Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 AD
The Dalek Invasion of Earth
|Dates||Nov. 21, 1964 -
Dec. 26, 1964
With William Hartnell, William Russell,
Jacqueline Hill, Carole Ann Ford.
Written by Terry Nation. Script-edited by David Whitaker.
Directed by Richard Martin.
Associate Producer: Mervyn Pinfield. Produced by Verity Lambert.
|Synopsis: The Daleks return as masters of Earth in the 22nd century, crushing a small band of resistance fighters and capturing the Doctor.|
A Review by Jeff Sims 26/4/97
The second Dalek story improves on the original, presents them for the first time as galactic conquerors, and provides an epic Who tale. In the 22cd Century, after natural disasters have shattered terrestrial civilization, the Daleks arrive in flying saucers to take charge of the remaining human population, forcing them to labor in huge mines for an unknown but clearly sinister purpose. They maintain control by creating slaves-- Robomen-- who hunt down and capture or kill their fellow men. The Doctor and his companions drop down into this nightmare and, once they realize the situation, attempt to put a stop to the Daleks' evil schemes.
The story is clean and fast moving (this one is nearly as long as The Daleks, but it doesn't seem so), with plenty of interesting guest stars. The visuals are very good, ranging from the first bleak glimspe of desolate London to the huge mining area. Best scenes: those of Daleks on the prowl, trundling past London landmarks. The regular cast are all in fine form this time. Everybody gets lots to do, including the Doctor, who hits his stride much faster in this one. He is less of a boor, and more the clever eccentric for which he is best known. This story also marks Susan's departure from the series (until her return performance in The Five Doctors), the occasion of the Doctor's famous farewell speech.
A Review by Matt Michael 22/4/98
"We are masters of Earth!"
The Dalek Invasion of Earth was one of the first Doctor Who videos I owned, and I can still remeber the thrill when I saw the Dalek rise out of the Thames (inducing a fit of overacting in Hartnell) and pronounce that the Daleks ruled Earth.
As the first invasion story, The Dalek Invasion of Earth set the precedent for future tales of monsters attacking the world, however here it is taken a step further than usual-- the Doctor and companions arrive after the invasion is complete. This leads to some marvellously macabre sequences in episode one on the riverbank (marred rather by the Doctor's awful "What you need is a jolly good smacked bottom" -- Anthony Coburn would turn in his grave).
The rest of the story follows the usual Terry Nation capture-escape formula, albeit carried off very stylishly and with some great special effects. The introduction of the Black Daleks (clearly a reference to the Nazi blackshirts) is a great move, and the whole production works well as an allegory of Nazism (the Daleks do the Hitler salute, and the extermination of humans is referred to as "the final solution").
This is also the story which established the Daleks as a galactic menace, and really set the seal on their popularity. Successful enough to spawn a big-screen re-make, and a string of inferior sequels (until The Power of the Daleks revived Dalek fortunes), The Dalek Invasion of Earth is one of only two real Dalek classics from the Hartnell era, although I would cite it as the first example in Doctor Who of style triumphing over substance.
And I haven't even mentioned Susan's wonderful leaving scene (another first for the show). Complete tosh, and over-long, but still far superior to almost every other Dalek story (including their debut). I have no hesitation in awarding it 9/10. So sue me.
A Review by Leo Vance 18/11/98
Terry Nation has always seemed very mixed to me. From troubled tales like The Daleks, to the brilliant Destiny of the Daleks, this one is probably one of his better ones.
To start off with the cast, the acting is less than wonderful. William Hartnell as always puts in a sterling performance, but beyond that, only Carole Ann Ford seems able to find any real level of skill. William Russell is given a poor role, but does reasonably well anyway. The freedom fighter he teams up with is truly awful though.
David Campbell and Jack Tyler are so wooden you could carve them into a table; Dortmun finds some reality, as does Jenny, but neither are anything special.
William Hartnell is special, but moving beyond that, the story's unquestioned top artiste is Jacqueline Hill; a superb performance, and with the roles from The Daleks reversed, she gets a much better part than William Russell. Unlike Russell in The Daleks, though, she shines. Particularly good is the scene where the truck she and Jenny are in goes through a line of Daleks.
The plot and visuals are what improves this story. Both are excellent, with the Dalek saucer being as good as most spaceships from Doctor Who in the 1980's. The script is a classic Nation effort, but is improved from his usual 'middling to good' level by some very good ideas and visuals.
Special effects are fairly unimportant in 1960's Doctor Who, but they're well executed here, and the sets are as usual, brilliant.
At the centre of the story are the Daleks, magnificent as always, and as good as they can be. The stories best element, as usual with Terry Nation.
One of Terry Nations best, and all in all, a superb story and mixed acting fail to make it a classic, but nevertheless, about on a par with the brilliant Destiny of the Daleks. 8/10
A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 21/11/98
As a sequel to the original Dalek tale, The Dalek Invasion of Earth works, combining a fair amount of character development and drama. The extensive location filming is an added bonus to the show, giving it a fresh look whilst managing to depict a planet invaded by aliens particularly well. The Daleks themselves are given a believable reason as to why they can move outside and away from their city on Skaro and as to why they have invaded Earth at all. Add to this, their obvious intelligence, by using the Robomen to carry out the tasks they can`t or won`t carry out themselves.
Being Carole Ann Ford`s last regular story, the plot is partly centred around Susan growing up and gradually becoming more independant, something which is reflected in the Barbara/Jenny relationship as well. William Russell`s Ian is given slightly more to do than usual instead of continually rescuing Barbara or Susan; unfortunately, William Hartnell is given comparatively little to do,b eing out of the action for some time. The supporting cast in the resistance fighters are, for the most part believable as well, with a disabled character in Dortmun being portrayed in a positive light.
The only thing that lets the side down is the Slyther when compared to the rest of the production values, which are of a generally high standard. Overall, a welcome return for the Daleks.
Dated? by Tom May 30/1/99
"The Daleks offer you... life."
The Dalek Invasion of Earth always used to appeal to me as a gloomy, expansive adventure, yet after repeated viewings, begins to become unstuck.
Terry Nation's script is very action-orientated, and has ineffectual, obvious parallels to Nazism (done better in Genesis of the Daleks), and is subject to many cliches, and tedious dialogue. All of the guest characters are staunchly two-dimensionally, have no substance, and are boringly portrayed. Of particular note, the David Campbell character, while perhaps a thoroughly decent chap, as Ian and Barbara frequently comment, is acted appallingly, and seems not so much an honest farmer as a gormless, unremarkable sub-hero. Nevertheless, the character is quite suited to the equally hopeless, wimpering Susan (poorly played as usual by Carole Ann Ford), although the scenes where their "romance" is shown are uncomfortably acted, and look very false.
When, in Doctor Who, there's a poor guest cast, the regulars really do have to shine, but unfortunately none of the four regulars in the best of nick. Hartnell seems subdued, occasionally lacks conviction, and is generally off the ball, so to speak. The character of Susan is, at best, fair, and here, Susan plays little part in the story, aside from the contrived love interest, and is the subject of a terrible early scene where she sprains her ankle. It's clear that the writer cannot be bothered to write interestingly for the character, and Carole Ann Ford dosen't have the acting skills to turn it around.
William Russell, is as ever, very competent, but the character of Ian has become too predictable by this time. Jacqueline Hill's considerable acting skills are barely put to use at all here, and while the actress cannot be entirely free from blame for this, it's very disappoining that Terry Nation, unlike John Lucarotti and David Whitaker, couldn't characterise Barbara very well.
Another thing apparent is the slowness of the story, and padding is once more evident at many stages -- the sewer sequences, for instance, serve little real purpose. The slyther is a haphazardly named, and rather amusing looking creature, but was also not needed. Other "monsters" of a sort are The Robomen, docile of voice, monotonous of delivery and short of speed and fighting skills. While not too bad a concept, no real empathy is evoked for the humans taken over by the Daleks in this way, and they are a pathetic bunch to say the least.
The Daleks themselves are fairly impressive, although not as effective as in the debut. Their threat is very interestingly put across, i.e. the very rare arrival of the TARDIS after the occupation of Earth, and they are a cruel, undeniably deadly race -- that is, until the finale. Aside from this and the poor start to episode 2 ("We are the masters of earth!" etc. after a hefty cliffhanger), they are an imposing force, and are very formidable when patrolling London, and when Jenny and Barbara are trying to escape. Factors also counting in the story's favour are the funeral atmosphere, and the exceptional, eloquent speech by Hartnell when Susan has to depart.
The inappropriately named The Dalek Invasion of Earth, overall, could've been far better than it was. A little more intelligent writing and a shortening of the story would've brought it closer to alleged "classic" status. As it is, the story is occasionally rather dull, and while exceptional on a first viewing, lacks any depth or humour. In truth, it's superb children's television, but no more than that. 6/10
A Review by Ben Jordan 9/1/00
After a series of thrilling adventures, the Doctor finally manages to return his unwilling companions Ian and Barbara to their home of London. But something's amiss. Why is London in ruins? And how can the Daleks be here - weren't they all destroyed on Skaro?
I don't think one could truly appreciate this story unless they were watching it in 1964. If you'd managed to avoid the excited media's revelation that the Daleks were coming back, then the cliffhanger to the first episode, the famous scene with a Dalek appearing from the Thames would've been truly shocking. For many of us, this probably wasn't the context in which we viewed the story. I saw the Cushing version of this one first, and subsequently the original seems slow and dragging. But after a few viewings, I managed to see it on its own merits, and if you're prepared to be a bit forgiving, it's not so bad really.
For one thing, it seems more like an invasion of England than the entire Earth, and so the great threatening atmosphere that the title might evoke is all but dissipated. But of course this narrow scope is a frequent failing of many sci-fi series. For another thing, London never looks even remotely like anything other than 1964. Two missing chimney stacks from a power plant is hardly a convincing attempt to make it look futuristic. Why, for example, don't the locals wear one-piece latex suits which one usually finds in other 60's futuristic settings? These may look just as dated now, but at least they'd be trying.
One thing which it is best not to do is think too much about the plot, because you might get irritated if you do. Why bother anyway? The writers didn't - this was just a vehicle to bring back the Daleks. They therefore no doubt figured people wouldn't be paying too much attention to stuff like why they wanted Earth's magnetic core and turning the planet into a giant spaceship. If you really need to know, you can always turn to a book like Godengine - just one example of how fans have tried to explain this story's plotholes.
As far as monsters go, the Daleks have already reverted into atypical robot nasties, although besides part 1's cliffhanger, seeing the Daleks glide over Westminster bridge and through Trafalgar Square is a perfect blending of the alien and the familiar. And I was surprised at how good the Slyther was - totally shapeless, no signs of a zip anywhere, and emitting a truly unearthly howl - a great early Who monster. As for human monsters, Ashton is the perfect chilling capitalist.
William Russell and Jacqueline Hill are as competant as ever, but for once Carole Ann Ford's Susan is given as decent a script as I've ever seen - she has to grow up in the space of six episodes, fall in love, and wrestle with her identity. This really hits the mark in the last scene as she is torn between staying with David and her responsibility to her grandfather. You can trust a professional like William Hartnell to perfectly play the wise old patriarchal figure who, although sad, knows that it is he who will have to let go.
I don't need to recommend this story because everyone'll probably watch it at some point anyway. I found it a bit disappointing, but I have developed a new-found respect for the original cast, and their acting does tend to breath life into the dodgiest of scripts. If you want a good Hartnell/Dalek story though, I'd recommend The Dead Planet.
No Tears, No Regrets, No Anxieties by Peter Niemeyer 22/2/01
I found this to be a thoroughly entertaining story, though it wasn't entirely because of the Daleks.
The best part of the story was the realistic depiction of a post-apocolyptic London. Familiar landmarks are juxtaposed with deserted streets and general destruction. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that this story was partially inspired by the air raids of World War II. But the realism extended beyond the setting. The supporting cast felt like war survivors - Dortman, constantly working to find a way to defeat the Daleks; Annie - who was just working to survive; Tyler - who had lost too many people to let others get close to him. There were also lots of little touches, such as the "Vetoed" signs which appear all over the place as early as Episode 1 but weren't explained until Episode 3, or the two seamstress women who betray Barbara and Annie for some food.
The Daleks felt less prominent here than in their first appearance, and I think this was a good choice. Their eventual plan wasn't revealed until late in the story, and prior to this point their motivations were similar here to their actions against the Thals, so keeping them out of the center stage prevented a "we've seen this before" kind of feeling. Personally, I wasn't thrilled about the modifications. The added height (necessary for bigger wheels) made them appear less alien, and the satellite dish on their backs looked just plain silly (and of course there's nothing else even remotely silly about the Daleks...). But these are minor quibbles.
For once, I can give compliments to Susan. I don't think her storyline with David Campbell was terrifically exciting, but it was believeable. They show an affection for each other early on, and initially Susan contemplates being with him in the TARDIS. Later on, she considers staying on Earth, a sentiment motivated by her desire to belong somewhere, which keeps in line with her feelings in An Unearthly Child. So when it was time for Susan to leave, I felt the whole set of circumstances to be very believable. I can think of maybe four other companions who leave to pursue romantic relationships (Vicki, Jo, Leela, and maybe Peri), and out of these only Susan and Jo had a real sense of authenticity.
One Thing I'd Do Differently: I wouldn't have let the Slyther get into full view. The costume looked ridiculously unthreatening, but if it were merely glimsped and if the camera focused more on the characters' reactions, I think it would have been much more threatening. At the very least, it would have been more believeable.
One Thing I Wouldn't Touch: The location work. (Well, okay, I'd change the one shot of Trafalgar Square where cars are visible in the far background.) This was the first extensive use of location work, and they really add to the story. Not only the scenes with the Daleks tooling around, but also Barbara and Annie rushing Dortman through London.
The first true epic by Tim Roll-Pickering 1/10/01
The Dalek Invasion of Earth is the first occasion when monsters returned and handles it well. The Daleks' extinction in The Mutants is quickly brushed aside by the Doctor in a few lines and the Daleks themselves don't bother wasting time with such things but instead get on with the story. For viewers at the time it was enough that the Daleks had returned and were literally bigger than ever.
The story opens well with a grim picture of Earth's future - at (the) World's End! Normally using the location for a title is silly but on this occasion it works well. There is a strong air of suspense as Ian and Barbara wonder whether or not the Doctor has succeeded in bringing them back to their own time and the mystery of what has happened to London. Although the story isn't particularly convincing as being set in the 22nd century, this is a minor niggle and doesn't really matter one way or the other - what's important is that this isn't Ian and Barbara's own time. The images in the first episode such as those of a decayed city, of the mysterious Robomen or of the desperate resistors all combine to provide an eerie atmosphere before the climax. The cliffhanger is unique as it is the only one where the Daleks' presence in the story is a genuine surprise - every other Dalek story either gives it away in the story title (Anything of the Daleks) or the Daleks have already appeared either earlier in the episode (such as The Chase) or in a related story (such as Frontier in Space immediately before Planet of the Daleks). Once the Daleks have appeared the story wastes no time in presenting some spectacular scenes.
This story is often considered an epic and the description has much to commend it. Firstly the story deals with the Dalek invasion of Earth (hence the title) and the period of occupation but, like Homer's epics, focuses on one specific point in the story and fills in the rest by way of recollections. The scale of the story is larger than anything seen in the series so far, with considerable use of location filming to present scenes such as the Daleks in Trafalgar Square or Barbara, Jenny and Dortmun rushing through London, and these benefit from some sharp editing to give a feel of a slick and fast moving production. Unfortunately much of the rest of the story suffers from the small scale budget and so there are often no exterior shots that could give a stronger sense of matters, such as the Dalek saucer taking off. However the resistance movement benefits from the limited resources as it helps to make them look realistic.
Whilst only Carl Tyler (Bernard Kay) stands out amongst the guest actors, what is significant about the resistors is that each of the principals is distinctly different, ranging from Tyler, who is dependable but reluctant to make friends, to David Campbell, who is somewhat idealistic, to Jenny, who has lost much of her humanity and become similar to the Daleks, to Dortmun, the determined scientist. Even the extras are not all the same - there's one who is seen weeping during a radio broadcast by the Daleks and another who is too timid to leave the headquarters after the failed attack on the saucer. This aspect of the story is similar to many films about the wartime French resistance, but there's nothing wrong with mimicking a good genre and it is in keeping with Nation's view of the Daleks as Nazis.
The Daleks look a little strange in this story due to their enhanced fender (which prevents them from moving about on the spot as they do in so many other stories) and the dish on their backs but otherwise they are even more scary in this story than in The Mutants. Whilst the model work may not be up to scratch, the interior sets look effective and realistic and the Black Dalek is a sinister addition, though the change of appearance between the episode The Daleks (where only half the lower slats are painted black along with the dome) and Day of Reckoning (with all the slats, the dome and the mid-drift section painted black) is noticeable, particularly because of its presence in the reprise at the start of the latter episode. But once this has been overlooked, as it easily can, the Black Dalek dominates the scenes and raises the tension.
The Robomen are an interesting part of the story as well. They are very much the walking dead - slow and lumbering cadavers of humanity - updated for a science fiction concept. The ultimate scene comes in the fifth episode The Waking Ally where Larry discovers that his brother Phil has become a Roboman and dies strangling him. This is a heavily downbeat image of humanity's future.
The climax of the story is a little poor as the idea of Ian simply falling down the shaft and sticking some bundles of wood to block the capsule doesn't give for the most exciting of endings but the best is to come back at the TARDIS. The long scene of Susan being torn between David and the Doctor, which has been believably built up throughout the previous episodes and so doesn't come across as a sudden addition, is wonderful, especially the Doctor's speech:
"One day, I shall come back. Yes I shall come back. Until then there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine."The shot of Susan slowly walking away in David's arms, having dropped the TARDIS key behind her is poignant and serves as wonderful ending to the story.
The one aspect of the story that is a major disappointment is the music. Francis Chagrin's score is just out of place and on many occasions fails to provide the right tone to a scene, thus weakening it. Otherwise this is a darn strong story that ended 1964 in style and is still as effective all these years later. 9/10
A Review by Michael Hickerson 14/1/02
After the huge initial success of the Daleks, it was inevitable that the pepper-pot shaped monsters would return to Doctor Who. (They did, after all, save the series from the brink and made it possible for people like us to still debate its relative merits to this very day). I can only imagine what it must have been like in the early 60s--when the titles of stories didn't always disclose the name of the monster or villain that would be on the show--to see that Dalek rise up out of the Thames at the end of episode one. That must have been a great cliffhanger at the time--and it certainly set the precedence for a lot of Nation written Dalek stories of keeping his monsters on the sideline until the cliffhanger of the first episode.
If only the rest of The Dalek Invasion of Earth were as great as that cliffhanger, we might have an all-time classic on our hands.
Instead, what we're left with is a fairly good story that would have been better served being four episodes instead of six.
One thing I always have to remind myself when watching just about any Hartnell story is that the stories moved at a different pace in the early goings. It's like a fine wine -- it's meant to be savored slowly, not in one big gulp. Most of the Hartnell stories were not meant to be viewed in one go, but instead over a series of days or weeks. If you view the episodes one at a time instead of in one big go, they actually work a lot a better.
That said, I still believe The Dalek Invasion of Earth is two episodes too long.
A lot can be said about the style of the story. The Dalek Invasion of Earth is certainly memorable because it's the first time that Who really went outside the studio to film. Indeed, some of the scenes of the Daleks rolling around London rank right up there on the memorable scale with the Cybermen emerging from the sewers in The Invasion. The scenes of London's deserted streets that have only the Daleks as traffic are chilling and memorable.
It's just a shame that the Daleks actual plan for the invasion of Earth isn't as memorable. So, the Daleks want to drill out Earth's core and make the planet into a giant space ship of some kind. As a plan, this one doesn't make the greatest of sense but I can go with it, I guess. It certainly gives the resistance a definable goal and a reason to overthrow and defeat the Daleks. It also gives a good drama the one thing it needs -- a sense of conflict and that time is running out for our heroes. So, I can see why Terry Nation would chose this as the Dalek's ultimate plan, even if logically doesn't make a whole lot of sense. (I still find myself wishing that there was some other reason for the invasion -- an issue that might someday be addressed by a PDA or an EDA by anyone other than John Peel, please!)
A lot of the storyline is spent leading up to this revelation -- and along the way we get a lot of running up and down corridors or streets. (Again, the Doctor Who Olympic sport). There is a lot of chasing and running about in circles -- flaws that aren't as apparent when you see the episodes one at a time but become more and more apparent if you watch the whole thing all in one go. (I've still yet to watch a six-part Hartnell story in one go. I usually have to break it up into at least two, three-part installments).
Sprinkled in there are some nice character moments. Hartnell does a nice job as Doctor -- and we really see how far the character has come since the original Daleks when he was gruff and very much the anti-hero.
Also, the romance between David and Susan is nicely done. Nation does a good job of sprinkling bits and pieces of the budding romance throughout the story so that Susan's decision to leave at the end to be with David isn't a complete left-field moment, such as Leela's departure in Invasion of Time.
And the final farewell scene between the Doctor and Susan is, simply put, just magical. There are those who argue that it's too long and overdone, but I think it works perfectly. There's a sense of sorrow and sadness to the scenes and Hartnell pulls it off with flair. His speech of "One day, I will come back" is one of Who's more memorable and it's easy to see why they chose it as the opener to The Five Doctors.
All in all, The Dalek Invasion of Earth is a good story, but it's not a classic. It's certainly not on the same level with The Daleks, but it's definitely superior to a lot of the other Hartnell-era Daleks stories. It's got some nice character moments, some memorable shock moments and overall a decent plot. Again, not a classic, but still an enjoyable example of the early years of Doctor Who.
Conquerors Of The Television by Alan Thomas 8/9/02
Earth. 1964/2164. A new menace has threatened the planet: The Daleks!
The Dalek Invasion Of Earth is an unbelievably strong piece of drama from Doctor Who's early years. The characterisation of all the characters is excellent. We have the bitter Dortmund, the angry and stubborn Jenny, the tough and unrelenting Tyler, and the caring yet grounded David. This was, perhaps, the first story to really address human characters. They're three-dimensional and are brought to life by superb performances. The regulars are fantastic as usual. William Hartnell is in and out of the story due to ill health, but he gives a strong performance and plays his scenes with realistic sympathy.
The return of the Daleks was greeted with much fanfare from viewers. There immediate success in their previous story guaranteed a return appearance as soon as possible. We begin with the very disturbing sight of a deranged man walking into a river to commit suicide. This sets the stage well for a very grim adventure. When the TARDIS crew think that they have finally landed in contemporary London, they are excited. But The Doctor knows better. Cue some dodgy "falling timber" and Susan's childish reaction to events. Is this girl really sixteen years old? Sometimes she could be twelve! The travellers get split up and this is when we meet the other characters. Tyler is man interested in survival and wants nothing more. He is tough and cold, and ultimately a fighter. David is warmer, but he too doesn't trust many. It's only when he and Susan grow closer that David's true colours emerge. He's fiercely intelligent and handles the action well. In fact, his inclusion sometimes makes Ian seem a little one-dimensional. Instead of being the man of action, David has far more to him than that.
Once again, Jacqueline Hill shines as Barbara. When the travellers are split even more, Barbara is teamed with the cold and arrogant Jenny, and the tough and bitter Dortmund. This trio works exceptionally well, allowing for some high drama. The scene of them racing through a deserted London must stand as one of the very best images from Doctor Who. Dortmund's sacrifice, in particular, stands as being far more than that. This scenario is realistic. Dortmund has been working feverishly on a bomb to shatter the Daleks' outer casing - it's the thing that brings him the most hope in his fragile existence. When he finally gets the chance to stop the Daleks, he is gunned down before the bomb has a chance to take effect - bringing home the sheer futility of war. Says it all, really.
Barbara and Jenny are left to trust each other, and wander into the homes of two kindly old ladies. When Barbara and Jenny are handed over to the Daleks, it does indeed come as a shock. These are scavenging women that would do anything for their own survival, and this just shows that nobody can be trusted. Ian also has an interesting time moving from one partner to another, many of them brutally and shockingly killed. This sense of hopelessness works so well in establishing the true evil of the Daleks. They are ruthless beings only out for themselves, and Terry Nation's admittance that they were based on the Nazis is brought home.
Where the production excels is its brilliant location work. Preliminary work had already been undertaken in The Reign Of Terror, but here it is on a grander scale altogether. It's eerie and is perhaps the stories greatest single feature. The studio scenes are still very good, but the camerawork suffers from being out of focus or slightly out of shot on occasion. This is only a minor quibble, though, because it is overridden by the fabulous strengths in performance and plotting.
Susan and David's romance is touching and believable, unlike the ludicrous extent that it was taken to in later years. Susan really has grown and matured, although it's a shame that this development didn't really happen until The Sensorites. Since then, Susan has changed. In this story, she and David are capable of fighting the menace when the Doctor is out of the picture, and the Doctor knows in his heart of hearts that it's time for Susan to leave him. Her departing scene is very well written, and still stands as one of the very best exits of any companion. This features one of Hartnell's best moments, when he launches into a speech about his return. It's very poignant, and when Susan throws her TARDIS key on the floor, a tear comes to the eye. At least the Doctor has Ian and Barbara to comfort him for now.
The Dalek Invasion Of Earth is a true epic and is one of the most important entries of the Hartnell era. 9/10
How slow can one story be? by Joe Ford 28/7/03
Just how bloody awful is this story? Where does the tedium end? If ever a story was so hyped up and turned out to be such a disappointment this had to be the one for me. The First Doctor Handbook gives it 9/10 and is full of gushing praise for the visualise and storyline, The Discontinuity Guide claim "it's done with hallucinationary conviction and the end result is very impressive." Even the reviews on this site seem to offer nothing but nice things to say. I was really, really looking forward to this one.
And at a first glance the story does have some very impressive features. The location work for example which is startlingly good and expensive looking. Most of it is shot in sun lit London, a gorgeous city full of character and history and all the tourist attractions and lavishly filmed. Scenes such as the Daleks parading through Trafalgar Square and past Nelson Column were burnt into British history and used ad nauseum every time fans want to describe the "undefinable magic" the show can offer. Early scenes in episode one with the four regulars exploring the ravaged wasteland London has become has an extremely threatening feel. The danger feels very, very real. Plus the scenes of mine workers heaving carts along tracks gives a small but memorable glance at Dalek subjugation.
Even better is the work done with Susan which is nothing short of stellar. Carole Ann Ford is one of my least favourite companion actresses thanks to the depths of melodrama she reached with most of Susan's stories but here in her last story she gets the balance just right. The very idea of being trapped between her loyalty to her Grandfather and her love for David is heartbreaking and scenes such as the one where the Doctor questions her loyalties go a long way to revealing how much she has grown up in her time with him. And to see a genuine passionate kiss in Doctor Who is very rare, and although the guy playing David needs a few more years at RADA, the chemistry is there and it is easy to see why Susan is tempted to stay. The last scene is very popular with fans as the Doctor makes possibly the most mature decision of his life and lets her be with the man she loves and his passionate speech is terribly eloquent. Susan's departure upset me more than I could have ever dreamed and it's all thanks to the actors.
Unfortunately there are three things that drag this story down so much I find it barely watchable. The Robomen, the Daleks and the direction.
Let's deal with the second one first. The Daleks proved to be instantly popular in their far superior debut, adequate time was given to design, voice and shoot these absurd looking creatures. The public was gripped and they wanted more. Unfortunately the hype of a Dalek invaded Earth is all diminished once you actually see them in action. I mean they're bloody pathetic, aren't they? Why do they all sound so damn camp? Recently I watched Robot with its homosexual floppy wristed Robot but he was butch as Rambo compared to these effeminate sounding meanies. "We are the masters of Earth ducky!" one exclaims in a wibbly voice worthy of a drag queen. Alright they don't say ducky but my point is a good monster needs a scary, distinguishable voice and here they just sound hysterical. Plus what about those cheap-o satellites on their backs? Ugh, no thanks. I'll take the comic relief Daleks from The Chase anyday.
Plus they are just so slow and inept during the action scenes. They wobble along unconvincing sets bumping into each other. My biggest question is if they are this useless how on earth did they manage to conquer the planet? Even the guns are crap.
Richard Martin is of course to blame and the man who has to answer for most of the crimes of season two. The Chase I can forgive because its so bloody terrible in every respect its possibly the best comedy Doctor Who story ever made. But his work here is nothing short of atrocious. The attack on the saucer is possibly the slowest action scene I have ever seen with the camera set in positions for ages (sometimes above the action!!!) whilst the actors try and improvise some moves. He exposes every fault the Daleks have and has a tendency to shoot in annoying tilts for some reason. Aside from the outside sequences where he was possibly inspired by the chance to do something a bit different he cobbles together this production with an underwhelming touch. There is no pace to the story at all, it just seems to plod, plod, plod to its conclusion. He includes the appalling saucer shots despite the fact they should have been scrapped. The camera just never moves giving all the chatty scenes a very static look. The story is certainly written with a lot of oomph but the direction sabotages a lot of Terry Nation's work. The story crawls along harmlessly but threatens to send you to sleep every five minutes or so. It's one of the few stories that is absurdly dated.
The acting too is distinctly variable. Peter Fraser could have been replaced with a lump of oak without too many people noticing, as a love interest for Susan he's pretty cute but he doesn't deliver his lines with any great conviction. Ann Davies is especially bad with her overdone Jenny, this is a woman who is pissed off with the world, right we get it love but geez give us something to give a shit about whether you get exterminated or not. Russell and Hill are as good as ever as Ian and Barbara but they are mostly shunted to the sidelines in favour of the Doctor/Susan storyline.
Hartnell is at his most forgetful and fluffs one line to many for tastes. He'll always be a wonder actor (and Doctor) but there were a few occasions where his laspses try the patience. His more tender scenes with Susan compensate the fact though and of course the conclusion is shattering.
I just can't watch this story too often. It's soooooo boring. Go and watch the movie version instead, okay it has that annoying OTT jazz score but at least it has the qualities that are sorely missing here. Explosions, cool looking Daleks, pace, proper actors and decent sets. Okay it was made on a much bigger budget but in comparison the movie just flies by.
The Dalek Invasion of Earth is a miserable failure. Six episodes of b-movie antics sunk under flat direction and some terrible performances. Oh and silly gay Daleks.
A Review of the DVD by Jason A. Miller 6/11/03
What is it about Doctor Who that inspires such erudition? For years, the fandom rap on The Dalek Invasion of Earth was that it was a standard B-movie plot with bad acting, wobbly robot villains, and a wonderful ending. And yet, when you get to the bonus-features disc on the new DVD release, there are two guest actors from the story (Ann Davies and Bernard Kay, who played no-nonsense Earth rebels) expounding at length about their characters' origins and motivations. You would not expect them to even remember their characters' names, let alone reveal such interest in their backstories, all these decades later.
The Dalek Invasion of Earth is a curiously dated archival piece. It's no longer living, breathing television. When viewed with the rest of Doctor Who's first ten serials, it's probably not in the top tier. When viewed immediately after The Daleks, it pales.
And yet, on DVD, it's one terrific viewing experience.
The reason these DVDs work so well is the research that goes into them. When you surround a 40 year-old sci-fi action runaround with genuine affection, everyone benefits. The serial itself is accompanied by a funny, detailed text commentary track. The audio commentary for the first time employs a moderator format, as longtime professional fan Gary Russell guides an aging production team -- producer, director, and the two surviving members of the original cast -- past pointless anecdotes and into coherence. I can think of several previous DW DVD commentaries that could've benefited from a moderator. And never underestimate the power of a crisp transfer of the episodes, digitally rolled back to their original videotape quality, wiped clear of all the distortions caused by film transfer.
The special-features disc may represent a case of information overload. The interview with story designer Spencer Chapman is good. The longer making-of feature is watchable -- we're spared the sight of cast members praising the production team with the same five superlatives, and are instead treated with dissertation-quality thought. There's a clip from a BBC kids' show, teaching you how to make Daleks out of food ("Sara's Secrets" on the Food Network never did that). A bizarre radio play detailing the fictional life of Susan Foreman is worth a listen, but I didn't make it too far. Do, however, hunt for the two Easter eggs, both involving the story's incomprehensible Slyther monster, a short stuntman in amorphous latex who's good for laughs but not much terror.
It ends, as it should, with a muddied Doctor (William Hartnell) gripping his lapels and staring just to the right of the camera, giving his farewell benediction to Susan, just after he's locked her out of the TARDIS. One day, he shall come back. We're still waiting.
Bookends by David Massingham 19/1/04
As a fan that is only just now becoming acquainted with the Hartnell era, I am starting to pick up on patterns and characteristics indicative of these early episodes. One of these is something that I am sure many fans have believed in for years, and I am only catching up now -- and that is that most of the more science-fiction-y stories of the First Doctors' reign end up deeply flawed in comparison to the historical adventures. Now obviously this comes down to opinion, as with all things Who-related, but of the two Hartnell seasons I've now seen, the best stories have been The Aztecs, The Romans, and The Time Meddler. Hands down. The worst, for me, are The Web Planet, The Chase, The Edge of Destruction, and The Dalek Invasion of Earth.
Why didn't I care for this, an epic tale of struggle and survival in an alien London? Well, as Joe Ford so eloquently puts it in his review above, it's soooooo boring. A collection of half-baked ideas and ill-conceived set pieces, risible dialogue and uninspired "direction"... some of Doctor Who's worst ever monsters in the Slyther and the terribly portrayed Robomen... but mostly the long, tedious scenes of "characterisation", be it between Ian and Larry, David and Susan, Jenny and Barbara, or the Black Dalek and his attack squad.
So, is there any good in The Dalek Invasion of Earth? Yes, plenty. And that's the really frustrating thing -- this story has no right to be longer than three and a half parts. At that length, it may have lost some of its epic scope, but it would have retained its dignity. Parts one and six, whilst not perfect, are two generally strong pieces of television... but sandwiched between them are ineptly put together battle scenes, cumbersome romantic interludes between two average, average performers, boring sewer treks, a near-pointless sojourn with two crazy bints in the woods... bollocks. It's so irritating, because despite this bad television, we also get Billy Hartnell solving the puzzle in the Dalek ship, we get the chase through the London streets (which, whilst not expertly filmed, is such a landmark for the series that you can't help but feel thrilled), and the aforementioned parts one and six.
The first episode works well because it actually builds a mood, it creates tension and intrigue, something the following parts fail to do. It's very slow and near uneventful, but it is played with conviction and grace, marking this episode as a good example of how to build a platform from which to launch your story. Flashpoint, the final part, works simply because it advances the story for most of its length, something the prior episodes failed to do. There are also a couple of great scenes it this installment as well, such as Barbara's use of famous battles to attempt to bamboozle the Daleks, the Doctor's cries of "Turn on the Daleks!", the moment where he simply stands and holds his lapel as the Dalek's gun trains in on him... and of course, that leaving scene.
The first companion to go off their separate way from the Doctor, and this is easily one of the best exits. Even Carol Ann Ford's hysterics cannot destroy this scene, with Billy Hartnell giving it his all and really filling the screen with a sense of despair and sorrow, mingled with hope and faith. This scene was only rivaled by Jo and Tegan's exits years later, and that's saying quite a lot considering I cannot stand Susan at all.
However, the great stuff that bookends The Dalek Invasion of Earth is not enough to save it. To be fair, this story is not a complete disaster -- it's just incredibly misjudged and dull. Early Doctor Who didn't seem to be able to make a great straight up adventure/sci-fi yarn... perhaps the time restrains meant that any action scenes attempted would come out looking cheap and shoddy? Whatever the reason, when it comes to Billy, give me a "talky" historical over a "action" adventure any day. Compound this story with the previous, the lacklustre Planet of Giants, and the prognosis for season two didn't look very good at this point.
5.5 out of 10
A Review by Richard Radcliffe 13/6/04
The second Dalek story remains one of the best ones. The whole idea of a future Earth with the Daleks ruling is a frightening one. Pockets of human resistance are there, but it takes the Doctor and his companions to finally do something concrete, to remove the Dalek threat - and give the Earth back to its rightful heirs.
The story is one of the best aspects of this production. Terry Nation gives us a better story for the Daleks second time round. It is one where we can identify the locations, therefore making it more horrific, when those places are subjugated. The slick direction helps to keep the action moving, and at 6 parts it never lets up for a second. Really it is classic B-Movie stuff, the Daleks wanting to build an engine in the Earth's core, so they can move round the universe - but this never seems naff, this is science fiction after all. A story like this though is only as good as the characters and the set-pieces that are in it. The Daleks roaming through a deserted London is the lasting memorable image, even if more could have been done with them.
The survivors, a theme Nation would return to with great effect in another programme, are a nicely diverse bunch. There's a few in there you recognize and this too helps bring the story closer to home. Jenny, Carl, David and Dortmun are all recognizable. We can really say - What would we do if we had to live like that? Let's just put the Dalek threat to one side for one minute. This is a story about those survivors. The majority of the world's population has been wiped out, and the few that remain must sacrifice. The few that remain have to pull together to enable the human race to survive. This is a wonderful sci-fi premise, and one that has been used time and time again - it's a staple sci-fi story idea - and one that works supremely well most of the time.
Doctor Who has adopted it a fair few times. Dalek Invasion of Earth is probably the best of the lot. The first episode opens in a dirty, disused area next to the river. There is no sound, and the buildings are void of any activity, apart from falling masonry and metal. It quickly becomes apparent the TARDIS has landed in London, but it is also clear this is the future - and the future looks bleak. Ian's fatalism is interesting to note. He always tends to rush into finding out the truth. Here the threat is closer to home, and he shrugs his shoulders and doesn't want to know. This initial attitude is replace soon though with the necessity of escape - and saving his own planet.
As Susan and Barbara get pulled into the survivors' lifestyle, so they muck in. Barbara has always been an excellent character, Susan less so. Twisting her ankle is hardly the best way to begin her last story - but it epitomizes the character. Carole Ann Ford was right to leave when she did, she been atrociously written for - and there was nowhere else for her character to go. Her burgeoning relationship with David is quietly done, and her final scene is quite poignant. The Doctor, as a contrast, is excellent throughout. As if thriving on the fact that the menace is greater than ever before, the Doctor ups his intellect and resolve. The character is superbly written for, especially the closing comments - which has rightly been adopted as one of the great moments of the show.
This is the story that cemented the Daleks hold on the population. Putting them on the streets of London brings their menace into reality - it also takes away their main weakness from their previous story, making their threat all the more substantial. The merchandise success that the Daleks spawned was phenomenal - it is the main reason why the show lasted so long on TV. That magic would be attempted to be found again and again - but the show was never that popular again. Only the early Tom Baker era rivals it, in terms of popularity, in the history of the series.
As a confirmation of the Daleks' (and indeed Doctor Who's) appeal it succeeded magnificently. As a traditional story, in it's own right, about sci-fi survivors it's brilliant. Dalek Invasion of Earth remains one of the true high points of Doctor Who. 9/10
A Review by Phil Fenerty 31/7/04
The premise for The Dalek Invasion of Earth is classic stuff: The Doctor and his companions arrive on a world subjugated by alien overlords and fight to save the indigenous population. The fact that the planet subjugated is (a future) Earth lends drama and credibility to proceedings.
On broadcast in 1964, the story was something of a shock. It saw the return of an old foe, and the departure of an old friend. Location work showed recognisable landmarks in London, familiar to most viewers from Royal events or sight-seeing trips. It was - revolutionary, in a way that hadn't been seen before.
Over the years, it has built up a cult following, those fans comparing it glowingly to The Daleks and disparaging most of the other stories which followed. Here, we see the Daleks as Terry Nation intended: fascist soldiers intent on overcoming those races which do not conform to their ideal. Even the Nazi salute on location is a knowing tip of the hat towards the model for Dalek society.
Echoing images of fascism, war, resistance movements and heroism, still fresh in many minds less than twenty years after the end of World War 2, The Dalek Invasion of Earth sees England, once more, stand firm against the oppressor. Despite the story's title, the Dalek invasion is not Earth, merely the Home Counties, and it is left to Dortmun's version of Dad's Army to hold London Village against the aggressors.
Episode One is typical of the era: the regulars arrive, find that the TARDIS is inaccessible for some reason (in this case, falling scenery - the carpenters not having finished their tea-break before recording started) and explore strange surroundings - the "World's End" of the title. Admittedly, Episode One holds the attention well and the plot evolves more naturally than some stories. The eerie lack of London noise, the calendar reading 2164, a dead Roboman - all these provide a sense of mystery and tension.
It is all directed towards the Big Reveal at the cliff-hanger, of course, when the Robomen arrive, carrying a towel for their Dalek Master who's gone for a brief swim across the Thames (very bracing, makes a Mutant of you).
After that, there's the usual runaround of capture-escape-capture filling in most of the episodes between Parts 2 and 5-and-a-half. There are notable highlights, however: the Doctor's solution to the Dalek IQ test; the attack on the saucer (well choreographed and excellently realised, the Daleks looking threatening and mobile here); Dortmun's sacrifice; and - er, that's it.
The pace of the production after the attack on the saucer is barely pedestrian. It takes the best part of three weeks to get from Central London to Bedfordshire - slightly quicker than by British Rail, agreed, but hardly inspiring. The separated regulars travelling towards Dalek HQ is a re-write of the second half of The Daleks - proof that Terry Nation was rehashing his first scripts long before Planet of the Daleks came along!
We finally get everyone together at the mine, where a bomb will be detonated which the Daleks will use to extract Earth's core and turn the planet into a gigantic spaceship (obviously, believing that if the Cybermen can do it to Mondas, well its twin must be good for the job as well).
With the bomb ready to go off, Daleks evacuate ground control, leaving Barbara to set the Robomen off attacking their controllers (as in The Daleks, sheer weight of numbers of people seem to be able to overthrow the so-called Masters of Earth - so why didn't the population do that earlier?) and get out before it all goes bang. In the ten minutes available, the Doctor and co. get far enough away not be caught in the ensuing volcano, whilst ALL the Daleks who invaded Earth are caught in their craft and obliterated.
After four episodes of tedium surely there was a better ending that THAT?? The Daleks get "destroyed" off-screen and England's first volcano is represented by stock footage of the foothills of Mount Etna. The film version Daleks Invasion of Earth 2150AD makes much more sense than that (even if the bomb is too close to ground control for safety).
To summarise: we get four episodes better padded than a 15-tog duvet, a lame denoument with some stock footage thrown in and an implausible escape for our heroes (honestly - the first Doctor must be quicker than on Olympic Gold Medal Sprinter to get far enough away from the blast radius).
So, everyone gets back to World's End, the carpenters finish their six-week tea-break and the TARDIS is, once again, free to move. In probably the best scene of the whole piece, the Doctor locks Susan out of the ship, forcing her to stay behind with David Campbell and re-build Earth. Here, we get the classic "One day, I shall return..." speech (borrowed for the opening of The Five Doctors), a brilliant and brutal piece of judgement on the Doctor's part.
Overall, we have a landmark story made unremarkable by lazy and implausible plotting, poor realisation and dull pacing. Inside a rather poor six-parter, there's a great three- or four-part story struggling to get out.
Final Word: classic material, tedious realisation.
Amidst the ruins, something new by Andrew Wixon 14/10/04
I have a confession to make. For the longest time after I first saw this story (which must have been around 1990) I didn't have many nice things to say about it. At one point I'd even lurk about message boards suggesting that the Cushing version was superior. Well, in certain ways it is, I suppose, particularly if you're a fan of Sugar Puffs, PVC, donkey jackets and the mime odyssey of Bernard Cribbins - but I realise now that this is the story that really deserves to be replayed on Channel 4 on Sunday afternoons (and I mean that in a nice way, honest).
Looking at it now it's amazingly obvious what Dalek Invasion of Earth is about, and its true legacy when it comes to our perception of the Daleks. It's a fan axiom that the Daleks are, to a significant extent, an allegory for Nazism, (which is true) and Terry Nation explicitly created them as such (which I would argue is not). The Daleks in their original appearance (whatever we're calling it this week) are xenophobic, true, and determined to survive at any costs, but these aren't necessarily Nazi traits, because by the end of the story the Thals are exactly the same. The Daleks and the regular characters react to each other with mutual revulsion. That first story has a lot of moral greyness to it which isn't the case with any of its descendants.
It's only here that the Daleks truly begin to inhabit their roles as gleefully and inarguably evil cosmic Nazis, and to me this seems to be more a function of the story than it is their character. To me it mainly happens because Dalek Invasion is a story implicitly about the second world war, a thinly-disguised 'what if it had happened here?' thought experiment. For those of you not well-versed in mid-60s low-budget British sci-fi, there was a movie actually entitled It Happened Here about the consequences of a Nazi invasion of the UK and it does strike some spookily similar vibes to Dalek Invasion. Okay, the Germans don't start digging up Bedford but there is the same concentration on the way people come to terms with the change of regime, the faintly-nightmarish quality, and those irresistible shots of enemy troops marching past famous landmarks (as I recall, many of the same landmarks that Barbara discovers to be so woefully ill-equipped with wheelchair access midway through this story - someone complain to Ken Livingstone!). The Daleks even have a line about the 'final solution' to the human problem, and if that doesn't make it explicit I don't know what would. This is still only a children's show but to their parents and grandparents it must have been very apparent what this story is actually rooted in.
And it's interesting that, as the Daleks lose some of their moral complexity and 'difficulty', so does the Doctor. In season one he basically needed his arm twisting before he did anything not solely motivated by self-interest but as soon as the Daleks pop up he's vowing to defeat them and showing the first signs of becoming the fundamentally heroic character he's famous for being. It's a view you'll note is not shared by Susan, who in the following episode seems more than happy to contemplate boarding the TARDIS and leaving Earth to its fate as a sort of cosmic dormobile.
Yes, Susan: if the Doctor and the Daleks assuming more ritualised hero/villain roles is the first of Dalek Invasion's great innovations, the departure of Susan is emblematic of its other. By late 1964 it must have become quite apparent to the production team that this was a show with potential to run for some time (though they may not quite have realised quite how chimerically indestructible it would prove to be), but simultaneously obvious that the regular cast couldn't realistically be expected to keep up the grinding DW workload for years on end. Given the extent to which the first season revolved very particularly around Ian and Barbara and their attempts to get home, changes had to be made - and they are, beginning here. Season One is unique in that it's about the regular characters in a very fundamental way - those original stories wouldn't work with any other set of regulars, whereas many subsequent regular characters are almost laughably interchangable.
The departure of Susan marks the point at which the regular characters of the series become less important than the format of good vs evil adventures in time and space. It's a change that will continue all season, until the show reaches the point where even Ian and Barbara become dispensable (and necessarily so). You could even argue that it doesn't reach its ultimate expression until the end of Tenth Planet, when even the Doctor (as the audience perceives him) can be discarded and reformed to suit the demands of production. Dalek Invasion of Earth may be clunky and a bit primitive in parts but it marks the point at which Doctor Who became immortal, and that surely makes it one of the most significant stories in the history of the concept.
A Farewell to Susan Foreman by Mike Morris 30/11/04
An Ode to The Dalek Invasion of Earth
The air it warped, the craft appeared,
The crew were happy, all of a dither.
"London!" they yelled, and ignored a sign
Saying don't dump bodies in the river.
The Doctor of course, and Barbara, Ian,
I always found them kind of borin'.
My heart belonged to that spirited lass,
The bright and bubbly Susan Foreman.
Susan! Susan! I'm held bewitched,
Your laugh, your smile, nothing e'er rankles.
I would love you, cherish you, keep you safe,
And get you something for those fragile ankles.
These were my thoughts as I watched your tales
Of cavemen, Skaro, strange days and nights;
I watched every story I could find
Even the bloody Sensorites.
So whoever could have known
That in future London you'd depart?
You took just your Grandfather's words
And my lonely, shattered, broken heart.
What of that tale, a future Earth,
Where Daleks ruled by fear and treason
Patrolling London everywhere
(Even in the Thames, for some odd reason).
And you, you bore with such good grace
Barbara fussing like a mother hen.
But what was she supposed to do?
You'd twisted your ankle. Again.
Meanwhile, the blokes had looked around,
Thought it all seemed safe, and then,
Slow of foot and slurred of speech,
Those awful, ghastly Robomen.
About then the story fell apart;
Those Robomen hardly inspired fear.
Masters of Earth your claimed desire
With that lot? Well, oh dear oh dear.
The guest stars, well they weren't much cop
The plot it dragged, so slow, so sluggish,
The Slyther stumbled round and round,
Like lonely, unclaimed airport luggage.
An endless trek through wastelands cheap,
The rebels faceless, direction shit,
It's all so featureless and dull
That the Doctor nods off for a bit.
Yet there you are, so cheerful, bright,
You somehow make it all so easy.
And then it all goes badly wrong;
The thought just makes my stomach queasy.
A fire for breakfast, an innocent morn,
Laughter like music, a coquettish pose,
I thought your suitor would be scorned
When he waved a fish around your nose.
Say it's not true! It can't be so!
My mind it shatters, my senses split.
It fills my soul with endless woe
That you fell for that Scottish git.
From then, my will to watch left fast,
The whole world seemed to turn to grey,
I suppose that's not surprising since
It's a black and white story anyway.
The Daleks want to hollow out
The core of Earth; for God's sake, why?
There's got to be an Option B
Anything else would be worth a try.
It's a dreadful story, awful pap,
It's plodding, dull, and badly dated
The characters are truly crap,
It's hideously overrated.
And yet it lodges in my mind
The story where you flew the nest.
All my romantic hopes and dreams
Torn threadbare like a worn-out vest.
The Doctor locked you from his door,
A great farewell, a marvellous scene,
It brings the tears back to my eyes,
And his words say everything I mean.
Oh Susan, you'll always own my heart,
My love lasts, unconditional.
We are doomed to live our lives apart;
But you don't care. You're fictional.
Lest we forget: apart from Douglas Adams, Terry Nation is easily the most famous writer to be associated with the old series. Non-fans have sometimes heard of him, and you can't say that about Robert Holmes. He created the Daleks - um, sort of - and has often been credited with creating the entire series.
Opinion about Nation's contribution to Doctor Who varies massively amongst fandom, perhaps surprisingly so from the outside. The impression I often get is that Nation's standing is better with critics who aren't hugely engaged with Doctor Who than his reputation among fans.
The Dalek Invasion of Earth is probably the most famous Doctor Who story of all. If you're over thirty and know what a Dalek is, you'll know they were once seen trundling around London. Before the New Series caused the general news media to brush up on their history just a little, The Dalek Invasion of Earth was often described as the groundbreaking template for what Doctor Who became. Pre-2005 articles about the series often gave the impression that the Daleks tried to invade Earth every month or two, and most stated blithely that The Dalek Invasion of Earth took the series away from its early educational remit and reliance on historical stories.
Anyone who actually - oh, I don't know - watches the early episodes will have dismissed this as flapdoodle by the time they get to The Keys of Marinus. And what's obvious is that The Dalek Invasion of Earth is an outlier, not a template setter. It's actually the only time in the old series that the Daleks invade Earth (give or take the odd parallel universe, and a throwaway line in 1984 that elicits a "sorry, what?" from the viewer). Earth has been conquered for ten years when we join the action - something we haven't seen before or since - and the first companion leaves. This is full of elements that Doctor Who always threatened to give us, but they only ever combine here. Only Last Of The Time Lords is any way similar, and it's cartoonish in comparison. This is Doctor Who doing an Epic Struggle For Freedom, with 'Daleks on Westminster Bridge' as the series' most famed image.
So it's great, right?
Excuse me while I preamble just a little longer. The Dalek Invasion of Earth seemed to get a fairly easy ride for most of its life, even if most people acknowledged that the Slyther is rubbish and the plot sags in the middle episodes. I'd always felt benign towards it until Joe Ford lambasted the story on this site, in what was one of the best and bravest slaughterings of a sacred cow you could hope to see. Joe's review dumbfounded me; it wasn't that I'd always thought The Dalek Invasion of Earth as a good story, but that I hadn't really thought of it as a story at all. It was more of a fixed point in the history of Doctor Who, an icon rather than a serial.
Let's set aside the realisation for a moment, and focus on Terry Nation's script. Along with some very ropey sequences, it contains moments of genius. If you want a thumbnail summary of Terry Nation as a writer, it's this: he's brilliant at scenarios, but he's mediocre at plots. The Daleks is brilliant because of the exploration of the city, the forest, the Daleks and the Thals; it's the last few episodes, when the Thals actually start doing something, that it creaks. Similarly, all the best things in Genesis of the Daleks come from the set-up - the Doctor's mission, the two cities, the war of attrition, Davros - which combine with the direction to distract us from a story that's basically an illogical runaround with giant clams.
What still resonates with this story is that it really does feel like the Earth has been subjugated. The scenes where the Doctor, Barbara, Ian and Susan explore the world are the ones that work. The first episode is a masterclass of how you can slowly, ominously build up a sense of something being wrong. The words "It Is Forbidden To Dump Bodies In The River" sit unnoticed by Our Heroes for several minutes, letting the viewer mull over their implications. The wording of that sign is deceptively clever - it conveys both extreme authoritarianism and a societal collapse. How far must things have gone, we wonder, for a sign like that to be necessary?
This post-apocalyptic atmosphere never really goes away. There are resistance groups and black marketeers. It's difficult to get from place to place; a huge chunk of the story is taken up with the Doctor and company getting from London to Bedfordshire. Even the more meandering diversions, such as Barbara and Jenny being betrayed by two old women, feel like natural consequences of a world that's fallen apart. It's less than twenty years after World War II, of course; Nation (and the rest of the country) had spent plenty of time pondering this sort of thing, and the story's imagery comes straight from end-of-war newsreels. Sure, it's Boys' Own, but it works and I like it.
Then there's the big one; the sight of the Daleks in London - with their own lettering added to monuments - really does pack a wallop. Given that this was the first real use of location filming on Doctor Who, its impact at the time must have been extraordinary.
Where The Dalek Invasion of Earth fails is in taking this basic idea and doing anything with it. The story meanders and throws in the creaking irrelevance of the Slyther to pad out the running time. The "mining earth's core" notion is a brasher, dumber idea from a far inferior show: it goes for awe-inspiring, but instead just seems... silly, and only really makes sense as a mechanism by which the Daleks can be defeated. Meanwhile, the world's least memorable resistance movement argue over bombs which DON'T EVEN WORK, and the Daleks are defeated by their own Robomen in a finale so facile it's practically insulting. Villains have been ruling the earth for ten years, but they're overthrown by someone doing a Dalek impression. Even if the Robomen had been more threatening than a butterscotch pudding, this would be piss-weak.
No, I can't avoid mentioning it any longer; the real problem with The Dalek Invasion of Earth is that it's really, really, really badly made. The Robomen are mechanised zombies, once-human creatures enslaved by Dalek technology, and they should be terrifying. In fact, they're resolutely unthreatening men in hairdryers who take half an episode to complete a sentence.
And as for the Daleks themselves... what the hell happened there? Skaro's metal meanies here are victims of the programme's lurch to the B-movie: in The Daleks, they're sleek, gliding parables and metaphors, but in this we're only interested in them as supervillains. This is the first time Doctor Who is about capital-M Monsters. Fair enough, but they're rubbish on that level too. They sound like they've caught a cold, and the "We are the Maaasters of Earth" moment must be as close as a Dalek has ever come to wetting itself. Plus, they have stupid big disks on their back and their flying saucers look terrible. The best moment, by miles, is the site of one emerging from the Thames... and there's no bloody reason for it to be there. Gaah! Why?
Direction in Doctor Who is often flat and lifeless, but it's rarely incompetent. This is an exception. If you watch The Dalek Invasion of Earth without reference to other Hartnell stories (as I did, first time out), a lot of it seems charmingly "period." View it in context and you realise it wasn't the norm to have inaudible dialogue, cameras missing their marks, and boom mikes in shot. Watch this straight after The Aztecs and you'll barely believe it's the same show; even the stories either side of this are both much tighter productions - and we're talking Planet of Giants and The Rescue here. Every scene seems to take a minute longer than it needs to, and the final "battle" is so ponderous it makes the end of The Curse Of Peladon look like sodding Gladiator. Richard Martin's got a good eye - his location footage of crumbling warehouses is atmospheric - but there's no sense of drive or urgency. It's often like watching a dress rehearsal that got transmitted by mistake.
The TARDIS crew are on variable form. Barbara gets a lot to do in this one, and does it well; her tricking the Daleks by way of history lessons is marvellous. Ian, as ever, is all glowering determination and unlikely-hero stuff; with his common-sense and occasional hiding-inside-a-bomb moments, he's like a terribly genteel John McLean in a cardigan. The Doctor gets some good lines at the beginning and end, although he does take a nap in the middle.
Oh, and Susan (oh be still my beating heart). It's her last adventure and she gets one of the only plausible romances ever to befall a companion - but that's literally all she gets. She twists her ankle, wants to sod off to the TARDIS as soon as things get nasty, and then assumes the role of flirtatious baggage. Susan is great - she's upbeat and smart and giggly and brave enough in a pinch, and her retort to the question "What do you do?"/"I eat" - is laugh-out-loud funny. Thing is, she doesn't have anything to do. It's bizarre to think that a woman as independent and intelligent as Barbara Wright could be created by the same people who gave us Susan Foreman... but the story was made when the ascetic bluestocking was a recognisable stereotype, so perhaps this is where the schism happens. Barbara is a well-educated, serious woman - but Susan Foreman is a girl, and as such she's never given a chance to be resourceful. The Doctor notes at the end that she has become a woman, but all he means by this is that she's made her fella breakfast.
Her leaving scene is beautiful, though. The sadness of parenthood is that it's really about slowly pushing your children away, and this scenario - the Doctor forcing her to leave, and telling her "just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine," is as eloquent and heartbreaking a summary of this as you will find anywhere.
It's an odd thing to find at the end of a story that is Doctor Who's first unapologetic lurch to straightforward action sci-fi. They never did this type of story again, and so it feels like an odd window into what the show could have become. It works as an icon of Doctor Who, but after a good start it's a drearily uninvolving story with atrocious direction. And yet, unexpectedly, the final scenes say something profound, wise and moving about human nature and the relationships between people. In this, those scenes are closer to the heart of the programme than anything else to be found here.
A Review by Finn Clark 30/3/06
Like Resurrection, this is a bleak, depressing Dalek story with way too much death... which is the reason I like it! Specifically it evokes the horror of enemy occupation from the viewpoint of a generation who'd been fighting the Nazis only twenty years previously. Even the fact that it's a creaking black and white televisual museum piece gives it a documentary-style directness. It feels real. I can't imagine 21st-century British television getting close to this kind of brutal authenticity.
Unfortunately (don't kill me) it's also sometimes a bit boring. I wanted to love it, but the best thing about it takes a break in the middle. Yup, that man Hartnell. He can be a little theatrical, but that doesn't make him bad. It's just an older style of acting. Even Laurel and Hardy were sometimes playing to the back row of a completely different theatre, but they're geniuses. William Hartnell rules. I loved watching him bashing a Roboman's head with his stick, or telling a cellmate to "Hold that and shut up, will you?" And of course episode two has his famous "poor pathetic creatures".
Most importantly there's the final scene: Susan's departure. It's not just one of the best ever companion farewells, but one of Doctor Who's best ever scenes, of any kind. Hartnell blew me away. There's a reason why they chose this to reprise at the start of The Five Doctors, although it's a lot less powerful as an isolated clip out of context. Unfortunately after the episode two cliffhanger it takes the Doctor two episodes to recover properly... part five's episode title, "The Waking Ally", is the Doctor himself!
Of course I'm a huge fan of that first TARDIS crew. Episode one showcases the best performances, because the plot hasn't started and the actors have room to breathe. William Russell and Jacqueline Hill are perfect, while even Carole Ann Ford outclasses many of her successors. Rewatch this exchange between the Doctor and Ian in episode one: "It's your city, you know; don't you want to know what's happened to it?" "No." That's quality. Alternatively watch Barbara bluffing the Daleks in episode six; she never winks or plays it for laughs, as might easily have happened in later eras. No, she plays it with utter conviction.
There's some good guest acting too. My favourite is Bernard Kay, who does a great job as the ugly, menacing Tyler and has great chemistry with Dortmun. Kay worked on Doctor Who several times in his busy and distinguished career, incidentally. While filming this story, he was also working on Doctor Zhivago alongside the likes of Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness and Ralph Richardson. Coming back down to Earth, Alan Judd as Dortmun is good too.
Alas the weak link is Peter Fraser as David Campbell, who curiously reminded me of David Tennant. This could be interpreted as suggesting disturbing things about Susan, but let's not go there. To its credit the Susan-David romance is carefully crafted, with the script and the performances all contributing. You can watch the relationship develop from episode three onwards through the actors' body language. Less well done is the dialogue, but I guess we can't have everything.
Visually it can be impressive. Director Richard Martin famously didn't like Doctor Who and thus has a reputation for flat, lifeless work, but, especially when out on location, he's capable of better. Take the Dalek-Mechanoid battle in The Chase for instance, especially when compared with the rest of the story, or Dalek Invasion of Earth's justly renowned location filming. It's still shocking today to see Daleks patrolling famous landmarks, but, as in the film 28 Days Later, it's also disturbing to see the city deserted. I liked all that.
The studio work is less impressive, but in an odd way I found that appropriate. Life under the Daleks should be bleak and lifeless! Being in black-and-white is a big help, as always, and throughout there's a sinister, oppressive atmosphere. For example I liked the darkness before the saucer raid and I even prefer episode six's crude Dalek-o-vision to the blocky green version in Remembrance. All this is important for the story's evocation of Nazi occupation.
So many details contribute to the doom-laden mood... the fact that guns are scarce and everyone uses knives instead. "It is forbidden to dump bodies in the river." Everyone gathering around a radio. A woman crying at the Dalek line: "the males, the females, the descendants." Incidentally that radio's Dalek was unusually human-sounding, which I found eerie in itself.
Only the Robomen aren't lifted from World War Two. When they're around, it's the first Cyberstory instead! Robomen are Cybermen designed by someone who found the Tenth Planet versions too flashy and high-tech. Even the helmets are reminiscent. Personally I found them creepy... less dynamic than the Cushing movie versions but more sinister, with their brain-damaged speech and zombie gait. Watch the Robo-corpse in part one, diagnosed as dead by Ian even though the Roboman actor can't lie still. Obviously you could write that off as just another Doctor Who production glitch, or alternatively you could read it as adding another layer of ickiness to an already unpleasant SF idea.
As for the Daleks ("We are the bastards of Earth!"), this story arguably shows them at their most frightening. They kill and kill. To see a Dalek is to die. Even when you know it's coming, the Dalek at the cottage door in part five is shocking. The Nazi parallels are occasionally made explicit, e.g. Daleks giving a Hitler salute, or "The Black Dalek: he's the commandant of the camp."
As an aside, this story showcases a feature of the Hartnell-era Dalek universe that was later forgotten. The early Daleks always had monsters... mutants on Skaro, Varga plants, etc. Here we have the Slyther, a surprisingly effective blob that's only amusing for a moment during its disco dancing at the start of part five. It looked infinitely better than I'd expected, albeit mostly because poor Richard Martin is desperately avoiding having to show us any more of the bloody thing than absolutely necessary.
In one way the plot is structured a little like The Keys of Marinus or The Chase. Important, memorable characters sometimes only appear for ten minutes in a single episode, e.g. Ashton the black marketeer (part 4) or the women in the wood (part 5). Patrick O'Connell's Ashton is more brutal and aggressive than the movie's Philip Madoc, though both are great, while the women in the wood are one of the best things in the entire show. You wouldn't get that in the modern age of scriptwriting economy. However in 1967 each episode was a law unto itself, free to introduce one-off vignettes that together built up into a rich fictional world.
The biggest surprise for me was to find that in the end the Daleks weren't defeated by magnetism! The memory cheats. That twist was invented for the second Cushing movie and highly memorable it was too, albeit hardly the world's most rigorous science. (David Whitaker rides again.) I've got a feeling that the Target novelisation might have lifted the idea too. You'll also be thrilled to learn that this story boasts the Dalek numerals which you needed to decipher to solve a puzzle in the Destiny of the Doctors computer game!
Overall, I admired this story even if I wasn't gripped at every moment. In its own way, it's a unique achievement in Doctor Who.
A Review by Howard Martin 11/2/10
Having accused The Dalek Invasion of Earth in my Remembrance of the Daleks review (in which I also misquoted the Fifth Doctor Handbook; the phrase should be "style over content" rather than "style over substance") of featuring "amateurish dialogue and pseudoscience", it seemed only fair to watch it again and see if I hadn't possibly been wrong, if maybe my memory wasn't possibly a little faulty. I hadn't and it wasn't. In fact, The Dalek Invasion of Earth serves notice of its impending descent into sub-mediocrity early in Episode 2 (after a very good first episode, I should add) with a piece of terrible dialogue courtesy of the Doctor. While taunting the Dalek who's just come out of the water, the Doctor tells Ian under his breath "I think we'd better pit our wits against [the Daleks] and defeat them." Wow, what an amazing plan! It certainly seems to alarm the Dalek, who sternly reminds the Doctor it can hear his crafty plotting and proclaims that its species has conquered the Earth. Yet the alarm it felt upon learning of the Doctor's intentions in regard to his own and Ian's wits is as nothing compared to its near heart attack after hearing the Doctor's next few lines. "Conquered the Earth?" the Doctor crows. "You poor, pathetic creatures. Don't you realize? Before you attempt to conquer the Earth you must destroy all living matter!" What, even the sloths, starfish, and amoebas? The Dalek should laugh this one off but instead flies off the handle, ordering its Robomen to take the Doctor and Ian away and soothing itself by thrice repeating the calming mantra "We are the masters of Earth." Sort of the Dalek version of those beach sounds CDs nervous people use to fall asleep, I suppose. Oh, I know what Terry Nation is going for here. This is supposed to be a Churchillian moment, the Doctor's "Fight them on the beaches" speech, but it just isn't that stirring. And Barbara's observation a little while later - "Oh Daleks, everything they touch turns into a horrible sort of nightmare!" - just doesn't seem complete without a stamp of her foot and a cry of "fiddlesticks!"
As for the pseudoscience, I'm no mathematician but I think I can safely say that the Doctor's three-dimensional graph geometry is baloney. I'm no explosives expert either but I'm pretty certain that most bombs aren't made with big hollow spaces in them with wires hanging down, perfect for a stowaway to climb aboard and perform some sabotage. And I'm not a geologist, but I couldn't be more certain that the Daleks' plan to remove the Earth's core wouldn't work and that the notion that the Earth's core is somehow the only one in the universe with the properties the Daleks need is out-and-out horse manure. Let's face it, that last one was something Terry Nation just pulled out of his ass because he couldn't think of any convincing reason for the Daleks to come to Earth. I really can't blame him for not trying too hard. The Dalek Invasion of Earth wasn't supposed to be any good; it was made to sell toys and novelty Easter Eggs.
I don't think Terry Nation was really cut out to be a science-fiction writer. It may be the genre he worked in most extensively and in which he achieved his greatest success, but by and large Nation was only ever as good as his script-editor wanted him to be. Without Chris Boucher, Blake's 7 would have been the second coming of Space: 1999, and without Robert Holmes, Genesis of the Daleks would have been pig swill. Heck, Douglas Adams pretty much wrote all of the underrated Destiny of the Daleks himself. I suspect The Daleks worked so well because David Whitaker actually took an interest in it. Maybe he realized Doctor Who was on shaky ground and needed to be weirdly imaginative if it had any hope of surviving beyond its first thirteen episodes. Maybe he figured Doctor Who was dead in the water from the word "Go" and saw this as an excuse to write the sort of way-out stuff he liked, as evidenced by the complete incomprehensibility of his first solo script, The Edge of Destruction. For whatever reason, The Daleks is clearly a mixture of Nation's war-movie hackwork and Whitaker's freaknik style. Each style by itself is terrible, but blended together they produced Doctor Who's first 10-out-of-10 classic.
The Dalek Invasion of Earth is entirely Terry Nation's puppy. It's not the work of a dreamer, even a dreamer who doesn't know how to commit his dreams to paper in a way that makes any kind of sense. Its sci-fi elements - the Slyther, the nonsense about the Earth's core, etc - are the stuff of Saturday morning cartoons. Lots of fans get off on the fact that the Daleks are patterned on the Nazis in this story (and forever after, alas!), but so what? You can see Nazis in tons of war films; you can't see what the Daleks were in their debut story anywhere else. They were truly unique to begin with, but in The Dalek Invasion of Earth they become ordinary and boring. Dortmun refers to them as "motorized dustbins" and he may have a point. After this, the Daleks were routinely compared to trash cans and sundry jars and containers you'd find in a spice rack, not only by the public at large but in the show itself. It's no coincidence that the only Dalek story following their debut worthy of "classic" status, Revelation of the Daleks, not only barely uses them but revolves around Davros reinventing them. The mutated Arthur Stengos is far more interesting than any of the Daleks we meet between their debut story and his appearance two decades later.
Perhaps I'm being too hard on The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Much as I loathe its basic concepts and poor plotting it does have a few things going for it. Of the Doctor's three companions, only Susan would probably feature in my all-time top ten list (more on that later), but as a group the original foursome were arguably the best TARDIS crew in the show's history. Watching them interact all together or in pairs was always fascinating, and that's probably why I like the first episode so much. It's an effective study in low-key suspense, an art lost to modern Doctor Who and to most modern television, period. The scenes of the Doctor and Ian exploring the warehouse are particularly good, elements of this dangerous future Earth being revealed at a leisurely (though not so much so that the viewer loses interest) pace. I love the discovery of the dead Roboman with a knife in his back. It's the sort of harsh realism that's as much a lost art to modern television as low-key suspense.
Modern television tries very hard to be tough and that's the problem. You can see the beads of perspiration forming on the foreheads of modern TV writers and producers as they try desperately to think up some horrible new crime for the CSI folks to investigate or a disgusting new disease for House to treat, but it always comes across as posing. British TV is even worse. Try watching Touching Evil, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, or MI-5 without rolling your eyes at their absurd attempts at grittiness. And don't get me started on Russell T. Davies's Doctor Who. Robbed of the capacity to show any sort of realistic violence, it has to settle for little boys in gasmasks asking for their mothers or stupid-ass statues sending people back in time. The sad thing is that the young turks writing this dreck actually think they're producing really edgy stuff.
But Nation isn't trying; he's doing. It comes naturally to him. He's not out to show us how tough or macabre he can be by inventing an unbelievably sadistic serial killer or dredging up from the medical books some obscure disease to gross us out with. He knows that when real people fight in the real world they often sneak up behind each other with knives and hide the bodies when they're finished. It all flows naturally, effortlessly, realistically. And I like the Doctor's examination of the expired Roboman' headgear. His curiosity is infectious and it helps that there's some real science on display here. Compare this to the numerous instances in which the tenth Doctor has inspected alien technology. He always knows all about it already, exhibits no enthusiasm (only a blase been-there, done-that attitude), and of course the technobabble is so palpably absurd it's impossible to really believe in.
And I like the attack on the Dalek saucer. I can understand why Joe Ford hates it and I'd be very surprised if he's alone in his opinion, but I think the lazy direction works. There was no way this fight could have been made to look realistic in a cramped BBC studio and, whether or not Richard Martin meant to, he delivered an eerily surreal battle. It's one of the few times Doctor Who looks good while obviously making very little effort to hide its limitations. Yes, the rebels outside the saucer and the Daleks chasing them are clearly running (er, walking very fast) in circles. Yes, the rebels inside the saucer are plainly visible freeing the prisoners behind the operating table as the Doctor is about to be turned into a Roboman and the departing Dalek really should see and hear them - and just how good a Roboman do the Daleks really think the frail, elderly Doctor is going to make?
But somehow it all works for me, like a well-staged theater production where you don't mind the spartan lack of scenery or the fact that it's so noisily moved around between scenes because of the sincerity and power of the material being presented. It may help that I'm a sucker for the slickly arranged fights of the 1960's spy shows. I love the scene where a Roboman grabs his attacker by the neck and flips him. It's a move worthy of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. or The Wild, Wild West. It doesn't come off as well as it would have in either of those shows (you can see that the Roboman's attacker lurches to the side rather than launching himself over the Roboman's back), but I applaud Richard Martin for trying.
Sadly, other scenes set in and around the Dalek saucer aren't managed so well. This is mostly Terry Nation's fault. Putting aside the crap about 3D graph geometry, it should be obvious to the Doctor that a) as Jack Craddock points out, the Daleks wouldn't leave the things he needs to escape lying around the cell for him, and b) the means by which he gets out of the cell would be even harder for a Dalek to employ than pushing the door open by brute force (in case he hadn't noticed, they can't bend over to reach the magnifying glass or the box with the magnet in it). And bearing in mind just how upset the Dalek that captured the Doctor and Ian was by the Doctor's whispering to Ian a plan for defeating the Daleks so vague it doesn't really even qualify as a plan, it seems a little odd that none of the Daleks at the heliport take any interest whatsoever as the Doctor and Ian loudly discuss their previous adventure on Skaro. You'd think the Daleks would be a little flustered by the knowledge their new prisoners have about their home planet, city, need for static electricity, etc.
The scenes at the Dalek headquarters are also pretty bad, this time Richard Martin lending Terry Nation a helping hand. What in the hell possessed him to have the Daleks twirl around their leader like horses on a merry-go-round while it talked to them? But Nation still deserves the lion's share of the credit for these scenes being as bad as they are. The Daleks even listening for a few seconds to Barbara's warning about the Boston Tea Party, the Indian Mutiny, etc without realizing they're being taken for a ride is a clear indication that Nation had stopped caring about his creations and couldn't be bothered to treat them with respect. Why do they care about a possible rebellion if they expect to be off the planet in an hour and up in space safely watching the human race be exterminated by the erupting core? How does the Doctor neutralize the Dalek sent to the control room to kill him? He just stands there staring at it as it starts to emit smoke and complains about how hot it is. It would seem to be a major oversight on the Daleks' part that anyone can control the Robomen just by speaking into a special microphone, and it's absolutely scandalous just how easy it is for the Robomen to wipe out their masters.
In my Remembrance of the Daleks review I presented as evidence that Eric Saward's allegedly wimpy Daleks often outperformed their predecessors the ass-whupping the Daleks received in The Chase at the hands of the Dracula and Frankenstein robots, and I'd like to submit the Roboman/slave uprising as further evidence. Dortmun's bomb may not kill the Daleks but pretty much everything else does. One literally gets smashed to pieces by a rock-wielding Roboman and another is lifted up on the shoulders of a gang of rebels and presumably thrown off something; a cliff I imagine. Somehow, I can't see the Daleks in Resurrection or Revelation putting up with this kind of treatment.
As far as the original characters go, Nation gives us very little that's special but fortunately nothing particularly bad. I'm just a little sore because none of my favorite original characters get much screen time. I loved Jack Craddock and would have preferred to see him rather than the bland Larry Madison team up with Ian. The difference in quality between the portrayals of Craddock and Larry probably has less to do with the actors playing them than with the way they're written. It's quite possible that had Michael Goldie and Graham Rigby swapped parts we'd have gotten an equally good Craddock and an equally uninteresting Larry. But whether by skill or by luck, Goldie's is clearly the superior performance. No matter how many times I see him get Robotized and then killed off, the hurt never goes away.
I also loved Ashton, the kind of asshole we simply don't get in the modern, sanitized Doctor Who. He's the first of the great Doctor Who scumbags, the forerunner of the Reegans, Scorbys, Stotzes, and Lyttons who were to come. Patrick O'Connell's performance is a little idiosyncratic in a Charlton Heston sort of way, but all the more effective for it. And who could forget the two ghoulish drabs who sell Barbara and Jenny out to the Daleks? (These witches must have a lot of connections to get an actual Dalek to come out to their house and not just a squad of Robomen.) A story built around these four characters probably would have bombed with fans and casual viewers alike but I'm sure I would have enjoyed it.
The rest of our characters are well-played but not particularly memorable. Bernard Kay's Tyler is the best of them. Kay is an excellent, down-to-earth actor and as someone who enjoys a good down-to-earth Doctor as much as he enjoys a good zany Doctor, I've often thought he would have been great for a few years as the series' star. Ann Davies's performance as Jenny is a little irritating but then so is Jenny; what's an actress to do? She does the best she can and the fact that the character often grates on the old nerves is entirely due to Terry Nation's ham-handed attempts at making her tough and cynical. She's sort of like Ace, one minute decrying sentiment and weakness and the next languishing in self-pity.
David Campbell is nothing special, but he's basically believable and likeable and I can't understand why everyone is so down on Peter Fraser's performance. Hell, one of the previous reviewers went so far as to compare him to David Tennant! (Okay, maybe Finn Clark didn't mean that as an insult, but as founder and president of the one-man David Tennant Dis-appreciation Society that's the way I took it.) Look, he's not playing Hamlet, and I for one find his measured performance far better than the numerous examples of "look at me!" scenery-chewing we see so much of in modern, often-critically-acclaimed performances by actors who should know better (think Anthony Hopkins in pretty much anything he's been in recently or Jeremy Brett in his later performances as Sherlock Holmes). Contrary to the popular saying, there are small parts and good actors recognize this. Peter Fraser quite properly plays the part that's written rather than the part he'd selfishly like to be playing. His occasional woodenness is probably due to his Scottish accent.
No review of this story would be complete without mentioning Susan's departure. I know I'm in a minority here, but I really like Susan. The complaints I keep hearing about her strike me as either inaccurate or petty. I can't understand why people who don't like the character assign any blame to Carole Ann Ford. Like Peter Fraser, she played the part in the scripts. Say what you like about Susan being too whiny, cowardly, sniveling, etc; you can't deny that Carole Ann Ford played whiny, cowardly, and sniveling very realistically. She's an actress, you see, and that's what she's supposed to do. And I don't agree that there's nothing more to Susan than whining, cowardice, and sniveling. Call me sexist, ageist, what have you, but I think her habit of screaming and running away from danger is more in keeping with what an actual teenage girl would do rather than the modern take on teenage girls: that they're congenitally naturals in the art of making explosives, can hold their own in fights with adult male bodybuilders, can slay vampires, etc.
There's a tendency to brand any screaming female in Doctor Who a cipher present only to pander to the baser sexual instincts of Neanderthal males. In fact, none of the screamers were entirely devoid of personality and Susan's was quite a rich and interesting one. Much to the bafflement of her teachers, she was clearly smarter than them (and everyone else she met save her grandfather, for that matter), and while she screamed and ran away from obvious danger (not always a bad idea, by the way) she was never frightened by the merely weird or alien.
Prior to her visit to 1960's London, she appears to have enjoyed her wanderings with the Doctor every bit as much as he did, possibly even more so since she didn't have his bittersweet memories. (Yes, I know this was before that Hand of Omega malarkey had been invented, but there's always a melancholy wistfulness in the first Doctor's voice on those rare occasions when he alludes to his life back on his own world.) She often needed to be rescued but try naming a traveller in the TARDIS prior to Andrew Cartmel turning the Doctor into a brooding superhero who didn't. While her arguments with her grandfather could often be stormy, she didn't suffer the emotional trauma that supposedly tough girls like Ace and Rose did as a result of their own relatively mild family squabbles.
But one thing all of us fans can agree on, be we pro-Susan or con, is that she got a great send-off, right? Wrong. I hate it. Why aren't all the feminist fans who adore Ace, Rose, and Donna up in arms over the Doctor condemning his own granddaughter to a life as a housewife in the Campbell home? Even this male chauvinist pig can see that she was made for better things. As far as I'm concerned, next to Peri's getting stuck with Yrcanos this is the most terrible fate any of the Doctor's companions suffered upon parting with him, and I do not except from this statement the deaths of Katarina, Sara Kingdom, or Adric.
I give this one a 4 out of 10.
A Review by Yeaton Clifton 4/4/12
There is something surreal about the location shots of Daleks controlling London and the sense that we are looking at the world, which we know, destroyed by aliens who use germ warfare. If you are intent on examining how all the special effects compare to modern filmmaking techniques, the appearance will probably fail. Yet, if you are willing to see the images as a kind surrealism, then it can be very enjoyable and provides a key moment in the Doctor becoming the man we know.
This is the first time that the Doctor resolves to save the earth from alien invaders, and the consequences of the earth devastated by Daleks seems to be his impetus. In season one, only Ian and Barbra had been concerned about saving worlds, and the Doctor was concerned with self-preservation and the preservation of his friends. So, this episode is a major step towards the Doctor being the hero that we know.
Every aspect of the Doctor has not yet evolved into a hero. The Doctor's feelings about Susan are less than commendable. He seems shocked that she is more likely to take directions from an Earth person than she is inclined to take his directions. He also seems shocked that she is unhappy not to stable life. Taking off in the TARDIS without her, claiming that it is for her own good, is less than genuine. Asserting she is now an adult is not appropriate for a 16 year old. His promise to return to her someday seems to avoid the reality that he cannot control where the TARDIS will go. All told, the Doctor seems to wish for someone who admires him to a point that would take his instructions on faith and believe he is without flaw, and he is unable to accept that Susan is not the person anymore. There seems to be a hole in his heart that the Doctor has tried to fill ever since by cycling various companions through the TARDIS. That is to say, the Doctor Who loves and leaves companions - as we witness in School Reunion - began his habit of dumping his first girl in this episode.
I understand that for those who are not first Doctor fans this sort of story can seem awkward and even slow-paced. The pacing of the story is good for the amount of conversation needed to show these shifts in the Doctor's personality. Conversations also let us understand how devastated London is. The only part of the story that qualifies as padding is the Slyther, a gratuitous monster. However, it is still not fast paced show that currently would be broadcast. It is something that created the modern show. It was the beginning of a wave of high ratings which endured through a good part of season 2, and major instigator of the Dalek craze. So modern fans might think about buying this one little story to understand where the show is coming from.
It is the high point of season 2. 9/10