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Doctor Who Original Series 21 - The Daleks' Master Plan

3.10 The Daleks' Master Plan Pt. 1 - The Nightmare Begins Written by Terry Nation, Directed by Douglas Camfield

The TARDIS lands on Kembel in an effort to find drugs to help Steven.

Slow but steady start. Brett Vyon strikes me as a bit thuggish, Mavic Chen's introduction is reasonable, and the episode has a great cliffhanger.

I do so love the way Kevin Stoney talks


"So, you'd use physical violence, would you? You don't know what you've let yourself in for." - William Hartnell (Doctor Who)

3.11 The Daleks' Master Plan Pt. 2 - Day of Armageddon Written by Terry Nation, Directed by Douglas Camfield

The Doctor decides to find out what the Daleks have planned.

Solid, and builds to another excellent cliffhanger. They've made an effort with the delegates for the story. Each looks different, but also moves or behaves differently. So when they applaud, each does so in a distinct manner. Sure some of this may look a bit daggy by today's standards, but at least the show tried something different.

And one has to admire the Doctor's sheer guts, not only sneaking into the meeting, but stealing the core of the Time Destructor.


"I, Mavic Chen, give you the core of the time destructor!" - Kevin Stoney (Mavic Chen)

3.12 The Daleks' Master Plan Pt. 3 - Devil's Planet Written by Terry Nation, Directed by Douglas Camfield

The Doctor, Steven, Bret, and Katarina crash land on the penal planet, Desperus.

Moves along at a fair clip. The Daleks are suitably cunning and deadly, Mavic Chen is an increasingly good match for his allies, and the story progresses well.


"You show me so many strange mysteries. With you I know I'm safe." - Adrienne Hill (Katarina)

3.13 The Daleks' Master Plan Pt. 4 - The Traitors Written by Terry Nation, Directed by Douglas Camfield

Reaching Earth, The Doctor and his friends only find more danger and conspiracy.

Great! Chen's machinations, the Daleks' brutality, the realisation that the conspiracy reaches further than expected... it all builds a wonderfully dark and harsh episode during which the desperation of the situation is only increased.

The Doctor's reaction to Katarina's death is deeply felt, even on audio. Hartnell doesn't hold back his sorrow for the unfortunate girl's demise. Her death also feels right. This is the first story where we've had the very universe being in danger, so the loss of a companion seems to help up the ante. Anything goes.

The death of Bret Vyon is also a surprise, and another aspect of the story being told that heightens the danger. With this episode, the audience suddenly get a real idea that things are dire. My gut feeling was for a 9/10 score, but I've upped it to 10 not just because it's a great episode, but because of the effects this episode has on the characters and story to date.


"A heroic war cry to apparently peaceful ends is one of the greatest weapons a politician has." - Kevin Stoney (Mavic Chen)

3.14 The Daleks' Master Plan Pt. 5 - Counter Plot Written by Terry Nation, Directed by Douglas Camfield

Steven, Sara Kingdom, and the doctor find themselves on the plane Mira.

Not much happens near the start, and then I have a few issues with Sara Kingdom. But the small weaknesses are redeemed by a good cliffhanger.

Sara Kingdom is hard and tough enough that she kills her own brother, but by the end of the episode she becomes a whimpering girl scared of the Visians. It just doesn't work.

The Daleks killing the mice is kind of amusing.


"An alien device. There are small white creatures inside. They may be hostile." - Peter Hawkins (Dalek)

3.15 The Daleks' Master Plan Pt. 6 - Coronas of the Sun Written by Dennis Spooner (from an idea by Terry Nation), Directed by Douglas Camfield

The Doctor and co. are dragged back to Kembal by the Daleks.

A corker. Not because of the trials and tribulations of our heroes, though they are fun, but because of Mavic Chen arguing with the Dalek Supreme! To make it worse, the Dalek Supreme knows the man is right! It's awesome as they make accusations and counter accusations and keep trying to one-up each other. In every other way, the Daleks are suitably ruthless through this story, but it's at this point you can see them in a situation they aren't used to... they really want to kill Chen, but can't in case they need him!

What Coronas of which Sun, and why do they matter?


"They may believe that they have successfully escaped from us, but we, the Daleks, are still in command!" - Peter Hawkins (Dalek Supreme, nearly screaming at Mavic Chen)

3.16 The Daleks' Master Plan Pt. 7 - The Feast of Steven Written by Terry Nation, Directed by Douglas Camfield

Having escaped the Daleks for the time being, the TARDIS crew land on Earth at Christmas.

I was kind of dreading this filler episode, created for Christmas Day 1965, as the rest of the story so far has chugged along quite well and been of reasonably high quality. Also, I knew that big chunks of the second half were visual.

But as it happens it's a great episode for completely different reasons to what has gone before. It's a comic farce! Mistaken identities, chase scenes, Bing Crosby, etc. At times it's a little much and a bit annoying, but mostly it's good silly fun.

I have a couple of issues with Nation's writing for Sara. For a start, to help with exposition, she forgets about the Daleks?! WTF?! A trained combat Space Security operative forgets about the Daleks? A very short time after they've left them?

Then later she's found hiding because the wardrobe master of the film set they've landed on keeps telling her to take her clothes off (to get changed into an appropriate harem outfit).

I know it was the style of the time, but when they keep trying to make Sara out as strong and independent, these sorts of moments grate. Fortunately they are minor.


"Now, come along. We must go back to the TARDIS. This is a madhouse. It's all full of Arabs!" - William Hartnell (Doctor Who, showing the Doctor's attitude to political correctness)

3.17 The Daleks' Master Plan Pt. 8 - Volcano Written by Dennis Spooner (from an idea by Terry Nation), Directed by Douglas Camfield

The Daleks discover the Doctor's deception, and another time/space craft starts to track the TARDIS.

This was another fill-in episode, going out as it did on New Years Day. But this time it's not quite as satisfying. That said, the run-in on Tigus is a bit of fun, and it's kind of nice to see Mavic Chen on the back-foot, too.

The cricket match bit is a bit dull, and the Doctor's solution to the Monk's sabotage is a bit hand wavey and easy.


"Inform the Dalek Supreme that the Time Destructor is ready for testing." - Peter Hawkins (Dalek)

3.18 The Daleks' Master Plan Pt. 9 - Golden Death Written by Dennis Spooner (from an idea by Terry Nation), Directed by Douglas Camfield

The Doctor arrives in Egypt, closely followed by the Daleks.

Still feels a bit slow, lots of looking and following about, and the old standby of characters being locked up because there's nothing for them to do. Enjoyable enough, just not as strongly plotted.

According to the script, Mavic Chen actively pushes a Dalek's gun aside when it looks like it's going to shoot someone he wants alive. This is totally in keeping with Chen's increasing arrogance, and is followed on with in the next episode.

The Monk is fun once again, and his interactions with the Doctor are amusing. I do like the way they play against one another.


"You know Doctor, if your machine would blend in with its surroundings, people wouldn't be able to find it. And then we wouldn't have all this trouble." - Peter Butterworth (The Monk)

3.19 The Daleks' Master Plan Pt. 10 - Escape Switch Written by Dennis Spooner (from an idea by Terry Nation), Directed by Douglas Camfield

The Doctor must make a bargain.

Entertaining enough. I do rather enjoy the Doctor's satisfaction when it comes to making demands of the Daleks. The Monk gets a bit more to do, and Chen's arrogance and frustration with the Daleks is only increasing.

The scene where be yells at the Dalek and bats away its eyestalk is cute, you can just imagine the Dalek thinking "Oh God I just want to kill him!"

Why do the Daleks so obviously break the deal, when initially they were happy to go along with it because a lone Dalek is sufficiently deadly?


"One Dalek is enough to destroy all!" - David Graham (Dalek)

3.20 The Daleks' Master Plan Pt. 11 - The Abandoned Planet Written by Dennis Spooner (from an idea by Terry Nation), Directed by Douglas Camfield

Our heroes return to Kembel to stop the Daleks.

In some ways the episode lacks, since most of what Steven and Sara do is run around, but that's made up for by Mavic Chen and the Daleks.


"Now, gentlemen, we come to the main discussion before this meeting. The apportioning of the government of the universe after the conquest. All of you will be allowed to oversee your own galaxies. BUT... all of you will be responsible to the Dalek Supreme... and me!" - Kevin Stoney (Mavic Chen)

3.21 The Daleks' Master Plan Pt. 12 - The Destruction of Time Written by Dennis Spooner (from an idea by Terry Nation), Directed by Douglas Camfield

The Daleks' Time Destructor is counting down, the Doctor is missing, and Steven and Sara are prisoners.

A pretty satisfying finish to the story, and one that doesn't forget the cost.


"What a waste. What a terrible waste." - William Hartnell (Doctor Who)

The Daleks' Master Plan 8/10

Master Plan is a pretty solid story from beginning to end. While the pace is a little slow at times, it still manages to keep things moving along in a satisfying way. The fact that some four-part stories struggle to manage this is a testament to both Terry Nation and Dennis Spooner.

One of the impressive feats is that the oppressive air, and feeling of being hounded by the Daleks and their conspirators, only lets up during the two episodes that went out over Christmas Day and New Year's. And it's not like those episodes let the story down in any way, being reasonably entertaining in their own right.

Special mention must go to Mavic Chen, played by Kevin Stoney. It's a wonderful character and Stoney is fabulous in the role. As the story goes on, he grows from being smooth and arrogant, to being incredibly arrogant, and eventually to insane and arrogant. And Stoney pulls it off beautifully throughout.

And the Daleks are back to their old deadly selves. Failure means instant death. Which makes it wonderfully amusing when they need the arrogant Chen and can't kill him! The sixth episode has a beautiful exchange between Chen and the Dalek Supreme, as he keeps interrupting the Dalek leader and berating it for failure. The Dalek ends up practically screaming at him in sheer frustration.

Hartnell, Purves, and Marsh all put in fine performances throughout. At no time do they treat the threat of the Daleks as anything other than deadly serious.

Nick Courtney's Bret Vyon is also well played, though the character comes across as a bit thuggish and thick, making threats and stealing things from potential allies, rather than just asking for help.

Adrienne Hill does a good job with the little she's given to do as Katarina. It was a difficult role, but she appears to play it as well as can be expected.

All up, I really, really enjoyed it. It's just a good solid story. And as befits a tale where there is the risk of universal domination by the Daleks, there is a solid cost in the deaths of Brett, Katarina and Sara, something which is not simply forgotten by the cast, and the reminder of which makes the final victory a bitter-sweet one.
Tags: doctor who story reviews

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