga, Steven and Vicki

Maaga, Steven and Vicki

Only episode three of Galaxy 4 exists in its entirety, having been rediscovered in 2011.  A reconstruction of the missing story, using off-screen stills, audio recordings and animation, together with the recently recovered episode three, was included in the special features of The Aztecs Special Edition released in 2013.

The Doctor and Vicki realize that the Chumbley poses no threat

The Doctor and Vicki realize that the Chumbley poses no threat

A reconstruction of "Galaxy 4", including the complete episode three, is included as a special feature of "The Aztecs" Special Edition DVD. "Galaxy 4" was originally broadcast in the UK between 11 September and 2 October 1965

A reconstruction of “Galaxy 4”, including the complete episode three, is included as a special feature of “The Aztecs” Special Edition DVD.
“Galaxy 4” was originally broadcast in the UK between 11 September and 2 October 1965

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

 

REFERENCE:

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