Friday, 17 October 2014

009 The Daleks Episode 5: The Expedition

EPISODE: The Daleks Episode 5: The Expedition
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 18 January 1964
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Christopher Barry
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 9.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: The Beginning Boxset

"If I don't get the fluid link back, the four of us will die."

The Daleks begin duplicating and testing the Thals' anti radiation drug. Ian argues with the Thals, trying to persuade them to assist them in recovering the missing fluid link from the Dalek's city. First he threatens to give the Daleks the history of the Thals and then takes Thal girl Dyoni wondering if the Daleks would exchange an experimental subject for the fluid link. Alydon strike him and realising there is something he might fight for agrees to consider his stance overnight. The Daleks discover that the anti radiation drug is making them ill and they are actually dependant on the radiation to survive.


The Thals agree to assist the travellers. The Daleks decide to explode another neutronic bomb to sustain the levels of radiation and observe the Thal group splitting in two. The Doctor and Susan go with one group of Thals to distract the Daleks on the city walls while the rest travel with Ian and Barbara through the highly dangerous swamp attempting to gain access to the undefended rear of the city. They are guided through the swamp by the brothers Antodus and Ganatus, the only survivors of a five strong scouting party sent into it previously. Ian sights a creature in the swamp so the Thals post a guard, Kristas, over the camp while they sleep. The next morning Elyon finds pipes running from the swamp which the Daleks are using to source their water. The agree to follow them into the city. Elyon goes to fetch water for the day's journey but is interrupted by a disturbance in the water....


A very talky episode in places,especially earlier on during the debates about if the Thals should fight or not. Does it work? Hmmmm, I'm not sure. I've always been bothered by the scenes where Ian goads the Thals into fighting, they've never sat too well with me. The key problem with the episode can be found when Alydon is talking with Dyoni:

ALYDON: Which is the most important? To fight and live, or to die without fighting?
The threat to the Thals is that their crops have failed: they came to the city looking for food, which was how the Daleks lured them inside. But there's nothing in the start of this episode to remind us of that. In fact as the episode goes on a greater and more imminent threat emerges that neither our travellers or the Thals have any knowledge of: The Daleks begin construction of a new bomb. I think that giving the Thals knowledge of the bomb would have increased the impetus on them to co-operate with the Tardis crew. For that to happen someone has to know about it, and for that to happen someone has to stay in the city. I think the events of the last few episodes could do with a little re-arranging to tighten the plot: Ian realises the Fluid Link has been taken from them while they're still in the city and stays to look for it. The Daleks start testing the drug earlier and, while trying to find the Fluid Link Ian overhears this and is forced to leave the city to convey the news to the Thals.

Another problem is the episode is very Doctor light. Ian is definitely the main protagonist here and indeed the Doctor, and Susan, are absent for the second half of the episode as well as large proportions of the next two. During the earlier part of the episode we get this exchange between the Doctor and Ian:

DOCTOR: What you might call tempting providence, Chesserman.
IAN: Well, don't worry about it now, Doctor. It's happened.
DOCTOR: Yes, well, at least you're not vindictive.
IAN: Well I will be if you don't get my name right.
IAN: It's Chesterton.
DOCTOR: Yes. Hey? I know that.
So..... Is Hartnell actually fluffing Ian's name and the exchange has been ad-libbed to cover it? Or was it scripted as part of the character? As Hartnell goes on he fluffs more, generally attributed to the illness that eventually killed him, but if you watch the Massacre he gives a flawless performance as the Abbot of Amboise. I'm tending towards these name fluffs being scripted.

But there's much more Daleks in this episode than I remember. There's a couple of lovely Dalek Point of View shots with the stricken Dalek earlier and again as another enters the control room. Against that we've got a frankly ridiculous shot of a Dalek reading a ticker tape


There's also the debut of what will become a familiar trick: using cardboard cut out Daleks to boost the numbers. It might have worked in the background on 405 line TV but on DVD with repeated viewings it becomes much more obvious:


See also: Power of the Daleks!

I do have to wonder how intelligent the Daleks actually are: earlier in the story they're working to reduce the radiation, have they never realised before that they're dependant on it? And this dependency is never, ever mentioned again!

I praised Ray Cusick's design work earlier in the story and the monster in the swamp is another example of that. It's only on the screen briefly, but long enough to get a good look at, and it looks very effective:


Amongst the actors playing the Thals the most famous is probably John Lee, as Alydon. He's another Australian in the cast (see also Robert Jewell & Kevin Manser who are inside the Daleks) who was a regular on UK TV at the time appearing in such shows as The Avengers, Man in a Suitcase and Doomwatch. He later returned to his native Australia and found fame playing Len Mangel in Neighbours! Alydon's onscreen love Dyoni is played by Virginia Wetherell, who would get a Clockwork Orange appearance to her name. She was married to Ralph Bates, one of the stars of Moonbase 3, the series developed by the Doctor Who Producer/Script Editor team of Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks. Philip Bond plays Ganatus, who appears to have his eye on Barbara for much of this story (note how's she's acquired a pair of Thal Trousers in this episode!) At the time Bond's daughter Samantha was 2 but she went on to become a noted actress in her own right including playing Miss Moneypenny in the Pierce Brosnan James Bond films. Philip Bond's CV has acting credits on it as recently as 2007 showing how long lived in the business he was. Bond was a late replacement in the role, it being originally given to Dinsdale Landen who had to back out when filming dates changed. Having nearly been in the second Doctor Who story he'd be considered for the roles of Professor Watson in The Hand Of Fear and was offered the role of Lord Palmerdale in Horror of Fang Rock before eventually appearing in the penultimate story The Curse of Fenric as Professor Judson. Playing Ganatus' brother Antodus is Marcus Hammond while Jonathon Crane is Kristas, the guard over the camp and Gerald Curtis is Elyon, the Thal by the water at the end of the episode who looks like he's about to have something very unfortunate happen to him!

This is the last episode of this story to be directed by Christopher Barry. He'd be back with the series in a year for The Rescue and the Romans. Richard Martin, who directed episode three takes over for the rest of the story. This is the first episode of the series to feature Gerald Taylor as a Dalek operator, replacing Michael Summerton.

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