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The Power of the Daleks

Production Code: EE

First Transmitted

1 - 05/11/1966 17:50

2 - 12/11/1966 17:50

3 - 19/11/1966 17:50

4 - 26/11/1966 17:50

5 - 03/12/1966 17:50

6 - 10/12/1966 17:50

Plot

The TARDIS brings the new Doctor, Polly and Ben to the Earth colony planet Vulcan. The Doctor witnesses a murder and, investigating the body, discovers a pass badge allowing him unrestricted access to the colony.

The dead man was an Earth Examiner who had been secretly summoned by Deputy Governor Quinn to investigate the activities of a group of rebels - a problem regarded as insignificant by Governor Hensell.

A scientist, Lesterson, has meanwhile discovered a crashed space capsule containing inert Daleks, which he is now in the process of reactivating. The Doctor's warnings are ignored when the Daleks claim to be the colonists' servants.

As the rebels grow in strength, their operations covertly led by Head of Security Bragen, the Daleks take advantage of the colonists' naive trust to establish a reproduction plant - on a conveyor belt system - with which to increase their numbers. The Doctor eventually destroys the Daleks by turning the colony's power source against them.

The defeat of the Daleks, to whom Bragen and the rebels had allied themselves, gives Quinn an opportunity to re-establish control, Hensell having previously been killed. The Doctor and his friends slip back to the TARDIS.

Episode Endings

The Doctor, Ben and Polly have found two seemingly dormant Daleks inside the crashed capsule. Examining the floor, the Doctor realises that there was once a third. He fails to notice as a tentacled creature begins to emerge from a hole at the base of the wall behind him...

To the astonishment of the Doctor and the colonists, the reactivated Dalek grates 'I am your servant!' The Doctor tries to warn that the Daleks destroy human beings without mercy or conscience, but his voice is almost drowned out by the Dalek loudly repeating its phrase.

The three reactivated Daleks chant 'We will get our power!' as Lesterson looks on with growing concern...

As a horrified Lesterson looks on, a line of newly created Daleks roll off the conveyor belt on their ship...

The Daleks stream out of their capsule chanting 'Daleks conquer and destroy! Daleks conquer and destroy!'

The TARDIS dematerialises from Vulcan. The lingering notes of a tune on the Doctor's recorder are heard as the eye-stalk of one of the apparently destroyed Daleks slowly rises up as if to watch the ship depart.

Roots

Rouben Mamoulian's 1931 version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (the Doctor's transformation).

Gogol's The Government Inspector.

Dialogue Triumphs

Ben : [Picking up the old Doctor's ring.] "The Doctor always wore this. If you are him it should fit." [He tries the ring on the Doctor's finger, but it is too big.] "That settles it."

The Doctor : "I'd like to see a butterfly fit into a chrysalis case after it spreads its wings."

Polly : "Then you did change."

The Doctor : "Life depends on change, and renewal."

Ben : "Oh, that's it, you've been renewed, have you?"

The Doctor : "Renewed? Have I? That's it, I've been renewed. It's part of the TARDIS. Without it I couldn't survive."

The Doctor : [Speaking of the reactivated Dalek] "It knew who I am, Ben."

Ben : "Well, if a Dalek takes you for the proper Doctor, then I suppose I can."

Lesterson : [To the other colonists present.] "This creation is called, I understand, a Dalek. Look at it. I have simply given it electrical power, and do you know what? It is capable of storing it! Furthermore, it responds to orders." [To the Dalek] "Turn around. Move that chair. Stop." [The Dalek obeys each command.] "You see! Imagine what it is going to do to our mining programme; to our processing; our packaging. Dozens of labour jobs, Governor. It may even be the answer to this colony's problems."

The Doctor : "Yes, it will end the colony's problems - because it will end the colony!"

The Doctor : [On the Daleks] "It can do many things, Lesterson. But the thing it does most efficiently is exterminate human beings."

Dialogue Disasters

Dalek : "Daleks conquer and destroy." [(Repeat indefinitely)]

Continuity

The new Doctor's first words are 'Slower... Concentrate on one thing.' (His clothes have regenerated as well.) He refers to his previous incarnation in the third person ('The Doctor was a great collector, wasn't he?') and sees his previous reflection, briefly, in a mirror [an hallucination].

He is unable to wear the Doctor's ring which Ben thinks proves he isn't the Doctor ('I'd like to see a butterfly fit into a chrysalis case after it's spread its wings'). The regeneration is (enigmatically) explained thus: 'I've been renewed... It's part of the TARDIS. Without it I couldn't survive.' [A reference to either the zero room (see Castrovalva) or a property of the TARDIS itself (see Mawdryn Undead).

The Daleks recognise the Doctor [from The Evil of the Daleks: they can't have remembered the second Doctor's face from their mind analysis machine in 'The Day of the Daleks' as history was successfully changed in that story]. They know what the first law of Thermodynamics is and also the chemical formulae for sulphuric acid and sodium ethoxide. Whereas they die without static in The Daleks, in this story they just become dormant. Vulcan (no relation) has 'Oxygen density 172, radiation nil, temperature 86, strong suggestion of mercury deposits'.

Ben lived opposite a brewery as a child and had a headmaster who was once 'nicked for not paying his fares'.

QV

The First History of the Daleks

Location

Vulcan, [pre 2164].

Links

Trivia

The Doctor's clothes transform along with his appearance.

We have the first clear sight in the series' history of fully-evolved Dalek creatures; tentacled blobs placed into the casings of the new Daleks created in their capsule. (Those seen in The Daleks' Master Plan were implied to have been regressed to a primordial form by the time destructor.)

Polly is absent from Episode Four and Ben from Episode Five as Anneke Wills and Michael Craze were on holiday during the respective weeks in which they were recorded.

Myth

Doctor Who's planet Vulcan predated Star Trek's. (Star Trek made its on-air debut in the US on 8 September 1966, predating transmission of The Power of the Daleks by almost two months; and although Spock's home planet was referred to initially as 'Vulcanis' it became 'Vulcan' just a few episodes later.)

David Whitaker's scripts included a lengthy scene involving the TARDIS food machine, which Dennis Spooner removed when he rewrote them. (Although Dennis Spooner made this claim in a number of later interviews, there was in fact no such scene in Whitaker's scripts; Spooner appears to have been misremembering a lengthy scene involving a diagnostic machine in the colony's medical centre, which he did indeed remove in rewriting.)

The Tristram Cary incidental music used in this story was taken entirely from the first Dalek story, The Mutants. (Some of it was taken from season three's The Daleks' Master Plan).

Goofs

In one of the existing clips a Dalek has trouble getting through an archway.

There is obvious usage of Dalek photo blow ups.

In surviving footage, a Dalek crashes into the camera.

Cast & Crew

Cast

The Doctor - Patrick Troughton

Ben Jackson - Michael Craze

Polly - Anneke Wills

Bragen - Bernard Archard

Dalek - Gerald Taylor

Dalek - Kevin Manser

Dalek - Robert Jewell

Dalek - John Scott Martin

Dalek Voices - Peter Hawkins

Guard - Peter Forbes-Robertson

Guard - Robert Russell

Guard - Robert Luckham

Hensell - Peter Bathurst

Janley - Pamela Ann Davy

Kebble - Steven Scott

Lesterson - Robert James

Quinn - Nicholas Hawtrey

Resno - Edward Kelsey

The Examiner - Martin King

Valmar - Richard Kane

Crew

Director - Christopher Barry

Assistant Floor Manager - Marjorie Yorke

Costumes - Sandra Reid

Daleks Created By - Terry Nation Terry Nation received this credit as joint owner with the BBC of the rights to the Daleks.

Designer - Derek Dodd

Film Cameraman - Peter Sargent

Film Editor - Jim Latham

Incidental Music - Tristram Cary (from stock)

Make-Up - Gillian James

Producer - Innes Lloyd

Production Assistant - Michael E Briant

Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson

Story Editor - Gerry Davis

Studio Lighting - Graham Sothcott

Studio Sound - Buster Cole

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Delia Derbyshire

Writer - David Whitaker The final version of the scripts was written by Dennis Spooner, who received no credit.

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'When I say run, run like a rabbit!' The first, and most important, reformatting of Doctor Who's central character is carried out with considerable style.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

The transition from William Hartnell to Patrick Troughton received remarkably little coverage in the popular press (certainly by comparison with that accorded to the later changes of Doctor). The only significant report appeared in the Daily Sketch on the day that the first episode of the The Power of the Daleks was transmitted:

'If you believe the programme overlords, most viewers have a compelling urge... to be frightened out of their wits. And that explains the strange affair of The Changing Face of Doctor Who.

'The time travelling Doctor is back as usual on BBC1 this afternoon - and advance reports say that his return will be an explosive event to woo the kids away from Guy Fawkes bonfires.

'But something is very much out of the ordinary - instead of being played by William Hartnell, the Doctor is spooky character actor Patrick Troughton.

'When veteran Bill Hartnell decided to drop out it could have meant the end for Doctor Who.

'Scriptwriters have been turning mental somersaults to explain why a new hero is appearing, without warning, to young fans. Full details of his debut are being kept a secret, until today...'

As it turned out, viewers' opinions of the new Doctor were sharply divided, as is apparent from two letters that appeared in the 24 November edition of Radio Times. The first, from G Howard of Leeds, read:

'I would like to send my heartiest congratulations to the production team of BBC1's Doctor Who.

'Patrick Troughton and the superb character he has created have dragged the programme out of the unfortunate mess it had degenerated into. Given sensible scripts the programme could possibly emerge as one of the real successes of television science-fiction.

'I look forward to the time when Doctor Who is performed for adults only.'

Mrs Estelle Hawken of Wadebridge in Cornwall, on the other hand, was distinctly unimpressed:

'What have you done to BBC1's Doctor Who? Of all the stupid nonsense! Why turn a wonderful series into what looked like Coco the Clown?

'I think you will find thousands of children will not now be watching Doctor Who, which up to now has been the tops.'

This unenthusiastic reaction was largely echoed in viewers' comments recorded in the BBC's Audience Research Report on the third episode of the story. 'Once a brilliant but eccentric scientist, he now comes over as a half-witted clown,' complained a teacher. 'The family have really "gone off" Doctor Who since the change,' noted another viewer. 'They do not understand the new one at all, and his character is peculiar in an unappealing way.' The report contained much criticism, too, of Troughton's performance - although one person conceded that he 'seemed to be struggling manfully with the idiotic new character that Doctor Who has taken on since his change'.

Typical opinions were that he was overacting, 'playing for laughs' and making the Doctor into 'something of a pantomime character'. 'I'm not sure that I really like his portrayal,' was one verdict. 'I feel the part is over-exaggerated - whimsical even - I keep expecting him to take a great watch out of his pocket and mutter about being late like Alice's White Rabbit'. A number frankly stated that they had preferred William Hartnell in the role. There was however a recognition from a minority that Troughton had yet to settle down and that there was still time for him to become 'fully acceptable'. Perhaps the most positive comment came from a student, who said that 'Patrick Troughton, a brilliant actor, had improved the programme greatly'.

In retrospect it can be seen that Troughton makes quite a good debut as the Doctor. His less than rapturous reception at the time is probably accounted for mainly by the fact that his somewhat outlandish initial characterisation takes a bit of getting used to after William Hartnell's more serious interpretation. This difference in approach was elaborated on by Anthony Clark in DWB No. 117 dated September 1993: 'What is most remarkable about this story is just how little Patrick Troughton does. Okay, so he's on screen for quite a lot of the time, but right up until the end he does little more than half allude to his suspicions whilst getting in the way. In fact, this early manifestation of the hands-off approach established itself as one of the new Doctor's main characteristics, at least up until the departure of the Davis/Lloyd axis.'

If the Audience Research Report is anything to go by, it seems that doubts about the new Doctor may have coloured contemporary viewers' opinons of the story as a whole. 'Viewers in the sample who were enthusiastic about this episode...' noted the Report's compiler, 'were confined to a minority, less than a quarter... finding it appealing to an appreciable degree'. Amongst this enthusiastic minority, it seemed that the Daleks were the main attraction. 'This is supposed to be for the "kids",' commented a 'senior clerk', 'but I must confess that I found the programme quite gripping. As an ardent sci-fiction fan I think the Daleks are the most sinister "aliens" I've come across'. More often, though, 'viewers in the sample reported a very moderate degree of enjoyment, and a number were scarcely interested at all'. For some, even the Daleks had lost their appeal. 'They have made their impact, served their usefulness,' commented one malcontent, 'now they just seem hackneyed and more unreal than usual'.

With the benefit of hindsight these comments can again be seen as being far too harsh. The enclosed, claustrophobic nature of the story's setting and the relatively small scale of the threat posed by the Daleks - the destruction of a single human colony - present a marked and very effective contrast to the epic nature of the previous Dalek story, The Daleks' Master Plan, which ended its on-air run earlier the same year. The plotting and dialogue are excellent and the guest characters all very believable and compelling. Of particular note in this regard are the crazed Lesterson, brilliantly portrayed by Robert James, and the Daleks themselves, who as scripted by David Whitaker seem far more cunning and evil than in many of their previous appearances as scripted by their creator Terry Nation. There are also some highly memorable set-pieces including, as Clark recalled, the famous 'Dalek production line' sequence: 'Partly because it was a real spectacle, and partly because we the viewers got to see just how much trouble was in store for the colonists and Doctor.'

All things considered, The Power of the Daleks gets the second Doctor's era off to a good start.

< The Tenth PlanetSecond DoctorThe Highlanders >

This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.



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