When Is a Dalek Story Not a Dalek Story?
Fun fact: The original working title for today's new story was The Exilons, and did not include any Daleks. It is,however, a Terry Nation script and at some point both he and producer Barry Letts decided to shoehorn some Daleks to goose viewership and sell toys. I mean, I assume that was the reason, it certainly wasn't because the plot demanded it. So here we are with another damn Dalek story, and one where they don't even need to be there. What a crock.
Let's talk about that.
Death to the Daleks - Parts 1 & 2
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
The Doctor has convinced Sarah Jane to run away to some vacation paradise planet, and in an entirely out-of-character way she is dressed in a (fairly modest) swimsuit. It's not a bikini by any stretch, but it just seems so counter to everything about her character for her to be walking around in shorts and a backless halter thingy (I don't know anything about fashion, can you tell?) I mean, look at this, it's crazy:
I'm all for the "dad candy" on the show, and I am fine with occasionally being a sexist pig (and I am very much looking forward to the arrival of Leela in a few seasons), but this was so very unlike Sarah Jane Smith that it really threw me.
In any case, the TARDIS does not, in fact, land at the promised beach location but instead suffers a complete power loss and ends up on a planet that does not at all look like an English rock quarry. There the Doctor goes out to explore while Sarah Jane changes into some sensible clothing, at which point she is promptly kidnapped because that is the only thing that Terry Nation knows to do with a female character.
The Doctor finds some other humans who have crash landed on the planet after they suffered a similar power failure. And then a pointless Dalek ship comes along and suffers its own power failure. They don't sound like Daleks, the voice is all wrong. Their guns don't work, because apparently the power failure is just enough to disable their weapons but not enough to keep them from rolling around and being all fascist and stuff. It's almost like they were never meant to be in the story to begin with, but got shoved in for no good reason and had to have their destructive power leveled down to mesh with the rest of the story.
So basically we've got some Stone Age type natives throwing rocks and spears, and kidnapping maidens, and we've got the humans and the Daleks working together until they can get their respective power sources repaired. And we've got Sarah Jane Smith as a captive of the natives, about to be sacrificed. Because that's the only hing that Terry Nation can think of to do with a female character. In due course all of our characters are captured by the natives, and then are set free by a rescue Dalek force, but not before the Doctor and Sarah Jane escape into the caves behind the sacrificial alter. Shocker, there are some even-more-stone-agey natives in the caves, and they are going to kill our heroes. Oh no!
You know, I really liked the previous Terry Nation Dalek story. It was inventive, complex, had lots of cool world building, and a terrific pace. This story... does not. The kindest thing I can say about this story is that it only has four parts, so I'll be done with it tomorrow. The only other good news is that, although there is yet another Dalek story coming up in the next season, Genesis of the Daleks has the distinction of being the single greatest story in the history of Doctor Who. Even better, after that one the Daleks are retired again for five years. So that will be nice.
Companion(s): Sarah Jane Smith
Episode(s): Death to the Daleks - Parts 1 & 2
Steps Walked: 7,072 today, 1,261,145 total
Distance Walked: 3.66 miles today, 623.03 miles total
Weight: 262.08 lbs (five day moving average), net change -45.22 lbs