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The Dalek Invasion of Earth

Review by Bevan Thomas

TVNZ has done it again! After promising to show us old Hartnell and Troughton episodes, they disappointed us by serving up the very same stories we sat through during the Silver Jubilee week.

Okay, it was three years ago, and some newer fans may not have seen them, but for people like me, who taped the shows and have watched them many times since, it does nothing to satisfy our hunger for other monochrome episodes which are just as worthy, perhaps even more so.

That aside, it was nice to see The Dalek Invasion of Earth again, probably one of the better early Dalek stories in my opinion. However I believe that it suffered from being broken down into its respective episodes; it is much more enjoyable seen in a continuous run.

The story, I thought, started well, apart from the Roboman's pathetic attempt at suicide. Bill Hartnell's irascible Doctor is excellent, never missing the opportunity to put someone in their place. Even so, when he told David and Susan to sever the Daleks' communications cable in Flashpoint, he should have known better than to call David's Browning automatic pistol a revolver!

[Dalek rising from water]

World's End was rather a good episode with the exception of embarrassments such as the model flying saucer and the incredibly slow moving, slow talking, slow thinking and utterly stupid-looking Robomen. It climaxed well with the Doctor and Ian's escape cut off by the Dalek rising from the river. It poses an interesting question though. What the hell was it doing in the river in the first place? Answer that, Mr Jon "I know everything" Preddle if you can!

The following episode, The Daleks, filled in all the details about the invasion of Earth via Jack Craddock, a good character, even though he was only in the story for an episode and a bit. Michael Goldie portrayed the pessimistic Craddock well, providing an excellent tool to bring out the Doctor's irascibility.

The underground resistance was a nice touch. Pity they were all killed in the attack on the saucer. Tyler was a strong character, brilliantly realised by the veteran actor, Bernard Kay, later to appear in Doctor Zhivago the following year. Dortmun and Jenny were good supporting characters; however Peter Fraser's rendition of David Campbell left a lot to be desired. Another good cliffhanger ended the episode, with the Doctor about to be 'robotised'.

Day of Reckoning followed, bringing with it the first appearance of Doctor Who stalwart, Pat Gorman, who was cast as an extra in the resistance HQ. Gorman's most recent role was that of a Cyberman in Attack of the Cybermen.

Shame on the film crew who revealed the non-existence of half the set as they changed scenes from Ian hiding under the floor in the Dalek Saucer to an overall view of the room above! Craddock reappeared in the same scene, tragically transformed in a Roboman, only to be electrocuted.

On the run from the Daleks, Dortmun sacrificed himself to prove the worth of his new bomb, consequently not living to see the effects of his action. Why he did this, instead of hiding and ambushing them, I have no idea. Maybe he was dying anyway.

When Baker was killed near the end of the episode, I felt a twinge of regret. Not for Baker, but at the wastage of the perfectly good bottle of grog which David had given him!

William Hartnell came to the fore again with one of his famous line flubs; "You place more reliance on that young word - man's word than mine, don't you?"

The End of Tomorrow began with the Doctor conveniently fainting to cover up Hartnell's holiday during the week that episode was filmed. This left David and Susan to travel alone through the sewers, where all good Who fans worthy of the name were embarrassed as Susan was threatened by a baby alligator!!

[Slyther]

Ian, on the other hand, had met up with a man called Wells, played by none other than Nicholas Smith, destined to become Mr Rumbold of Are You Being Served. Through Wells, Ian met the black marketer, Ashton, an absolute wanker! Ashton came to a rather sticky end at the hands of the 'Slyther'; another addition to the BBC hall of shame. This 'monster', designed to frighten, only made me laugh. In their attempt to escape, Ian and another man, Larry Madison, are pursued by the Slyther, heralding yet another end to an episode.

The Waking Ally - Who or what is the waking ally? Is it the Doctor? He was, after all, the only one asleep. In this episode, Ian and Larry descend into the mineshaft where Larry finds his brother who has been turned into a Roboman, and tries to appeal to him. His brother shoots him, but Larry strangles him before he dies (An interesting point to note is that this Roboman appears in the last episode apparently raised from the dead to help pull up the Daleks' malfunctioned bomb!).

The Doctor comes round and he, Susan, David and Tyler emerge from the sewers to be confronted by Robomen. In the ensuing fight, Tyler shoots one Roboman, whilst the Doctor bludgeons the other into unconsciousness with his walking stick.

Ian, in Dalek control, is almost seen, and he hides in what he believes to be an empty container. It turns out to be a bomb which is then closed and lowered down the main shaft; yep, you guessed it - the end of another episode!

Flashpoint seems to be too fast and packed with action to me. Ian's bomb is lowered down from what is blatantly obviously a model. He opens the bomb and climbs out using wires - plaited in no time - as a rope. A Dalek severs the rope and Ian, or rather a model made to look like Ian, falls down the model shaft, and Ian comes to rest at the bottom of the shaft, surprisingly unhurt after falling what must be at least a hundred feet.

The Doctor and Tyler go to Dalek HQ, where they find Barbara and Jenny, who order the Robomen to turn on the Daleks. With Ian, they all retreat to the cliff top overlooking the mine to escape the explosion of the Daleks' bomb. The Daleks' invasion is frustrated and they are defeated.

[Susan outside TARDIS]

Back at the TARDIS, the Doctor seems to sense that all is not well with Susan. He seems uncomfortable and, not wishing to display any emotion, disappears into the TARDIS to "check up on the ship". Ian and Barbara follow. David pleads with Susan to stay, and there is a lot of soppy shit as Susan realises that she does actually love him (how, I cannot conceive), but is torn between him and her grandfather.

The Doctor makes her mind up for her, and leaves without her.

Overall, this story worked very well, making it, in my opinion, one of the stronger stories of the Hartnell era. Also, it marked a turning point in the show, with the first departure of a regular cast member. The Daleks too, were better portrayed than in the previous overlong, and padded out The Daleks. Despite initial reservations I had about watching this show again, I must admit I enjoyed seeing it again.

This item appeared in TSV 22 (April 1991).

Index nodes: The Dalek Invasion of Earth