I love how the Daleks announce themselves! “We are the new race of Daleks!” Who are they telling?! So silly! But they are completely bonkers and I suppose that’s the point. They clearly love being Daleks and want to tell everyone, even other Daleks.
The point of all this re-watching (and the thing I’m enjoying most about it) is context. I’ve watched Doctor Who since I was five – I’m in my late 40s now so that’s a lot of Doctor Who obviously – but there’s still quite a lot of it that I’ve never seen, and I’m not just talking about the missing episodes, there are one or two Pertwee stories I’ve actually never seen. And of course there are lots of episodes that I’ve seen but were broadcast before I was born – it’s these that I’m enjoying watching, surrounded by other contemporary television, films, news. Now we fans have also watched a lot of clips of our favourite programme, therefore “Daleks conquer and destroy!” is very familiar, and so seeing that scene tonight is for me, another piece of the jigsaw slotting into place. I knew roughly what it was about but I’ve never followed the plot of Power Of The Daleks properly so it’s great getting the full(ish) picture now.
Another thing: the title. I never took the word ‘power’ to mean literally ‘energy’ and that’s a brilliant double meaning. As I mentioned last week I’m still slightly mystified about this business with them needing static electricity. Was David Whitaker relying on his memory of the first Dalek story three years ago or am I missing something? We can assume I suppose that this story is set sometime between their first appearance and their invasion of Earth.
So this week Lesterson is really losing his grip. Hysterical characters are pretty irritating at the best of times and Lesterson’s boggle-eyed, gibbering panic is a bit much really. And a bit sudden. But in six episodes we don’t have the luxury of weeks of gradually increasing mania so we have to have shorthand I suppose. Or perhaps he was already a loony and we didn’t spot the signs.
Polly’s back, hooray! We like Polly. She wasn’t in it last week. She’s still in space pyjamas and seems very clued up on the Daleks, presumably having had a long conversation with the Doctor. At some point. Between scenes. But she’s suddenly taking these Daleks very seriously. It makes you wonder whether this whole mess could have been avoided if Janley, Bragen and the others had sat in on that conversation. I wonder what’s happened to Ben…
The bit where the Doctor is using a glass by rubbing it to try to find the right note to unlock the door is very clever, and as with the Daleks’ reliance on static electricity, also harks back to their first appearance where the first Doctor is imprisoned and has to rely on ingenuity to escape.
I love Polly’s stubbornness when Valmar and Kebble ask her to help with the Dalek cable. “You think you’re very tough don’t you, pushing a girl around? I’d like to see you come up against a real man” she says. A real man like Ben apparently! Not like the Doctor obviously. When these two enquire about the Doctor’s knowledge of the Daleks she tells them that he tried to warn everybody. Well actually he didn’t really did he? He just got in a flap and said they had to be destroyed. He didn’t properly explain why. Unless that was between scenes as well. A real man would have made them listen, eh Polly?
Bragen reveals his true colours and Hensell is brutally shot down by a Dalek after Bragen refits it’s gun. Five episodes in and there’s the first extermination. “Why do human beings kill human beings?”, it ponders philosophically. It’s true, Daleks kill everyone else but you don’t see them turning on each other. Strength in numbers, all working as one. Leave us humans alone for long enough and we’ll save the Daleks the trouble of exterminating us themselves. This is a very different type of Dalek story. I approve, it’s a refreshing change of style.
Meanwhile Valmar questions a Dalek about their power supply. The Dalek nearly gives the game away: “With static electricity the Daleks will be twice as pow…um..er…er…USEFUL. Yeah, that’s right, useful” (Or something like that) They just can’t help themselves can they?!
The Doctor, Polly and Quinn find Hensell’s body. Bragen who thinks he’s in charge of the Daleks orders the guards to take the three of them away. In the capsule the Daleks are off again. Here it comes: “Daleks conquer and destroy! Daleks conquer and destroy!” Have we ever seen this many Daleks together? I don’t think so, there seem to be dozens of them. A cacophony of Dalek chanting. Impressive stuff. A whole week till the next one…