Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Dalek Invasion of Earth — Blogging Doctor Who

"We will view the
Tate Modern, and then
exterminate. Exterminate!"
Let me give away my conclusion right at the beginning. “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” is the very best of the first nine surviving Doctor Who stories.[1] As I scan my list of upcoming First Doctor stories, it’s hard to think if this story ever gets beat in the First Doctor’s tenure.[2] Its opening scene in a roboman (as later identified) pitches himself into a river (also later noted as a typical ending for a roboman) is exceeded only when (Spoiler Alert but it’s in the title) a Dalek emerges from those same waters. They never establish what the Dalek was doing under the waters of the Thames, but it’s not like you can go and ask a Dalek that sort of thing.

“Excuse me, Mr. Dalek, but just what were you doing right now on the bottom of the Thames?”

“You will be exterminated! Exterminate! Exterminate!” Daleks are lousy conversationalists. Don’t bother inviting them to tea.

However, I did find amusing the sequences in the Dalek’s control of Earth is shown by having them wheel about in various famous spots of London. It really does come off as “Daleks hit the tourism spots of London while on vacation.” (“Ooo. We’ve noting like this back home on Skaro.”) That, and the Dalek interrogating the mannequin were unexpected bits of comedy (tourism Daleks clearly unintentional, however, just moving about across the scene, they’re not that menacing[3])

The story isn’t without its flaws. The stuff that falls around the Tardis looks easy enough to move. They could have at least had a scene in which Ian tries to move it and fails. Nope, he just looks at it an announces they’ll need something like an acetylene torch to cut through it. Even that piece of wood that looks like a perfectly new 2x4? The trellis doesn’t look that tough.

The slyther, an alien beast brought to Earth by the Daleks is one of the stupidest looking monsters ever. It’s a good thing it isn’t seen much.

On the other hand, Jenny is an amazingly tough and cynical character (given the chance, she would have at least tried to pull the debris away), still when she and Barbara are in the home of the two women they’re too quickly mollified when they suspect the younger woman might be turning them in for a reward.

Another particularly good moment was one bit of dialog that pulled no punches and made it perfectly clear that the Daleks are Space Nazis. Not that there was any chance of anyone mistaking them for the conflicted sort of almost antihero villain.

Eye Candy for Gay Time Lords
There’s the good looking guy now and then. Of course, a lot of them die. I remember thinking as one character decides to head off his own way that he was pretty good looking. Then he turns the corner and encounters the Daleks. They focus their attention on killing him, which gives everyone else more chance to get away. But the real character to talk about is David. Yeah, Peter Fraser (who played him) was reasonably attractive and he has nice, playful scenes with Susan (Carol Ann Ford). But to give up all time and space for him? Please. (Admittedly, the Doctor[4] does kind of force her into that one.)

Later continuity establishes that a Tardis key alone is an amazing high-tech device. Susan leaves hers in the rubbish at the banks of the Thames. Oops.

So, Is This a Must-See?
Yes. Oh, absolutely yes.

Next: The show adds a new companion for the first time.

  1. I highly doubt “Marco Polo” is better, though I’d be ecstatic if the missing episodes were found.  ↩
  2. Fine though “The Web Planet” and “The Gunfighters” might be. I’m actually dreading watching “The Gunfighters.”  ↩
  3. Although I say that as a middle-aged man who has seen every episode featuring the Daleks.  ↩
  4. It’s the First Doctor being a total dick again.  ↩

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