“WE WILL GET OUR POWER!” the Daleks shout. Over and over again. Then, demonstrating a firm grasp of irony, Lesterson pulls a switch and the Daleks lose their power. He tells them not to forget who’s in charge. There’s something wonderfully creepy about these apparently subservient Daleks. The way they repeat “I am your ser-vant” like a mantra sounds so fake and rehearsed, it’s brilliant. The upward inflection on “ser-vant” is subtle and genius. After putting them in their place he restores power and a couple of them trundle off to their capsule “to await your orders master”. Hmmm.
Now I know what you’ve been thinking, and at this point perhaps I should mention the elephant in the room. No, I haven’t slipped back even further in time to part one of The Ark. I’m talking about the fact that I’m aware that I have only hinted at the fact that I’m watching the animated version of Power Of The Daleks, and you’re thinking that if I’ve really travelled back in time I should be watching the broadcast version. You definitely believe that I’ve travelled in time right? Of course you do. So you must be thinking that. Well I thought that too, and was really looking forward to watching all those missing episodes again, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite work like that (you knew it wouldn’t). You see every time I try to watch a missing episode the picture breaks up, there’s lots of interference and all I get is the sound and a few glimpses of the picture. I presume this is time protecting itself to prevent any potential dangerous paradox which could rip apart the fabric of time space. Or something. Doctor Who must be one of those “fixed points” that can’t be altered. So my modern eyes can’t view them. Who knew Doctor Who was that important eh?! So the animation is being beamed to me from 2016, ‘somehow’, in a similar way to my method of posting a blog on the future internet. Anyway stop asking complicated questions.
So I’m very impressed with this animation. The way the Daleks move is fantastic, the lighting effects and rendered backgrounds are stunning and they’ve really captured the likenesses well, especially Patrick Troughton.
Back to the plot. The Daleks have given Lesterson plans to build a meteor storm computer (he should have asked me, I’ve got four), and Valmar seems to be testing a new telephone in Bragen’s office. Bragen doesn’t trust Valmar and threatens him. The Doctor and Ben burst in and we get some second Doctor silliness as he admires Bragen’s new uniform. Maybe I’m a bit thick but I don’t understand the bit about the hat…he’s not wearing a hat…
Ben asks Bragen what he’s doing to find Polly, and Bragen replies evasively that they can start now that they’ve got their phones working, but that it’s a “large planet”. Well quite. I mean most planets are pretty big aren’t they? Doctor Who often treats a whole planet as if it’s a small town in Berkshire. If this was set on our own planet you imagine Ben asking “have you searched the Earth for Polly yet?” “Well we’ve covered most of southern England, the Norfolk fens, and half of Belgium so far… We’ve got a couple of guys looking in Malta and a team covering south east Asia. The Amazonian rainforests are proving trickier than expected, but give us a few more hours, I’m sure she’ll turn up.”
A Dalek glides in with a glass of water on a tray. The Doctor leaps backwards with a chair like a lion tamer. It’s so odd, the Doctor being the only one who is bothered by this. IT’S A DALEK! No-one else has a clue. He needs Ian and Barbara or Steven Taylor to add weight.
The Doctor is under the impression that the Daleks still need metal floors and static electricity to operate. I’m a bit baffled by this as we’ve seen Daleks not long ago in the desert and on the Mary Celeste to name just two examples. Perhaps the Doctor is aware that this is a period before they gained the ability to travel on non-metal floors. Or perhaps his “renewal” has messed up his memory.
The Doctor and Ben are in a corridor when three Daleks glide past. Ben figures out that there is an extra Dalek. Well spotted Ben. No really I mean it, even the Doctor didn’t notice that. Janley has put a note on a notice board and Kebble is peering at it when the Doctor and Ben disturb him. He runs off. The Doctor can’t see anything amiss.
The Daleks have been giving Lesterson lists of parts they need and are taking them into their capsule and using them up really quickly, then asking for more. This is rather alarming! Lesterson feels the same way and is worried that their behaviour seems somewhat more intelligent than that of a servile robot. Janley wants to continue the experiments on the Daleks though and threatens to blackmail Lesterson if he doesn’t comply. The Doctor and Ben walk in asking about Polly. She’s not there but it is after all, a large planet. The Doctor asks Lesterson if he’s been building more Daleks. From his denial the Doctor deduces that the Daleks themselves must be “reproducing.” Blimey. “What makes you think they’re just machines?”, he says to Janley. I imagine this probably did need clarifying at this point. There must have been a sizeable section of the viewing audience that still thought the Daleks were robots (even during my childhood in the seventies I remember people having that misconception). I may be wrong but I don’t think we’ve had any reference to the squishy Dalek creature in a long while, possibly not since the first year.
The Doctor gives more hints as to the true nature of the Daleks and Lesterson has a mini breakdown. As I mentioned last week, if the Doctor had told them all this stuff at the start, a lot of trouble might have been avoided. But then we’d have been robbed of this excellent drama so I shouldn’t complain.
Janley sedates Lesterson with a drink – I thought the approved sixties method of dealing with hysteria was a slap round the face. Or perhaps that was the fifties. With Lesterson snoozing, Valmar enters and he and Janley give the Daleks the power cable they need. Looks as though they are almost ready to GET THEIR POWER!!
The Doctor realises that the message on the notice board is in code and works out there’s a meeting planned. This Sherlock Holmes style Doctor is great, a new direction I like. They go to the meeting room and hide.
Janley and others soon arrive and begin their meeting. There’s also a shadowy figure that in the animation looks a lot like Bragen. They’re testing a weaponised Dalek. Ben gives himself away when they mention Polly, the Dalek tries to attack him but Janley intervenes, Ben is knocked out and taken away. Here’s another sixties cliche: people being knocked unconscious with a single blow, or just hitting their head briefly. The shadowy Bragen-alike turns out to be…Bragen. He knows the Doctor is hiding and calls him out. He’s going to expose the Doctor as an imposter after locking him up.
The Doctor is put in a cell with Quinn, and wastes no time in deducing that the lock is activated by sound.
Meanwhile Lesterson wakes up to see Daleks conspiring together, and like a Donald Trump voter from 2019, in classic goggle-eyed misguided scientist “why didn’t I realise?”-mode, exclaims: “why didn’t I realise?”
I love the way the animators have made the Daleks look as though their real life operators lose control a bit as they roll down the capsule ramp! A nice touch to give it that sixties authenticity.
Lesterson sneaks into the capsule to witness the end of the episode. He’s getting all the best cliffhangers in his one. This is great stuff. A nice long scene of Daleks building other Daleks. Squishy creatures being placed inside travel machines, conveyor belts, new Dalek attachments, foam, lots and lots of Daleks: “We are the new race of Daleks! We are the new race of Daleks!”
What more could you want from Doctor Who?