As the 50th anniversary looms ever closer, I’m going to be putting greater emphasis on Doctor Who and celebration of it as one of the greatest Science Fiction shows ever produced. So for the next week you can expect (hopefully anyway!) a different Doctor Who related post per-day. Now I’ve already discussed one of the best Doctor Who stories of all time (Talons of Weng-Chiang) but I feel that considering Doctor Who owes much of its success to them, I would be missing a trick if I didn’t look at one of the best Dalek stories. First appearing in 1963 in the second ever Doctor Who serial they have since appeared in 24 televised stories, 2 Movies, 41 audio stories, 6 Novels and 43 Magazine comic strips not to mention cameo appearances and other spin off media too varied to mention. The story I’m looking at today though, is what I personally consider to be the single greatest Dalek story ever in any medium. David Whitaker wrote two TV Dalek stories in the 1960’s (as well as a Dalek Novel, play and a heap of comic strips) and both of these adventures show the Daleks at their most cunning and evil. They story manipulate the characters to their own ends, they force the Doctor to experiment on Jamie and for the first time we meet their emperor. It’s a seven episode epic that was originally intended as the final adventure for the Daleks, with creator Terry Nation planning to give them their own show in America.
The story picks up directly after the previous adventure, The Faceless Ones, The Doctor and Jamie have just said goodbye to Ben and Polly and are returning to the Tardis when they see it being driven away on a truck. Attempting to track it down the Doctor doesn’t realise that he is being led into a trap by his oldest and deadliest enemies, The Daleks, a trap that takes him to the Victorian Manor of the mysterious Theodore Maxtible. Maxtible along with Edward Waterfield have been blackmailed into working with the Daleks after their experiments with Time Travel accidentally summoned them to earth. Waterfields Daughter is being held hostage by the Daleks who want the Doctor to use Jamie in an experiment to determine the ‘Human Factor’, the thing that allows humans to always have the better on the Daleks but is everything as it seems? Or is something much more sinister afoot?
One of the great things about Evil of the Daleks is that for a 1960’s Doctor Who story it manages to have a truly epic feel to it. The story takes place in three main locations: 1960’s London, a Victorian Mansion and the Dalek planet of Skaro in that order. It may sound an odd combination but personally I consider it a stroke of genius, there’s something here for every Doctor Who fan, we have space scenes, modern scenes and historical scenes. The Historical scenes particularly (as seen in the surviving episode anyway!) tap into the BBC’s genius for period Drama. Stephen Moffat in an interview about this story says how gorgeous the Daleks look in a Victorian Manor and he’s correct, there’s something superbly surreal about those images. This section of the story also taps into well known gothic cliché’s and there’s plenty of fun to be had, such as Jamie having to face the various traps laid out to him in the hidden corridors of the house.
Moving the final two episodes to the Dalek home of Skaro is equally great as it gives a sense that this is it, the final showdown. It must be remembered that at this point in Doctor Who’s history Skaro had only been seen one time before, in the first ever Dalek story, taking us back there for what was supposed to be their final one is an inspired move. This section also features the first appearance of the Dalek Emperor, a magnificent piece of design giving the audience a feel of a huge spider sat in a web in the centre of the city. The Dalek emperor would re-appear a number of times but it is here that I feel it gets its best use, showing up for the final few episodes and revealing the true nature of the Dalek plan. It’s sad that we may never get to see these scenes how they were intended to be, but if the surviving footage and the soundtrack is THIS good then I can only dream how perfect the whole scenes must be.
One final comment on this story as a whole, is how brilliantly dark it is. Patrick Troughton is given a chance to appear truly alien as the second Doctor, manipulating his companion Jamie against his wishes. It’s a truly brilliant move and gives this story an extra edge; the stakes seem so much higher than anything this incarnation of the Doctor had faced up until this point. Another reason why this story is so dark is that every single major supporting character ends up dead at its climax. Of course we have Edward Waterfield, Victoria’s father’s death scene and simply one of the most touching scenes in Doctor Who’s history- one made all the more emotional thanks to a scene in the following story ‘Tomb of the Cybermen’ in which Victoria discusses her father. It’s a fantastic moment and I love the idea of the Doctor being made into a Guardian for Victoria. There’s also Theodore Maxtible being turned into a Dalek/Human and his Manservant bravely sacrificing himself also I’m probably the only one who felt this way, but I even found the scene where the Doctor sent the Childlike Human Daleks off to war strangely upsetting. Speaking of which this story was given a sequel in the form of one of the best Doctor Who Magazine comic strips ever, Children of the Revolution, one which I defiantly recommend.
I really cannot recommend Evil of the Daleks more. Download the soundtrack, watch the clips even read the novelisation just in some way shape and form try and experience this truly remarkable piece of television. As we have seen recently there is still hope for the many Doctor Who stories that have been feared lost so maybe somewhere out there in some strange land is a dusty tin containing this wonderful story.
Welcome one and all- Please leave sanity at the door
A Teenage boy with a passion for all things nerdy! Expect a lot of Doctor Who, Cult/Horror Movies, Literature and Novels, History, Comic Books and random thoughts. Posts published weekly on a Friday evening. DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the items reviewed on this site and i also do not own of the pictures (unless stated so). If you own one of the photos and wish for it to be removed contact me at this adress: Super.firstname.lastname@example.org. However all of the written work is my own and is protected under copyright law.