Tuesday, 22 February 2011

10: Dalek Invasion of Earth - The Return Of The Daleks!

Iconic images of the Daleks on Westminster Bridge.
Written by: Terry Nation.
Companions: The Doctor, Susan, Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright.
Monsters/Villains: The Daleks, Robomen, Slither.
Brief Synopsis: The TARDIS lands in Twentieth Century Earth only to find that the Daleks have invaded and subjugated the population with mind-controlled Robomen.
Rating: 5/10.

Hello blogland. Sorry I've been away for a while, but I'm back with a brief blog on The Dalek Invasion of Earth. There are a lot of big firsts in this story: first futuristic Earth story; in this case set in 2164. First return of the Daleks. First return of any villain, giving the Daleks a status they won't ever really shake. And first departure of a companion.

This is the first big event in Doctor Who, not just with the return of the Daleks, but with the story being well advertised, for the first time, the audience knows what's to come more than the characters. It's a subtle difference in the way the story is told, but a great one. The episode starts with a man committing suicide, framed by a huge poster that reads 'It is forbidden to dump bodies in the river.' I don't know how they got away with it. It's such a bold, violent opening. However the first episode here echoes the first of The Daleks perhaps a little too much. The Tardis lands, and the crew explore and discover things about their surroundings, then their escape route in the TARDIS gets blocked off, and at the cliffhanger we discover the threat, in this case a rather impressive Dalek, rising from the Thames. The structure is identical with that of the opening of The Daleks.

Iconic, Dalek rising from the Thames.
Terry Nation holds the prestige of being the creator of the Daleks; who are now easily as iconic as the TARDIS or the Doctor himself... selves. However the stories that he penned are not of the best calibre. With all too similar structures (as mentioned above) and incomprehensible plots. And the Dalek Invasion of Earth is no exception. In this story the Tardis arrives on earth in the year 2164 (alright so far), and then the crew discover that that the Daleks have invaded (amazing the Daleks are back. Cool!) and have created a huge mine in Bedfordshire, in order to detonate a bomb in the Earth's core so they can replace it with a powerful drive system and pilot the planet around the galaxy. Uh, I'm sorry. Why?

Susan gets a worthy sendoff.
Another first I stumbled upon in this episode is: the very first use of a quarry. However in this story it is actually representing... a quarry; not an alien planet as various quarries will do in many Doctor Who stories to come. Episode five of this story is called: The Waking Ally. I have literally no idea why, or what this is referring to.

The one part of this story that really strikes a chord is the final scene where we say goodbye to Susan. It's fascinating that she doesn't even get a choice in the matter as the Doctor locks her out of the TARDIS. Doctor Who started out with Susan as a strong central character, an alien, but gradually as it's gone on she has become weaker and less individual. It's a shame she didn't have a greater chance to shine, but she gets a worthy send-off here. Hartnell seems to be so awkward and is genuinely finding it difficult to say goodbye as though he doesn't want Carol Anne Ford to leave not Susan. This whole closing section is performed beautifully. My favourite moment is after the TARDIS dematerialises, when Susan walks forward, hands outstretched, almost feeling where it was and then off she sets for her settled life on Earth with ex-revolutionary-come-farmer, David Campbell.

The Daleks invade earth, again...
My watching of this story was timed perfectly with the release of the first part of the Big Finish series finale of the Eighth Doctor Audio Adventures: Lucie Miller. In which, guess what happens? The Daleks invade Earth again, and Carol Anne Ford as a now widowed Susan Campbell is in tow once more, this time along with her half-Timelord son, Alex.

It may be a rather unfavourable opinion, but I'm not mad about the Dalek Invasion of Earth. It's a great idea, but the actual plot is terrible. However there are some real highlights. It is wonderful to see the return of the Daleks, and Susan's surprising departure is handled very well.

Join me next time for The Rescue and our first new companion.


Miss Katie said...

Don't be dissing Bedfordshire! It's almost as good as Hertfordshire!

tigerna9 said...

Daleks on Westminster bridge haven't been bettered as an image of alien invasion, in my book. The only thing that stands beside it is V for Vendetta's stunning conclusion as a use of that part of London!