Tuesday, 28 June 2011

30: The Power of The Daleks - A Strong Opening Story For A "New" Doctor!

Written by: David Whitaker
Companions: The Doctor (Patrick Troughton), Ben Jackson, Polly.
Monsters/Villains: The Daleks.
Brief Synopsis: The Doctor 'regenerates' and the TARDIS arrives at a colony on the planet Vulcan, where a scientist called Lesterson is trying to revive two inactive and surprisingly subservient Daleks.
Rating: 9/10.

Hello blog-land I am so sorry I've been terminally absent lately. I have been stupidly busy with various auditions and such but here I am making my long awaited return with the first Troughton story, The Power of the Daleks. What a strong opening story that was!! Wow. Only the audio exists for this rather long 6-parter but I promise you it's well worth a listen. Troughton does so much with the character on his first outing, injecting an entirely new kind of humour into the programme. It's so exciting; you just want to find out more about him and the character as soon as possible. But they feed it to you a little bit at a time.

So... The Cybermen have been defeated, but, something has happend to the Doctor. He's breathing. The TARDIS seems to be normal. As before Polly is a lot more willing to accept that this is the Doctor, whereas Ben is more wary. 

This whole opening sequence is just wonderful.The Doctor says, "It's over." He dematerialises the TARDIS and reacquaints himself with the controls. He feels his face, as if examining it for the first time. He drops his ring as it is too big for his finger and trips saying, "muscles are still a bit tight." It's as if he's learning to walk. As Ben rightly says, "It's not only his face that's changed, he doesn't even act like him." The man rifles in a storage case and produces a mirror. The image in the mirror changes into the likeness of Hartnell and then back to normal. He picks up a dagger given to him by Saladin. He refers to himself in the third person saying "The Doctor was a great collector." Ben replies, "but you're the Doctor." To which the Doctor returns, "I don't look like him." He finds a piece of dull silver metal which conjures up a word in his memory, "Extermination." Ben continues to challenge him to which he replies, "Did you ever see a butterfly fit into it's chrysalis case after its spread it's wings. Life depends on change and renewal." Ben questions, "You've been renewed?" The Doctor explains, "It's part of the TARDIS. Without it I couldn't survive" He finds his 500 year diary and a recorder and dons a stove pipe hat. Ben and Polly aren't sure he is the Doctor. Can you just image how mental this would have been for the viewers in 1966? It throws out so many questions. It's so creepy the way he refers to the Doctor as someone else, like he's a completely new person. The only thing that is a little odd is that his clothes have changed along with him. 

The Doctor goes out of the TARDIS. Another man appears. He's the examiner from Earth. Suddenly he gets shot. The Doctor pulls out a pair of wire rim spectacles to read the badge on the dead man, only to realise that he no longer needs them. The badge reads: Earth examiner, accord every access, Vulcan. Someone hits the Doctor knocking him out, presses the badge into the Doctor's hand and drags off the examiner's body. Polly and Ben pass out after breathing in some noxious vapours. They are rescued by Deputy Governor Quinn and Bragen, head of security.

The three awake in a colony led by Governor Hensell, where the Doctor is mistaken and poses for the examiner from Earth. It is unknown why an examiner was requested, it seems it is either due to a growing threat from rebels or something to do with a scientist called Lesterson's space capsule. The Doctor is taken to inspect the capsule. He recognises a similar piece of dull silver metal and demands that no one explore the capsule further. The trio depart for some rest. Ben and Polly awake later and follow the Doctor to see the capsule in the lab. The Doctor inserts one of the pieces of metal into an opening and a door opens. Inside are two cobwebbed Daleks. Eerily the Doctor invites Polly and Ben in to meet the Daleks. The Doctor discovers that a third Dalek is no longer in the capsule when suddenly a clawed mutant scuttles across the floor.

It is ingenious the way they keep the companions and thus the audience guessing as to whether this man is the Doctor. Doctor Who has always been at it's best when it's scaring people, and I can't think of anything much scarier than changing the character you know and trust into a different person and then not even confirming that he definitely is the same man.

The Doctor realises that Lesterson has already seen the Daleks. Lesterson removes a hidden compartment revealing the third missing Dalek. Janley and Resno, Lesterson's research assistants are wiring up the Dalek for testing. They put power in to the Dalek and the sucker stick and eye piece react. Resno is killed by the Dalek but Janley covers it up. The Doctor arrives and the Dalek seems to recognise him. It speaks, stating "I am your servant."

The Mark Gatiss story Victory of The Daleks in the new series has obviously picked up some influence from The Power of The Daleks. With the pepper pots pretending to be helpful.
"Would you like some tea?"
The Doctor orders the Dalek to immobilise itself but it refuses. We learn that Quinn sent for the examiner because of the rebels. Bragen blames Quinn saying he did this to overthrow the Governor in order to replace him. Governor Hensell imprisons Quinn and makes Bragen deputy Governor. We also learn that Bragen is making Janley help the rebels. Polly gets kidnapped by the rebels. Lesterson continues to work with the active Dalek, who says, "A Dalek is bett... is not the same as a human. If I am to help I must know everything." The Dalek promises to help Lesterson by making a 100% accurate computer. Hensell gives Lesterson everything he requires to help with the development of the Daleks and the computer. Two armed Daleks come out of the capsule chanting, "We will conquer! We will conquer! We will conquer!"

Bragen seems to know the Doctor is not the examiner, and we discover that he was the one who killed him. The first Dalek disarms the two other daleks to calm the humans but again they chant, "We will get our power! We will get our power! We will get our power!" Lesterson cuts the power and claims he is in control of the Daleks. 

Lesterson and Bragen.
The Doctor kicks off this series with an odd obsession with hats. He's wearing a stove pipe hat and when he sees a newly promoted Deputy Governor Bragen he says, "I would like a hat like that!" Matt Smith's Doctor seems to have a similar obsession with hats in the new series with the Fez and the Stetson. 

The Doctor discovers a hidden message and learns of a secret meeting of the rebels; to which he and Ben decide to attend. Ben gets caught and taken away and we learn that Bragen is the rebel leader! Bragen imprisons the Doctor with Quinn. We witness a Dalek construction line and actually see the creature itself being placed inside the travel machine. There are now dozens of Daleks being mass produced.

It's well known that in most of the old Doctor Who Dalek stories they had only 4 fully operating Daleks and in order to not challenge this production weakness a Dalek actually says, "not more than three Daleks are to be seen together at one time!"

Lesterson learns that the Daleks are mass producing themselves and cuts their power only to discover that they can now store power. The Daleks lay cables to spread static power to the whole colony and Lesterson starts to go full on crazy. The Doctor and Quinn escape but Bragen gets a Dalek to kill Hensell and takes over as Governor. Afterwards the Dalek questions "why do human beings kill human beings?" We also get a large group of Daleks all chanting "Exterminate!" Which is always good.

Four "real" Daleks and loads of cardboard ones.
The Doctor and Quinn find and free Polly. They find Hensell dead and are captured by Bragen. The Dalek army emerges and begin their attack rallying "Daleks conquer and destroy"

The Daleks head off to "exterminate all human beings." Bragen tells Janley that he has decided that all the rebels must be destroyed and reveals that he would have killed her if she didn't join him. Another rebel Valmar overhears this. Bragen sends his guards to kill the rebels. Janley manages to convince Valmar that she didn't betray him and they take control of three Daleks and take them to aid the rebels in their battle against Bragen's guards. But the controlled Daleks fire on the guards and the rebels including Janley.

The Doctor, Polly and Quinn find Ben. Quinn forces Bragen to use his guards as a diversion for the Daleks. The Doctor tires to sabotage the Daleks' static power supply and Lesterson sacrifices himself to distract the Daleks, echoing, "I want to help you. I am your servant." He gave them life and they killed him. With Lesterson's distraction the Doctor manages to overload the Daleks' power destroying all the Daleks. Valmar kills Bragen.

The Doctor has destroyed the colony's power supply and along with Ben and Polly, he sneaks off to the TARDIS. As they're leaving a destroyed Dalek's eyestalk lifts up as if to watch the TARDIS depart. Something tells me this isn't the last we will see of the Daleks. 

I really enjoyed The Power of The Daleks. It's a little long, but it is action packed. I love that we are thrown right into an adventure, with all the questions about the Doctor's 'regeneration' all up in the air. There are some really strong performances in this story including Bernard Archard as Bragen and Robert James as Lesterson. Patrick Troughton gives a great performance on his first outing and has significantly wetted my appetite for his interpretation. I do miss Hartnell some, but I am very excited to see where Troughton is going to take the role and the show...

Join me next time for The Highlanders.

1 comment:

Corby Kennard said...

Great story. Too bad this one was lost - it would have been pretty cool to see the dalek assembly line. Although, watching it blow up at the end was nice.