Doctor Who: The Dalek Invasion of Earth
(6 episodes, s02e04-e09, 1964)
This was a great episode cover to cover, even with the dubious plot to steal an entire planet. Every one of the characters gets a chance to shine: The Doctor works through the puzzle in the Dalek jail cell, and helps Ian understand it as well; Barbara and Susan contribute to the fight at the Dalek saucer, which speaks volumes considering the lack of empowered women in 1960s science fiction; Barbara displays her intelligence and improv skills in stalling the Daleks by playing on their ignorance of human history; and Susan… oh, Susan.
Once again, Susan is yearning to grow, but is frustrated in trying to figure out how exactly to do so. David seems like a good mentor to help her find an identity and a place to thrive. The Doctor’s grudging respect for him points to this as well, and it was heart-wrenching to see him finally let his granddaughter go. It was interesting how much Susan grew on me in the short time she was on the show. After the credits rolled, I couldn’t press play to start the next serial because I felt like I needed time to say goodbye.
Even among the secondary characters, the development was great. Particularly, I point to the wheelchair-bound scientist’s sacrifice to test his Dalek killing grenade. It was very chilling, since he died in vain.
Some last notes on characters, it was good to see the Doctor back in his signature jacket. This episode also reinforced a couple of things with his character. First, he doesn’t kill unless under a direct threat, which will be interesting to track over this project. Second, he very clearly established that he prefers the name (title?) Doctor, and not the shortened form of Doc.
Finally, William Russell (Ian) sure does like testing the limits of the sets, doesn’t he? He keeps running headlong into set pieces that shouldn’t bend, but do under the power of his spirited no-holds-barred acting style.
Production-wise, this story has a lot of action and explosive effects. The location shoots make the story feel much more open, especially in the transit to the museum. The TARDIS looked rather beat up with the windows out of place. I loved seeing the Dalek coming out of the river at the end of the first episode. That innovative idea was so exciting to me, I can hardly imagine how kids felt when this serial first aired.
The one downside to me was the slyther. It is certainly an interesting creature, though it doesn’t make much sense that the Daleks would keep a pet given their desire to destroy everything not Dalek. But that is a minor quibble in this gem of an episode.
Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”
UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Rescue