dalekboy (dalekboy) wrote,

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Doctor Who Original Series 02 - The Dead Planet

Okay, now my thoughts on the first Dalek story...

1.05 The Dead Planet Pt. 1 - The Dead Planet Written by Terry Nation, Directed by Christopher Barry

The TARDIS lands in a petrified forest overlooking a magnificent metal city, which the Doctor is determined to investigate.

A quiet episode that works on further establishing the characters and the new environment that they find themselves in. A special mention must go to the dalek city, with its metal walls, and doorways that aren't square and are too short for an average human to get through without ducking. It's hard to imagine, in a world that had never seen or heard of daleks, the reaction of the audience at home to the cliffhanger. Especially after having had time to see a world and a city quite unlike anything seen on television up to that point.


"Uninvited passengers. I didn't invite them to the ship. I shall do what I want to do!" - William Hartnell (Doctor Who)

1.06 The Dead Planet Pt. 2 - The Survivors Written by Terry Nation, Directed by Christopher Barry

The Daleks capture the TARDIS crew.

The first introduction of the daleks is played to maximum effect. They are always in motion, shifting about, moving, front antenna twitching. When a dalek turns and the crew don't follow, the dome pivots 180 degrees to look at them. And of course the pupil dilates on the eyestalk. A fabulous design for the day, and way ahead of any other alien monster on TV and in most films to that point.

Events move slowly - the crew are captured, the Doctor is questioned, Susan is sent to the TARDIS - but the episode never feels dull. It would have gotten 7 out of 10, but the realisation of the daleks, the effort to make them appear alive by giving them constant motion, gained it another point.


"You will move ahead of us and follow my directions. This Way. Immediately!" - David Graham (Dalek voices) and first ever bit of dalek dialogue.

1.07 The Dead Planet Pt. 3 - The Escape Written by Terry Nation, Directed by Richard Martin

Susan meets the Thals, and the crew plan an escape.

We meet the Thals and, well, they're a bit dull. Establishing them takes a little while and slows things down a touch. I think it's the rather stilted portrayal of a noble people. Though their leader has a bit of a laugh at the ever serious Alydon, only Ganatus seems to have a real sense of humour.

One small thing that deserves a mention is one dalek questioning another on what to do with the prisoners. "Extermination then?" The first time the ex-word is used in the entire story. I've always wondered at the truth in the statements that in no time children were yelling 'exterminate' in the playgrounds.

All up a slow episode that is basically the set up for the next one, though the finale helps elevate it a little above average.


"If they call us mutations, what must they be like?" - Alydon (John Lee)

1.08 The Dead Planet Pt. 4 - The Ambush Written by Terry Nation, Directed by Christopher Barry

The travellers try to escape and to prevent the Thals being ambushed by the Daleks.

Between the elevator escape and the ambush there some great little set-pieces in this episode. Tristram Cary's music is wonderful as the daleks lurk in dark doorways, watching the Thals and waiting to attack. There's a particular close-up of a dalek gunstick twitching prior to the ambush that's a nice touch, and one little personal highpoint for me is when a dalek shoots at Ian and the shot hits the wall next to him, making it burn and melt. Given the effects of the day and the style of filming the show, this would have been pretty hard to achieve.


"Daleks, the Thal people wish to live in peace. If this is your wish too, then let us work together to rebuild our world." - Alan Wheatley (Temmosus)

1.09 The Dead Planet Pt. 5 - The Expedition Written by Terry Nation, Directed by Christopher Barry

The daleks experiment with the anti-radiation drug, while the crew decide to return to the city.

Given the limitations of the small studio spaces the show had to deal with, this episode shows what a good director can manage. The swamp sequences are fairly well realised, and clever camera work and direction makes it seem as if there are quite a few more daleks than were actually built. Even the cardboard cut-outs work okay, most of the time.


"We do not have to adapt to the environment. We will change the environment to suit us." - Peter Hawkins (Dalek voices)

1.10 The Dead Planet Pt. 6 - The Expedition Written by Terry Nation, Directed by Richard Martin

Ian, Barbara and the Thals try to reach the Dalek city through the caves.

Another set-up episode, this one seems to work a bit better than The Escape. The ex-word gets two more mentions, though still not as 'exterminate.'


"The only interest we have in the Thals is their total extermination" - Peter Hawkins (Dalek voices)

1.11 The Dead Planet Pt. 7 - The Rescue Written by Terry Nation, Directed by Richard Martin

The Daleks plan to wipe out all life on Skaro.

This episode cracks along at a fair old pace. The final battle is well realised given the limitations of the day. On a personal level, while I love the final fight, somehow it still lacks a certain oomph.


You wanted advice you said. I never give it. Never. But I might just say this to you - always search for truth. My truth is in the stars, and yours, is here." - William Hartnell (Doctor Who)

The Dead Planet 7.42/10

I don't know of any SF TV before this that went to so much effort create an alien environment. Hell, most movies didn't go to the trouble to create cities that were not for humans as this did. The attention to detail is very good, with only the occasional slip-up, such as normal switches on some devices rather than the big dalek-style controls.

However that's a limitation of budget more than poor design, and there are other subtle touches, such as the faux binary numbering on the lift controls, that more than make up for it. The daleks are a simple idea, well-handled. The story is good, with believable reactions from the main cast to their situation.
Tags: doctor who story reviews

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