THE DOCTOR WHO RATINGS GUIDE: BY FANS, FOR FANS

The Evil of the Daleks
Invasion of the Cat People
The Murder Game
BBC
The Power of the Daleks

Episodes 6 'It's over!'
Story No# 30
Production Code EE
Season 4
Dates Nov. 5, 1966 -
Dec. 10, 1966

With Patrick Troughton, Michael Craze, Anneke Wills.
Written by David Whitaker. Script-Edited by Gerry Davis.
Directed by Christopher Barry. Produced by Innes Lloyd.

Synopsis: The Doctor, after collapsing in the TARDIS, regenerates for the first time. As a perplexed Ben and Polly look on, the man who has taken the original Doctor's place stumbles onto a plot to resurrect the Daleks on the planet Vulcan.

Note: An audio release narrated by Tom Baker is available from the BBC Audio Collection. Telesnap reconstructions of this story are available at Missing Doctor Who Reconstructions & Audios.


Reviews

"Extermination!" by Nick Waghorn 12/7/98

The Power of the Daleks is the missing story I most want to be found. The Daleks are my favourite aliens, but after reading the new BBC novels featuring them, and finding that they'd been shockingly badly used, I was depressed. In desperation I turned to The Power of the Daleks to cheer myself up.

Just what the Doctor ordered.

These Daleks are exactly the way Daleks should be used, and they give their best performance here. I would say that, with Genesis, this is the best Dalek story ever.

Not only do the evil aliens get proper doses of cunning and cleverness, they also plot, rather than just steaming in trying to kill people. They are infinitely better than the seventies/eighties drones who had nothing to say but "Exterminate" and little to distinguish them from robots.

These Daleks get lines like: "We understand the human mind," and the exceptional "But we are your . . . friends". The last is a beautifully wheedled, wholly evil sentence that would have been unheard-of in the later, characterless versions. The Daleks do have emotions, just no benign ones -- cruelty, cunning, spite and hatred are all theirs, but beyond the Sixties they faded, leaving hollow stereotypes. And this Machiavellian cunning, combined with the carnage they cause, shows the Daleks at their most terrifying.

Dalek cunning produces my favourite Troughton cliffhanger -- episode two. As the Doctor seeks to warn the colonists of the Daleks' threat, the Dalek present tries to reassure them with an eerily incongruous "I am your servant." As the Doctor frantically attempts to alert the colonists, the Dalek, sensing danger, drowns out the Doctor's warnings by repeating this reassurance louder and louder. Eventually all that can be heard is the Dalek's voice, chanting its insidious message over and over.

Troughton's first appearance as Doctor is rather pantomimed but, frankly, he's Patrick Troughton, and so he never dips below good -- even when establishing himself. The fact that he carried off the first ever regeneration, an unheard-of concept, with style and believability, is testimony to his skill.

Ben and Polly cope with their incredulous roles well, and take longer than following companions to believe in regeneration. This is suitably realistic, and mirrors the audience's reaction -- if the companions accept the new Doctor, the viewers are more likely to.

The supporting cast is fine, with only minor fluffs that annoy. Robert James deserves special mention for his portrayal of greedy scientist Lesterson, who ultimately goes insane. The final scene between Lesterson and his Daleks is chilling.

The plot is classic Doctor Who: an alien menace takes advantage of political instability by subterfuge, and nobody heeds the Doctor's warnings. The Second Doctor Handbook thinks that no-one suspecting the Daleks makes the story predictable, but instead it gives it tension. This suspense is heightened by the sinister stock incidental music. Unfortunately the ending is a touch deus ex machina.

If you don't have this story on audio then get it immediately, as it's absolutely excellent. 9/10


A Review of the "Missing Story Audio" by Matt Michael 28/11/98

The Power of the Daleks is, to date, the fifth and last "Missing Story" audio to be released. This might have suggested that it would be the most polished. Unfortunately the quality of the audio recording is weaker than any of the other missing audios, particularly the very impressive Fury from the Deep soundtrack, and although it is never incomprehensible there are several moments when the tape is audibly poor.

Fortunately the linking narration, again from Tom Baker, is concise and unobtrusive, covering the otherwise confusing action sequences which do not translate well onto the audio format. It is a shame that The Power of the Daleks is such a visual story -- from the Doctor's change of appearace to the horrors Lesterson discovers within the Dalek capsule -- as the audio format fails to do the story full justice.

Nevertheless, it is better to have an audio record than none at all, and one can at least get some "feel" for the story. The Power of the Daleks, like its immediate predecessor The Tenth Planet, is a story about an isolated group of humans at threat from a powerful enemy. In this respect, The Power of the Daleks sets the basic formula for the next two Patrick Troughton seasons -- an irascible, but just leader is undermined by certain elements within his staff who hope to use aliens as tools in their rise to power, aliens who then turn against the humans and threaten to wipe them out.

Where The Power of the Daleks differs from other base-under-siege stories, and Dalek stories in general, is that the Daleks are, until the final installment, portrayed as the underlings. Because they are few and isolated, the Daleks have to manipulate the ambitions of Lesterson, the chief scientist, and Bragen, the over-ambitious security chief, in order first to replicate themselves (in a particularly chilling sequence), and then to take over the colony and exterminate the humans. The Daleks here are weaker than we have ever seen them, and because of this they are portrayed as being more cunning than ever before or since. For once, the Daleks really do have character, from sycophantically cooing "We are your servants" to coolly plotting their takeover, they are thoroughly chilling throughout.

As for Patrick Troughton as the new Doctor: His performance is convincing throughout, and although he seems more manic here than he would be later, his horror at the colonists' trust of the Daleks, his sly cunning in posing as the Examiner or escaping from his cell, and his feigned disbelief that he has defeated the Daleks immediately demonstrates a new, more proactive Doctor. Ben and Polly are also very successful as the disoriented companions. Unlike the habit of later post-regeneration stories to dwell upon the new Doctor, here the audience is encouraged to identify with the companions who are thoroughly shocked by what has occured. I feel it is rather sad that there were no more Second Doctor, Ben and Polly stories as the three characters work well together, With the introduction of Jamie in the following serial, Ben tended to get marginalised as his lines were shared with Jamie, while Polly became little more than a tea-making ornament.

The Power of the Daleks is a superb pilot for the Patrick Troughton era of Doctor Who. Popular monsters, a whimsical Doctor and a base under siege -- everything but Jamie, in fact. 9/10


Facing an Enormous Challenge by Tim Roll-Pickering 6/12/98
Based of the Change of Identity enhanced reconstruction

Today, the idea that the Doctor can regenerate is fully accepted by both fans and casual viewers alike of Doctor Who, and so a lot of the impact of the first changeover has been lost. But consider the situation for contemporary viewers. For three years, William Hartnell had been a much loved grandfather figure to children across the nation. Then, at the end of The Tenth Planet, they saw him suddenly change into a total stranger. Was this stranger the same Doctor?

When writing The Power of the Daleks, David Whitaker faced an enormous challenge. He had to write a story that would firmly establish the new Doctor and convince the viewers that they were still watching Doctor Who. Despite all the circumstances against him, Whitaker managed to achieve all that. The plot is intriguing, whilst at the same time the new Doctor is carefully introduced so that by the fourth episode, one could be mistaken for thinking he had always been there. By using the Daleks, Whitaker and script editor Gerry Davis not only ensured that viewers felt they were still watching the series, but also that they found themselves agreeing with the Doctor about the true threat of the Daleks. This, more than anything else, helped to get over the shock of the changeover, and allowed Patrick Troughton's performance to stand a better chance of approval.

For his debut, Troughton gives an strong performance, almost as good as Paul McGann's in Enemy Within or Hartnell's in 100,000 BC. However, the humour is excessive and wisely the production team toned this down somewhat. The guest performances are somewhat mixed, however, with Robert James (Lesterton) almost stealing the show, but some actors such as Pamela Ann Davy (Janley) only come across as average, whilst others like Richard Kane (Valmer) are notably weak.

David Whitaker's portrayal of the Daleks here is second only to The Evil of the Daleks, with the creatures demonstrating intelligence, subtlety and independence--no Davros here! We also get to see the Daleks being created on the production line-a wonderful sight, though the empty casings aren't entirely convincing.

Visually, this story is nothing particularly special, apart from the production line, which gives us our first glimpse of what a Dalek looks like inside. The 8mm off-air footage that has surfaced recently includes the 'mirror scene' which is revealed to be far less spectacular than the myth made out and is nothing more than Patrick Troughton looking at a framed photograph of William Hartnell. The colony is full of bland rooms and dreary corridors, and the colonists all wear over simplistic clothes, bar Bragen's new uniform, in a traditional dictatorial style. However, the sets do help to create a strong feel of claustrophobia, at least serving this purpose. Christopher Barry's direction is strong, ensuring that most of the drawbacks are overlooked and the story maintains interest.

All in all, The Power of the Daleks perfectly met the challenge to ensure the continuation of the series. A near classic. 9/10

It is perhaps inevitable that a reconstruction like this one, which uses a full set of telesnaps, will always come across as weaker than one such as Marco Polo, which is forced to be more creative. However, the telesnaps are the best representatives of scenes, and Bruce Robinson has used a good mixture, together with all the surviving clips. A fine reconstruction. 8/10


A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 24/1/99

Patrick Troughton took on the most difficult task possible at the end of The Tenth Planet: convincing viewers that he was the new Doctor, following William Hartnell. Thanks largely to an excellent set of scripts from David Whitaker, and some universally great acting from all of the cast, the start of the Troughton era should be considered a success.

Much of the first episode is set aboard the TARDIS, and one can sympathise with companions Polly (and particularly) Ben in their initial mistrust of the new Doctor. His own behaviour is in itself erratic and over the top, but even now there are subtler hints of what Troughton`s Doctor would become (his frustration at the colonists refusal to believe what the Daleks really are, being just one example). The Daleks themselves are expertly handled here, working better in smaller numbers. By having them manipulating Robert James excellently portrayed Lesterson, they are shown to be more of a menace than before, and work all the better as the setting of the colony is relatively small.

Add to this memorable images, including the most infamous, the Dalek production line sequence, and the end result is a great start for the Troughton era.


Of Daleks and Rebels by Michael Ellis 28/7/00

What, him? The Doctor?

Those words from Episode 1 of this story must have spoken for the vast majority of the audience who saw the first-ever regeneration scene at the end of The Tenth Planet. Since it's already been said by others, I'll refrain from describing just how groundbreaking this scene was.

After reading the novelization and the online transcripts of the story, I received a copy of the Loose Cannon telesnap reconstruction of this story, and I popped it in my VCR to see if it lived up to it's reputation and to my expectations.

It not only met them, it exceeded them.

Power of the Daleks is one of those rare stories where everything falls into place, and no one misses a beat. From the beginning in the TARDIS, where Michael Craze and Anneke Wills get some of their finest dialogue in the series when they argue over whether that trampish looking man lying on the floor really is the Doctor; to the scene in their guest room on Vulcan where the Doctor and Ben have a conversation straight out of a Marx Brothers movie, to the story's climax where Lesterson imitates the Daleks' mannerisms to buy the Doctor time to finish his work on the power cable, everyone gives a performance worth remembering.

Troughton (My favorite Doctor next to Tom Baker and Jon Pertwee), is on the ball from the first, and even without any surviving footage of note (other than the 8mm clips, which are stretched along the length of the first few episodes), his frantic attempts to convince the colonists of the danger posed by the Daleks is chilling to listen to, as is his "What have you done?" exchange with Lesterson (a similar moment occurred in The Pirate Planet, when Tom Baker's Doctor shouted "What's it for?!" to The Captain.) Finally, Troughton is a treat to watch as he impersonates the murdered Earth Examiner, and causes poor Lesterson no end of trouble as a result.

Speaking of Lesterson, actor Robert James almost steals the show as the dedicated scientist driven to madness by the results of his ill-fated attempts to improve the colony. His final scene with the Daleks, mentioned above, is one of the high points of the episode, as he either sacrifices himself or has gone completely insane and actually hopes to convince the Daleks' to spare him.

Speaking of the Daleks, I have to say they are at their peak in this story, just watch the scene of the Dalek chanting "I am your servant" over and over. The Daleks never got more cunning than this (with the possible exception of Evil of the Daleks, but then I haven't seen that story yet.)

As for the Dalek-fodder, er, colonists, Bragen and Quinn are clearly the best. Bernard Archard plays the power-hungry Bragen to perfection, and Nicholas Hawtrey gives a brilliantly understated performance as the hapless Deputy Governor who seems to be ignored and marginalised at every turn until he meets the "Examiner", a man (or rather, a Time Lord) who finally listens to something Quinn tells him.

Of the other colonists, Peter Bathurst's Hensell is a crusty, stubborn character who is nonetheless a sympathetic one. Then there's the lovely Pamela Ann Davy as Janley, a woman who wants power at any cost, but realizes in the end just what that cost means. In the end, Janley actually tries to help those she betrayed, though this may only be an attempt to save herself.

The rest of the colonists are a mostly forgettable group. Valmar is a stock scorned lover character who later becomes the man-of-the-hour by default. It's conceivable that Resno would have been an ally to the Doctor, had he not been exterminated (Most likely why he bought it first.) As for Kebble, he's really too minor a character with too little screen time to develop as much more than a thuggish type.

David Whitaker pulled off a marvelous coup by not only giving the Daleks the boost they needed after the overlong epic that was The Daleks' Master Plan (or whatever), and at the same time introducing us to a new lead actor. The shame of it is that none of the episodes exist as an example of the story, but the audio recordings, telesnaps, and the large number of clips (many of crucial moments in the story, to boot) help give us an idea of what the story must have looked like as broadcast. Here's hoping more missing episodes are recovered.


A Review by James Allenby 13/11/00

I'm attempting to go over all the Pat Troughton stories in order so I begin with the first. I had the audio so I listened to it and I have to say it made more sense to me now I'm older. I bought it in 1993 when I was only 11 and couldn't really understand it at all and I got VERY bored but 7 years later here we are.

Is it better? Yes because my mind hasn't strayed from the plot. In my opinion the first episode is the best because we are introduced to this new Doctor for the first time and I can only imagine how strange it would have been for the viewers back in the mid-sixties. I like the way Ben mistrusts the Doctor for a long time and Polly believes he is the Doctor almost straight away. However I do think that Ben does too much shouting in the story. I don't know what it is but he seems to go over the top too much sometimes. The pieces with the Doctor and his recorded got me laughing out aloud especially when he replied to one of Ben's questions with a few notes on it. Lesterson is the best out of the supporting characters. At first I thought he was a bit over the top nearer to the end but on reflection I think it was a good representation of a man going insane and his last scene with the Daleks where he says "I am your servant" is very, very chilling as another reviewer said. In a way he was more or less mocking the Daleks. As for the Daleks, well I think that this is one of their best stories. They are cunning and scheming and it takes a long time until they do start attacking people. But because they don't appear the enemies straight away it kind of makes them take a back seat and the other characters take charge.

The new Doctor is hard to get used to really. He's not really like the second Doctor that most of us have seen because it's mostly Pat's last season that exists and at that time he was well and truly in the role. I just wish I could have known what other people where thinking. But anyway. The Doctor does seem to like to go off and do his own thing and talks to himself alot and I feel it's very difficult for the viewer (or listener) to get to know him and this continues into the Highlanders as well. It's a good story and a good start for Patrick Troughton.

8/10


The Power of Power by Nick Needham 2/1/03

Childhood memories of Dr Who are weirdly selective, and I haven't penetrated the enigma of their inner logic. I was 7 at the time. The Power of the Daleks bequeathed five deeply enduring impressions:

  1. The "trick of Gallifreyan optics" by which the mysterious new Doctor saw William Hartnell in the hand-mirror. As if having a new Doctor wasn't disorienting enough, without this sort of paranormal magic thrown into the mix...
  2. The shooting of the real Earth Examiner. For some reason I completely misunderstood this to mean that the new Doctor shot him. I blandly accepted this as part of the character of Troughton's Time Lord. He shot people while playing a recorder. Fine.
  3. The Daleks pouring endlessly out of the door at the end of episode 5, crying "Exterminate! Exterminate!" There were hundreds of them. It was terrifying and awe-inspiring. 20 years later in 1987 I was enthusing to a newly discovered fellow-fan about how terrifying and awe-inspiring it was. He was trying to tell me about how good Resurrection of the Daleks was (which I hadn't seen), but he couldn't match my Power memory. Those were the real Dalek days, back in the black and white 60s. Terrifying. Awe-inspiring. Okay, so it doesn't look quite so terrifying or awe-inspiring when you see the clip today, and they weren't crying "Exterminate!", but the memory was wondrous beyond words.
  4. The Doctor and company hurling themselves to the floor and playing dead to deceive a passing Dalek as it trundled past, surveying the carnage, in episode 6. I think this must have burned itself hissing into my memory because it provided the only viable remedy against extermination. (You could try running up the stairs, but what was to stop the Dalek zapping you while you ran?)
  5. The wreck of the Dalek at the very end, its eyestalk rising up to gaze at the departing Tardis. Sinister. Chilling.
I've always loved The Power of the Daleks. I suppose there are a couple of reasons why. For a start, I love the way the Daleks are portrayed here as scheming and manipulative. They are the underdogs for most of the story; they have to exploit the moral weaknesses and internal divisions of the Vulcan colonists to position themselves for ultimate take-over (only the Doctor stops them). "We understand the human mind..." It seems a far cry from the dull lumbering robots they later became. They're so much more menacing in this one. Troughton's increasingly urgent, almost manic fear of the apparently harmless servant-machines, and determination have them broken up or melted down ("Up or down, I don't care which"), helps to heighten the threat. It also makes Troughton look an incomprehensible idiot, especially in Lesterson's eyes, but the eventual nemesis is crushing. "The Examiner was right. They are evil!"

And then I never cease to be pleased at the way David Whitaker creates and orchestrates his cast of well-drawn characters and their relationships. Quin, Bragen, Lesterson, Hensall, Janley, Valmar... Not to mention the lesser characters, and the Doctor, Polly and Ben. All woven into a complex plot. Probably too complex, actually, but at least it's a rich human cocktail into which the Daleks are inserted as the missing ingredient for the satisfying explosion.

I also like the effective musical homage to the first Dalek story.

The BBC audio version narrated by Tom Baker is a (mostly) capable evocation of the TV episodes, barring a few odd gaps in the narrative where we could have done with an explanation of what was going on (notably the scene where Hensall is killed). John Peel's novelisation isn't so good, in my humble judgment, lacking the atmosphere, grace and subtlety of his fine Evil of the Daleks.

In an ironic way, it's a pity Power was so good, as it's the only Dalek story for which not a single complete episode survives. But if the memory and the BBC audio and the telesnaps are anything to go by, it would be worth inventing a time machine just to slip back and retrieve this gemlike Troughton debut. (Hmm, maybe that's why it's missing: someone's already done it... There's an idea for a postmodern Dr Who adventure. Reminds me of the dream I had in which the third Doctor foiled the Master's attempt to make mass-copies of Dr Who videos and sell them on the black market. Or was it the Master foiling the Doctor's attempt? Enough of this madness!)


Highly illogical by Andrew Wixon 17/1/04

There's a sesne in which Terry Nation could plausibly have claimed to have been 'head writer' on Doctor Who - not throughout its history, of course, no-one could claim to be that, but in the early years and possibly the mid seventies, he was prolific and his stories high profile enough for it not to be an unreasonable assertion. Which is interesting, because, if we're honest, a lot of his writing isn't actually that great.

This is something which I've noticed over and over again in the Nation-influenced series I've watched. The man's a brilliant creator of characters and formats, but it's other people who write the episodes that really fulfil their promise. Nation created Blake's 7, but all the really good stuff was written by other people (most obviously Chris Boucher). Nation created Survivors, but his own episodes are lacklustre compared to the ones written by Clive Exton. Nation created the Daleks...

And so we come to the oh-so-punningly entitled Power of the Daleks, the pepperpots' first outing where daddy wasn't at all involved in the scripting. It's a pretty safe bet that the Daleks were in the script not out of any burning desire to explore new facets to their character, but simply because they were a big draw and would hopefully distract attention from the new guy playing the lead role. It'd be interesting to read the brief David Whitaker was given, because while he's extremely diligent in giving Patrick Troughton lots to do in a very non-Hartnellish way (there's even a mad off-the-wall dog-whistle gag you have to see, or rather hear, to believe), this story is really about the Daleks and what makes them different to human beings. (You can almost imagine the basic concept of Evil of the Daleks forming in Whitaker's head as he wrote.)

The rebels-vs-governor stuff is pretty formulaic (though it's nice to have a bunch of rebels who are actually evil for a change) but the flawed and divided humans provide a brilliant contrast with the singleminded Daleks. 'Why do human beings kill human beings?' asks a perplexed Dalek at one point, just one of many terrific pieces of dialogue. The scene concluding episode two, where the Doctor desperately tries to warn the humans while a Dalek chants 'I am your ser-vant' is another which really should live in history, along with the one where a Dalek corrects 'better' to 'different' while talking about itself compared to Lesterson.

To be honest the plot of Power becomes quite predictable very quickly - you just know that no-one's going to believe the Doctor's warnings, and that the Daleks are going to rebuild their strength and eventually go on the rampage - but it gives proceedings a nice sense of impending doom, and the atmosphere helps lift the occasional slow moment. It's hard to judge exactly how well it was all realised visually, but the soundtrack is actually rather creepy in a couple of places.

And Troughton is great, slippery from the word go, happy to shroud his deeds behind a faced of clownishness even after the day's been saved. (Although the indignance of the colonists at the damage the Doctor does in the course of saving all their lives is one of the few bits of the story not to quite ring true.) Rather than fetishising the regeneration and focussing solely on the new Doctor, Power of the Daleks simply focusses on giving him a damn good story to appear in: a lesson some later production teams could have learned a lot from.


"Daleks conquer and destroy!" by Joe Ford 9/2/04

A superior Doctor Who story without a doubt but lacking the magic of Whitaker's later Evil at the end of the season. In many ways this and Evil remind me of Eric Saward's Resurrection, the test Dalek story before perfecting the formula (Revelation). There is so much to recommend about Power (like Resurrection) but it is pushed out of the limelight by its successor.

This was written and filmed in a time when Doctor Who was taken deadly seriously and treated as a proper drama, even the science fiction stories. Even though Power is set on a planet called Vulcan and its main villain is a bunch of pepper pot shaped aliens you never once doubt the authenticity of the story, largely due the impressive acting and fatalistic tone. I really love how the actors take their roles seriously; not just acting in some kids show but playing multi-faceted, real people with ambitions and dreams.

Chief among the guest stars is Robert James' star turn as Lesterson, the scientist who discovers the capsule. In equal measures brilliant and deranged, Lesterson proves to be a captivating character, his fascination with bringing the Daleks back to life a chilling obsession. We all know how evil the Daleks are and it through Lesterson's horrified eyes that we see how badly the colony has been duped. When he realises that they are mass-producing, drawing power without consent he appeals to the same people he was trying to convince that the Daleks would be the colony's saving grace. When nobody listens and with the stifling claustrophobic terror they induce Lesterson finally snaps, becoming a rambling nutcase, cowering in corners and repeating the Daleks' own initial turn of phrase ("I am your ser-vant!"). Its just one of several brilliantly observed characters, David Whitaker proving as adept as ever in creating unforgettable people to populate his stories with.

It is only now I have heard Power and Evil together that I realise what a wonderful treatment the Daleks received in the sixties. I mean they were just bastards, weren't they? They were suitably established come season four for Whitaker to start playing about with their reputation. One thing he was superb at was in showing how cunning they were, how clever. With a title like The Power of the Daleks we are all sitting on tenterhooks waiting for them to appear and the first sighting of them, dormant and covered in cobwebs, sitting in the half dark of the capsule, is a striking and refreshing change from the ultra cool lengths Terry Nation used to go to (rising from the Thames, rising from sand dunes...) to introduce his creations. It is so uncharacteristic to see them carrying drinks and offering kind words, although we know what they are up to it is possible, just for a while to wonder if they haven't had a change of heart. But once the viewer is privy to their plans, using the humans to satisfy their own plans it becomes quite clear how ruthlessly intelligent they are. Feeding the rebels' egos, leading them to believe they will help them to overcome the colony once they have their weaponry back, it is compelling to watch them use the people who think they are using them. It is as if Whitaker was bored with the Dalek stories about universal domination and wanted to get inside their heads, to show that their apparent tactical skill and sheer hatred for the unlike was a reality. He succeeds with flying colours.

But the Daleks are not the only thing the viewer is wrong footed about, this being Pat Troughton's first appearance as the Doctor. Reeling from the monumental events in The Tenth Planet the story sets about playing with the viewer from the first scene. Despite Polly's insistence it is never explicitly stated that this IS the Doctor. Viewers must have been rubbing their eyes with disbelief to see this younger, fresher Doctor Who dominating the story. When listening to this I was pondering on how cool it would be for Troughton to turn out to be an impostor all along! In fact it is not until we see his horrified reaction to the Daleks and his determination to bring them down that there is any indication that this is the same man who faced them in the past. Come the stories climax we are left in no doubt, he has defeated the Daleks and only the Doctor could possibly do that.

Unfortunately Troughton's performance is as awkward and disjointed as many of his successors debuts. He is not awful or anything, he glides through the story being as mysterious as the scripts demand but without any idea of how to change the character Hartnell had so meticulously created. It is really a blank sheet waiting for Troughton to fill in and his powerful, mischievous meddler would not come together until The Macra Terror.

However Whitaker does take the time to suggest some differences to the first Doctors methods. The new Doctor leaves the TARDIS without checking the atmosphere or radiation, he appears unconcerned when locked up tooting on his recorder and appears to guess the soloution to the ending, not certain it will work at all! All very unHartnell! For all intents and purposes this is a different man.

Fortunate then that we have fresh companions Polly and Ben to carry us through the story with a familiar set of friends. I have a lot of time for these two; they have an extremely engaging rapport. Ben's accent is sexy as hell; a cockney lad with a lot of muscle and little patience and Polly was sex on legs, gorgeous to look at and with an incredible set of lungs! Whitaker draws some interesting parallels to An Unearthly Child, in both stories it was the man (Ian, Ben) who was aggressive and judgemental and the woman (Barbara, Polly) who was willing to listen and believe. Ben may be well within his rights to be suspicious of this man claiming to be the Doctor but he is so ruthless in his determination to have some proof he is almost unlikable. Polly is much more reasonable, the only truly likable person in the uncomfortable first episode.

Episode six of Power of the Daleks is such a winner, so dramatic because of the five-episode build up to the Dalek massacre. This is how to show how evil they are, five episodes of scheming and plotting before they pour out of their capsule and exterminate all the men, women and children of the colony, the people that help them live in the first place. The massacre is horrifying, characters we have grown accustomed to over the past five weeks (be it good or evil) cut down casually as though they were never important. To the Daleks, they never were. Existing telesnaps of the Daleks streaming down the corridors towards children blasting away suggest director Christopher Barry was determined to show their cruelty in as vivid manner as possible.

Bragen is one of those wonderfully pitiable characters that you can't help but love despite his abhorrent behaviour. He single handedly masterminds the destruction of the colony, first intending to overthrow the Governor and take his place and then planning to kill the rebels (his own men!) with the Daleks! What a bastard! It is reassuring to hear Marcus Scarman's voice, Bernard Archard's cold accent helping to give Bragen the right amount of aloofness and superiority. One the stories all time best scenes is when Bragen shouts over the intercom to the Daleks that he is the Governor now and they have to obey him! How pathetic, he finally gets to the seat of power and finds that the method that got him there has just wiped out all his people.

I was surprised at Pam Ann Davy's performance as Janley; she was quite superb at playing the femme fetale to the hilt. It wasn't her ability but the fact that a woman could be seen in such a cruel, sinister light. Quite radical for the sixties surely?

So many memorable scenes... the production line, "Daleks conquer and destroy!", the first time a gun is attached to a Dalek, Lesterson's crazed babble about "the new race!", Bragen dismissing the Governor... oh yes this is a very good story and no mistake. Whitaker remembers that while he is exploring Dalek psychology and the new Doctor it is still necessary to tell a suspenseful and dramatic story with it.

Like I say not quite to the level of Evil, which is possibly the best Troughton story there is but up there with the best of the era and a prime contender for strongest debut story if not debut performance.


A Review by Brian May 23/3/05

The Power of the Daleks is one of the all time great Doctor Who stories we will probably never see. From piecing together the available evidence, almost everything points to a classy production: excellently written, directed and acted. Just the sort of story that would stay lost while The Dominators sits intact in the BBC vaults! This story saw the first great upheaval in the programme, and one that left an important legacy - the first time the lead actor had changed. Patrick Troughton was now Doctor Who, and I'm sure everyone involved with the show was waiting nervously as episode one aired. The familiar face of William Hartnell was gone; what would have been disorienting and disconcerting for viewers was the fact that the title hero was totally different - not just the actor, but the character as well. Of course, it paid off, but was surely such a television experiment at the time to have had people scratching their heads.

The second Doctor's initial scenes in the TARDIS are highly ambiguous - this strange man refers to the Doctor in the third person, he never clearly asserts to Ben and Polly (and the audience) that he is the same man as before; and this is very annoying on the Doctor's part - he doesn't make the effort to prove who he is. Ben still doubts his identity in episode two; and then in episode three the Doctor seems to be unconcerned about Polly's disappearance. But Patrick Troughton lands on his feet - it's been said that he doesn't really grow into his role as the Doctor for several stories, but there's much that typifies him from the very beginning - there's his slapstick buffoonery, including his obliviousness when he almost walks into a pool of mercury and then, just as unknowingly, sidesteps it just in time. His constant recorder playing, listening to a piece of fruit and opening a door so hard the knob comes off in his hand are others (which, after the austere dignity of William Hartnell, would have disconcerted viewers even more!) But Troughton also shows his Doctor's shrewdness, cunning, and his ability to be outraged: all these elements are shown here, and more often than not, his tomfoolery is a deceptive front.

However, the decision to bring back the Daleks, to remind viewers this still is Doctor Who, was a wise one. Despite all six episodes being missing, it's easy to discern a good script when we read one. Despite some rewriting, David Whitaker's skill still shines through. In fact, this is one of the cleverest uses of the Daleks in the programme; rather than a stock "kill the Doctor" or "conquer the galaxy" plotline, this presents them as cunning schemers. Their subservient nature is a fascinating idea, and scenes such as a Dalek serving drinks, and all those "I am your servant" recitations are so unusually different, providing some lasting images, especially episode two's cracking cliffhanger. Of course, being the Daleks, they're up to no good, but their manipulation of Lesterson and Janley, and the domino effect this creates as Bragen takes over the colony and the fighting between guards and rebels ensues, is wonderfully underplayed. Whitaker's script not only portrays a new side to the Daleks, but it also shows up human failings. An amazing moment is the Dalek's query "Why do human beings kill human beings?" after Bragen orders it to exterminate Hensell. This is a terrific condemnation; at this point Daleks had not killed their own kind (Planet was the first instance I think), so the poignancy is not lost. Killing your own kind is illogical - it's a sorry state for humankind that it takes a Dalek to point this out! (And ingratitude is another human attribute highlighted here - what a miserable sod Valmar is towards the Doctor at the very end!) The Daleks' ulterior motive is never hidden from the viewer, and their rampage in episode six is made all the easier due to the conflict caused by the rebels. And, if you want thought provoking, "adult" ideas, remember it's the Doctor who first suggests using Bragen's guards as decoys against the Daleks to buy time! Callousness or expedient pragmatism?

What I also like about the plotting is the small scale. We're never sure why the Daleks want to seize control of Vulcan, although some educated guesses can be made. There are references to the colony's mining operations, so the planet would provide useful natural resources - it will simply turn into a Dalek colony once they take over. We're not sure of their greater purpose, but this keeps the small perspective quite sharp; Whitaker writes about the fate of one world, while never losing sight of the Daleks' absolute menace. The scripting is also assisted by little nuances such as the Daleks correcting themselves when in their subservient guise: "A Dalek is bet... not the same as a human", "the Daleks will be twice as... useful", and the great confrontation between the Doctor and a Dalek: Doctor: "You're my servant, are you?"
Dalek: "I... I am" The rebellion sub-plot, which could have been deadly dull, holds the interest. The characterisations are excellent, as are the actors that breathe life into them. Of special note are Bernard Archard (Bragen), Pamela Ann Davey (Janley) and Nicholas Hawtrey (Quinn). However Robert James steals the show as Lesterson, brilliantly conveying the scientist's ambition, obsession and instability; his mad rants when he finally snaps are brilliant - it's another great scene when the Dalek acknowledges to him "Yes, you gave us life" and then immediately exterminates him.

The design of the colony's corridors, rooms and the Dalek capsule look to be more than adequate, while Tristram Cary's otherworldly, eerie score complements the story's atmosphere beautifully, as it did in The Daleks. The direction is probably the most difficult thing to assess, but from what's available, I can safely assume Christopher Barry did an excellent job, much the same as he did for the early episodes of the Daleks' debut. The telesnaps show some interesting shots: the slight low angle as the Dalek eye stalk impassively watches the Doctor in episode three; Resno being watched by the Dalek is fuelled to a paranoid level, and the surviving off-air clip of his extermination looks quite good. The production line scenes are a mixed bag: it's obvious they're toy Daleks on the conveyor belt, but the (telesnap only) pictures of the Dalek mutants look grisly, as do the surviving clips of their destruction in episode six. The massacre of humans at the end looks uncompromising, while the final shot, that of the Dalek eye stalk moving to watch the TARDIS dematerialise, would have been wonderful.

On the subject of the surviving clips, the famous "Daleks conquer and destroy!" shows up some of the story's faults, although from a purely budgetary perspective. Yes, there are blow-up images in the background; yes, a few Daleks are going round in circles to look like a great army; and I've already mentioned the production line toys. But at least we're aware of them now - the Kirby wires and empty suits in Tomb of the Cybermen made the story's flaws unforgivable to some after its recovery. Should Power ever come to light - and I sincerely hope it does - then hopefully this foreknowledge of the shortcomings, inevitable for a low budget sci-fi programme, will be accepted more gracefully.

The only real fault I find with The Power of the Daleks is in the costuming. That colony get-up is dreadful; karate outfits and safari suits aren't very flattering at the best of times - combining the two is just ghastly. But that's all. The rest of the story is wonderful: excellently written and realised. The first introduction of a new Doctor and one of the most interesting portrayals of the Daleks combine to make an example of just how high quality Doctor Who can be. Shame we can't watch the damn thing. 9.5/10


A Review by Daniel Saunders 26/6/09

Seen in context, The Power of the Daleks is shocking. The Doctor not only has a new body, but, as Ben points out, behaves totally out of character. He refers to "the Doctor" in the third person, answers questions with blasts on his recorder, and, perhaps most shockingly, fails to exert any influence on the colonists until it is too late, even getting shouted down by a Dalek. Moreover, rather than being thanked by a grateful population at the end of the story, they turn on him, blaming him for the collateral damage!

By this point, the programme shares no significant permanent personnel (behind or in front of the cameras) with the earliest stories. There is, therefore, a logic in bringing back the Daleks to reiterate some kind of link. It is noteworthy both that the Dalek recognises the Doctor and that the TV trailer stresses the return of the Daleks, not the new Doctor. The scene where the Doctor glimpses his previous self in a mirror, odd though it is, serves a similar purpose, reassuring viewers that this is the same character.

It is tempting to say that changes of script editors and producers are more important than those of lead actors, but the characterisation of the main characters and the actors' abilities do affect the type of stories that can be told. It is hard to imagine this story with the ever-authoritative William Hartnell (The Tenth Planet is the nearest the first Doctor comes to being stuck in a second Doctor story, with no one in authority listening to him). However, at this stage, the programme is in a state of flux, and it is quite difficult to imagine the second Doctor of a few stories later (less secretive, and with eccentricities that are less forced) here either.

Much as I like the first Doctor and Hartnell's portrayal, both the second Doctor and Patrick Troughton impress from their earliest scenes. I like the secretive, eccentric, quiet character, who can not command instant authority. Troughton's performance perhaps seems a more naturalistic form of television acting to a modern audience than Hartnell's. Incidentally, the Doctor's catchphrase, "I should like a hat like that", which has puzzled many fans, seems to be a paraphrase of an old Broadside Ballad. Quite why this was supposed to be the new Doctor's catchphrase is impossible to answer, but the song describes a man who is never taken seriously by authority figures, high society or the man in the street because of his appearance, which makes it appropriate for this Doctor.

In the absence of a familiar lead, this is a story that depends on detailed and realistic supporting characters. Ben and Polly get to voice the audience's thoughts, being alternately charmed, confused and irritated by the new Doctor. Lesterson is a bit like Alfred Nobel: a man who wants to benefit mankind, and is rather shocked when his discovery is used for violent purposes. Note the way he tells his assistants to keep their politics out of the lab.

In one of the two most important lines in the story, the Doctor states, "Greed and ambition. That's all it is. Wait till they find out what their precious production figures have cost them!" This theme echoes through the whole story. The colonists don~'t ask difficult questions about the Daleks (where do they come from and why are they armed?), because they seem to be the solution to all their problems, whether boosting production and getting support from Earth or providing firepower in the rebellion. For once, rebellion is not a struggle of the oppressed against their oppressors, but simply a grubby power struggle between the "ins" and the "outs", before the rebels fight amongst themselves for the top job. This is a rather more realistic, not to mention cynical, view of politics and rebellion, than we normally get in Doctor Who.

Which leaves the Daleks themselves. It is worth noting that almost all of the tricks Dalek used (to great critical and fan acclaim) to make the Daleks sinister are employed here: the Daleks use cunning and knowledge of human psychology for their own ends ("We understand the human mind" one Dalek assures us), we are told that one Dalek can destroy the entire colony, and we get our most graphic look yet at Dalek innards. The second important line in the story is given to a Dalek: "Why do human beings kill human beings?" It is this which provides the key to understanding the Daleks. David Whitaker seems to have been interested in Daleks primarily to hold a mirror to human nature. The power of the Daleks is not static electricity or violence, but unity in comparison with human fractiousness and infighting. It is hard to tell from the telesnaps, but the scenes of corpses all over the colony after the Dalek attack seem very bleak, to an extent that the programme has only previously dared when justified by "history".

This emphasis on character is very laudable, but it is possible that the story does not have enough for the children in the audience. My ten year old self did not particularly enjoy this story, finding it boring and hard to follow (the same goes for The Caves of Androzani, Revelation of the Daleks and the novelization of The Ribos Operation; all character-heavy stories about internal politics with few "monster bits"). Nevertheless, The Power of the Daleks remains one of the boldest experiments in Doctor Who's history, and a successful one too.


A Review by Robert Thomas 21/9/10

Probably one of the most important stories in the history of the show given that the Doctor himself is reformatted for the first time.

Troughton is excellent, a bit wild in bits but gets the main gist of how he's going to play the part over. I love how he has little interest in convincing Ben and Polly of his identity; quite frankly, he's blooming lucky Polly believes him, the Doctor's explanation sounds suspicious and like he's making it up on the spot. Craze and Wills are perfect throughout the story, in particular Ben's initial suspicion, exasperation with the Doctor and believing him. Full marks also for the guest cast in particular main human villain Bragen and Robert James portrayal of Lesterson as he slowly loses his sanity; thinking about this, it's pretty much the polar opposite of Stephen Dartnell's John in The Sensorites.

Oh the Daleks though, utterly brilliant; fantastic idea to bring them back, new Doctor, fairly new companions, so the audience needed some sense of familiarity and get it in the villain. But there's something different about them (which helps put over the idea that we're in a new era); these are not the "I've got a gun (and sink plunger) and am going to shoot anything in sight (or unclog any drains in sight)" Daleks, these are the "sneaky, penned by David Whitaker" Daleks. Plucked out of a swamp on an alien colony, they are intent on ingratiating themselves as servants rather than blasting colonists. As the only person with any knowledge of them is the Doctor, after an episode of suspicion we're on his side as he looks alone. That dialogue as he's trying to convince the colonists is classic Troughton.

Although as per usual with anything over 4 parts, this needs more than your typical plot. We have plenty of plot lines though: the central mystery of what's happened to the Doctor, what are the Daleks really up to and the politics of the colony carry this through nicely. A slight fannish observation: the Daleks ship is bigger on the inside. Another Dalek TARDIS perhaps, maybe even from the Time War?


A Review by Matthew Clarke 29/1/11

It's hard to review a story that has so little of the original footage. At least we have the Telesnap reconstruction and plenty of photographs. It is a great injustice that so little of this story survives, because it is a really good one.

It must have been a bizarre experience for viewers seeing the Doctor regenerate for the first time. A lot of them found it just too much too handle. The story rather reflects this with the companions, Ben and Polly treating the Second Doctor with suspicion. Perhaps the more recent fan who is familiar with Patrick Troughton might be a little troubled by Ben's hostility and aggression towards the Doctor. It is probably the Doctor's recognition of the Dalek's and his determined confrontation of them that reassure the viewer that this really is their Doctor.

The great thing about the Daleks in this story is their cunning. They pretend to be faithful servants of the human colonists but are plotting to exterminate them all. In later stories, the Daleks lacked this cunning and needed Davros to do their thinking for them. Here, the Daleks ruthlessly exploit the divisions in the human colony.

Patrick Troughton gives a great perforance as the new Doctor. He has not quite made the role his own yet, but he introduces the new clown-like persona. I particularly like the moment where he avoids his companions' questions by playing his recorder. We also see something of his manic frustration as he fails to persuade the colonists of the dangers of the Daleks.

The story takes a cue from Gogol's The Government Inspector, with the Doctor impersonating the murdered Earth Examiner. David Whitaker's writing is a good deal cleverer than any of the Dalek stories of Terry Nation, who had a tendency to resort to stock plots.

Power of the Daleks has some great, well-drawn characters. The power-hungry woman, Janly, is particularly well portrayed, but full marks also go to the misguided scientist, Lesterton. The evil cunning of the Daleks is matched by the ambition, arrogance and ruthlessness of the colonists. The Dalek's question "Why do human beings kill human beings?" is poignant.

The high bodycount in this story is surprising; one almost feels like the Saward era is here already. I am not a big fan of massacres in Doctor Who. Still, many of the colonists, like Janly, deserve their fate.

One thing I paricularly love; Polly is given a futuristic colony outfit that includes a pair of flip flops. I am glad to see that flip flops will still be in style in the days of space exploration!