Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Richard Martin
The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki are pursued by the Daleks to a mysterious house filled with horror cliches. In the pursuit, they lose Vicki.
“This game of hide and seek through time is wearing a bit thin, don’t you think?”
Yes, Ian, I would say it is. While the previous episode seemed to be composed of vignettes that asked “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”, this episode sets up a large, groan-worthy joke. The TARDIS materializes in a gothic mansion straight out of a Hammer Horror film. There are creaking steps, bats, skeletons, underground laboratories, and even Count Dracula himself. Everyone is quite frightened. As Ian says “One thing about this place, it certainly stimulates the phagocytes.” In the course of exploration, The Doctor concludes they have materialized in the human mind, in a nightmare. As such, The Daleks cannot follow them. Naturally, The Daleks appear moments later.
The entire scenario is played as a long joke. The Doctor becomes convinced that they were in the human mind, but as the camera later shows, it is an abandoned haunted house from a carnival. For some reason, it is still operational and the robots that portray Frankenstein, Dracula, and a banshee are immune to Dalek weaponry. It seems odd that The Doctor would immediately assume such a complex explanation. Anyway, in the chaos that ensues when The Daleks appear, The TARDIS leaves without Vicki. Left with no alternative, she sneaks aboard The Dalek time machine. She is eventually privy to a plan where The Daleks create a robot copy of The Doctor. The Daleks stand amazed at the accuracy of their creation, proving that all humanoids must look the same to Dalek eyes.
Faced with the realization they have lost Vicki, The Doctor, Ian, and Barbara decide to have a final confrontation with The Daleks so they can steal the Dalek ship and return to the haunted house to recover their missing friend. The TARDIS cannot return to the haunted house because, we are told, the time mechanism is broken. It seems we cannot return to the same time and place twice. Why, exactly, they have spent so much time exploring time and space, lounging in Rome, etc. and not fixing what would seem to be a vital component to the ship is beyond me. The Doctor says it could take months or years to repair the mechanism, and yes they are being chased by The Daleks, but shouldn’t this repair be a priority? Shouldn’t there have been work done on it before now?
Although, by the time of the 2005 series, the time mechanism must be in perfect working order.