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Doctor Who: Planet of the Daleks

"Courage isn't just a matter of not being frightened, you know. It's being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway."

Terrance Dicks’ original plan for season ten was to produce an epic tale in the same vein as the William Hartnell twelve-part lost classic 'The Dalek Masterplan'. However, Douglas Camfield, the director of the story, warned him off, citing the production difficulties of shooting such an epic story. Instead, Dicks devised two linked stories that eventually became 'Frontier In Space' and 'Planet of the Daleks'.

Despite picking up right where 'Frontier In Space' left off, 'Planet of the Daleks' is more a separate story than a true continuation. It pretty much ignores almost everything that was set up in 'Frontier', often acting like the previous story never happened at all. After being injured, the Doctor is forced into a healing coma, when the TARDIS suddenly lands on the planet Spirodan. There, the Doctor and Jo bump into a group of Thals. This leads to loads of pointless continuity references to earlier stories that will no doubt leave the casual viewer feeling dizzy.

'Planet of the Daleks' is essentially Terry Nation recycling material from many of his previous Dalek stories and trying to fob it off as something fresh. Sorry, Terry, but you're fooling no one. Even having a sure hand like David Maloney behind the camera can’t save this from being a total dud. Nation’s attempts at characterisation are as laughable as his corny dialogue. He also seems incapable of writing believable female characters. I know this was the 70s but that’s no excuse for the token female Thal being such a submissive doormat. Oh, Sarah Jane, where are you when we need you?

The jungle sets look terrible. The Blue Peter garden would’ve made a more convincing alien environment than what’s on screen. And you know how people tend to joke about how the sets were always shaky on Doctor Who? Well, watch that Thal spaceship in Episode 1. It’s rocking all over the place.

Notes and Quotes

--As is traditional, the cliff-hanger of Episode 1 is the 'surprise' reveal of the Daleks, despite the fact the story's title has '...of the Daleks' in it.

--For a brief time this story was going to be called 'Destination: Daleks'.

--For many years, Episode 3 only existed in black-and-white, as the colour master videotape had been wiped by the BBC in 1976. It was eventually restored to full colour and released on DVD in 2009.

--Bernard Horsfall (Taron) previously appeared in 'The Mind Robber' as Lemuel Gulliver and as a Time Lord in 'The War Games'. Both, like this story, were directed by David Maloney. Prentis Hancock (Vaber) appeared as a reporter in 'Spearhead from Space'.

Taron: "In our legends there is a being, a figure from another planet who came to Skaro when the Thals were in their greatest peril. In something called a TARDIS. He had three companions."
The Doctor: "Yes, Barbara, Ian and Susan."
Vaber: "And their leader was called?"
The Doctor: "The Doctor."
Taron: "Are you trying to tell us that you are the Doctor?"
The Doctor: "That's right."

The Doctor: "You know, for a man who abhors violence, I took great satisfaction in doing that."

Taron: “Doctor, they're cutting through the door.”
The Doctor: “Well, it's pretty obvious they'd do something of the sort.”
Taron: “Well, what are we going to do?”
The Doctor: “Nothing. When faced with the inevitable, don't waste precious time resisting it.”

One out of four Blue Peter gardens.
--
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

1 comment:

  1. When I was younger, the PBS version of "Planet of the Daleks" skipped the 3rd episode altogether to avoid the color to B/W to color awkwardness. And I never noticed. That speaks volumes about the plot.

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