Geekbat Tunes

Friday, March 11, 2011

Doctor Who: The Dalek Invasion of Earth

Serial Title: The Dalek Invasion of Earth
Series: 2
Episodes: 6
World's End
The Daleks
Day of Reckoning
The End of Tomorrow
The Waking Ally

Doctor: William Hartnell
Companions: Ian Chesterton (William Russell),
Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill),
Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford)

The tone for this sometimes goofy but often eerie episode is set right at the start as a man wearing a metal colander helmet walks into the Themes river and drowns himself. Seconds later, the TARDIS materializes on the spot- in front of a sign noting "No dumping of bodies into the river." Not yet noting the macabre setting, Ian and Barbara are delighted as the Doctor surmises from the landmarks that they are in London. (NFS: Well you see they have signs like that all over the place in London so they're used to it! ;-D)

However, they soon realize that this is not the London they were looking for- this is, in point of fact, 2164... and the Daleks have invaded Earth! (Hope that wasn't a plot spoiler...) as discovered by a discarded calendar amongst the remnant of civilization and the rise of one of the cyclopean menaces from the water of the Themes. But that unfortunate occurrence is preceded by a string of unfortunate occurrences- Susan becomes a walking cliche- or rather, a non-walking cliche- by twisting her ankle, a decaying wall collapses and rubble burries the TARDIS door, and a mysterious man shows up to Barabara and Susan whilst Ian and the Doctor are out looking around for tools to unblock the door- the man, by the name of Tyler, warns them they must flee with him if they value their lives... as gunfire is heard in the distance. (NFS: I always wonder what a person like that would do if they said that they didn't value their lives...)

The Doctor and Ian, meanwhile, find a corpse wearing the same metal helment as the man who drowned himself, the helmet with an electronic reciever, the body bearing a whip, and having been stabbed to death. They spot a large cliche- in the form of a flying saucer- over the city, and return to where they left the women... only to be surrounded by 'robomen'- humans rendered as mindless automotauns by the control helmets... leading to the aforementioned arrival of the world's least lovely bathing beauty (NFS:....arguably perhaps.), the robomen's master... a Dalek, who orders the prisoners taken to the saucer.

Susan and Barbara are taken down a secret tunnel to a human Resistance. Tyler is a member, as is David Campbell, dispatched to retrieve Ian and the Doctor, but arriving too late to do anything but observe their capture- and Dortmun, the wheelchair-bound leader of the resistence cell. Inside, a young woman named Jenny tends to Susan and Barbara is pressed into service as a cook- Dalek propaganda demanding the surrender of human holdouts, the only contents of London's airwaves- is monitored in the background.

Dortmun shows off a new acid bomb of his own design, which he is confident will be able to penetrate the Daleks' casings, making them vulnerable to human counter-attack at last. David, returning to report the Doctor and Ian's capture, also explains that the saucer is where the conversion to Robomen takes place- and that the proceedure is unstable; all Robomen eventually go insane and become suicidal.

The Doctor explains to Ian that though they saw the Daleks destroyed on Skaro, those events occurred much further in the future and won't happen for a long, long time. They learn from fellow prisoner Craddock that ten years before, a spaceborn plague decimated Earth after being carried to the surface by meteorites (NFS: That would have to be SOME kind of...well magical type plague, I mean unless it was INSIDE way deep inside the meteorites I should think it would be burnt up upon entering the atmosphere). Six months later, the plague insitgators, the Daleks, arrived to easily conquer the fragmented, weakened population. He also reveals that the Daleks have slave-labor humans at a great mine in Bedfordshire; what they're diging for, no one knows.

The Doctor tries to break out of the cell, but the device he believes controls the door is also an intelligence test, and the Doctor's demonstrated intelligence makes him an ideal candidate for Roboman conversion. Fortunately, the conversion is halted by an attack of the human Resistance- using Robomen helmets at Barbara's suggestion, they are able to fakes being mindless slaves long enough to get close... but while Tyler's group frees prisoners, the external assualt fails; the bombs do not suceed against the Daleks and the humans are routed, badly massacred. Barabara is injured, Ian is stuck aboard the saucer, and the Doctor is separated from Tyler.

Barbara and Jenny take Dortmun to the Civic Transport Museum, a resistence depot, to gather resources for experiments to refine the acid bombs. They wheel through an eerily deserted London still filled with signs of the invasion's prior carnage, trying to avoid the ever-present patrolling Daleks.

On the saucer, Ian overhears an order from the Supereme Dalek to firebomb London into oblivion. He frees a fellow prisoner from the now Roboman-Craddock (who is killed in the process)- a man named Larry who snuck aboard the saucer to try and find his brother at the Bedfordshire mines- the saucer's current destination.

David and Susan bond while in hiding, Susan relating her lack of ability to identify with anything, her angst at the lack of anything permanent in her life save the Doctor. They are interrupted by another resistance survivor, carrying the unconscious Doctor. He drops him off, leaves the hiding place, and is promptly exterminated. (Presumeably arriving in the afterlife to commiserate with Craddock that it is a bad idea to help the Doctor- it makes one extremely expendable.)

Hey, wait... Dortmun kind of helped the Doctor by staging a rescue, didn't he? Sure enough, shortly after determining that the problem in the Acid bombs lay with the new Dalekanium alloy of the Dalek casings (making that, by the by, the most absurd and yet hilariously self-important material I've ever heard of) Dortmun comes up with a new formula, entrusts it to Barbara, and goes outside to 'test the new bombs himself.' It also fails and he is quickly exterminated... not sure whether the wheelchair-bound guy being a complete and utter failure at every single thing he tries and then comitting suicide is pathos-engendering... or kinda... insultingly WRONG. Barbara and Jenny escape most awesomely, however, proving that while Acid may be useless against casings of pure Dalekanium, a speeding truck is not. (NFS: A speeding truck is such a multi-purposed tool I find.) Shortly thereafter, a Dalek saucer retaliates upon their awesome truck, but they escape the fiery wreck.

As the Doctor observes the start of budding romance between Susan and David back at their hiding spot- rather grumpily at first, until David defers to him in a peace-offering gesture- a firebomb is laid nearby, ticking down to the fiery destruction of London. David discovering it, burning through the casing with acid from a bomb and manages to defuse it.

Larry and Ian escape the landed saucer to infiltrate the mines, and meet up with the monstrous Slyther, a mutant creature that is a 'pet' to the Daleks. They manage to knock it off of a cliff to it's doom, but ntot before it has killed a black marketeer that they had hoped could return them to London... where the Doctor, Susan, Tyler, and David are chased through the sewers by Robomen- and the obligatory alligators.

Jenny and Barabara stay the night with a pair of women in a cottage who are allowed some small freedom as they make clothing for the miner-prisoners. However, the two sell them out for food, leaving Jenny and Barbara captives once again. (NFS: What are we? Back in Revolutionary France!?)

Ian and Larry discover that the mine does not appear to be set up for anything save digging- Larry opines his brother's theory... that the Daleks are after the Earth's magnetic core. His brother then shows up to neither confirm nor rebut said theory, but simply to kill them- as he is now a Roboman. Larry is unable to get through to Phil's humanity, and the two kill each other, allowing Ian to escape. Because, after all, it doesn't matter how many good men die, so long as our heroes are okay. Bloody heck, and I thought the New Series was primarily responsible to the whole "The Doctor is death and doom to everyone around him" notion!

Susan and David share a first kiss, Barabara and Jenny arrive at the mines as slaves, Ian slips into hiding in a piece of unknown machinery, and the Doctor deduces that the Daleks are indeed working towards soemthing deep within the Earth's core. (NFS: What is it with Doctor Who and the Earth's core!? People just can't stay away from it!)

Barbara uses Dortmun's notes to claim that she has intelligence on an upcomign resistance attack, and is taken to the command center.

The Dalek's evil plan is exposed- to replace the Earth's core with a power system and guidance controls- turning Earth into a gigantic, mobile battlestation that the Daleks can use to conquer the galaxy. ( starting to sound familiar) The uniquely composed structure of it's interior made Earth the perfect target, and now that the Daleks have mined down to the outer crust, they need only drop their powerful penetration explosive into the shaft, blast through to the core, and compelte their insidious work. The penetration explosive... that Ian is currently hiding in.

Ian sabotauges the explosive to prevent it's fatal drop (with him inside), and tries to slip out as it is being reeled back in- but his descent-rope is severed by a Dalek and he slides down the shaft, knocked senseless against a hatch partway down. When the bomb is re-deployed, however, Ian has already slipped into the hatch and used nearby timbers to block the chute, halting the bomb once again.

The Daleks move their human slaves down to the lower galleries so that they will be killed in the penetration blast- issuing orders to the Robomen over a specialized microphone. Barbara attempts to reach it and issue her own orders after distracting the Daleks with an outlandish fabricated invasion plot involving famous historical figures, but is caught- she and Jenny are shackled to the walls to await their death in the explosion (NFS: What are we? In Revolutionary France aga.....nevermind). The Daleks evacuate, unaware that the bomb has been halted.

While Susan and David use the bombs as a diversion, The Doctor and Tyler enter the mine. The former suceed in knocking out a crucial piece of equipment, temporarily imobilizing the Daleks. The Doctor frees Barbara, who uses the microphone to order the Robomen to revolt against the Daleks. The mine is evacuated of prisoners and Ian re-unites with the group. As they flee the scene, the bomb explodes, collapsing the mines- but far short of it's miles-deep target; the Earth's core is safe. The explosion creates a volcanic chute, and the resultant upward blast destroys the fleeeing Dalek saucer, ending the Dalek occupation of Earth.

Back in London, the resistence excavates the TARDIS doors. David proposes to Susan, who admits to loving him, but refuses as her grandfather needs her. The Doctor, overhearing, knowing that Susan is truly in love with David and in need of permanence, but will never accept either due to her loyalty to him, following him wherever he may go, locks her out of the TARDIS- and, after a heartfelt goodbye over the intercom system, he departs with Ian and Barbara, leaving Susan with David to rebuild the Earth.

We saw this episode with all 6 parts edited together into one feature-length movie... and indeed, the second non-canon Peter Cushing Doctor Who film adapted this story, an epic special event blockbuster for Doctor Who that sees the first, and possibly most famous, departure of a companion, a great speech by the Doctor, the first recurring Villains, and an epic Dalek-filled ghost town London!

So it's surprising that I really haven't been able to find much of anything to say about it.

I don't know why; this one just didn't impact me, story-wise. I can't tell you why that is... it simply didn't.

I enjoyed it, they did a good job of setting the mood with the location shots and the wheelchair chase, though the menace factor was undercut by some of the fighting being downright ludicrous (in terms of Daleks looking rather pathetic). The mine bucket descent effect, while simplistic, was nice, effective, and relatively convincing.

And Susan, for better or worse, is gone. I found that I missed her after she left (though not horribly) and het departure does seem a little... wrong, what with being given no choice. (NFS: Well I do think it's a testament to Carol's talent and likability because even though the character can bug me because she's forever getting into trouble and being a walking disaster at times, you still really like her and I think that's Carol shining through.) The Doctor's speech, however, is excellent, and the fact that Susan so readily accepts her new life seems to indicate that the Doctor made the right choice, and she will be happy here.

So, for one of the biggest, most expansive Whos yet mounted... that's about it, really.

Great moments:
The opening drowning, the deserted London, the truck (er... "Lorry") attack, the Doctor's ending speech... chalk full of 'em, save for the duller middle.

3.5 out of 5 Shrunken TARDISes.

No comments:

Post a Comment