Written by Norman Ashby
Directed by Morris Barry
The TARDIS crew isn’t the only new arrival to the pacifist planet Dulkis. Also arriving are The Dominators and their robotic minions The Quarks.
Time has not been kind to The Dominators. The costumes of the Dulcians are rather ridiculous. The costumes of The Dominators seem a bit impractical for a warrior race, even if they rely upon The Quarks to do the majority of the fighting. The Quarks themselves seem a bit impractical and unstable, even though I do like the look of the headpieces. And while the beginning of the story had me a bit concerned and apprehensive, in the end I found myself enjoying the The Dominators more with each passing episode.
To me, the strength of the story is the interaction of the two Dominators, Navigator Rago and Probationer Toba. Rago is the leader of the fuel-finding mission. The Dominator warfleet is running low on energy and it needs large amounts of radiation. By detonating an atomic device in the core of Dulkis, they hope to create a radioactive volcanic explosion. The radiation would then been gathered by Dominator ships. Unfortunately, they seem to only have just enough energy for this operation and Toba insists on going around and blowing up Dulcian buildings and killing the natives. This leads to a bit of friction between the two Dominators. I was never quite sure how their relationship would play out. At times I feared Toba would completely turn on Rago and decide to follow his sadistic impulses, foregoing the mission entirely. The Dominators were interesting and I would love to see their society fleshed out a bit more rather than the caricatures we got here.
Ultimately, the plot boils down to a simple premise: what happens when a pacifistic society finds itself targeted by unrelenting bullies. The concept was inspired by the growing hippy movement of the 1960s. Honestly, this is the continuing problem with pacifism. There are some who would genuinely not be moved by peaceful resistance. Sure, such resistance my inspire others, but in the face of an unstoppable military machine, do you hold to your pacifism or do you fight? The answer given here is the latter, much like it was way back in season one when Ian had to inspire the Thals. But keeping in mind that the writers of both The Daleks and The Dominators lived through World War Two, the call to resistance seems understandable. It is unlikely that Hitler would have been dissuaded by peaceful resistance. Since the writers had a definite agenda here (“writers” since “Norman Ashby was a pseudonym for Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln), there isn’t much debate given to the issue.
This was a very slow story. As mentioned earlier, the production values seemed on the cheaper side (although there were some excellent explosions). It probably should have been shorter (as with many Troughton stories). It certainly doesn’t appeal to everyone, but it has some good moments (The Doctor and Jamie playing dumb during their interrogation) and it is quite a bit of fun to watch The Quarks explode.