Doctor Who Story 36 – Evil of the Daleks

Written by David Whitaker
Directed by Derek Martinus

After witnessing the TARDIS being stolen, The Doctor and Jamie must track down an elusive Victorian antiques dealer, rescue an abducted girl in 1866, and unlock they key to the Human Factor, unaware that they are caught up in an intricate web woven by The Emperor Dalek.

Ever since first seeing a photo in "The Doctor Who Technical Manual", I've always been fascinated with the look of The Emperor Dalek.

 “That’s right.  TARDIS is a Gaelic word.”
I wish I could watch this episode with fresh eyes.  It isn’t so much for the surprise about The Daleks, but for the mystery surrounding Edward Waterfield.  I know going in to the story that he is from the Victorian Era, that he has been brought to 1960s England by a third party, and that his heart is not quite in what he does.  I say “not quite” because I know his motivation is duress.  He is protecting his daughter.  But that will be addressed later.  I will say this, however.  I haven’t seen every episode of Doctor Who (otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this blog), so when I get to a new story, I’ll let you know.

Much of this first episode deals with the mystery of Waterfield’s identity and strange behavior.  No, mystery isn’t solved in this episode, but as I already know the answer, some of the intrigue is dispelled. In spite of this, the Avengers-esque espionage is rather fun.  Waterfield has been working quiet effectively at luring The Doctor and Jamie in.  I don’t remember all the details at this point, so I’m looking forward to the refresher over the next six episodes.  This is a long one.

Thankfully, the reveal of Waterfield as a time traveler is addressed quite early in the episode.  And through quick thinking and deception, Waterfield is able to knock out and bring The Doctor and Jamie back to 1866 with him.  They both awake in a Victorian manor with severe headaches.  The Doctor soon meets Theodore Maxtible, who claims responsibility for the abduction.  We also learn that Waterfield and Maxtible are at the mercy of The Daleks, and that Waterfield’s daughter Victoria is being held prisoner to ensure cooperation.  We then cut to a scene in which we see Victoria being menaced by a Dalek who chastises her for not eating enough.

I love the idea of Victorian time travel using mirrors, electromagnetism, and static electricity.  The static, naturally, attracted The Daleks.  There’s something wonderfully Lovecraftian about this, unconventional science drawing otherworldly creatures to the location of the experiments.  I love the image, albeit in my mind, of Daleks bursting out of mirrors.  The Daleks want Jamie.  Maxtible theorizes that The Daleks are attempting to discover what it is about humans that enables them to continually defeat The Daleks.  This idea will be revisited much later, and to much less effect, in 2007 in Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks.  But one story at a time.

“I got Mr. Nod here.  He’ll have you snoring as good as ever.”
Do we have some hints of racism in this particular episode with the portrayal of Kemel?  Granted, this story takes place in 1866 and it may be possible to dismiss it, somewhat, as attempting to be accurate to attitudes of the period, but in the very next story we have a similar portrayal with Toberman.  It’s a shame if it is true, but these episodes were produced in the 1960s, and they will reflect 60s ideas, both good and bad.

The experiment is revealed, as is The Doctor’s devious side.  The Daleks are wanting to isolate the human factor, the attitudes and emotions that they believe enable humans to continually defeat The Daleks.  An experiment has been developed where Victoria Waterfield must be rescued by Jamie.  However, Jamie must not know he is in the experiment.  Thus, The Doctor must manipulate Jamie into cooperating under his own free will, from determining to rescue Victoria, to actually succeeding.  Dalek technology will monitor Jamie’s reactions, responses, and feelings, and The Doctor will isolate the important feelings for transfer into a group of Dalek mutants.  It seems somewhat foolish that The Daleks would trust The Doctor with this task, but since they cannot recognize emotions other than anger and hatred, they cannot do it themselves.  The scene where Jamie confronts The Doctor about betraying him and working with Maxtible is quite uncomfortable and effective.  The Doctor and Jamie have never fought like this before.  Jamie is being a character rather than comic relief.  Despite knowing he is being manipulated, Jamie is still convinced to go along with rescuing Victoria.  The Doctor understands how his companion thinks and uses that against him.  It is chilling.

“If you want the human factor, a part of it must include mercy.”
I’m happy to see Jamie’s compassion toward Kemel.  Not only does this help Jamie in the long run (by having Kemel save Jamie’s life in turn), but it is an excellent lesson in motives.  To Jamie, Kemel was attacking with no discernable reason.  He could have easily assumed the man was evil and let him die.  In reality, we know that Kemel had been lied to by Maxtible.  It is easy to make quick, incorrect judgements that can have lasting consequences.  We can’t know the circumstances of those around us, whether they try to kill us in a darkened hallway, or they just drive slowly when we are stuck behind them.  Mercy is a great benefit to humanity because it presumes one’s own humility and finite knowledge.

Waterfield’s complicity is understandable in this story, and he is starting to crack.  The duress of having his daughter kidnaped and being forced to do things against his nature is weakening his resolve.  Waterfield is willing to confess his actions to any authority after he sees his daughter to safety.  Maxtible’s motivations are more selfish.  He seeks the secret of transmutation of metal into gold.  Being motivated by greed, he is considerably more cold and ruthless.

This entire operation of The Daleks seems a bit overly-complicated.  The concept is that by putting Jamie through a series of trials, they can isolate qualities that make humans unique and able to conquer The Daleks.  This is all well and good on paper, but actually sitting through it gets a bit old.  Maybe it would be better if the episode still existed, but I can’t help but wonder if what I imagine is probably better than how it was realized.  Perhaps my boredom with the trials shows my own lack of imagination.  But I also think I’m marred by being part of the generation that grew up with video games, and all I can see is an 8-bit Scotsman making his way through a series of levels, avoiding traps and pits and Daleks.  One level ends with Jamie having to fight a Turkish Wrestler, but if you defeat him, you get the ability to summon him in battle.  If I had any skill with Photoshop, I’d try to recreate this image.  Evil of The Daleks the game.

“You seem to be a devote of Edgar Allan Poe.”
The character of Arthur Terrall has remained rather enigmatic throughout this story.  We knew that he and Ruth Maxtible were an item (either engaged or courting) and that The Daleks obviously had some sort of control over him.  Perhaps this was David Whitaker’s version of The Robomen.  Terrall appeared to be the victim of some sort of post-hypnotic suggestion or mind control.  Every time he tried to act counter to The Daleks’ will, he heard their voices droning on and on “obey.”  I was never quite able to discern his part in this plot, but I found out in episode five.  He was supposed to fight Jamie.  This is a seven part story, and it is feeling a bit long.  I’m sure Whitaker felt similarly, so Terrall was created to lurk in the background until it was time for Jamie to have to fight him.  Seems a good enough use for a character.  I almost expected a reveal that Terrall was a 1960s version of Bracewell from Victory of the Daleks, but it seems he was just a human under Dalek control.

Jamie and The Doctor make up fairly quick as Jamie starts to see that The Doctor was working to inject Daleks with the human factor.  As it stands, it seems the human factor seems to make Daleks into child-like creatures.  They play with rolling chairs and push The Doctor around the lab.  I wish this scene still existed.  I would love to see how they realized it.

The Doctor is giddy over the humanized Daleks.  And why shouldn’t he be.  He has introduced into Daleks the ability to have fun and inquisitive and friendly.  It is a wonderful scene, but you know that the regular Daleks won’t allow this to last very long.

Maxtible and Waterfield finally have a falling out as Waterfield discovers Maxtible’s true motives.  Waterfield now falls firmly into The Doctor’s camp.  Maxtible, however, is on his own.  His greed allowed The Daleks to manipulate him, and now he is totally at their mercy.  They haven’t broken his will, but he is now at a disadvantage.  Maxtible is so far down the road of greed and deceit that he is compelled to keep moving in the same direction, despite now knowing he has lost everything.  The Daleks have destroyed his home and he is trapped on Skaro.

Before the destruction of Maxtible’s mansion, The Doctor, Jamie, and Waterfield were able to escape using Maxtible’s time machine, you know, the one made from mirrors.  Unfortunately, this is exactly where The Daleks want The Doctor.  They have one further use for him.  They want him to use the TARDIS and spread the newly discovered Dalek Factor throughout the history of Earth.  Dalek Factor?  Okay, it seems that while The Doctor was looking for The Human Factor, he was really enabling The Daleks to learn more about themselves.  The qualities that made humans strong could be used to extrapolate what made Daleks strong. The Doctor had hoped that the humanized Daleks (whom he named Alpha, Beta, and Omega) would spread the human factor among the other Daleks by making them question orders and be compassionate.  The Emperor Dalek, seen onscreen for the first time, plans to use the Dalek Factor on Alpha, Beta, and Omega to destroy their humanity.

Oh, and Victoria and Kemel are also on Skaro.  I don’t know if I mentioned that.

So, after a couple of plodding episodes, this one picks up.  This is becoming a pattern.

“I think we’ve seen the end of the Daleks forever.”
Ah, human Daleks.  This was the masterplan.  It makes one wonder if The Cult of Skaro was present during this story and never quite let go of this idea.  It never seems to work, though, does it?  In the end, Maxtible is turned into a human with Dalek tendencies and The Doctor turns all Dalek drones into Daleks with human tendencies.  Those tendencies include questioning orders rather than following blindly.  And then they destroyed each other.  A nice, tidy ending.

Well, except for Kemel and Waterfield, both of whom are killed protecting others.  Maxtible is left on Skaro.  The Doctor and Jamie escape the destruction with Victoria in tow.  This is our new TARDIS crew.  We’ll see how it works out.

Originally, this was intended to be the final story to feature The Daleks.  It was to write The Daleks out of the Doctor Who universe.  So this begs the question, how effective was it?  I think it works well enough.  It certainly isn’t he worst Dalek story, but I don’t think it was as tightly plotted as Power of the Daleks.  I did like the concept of Daleks in the Victorian Era.  I also enjoy the idea of channeling static electricity and using mirrors as the basis of time travel.  Sure, the science is extremely dodgy, but it is imaginative and, dare I say it, magical.  I would love to see this idea revisited, possibly allowing us to see Daleks emerge from mirrors or something similarly eerie.  Overall, I liked it.  I wouldn’t mind if this were the final Dalek story.

And with this episode, I finally complete season four.  It’s strange to think I started this season with William Hartnell.  It was definitely a Troughton season, but it took him a few stories to find his footing (and to team up with Frazer Hines).  But now all the pieces are in place.  It is just up to Victoria to have her first adventure and find her place in the dynamic.  I’m excited to see where this goes.  This also marks the last season I have seen (or heard) in its entirety until the Tom Baker Era.  This isn’t the first time I have attempted a chronological viewing of Doctor Who, but I am determined to make this the successful one.  Previously, I stalled out after completing Fury from the Deep, and my interest was starting to fade earlier than that (and for some reason I skipped The Abominable Snowmen and The Ice Warriors).  It has been my hope that this time, by taking it slow and writing about it, I may actually complete this project.  I’m just a few days away from the one year anniversary of this blog.  So far so good, I think.

3 thoughts on “Doctor Who Story 36 – Evil of the Daleks

  1. This is a story to reserve judgment on. The audio failed to impress me, but who knows what it was like when it was complete? I think the mystique of a lost story has led fans to imagine that it is better than it is.

  2. I think you have a good point there. Episode two was quite good and had some excellent visual gags in the antique shop. I can’t help but wonder how much we miss having only the audio. That said, we may not have missed much.

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