Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Doctor Who - The Daleks by Terry Nation

In this second story, the series begins to improve greatly. A fairly blatant allegory on Nazis and Jews from WWII about racial superiority with the Daleks vs. the Thals, its still a very powerful message. Also included is an early warning about the dangers of nuclear war and its possible side effects.

The story tends to lag in the middle when you watch it all at once, but I found watching it an episode at a time to be consistently entertaining. Which, lets face it, is how these stories were intended to be watched. Still, there is quite a bit of padding. Enough so that the story would probably be stronger if it was cut to 6 episodes instead of 7.

Again, I found the story to work quite well on the limited budget. There's a few little glitches like pieces of the styrofoam cavern wall breaking away at one point but all in all it works.

The costumes of the Thals are unashamedly alien and even though they look a bit silly, I applaud them for it in this day and age where much of science fiction television has humans in the future and even alien races wearing suits and ties or t-shirts and jeans instead of alien or futuristic clothing. I know its supposed to help non sci-fi fans identify with the characters more, but I find it ridiculous that hundreds of years in the future that fashion won't have changed or that aliens wear the same clothes we do on their home planet.

The Daleks are thoroughly single-minded in their desire to exterminate all that is unlike making them truly monsters not only in form but even more so in intent. I never found them particularly scary but even so there's something about them that is just a wonderful design. Again, so many aliens are humanoid or downright human its cool to see aliens that are totally alien to us. (Even though we only get a glimpse of the creatures inside in this early adventure.)

Ian and Barbara continue to be just as important as the Doctor as leads and Susan although pushed a bit more into the background this time, gets a nice bit in the story where she is their only hope of salvation from dying of radiation poisoning.

The Doctor isn't as villainous in this story but he is very much still the anti-hero as he lies to his fellow travelers putting them in mortal danger just because he wants to investigate the Dalek city while they all insist on leaving. Viewers at this point must have been very unsure of whether this character of the Doctor was really a hero or a villain.

A very good start for the Daleks and a sign of even better stories to come. I give it 7 out of 10 TARDISes.

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