The Story So Far: Intrepid pop culture adventurers PhantomV48 and Fleshvine have decided to make the long trek through the history of Doctor Who, starting all the way back at jump. So they just met the First Doctor in “An Unearthly Child” and now they make the second stop on their journey…
(Told in seven parts: “The Dead Planet,” “The Survivors,” “The Escape,” “The Ambush,” “The Expedition,” “The Ordeal,” and “The Rescue.”)
PhantomV48: So, they break these guys out pretty early, huh? When we last left our heroes–
Fleshvine: –and Susan The Whiny–
FV: That would make a great band name…
PV48: –and come across a city. The Doctor gets all giddy, and insists that they go explore the city. Meanwhile Barbara and Ian–
FV: “…The Boring”
PV48: –insist on going back to the ship. Apparently at this point The Doctor kind of had a job: to explore and research time and space, instead of just bumming around the universe like he does now-a-days. On the way back to the ship Susan swears she is grabbed by someone. Then, once back in the TARDIS, they hear someone knocking on the outside, though the scanners show no life around. After a feast of bacon and egg-flavored energy bars the “crew” insists on blowing their current popsicle stand, but oh, the fluid link is leaking!
FV: Will NOT make a comment about blowing popsicles.
PV48: No problem: we just need mercury…hmmm, no where to get that but inside the city. The Doctor was kind of a dick at this point as well.
FV: Who peed on his bacon and egg energy bar?
PV48: The City turns out to be made entirely out of metal with short rounded sliding doors. It also turns out to be inhabited by giant pepper shakers with plungers and paint rollers for arms, and voices like British guys speaking choppily through a ring modulator. In other words: Daleks. The crew, who now realize that they’ve soaked up so much radiation that they’re about to grow extra limbs, are taken hostage by the Daleks. The Daleks proceed to tell Our Gang the story of how they survived a neutronic war against the Thals, and mutated to the point where they’re confined to their metal shells. The “crew” politely listens to the Daleks rattle on and on about themselves before pointing out that they’re all about to die. Susan is sent back to the TARDIS for anti-radiation meds.
FV: Okay, seriously? They were just trying to get rid of her.
PV48: During her trip Susan runs into the Thals, a race of humanoids who all look like Draco Malfoy, and dress like Scorpion from Mortal Kombat. They ask Susan to broker a peace treaty between them and the Daleks. Susan. The girl that was failing high school a few episodes ago. So when Susan gets back, the Daleks fake-accept the peace treaty, being the fine upstanding gentledaleks that they are.
FV: They’re upstanding because of their wide base and cone shape. Whoever engineered those shells wasn’t going for speed so much as stability.
PV48: The four then completely blow the fake-trust they had fake-built with the Daleks by throwing mud in a Dalek’s eye and hijacking its shell. The Daleks then promise the Thals food, but they have to come to the city to pick it up. The Thals are shockingly ambushed by the Daleks at their little peace summit. Our heroes manage to fend off the attackers, and tell the Thals to get over their tree-hugging hippie pacifist ways and start denting some Dalek heads.
FV: And GET A JOB!! *shakes fist*
PV48: They get in the TARDIS and leave…except Ian left the fluid link in the city. Nice one, Ian.
PV48: Meanwhile the Daleks, who have never been told not to take other people’s prescription medicines, take the anti-radiation drugs. They all become very sick (or “incapable of working” as one Dalek eloquently puts it), and discover that not only aren’t they hurt by radiation, they need it to survive. That’s fine, they’ll just set off some more neutron bombs. It’ll kill off the Thals, but whatever, they’re Daleks–they don’t care. Now that the crew has to go back to the city they might as well help the Thals take it over, I guess. So getting there takes an episode and a half. Once there Susan and the Doctor blow up the power controlling the Dalek’s computers, and eventually what supplies power to the Daleks themselves (just in time to prevent the explosion, of course).
FV: Dr. Who has always been great for the down-to-the-wire action like that. It’s funny how you never see The Doctor save the day like three whole days before the shit hits the fan.
PV48: The Daleks beg The Doctor to fix the power, but the Doctor claims he wouldn’t know how to even if he wanted to. This essentially dooms the Daleks to extinction. As we find out later in the series, this really cheeses them off something fierce.
FV: I do find it kind of interesting that in this early incarnation, they’re just trying to survive. They aren’t trying to take over and EXTERMINATE everyone like what we’ve seen since.
PV48: The Thals aren’t happy about killing all the Daleks, but whatever, they’re alive, so they’ll get over it. The Gang of Four then gets into the finally repaired big blue (grey) box, and are on their merry way.
Importance to the Overall Who Experience: 8. We’re introduced to one of the best known alien races in sci-fi history. They’ll keep returning season after season, especially in the modern series. Plus we find out more about them here than any episode of the modern series.
Watchability: 6. It sort of starts as a ghost story, and abruptly switches to a jail break, then a revolution story. It gets a smidge convoluted with all the backtracking–but really of the seven parts, only one or two of them felt unnecessary. “The Ordeal” is an apt name, as it consists mostly of spelunking and Daleks going back to the drawing board. The Daleks themselves manage to be creepy and laughibly cheap at the same time, often heard rattling down a hallway.
Next Episode: The Edge of Destruction! Stay tuned!