Power of The Daleks: Review
While the crowd at the AMC Ahwautukee 24 was sparse at best it was a good night overall.
The Power of the Daleks not seen by an audience since it was broadcast on the BBC in 1966 lived again in an animated episode that is, as the makers admit, an interpretation of the original and not a shot-by-shot remake.
I don’t see any reason to say “Spoilers!” because let’s face it, it’s called The Power of The Daleks, gee, I wonder who the bad guys are? And gee, what will they do?
EXTERMINATE all humans. 🙂
BUT IF YOU WANT ONE: HERE IT IS. SPOILER WARNING!
But these Daleks, recovered from a space capsule in a mercury swamp on the planet Vulcan (sorry no pointy ears here) are brought back to life by an obsessed scientist.
This is NEVER a good idea. 🙂
The roots of Modern Day Dalek stories like “Victory of The Daleks” and “Dalek” runs deep in this episode.
Quite why such a hostile planet had a human colony on it was never explained. Since they mentioned mining I have to assume that was it.
Poor Lesterson, he’d go stark raving loony by the end of it. But he, and the others on the Colony, are unaware of what they had found and Lesterson had kept it a secret that he’s actually gotten into the capsule ahead of everyone else. He was a clever man. 🙂
The episode begins with the Hartnell to Troughton regeneration and the 2nd Doctor’s rather confused few moments in the TARDIS. Ben doesn’t believe he’s the Doctor, Polly does. It sets up a nice dynamic that I’m sure was reflective of the time.
This was a revolutionary idea. Rejuvenating (not “regeneration” yet) the lead character and making him carry on even though he doesn’t look or act like the grouchy grandfather they had known and loved.
I have said many times that they reason Doctor Who is still on the air nearly 53 years later is because Pat was so good at making it his own but making it The Doctor so that future generations could have “their” Doctor.
There are moments of The 2nd Doctor I love in this episode, but it’s still early yet and he is far more obsessed with his recorder than he will be. At times he uses it to communicate with like a child playing with his favorite toy and not willing to put it down so he toots at people early on.
The Daleks, though are VERY Sneaky in this episode, probably sneakier than they will be for decades.
These Daleks, initially just 3, are revived by Lesterson after the The Doctor (impersonating a Earth Government official who got murdered early in the story) “opens” the space capsule which, as I said, had actually been open by Lesterson before.
These Daleks are still chained to static electricity as a power source so they are subservient to their Human benefactors for most of the episode, or so it seems.
But these are Daleks, but unlike The Daleks of later stories these Daleks skulk around. They pretend to be servile. They even choke back a typically Dalek superiority rebuke in mid-sentence in one scene and turn on the servile charm instead.
“We are your servants” they say repeated thought the first 4-5 episodes (of 6). And every time they do I got a “Victory of the Daleks” flashback, “Would you like some Tea?”.
This story has a lot in common with “Victory” but their subterfuge here is much longer, much more in the shadows.
Lesterson reactivates the Daleks and removes their guns. The Doctor notices that there are more than three Daleks in the colony, and warns that they are breeding. This is met with incredulity as the colonists believe that the Daleks are machines only. Highly intelligent machines that could benefit them greatly.
The leaders of the colony believe the Daleks will bring them wealth, fame or power. Only the Doctor (and of course the audience) have seen them in action and know what to expect in the end.
When the Daleks realize that someone is suspicious of them and they aren’t quite ready to exterminate everyone the lead Dalek tells the other (which now there are more than 4 because the Daleks are secretly creating new ones) Daleks that “no more than 3 can be seen at any time”.
These Daleks are manipulators. They use “rebels” against the Planetary Governor to string power cables so that they can use the base’s power against them and to use the rebels to get what THEY want.
The rebels find out too late who they are really dealing with when the Daleks exterminate the rebels and as many humans as they can before The Doctor manages to stop them.
Power of the Daleks’ ending is very bleak indeed. There’s a panning shot of corpses littering the colony floor, exterminated (including Janley) and when Lesterton is exterminated you can see the full blown madness in his eyes as his mind has totally cracked up over what he has brought back to life.
It’s amazing to remember that in 1966, when it aired, the show was unambiguously marketed at children, yet could still contain such an explicit on-screen massacre.
But at the end, you think, finally, that’s the end of the Daleks…He he he he… An inert Dalek stands next to the TARDIS. Ben kicks it and exclaims that they will not be having any trouble with Daleks from now on. As the TARDIS dematerialises, however, the eyestalk of the nearby Dalek rises upwards. 🙂
The Daleks are properly devise bad guys in this one. They are not just blunt instruments of extermination. They have guile and cunning and you can see them planning and manipulating the humans (especially the “rebels” like Janley) to benefit them and when the time comes to exterminate they roll out and take care of the job. They are properly evil in this one.
I will mention that I don’t hate the animation but it is a bit weird at times as characters that are essentially standing still suddenly shutter and jerk side-to-side almost like an epileptic fit. It was something I could not figure out why.
But overall, very high mark for this episode. Hope the BBC is commercially successful with it and we can have more like this. Pat Troughton deserves it.
The BBC used the Daleks in the first ever “Rejuvenation” story to reassure the kiddies that this was in fact Doctor Who, just different.
And it has been that way for 53 years.
Power of the Daleks will be released on DVD on 21 November in the UK.