Friday, 17 October 2014

011 The Daleks Episode 7: The Rescue

EPISODE: The Daleks Episode 7: The Rescue
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 01 February 1964
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Richard Martin
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 10.4 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: The Beginning Boxset

"Stop our power from wasting or it will be the end of the Daleks!"

Ian clings onto the rock while Ganatus and Antodus dangle bellow him. Ganatus scramble up onto the ledge but as Ian starts to slip Antodus slices through the rope holding him, plummeting to his death but saving the lives of Ian and his brother. The Daleks prepare to put their plan to inject radioactive material into the atmosphere into action. Ian, Barbara, Ganatus & Kristas find their way through the tunnels blocked by a rock fall but realise there is light seeping into the tunnel from a gap where they can climb through into the city. Concluding the Doctor has been captured Alydon decides to attack the city with the rest of the Thals. The Doctor attempts to bargain the secrets of the Tardis with the Daleks if they stop their countdown but the Daleks conclude that they will find the Tardis and discover it's secrets. As Ian's party enter the city an alert sounds that there are Thals in the city and they encounter Alydon. The Daleks attempt to seal them in and Barbara is trapped by a closing door but they escape. The Thals battle the Daleks in the Dalek control room, sabotaging the Dalek power systems and disabling the Daleks seconds before they can release the radiation. An immobilised and dying Dalek pleads with the Doctor

DALEK: Listen to me.
DALEK: Stop our power from wasting or it will be the end of the Daleks!
DOCTOR: Even if I wanted to, I don't know how.
The Thals ask the Doctor to stay and help them rebuild their planet. He declines but points out that the soil near the Dalek city isn't as barren as they thought. He leaves with Susan, Ian and Barbara but as the Tardis takes off it is violently shaken and the lights go out .....

My initial reaction to this episodes was "It's a game of two halves really": More nonsense in the tunnel and then the battle in the city. To prove it I looked at the scene timings and was slightly surprised:

00:00 Opening credits
00:26 recap begins
00:34 new tunnel footage
02:12 Doctor & Daleks
03:05 More Tunnels
05:06 Alydon in forest
05:45 Doctor offering the secrets of the Tardis to the Daleks
07:44 Ian's party in the city
08:51 Dalek Control room
09:42 Ian's party meet Alydon (at 10:08)
11:15 Dalek Control room
11:31 Ian's party in corridors
12:14 Dalek Control Room
12:30 Ian's party in corridors
12:39 Dalek Control Room, Ian arrives at 13:01, Attack starts at 13:54
17:14 outside Tardis
20:49 inside Tardis
21:25 End Credits

If I've done my maths right thats just 03m47s of the tunnels, about half the elapsed time in the episode until Ian's party are seen in the city itself and about one sixth of the running time of the episode. And yet it seems much longer, maybe because it occupied so much of the previous episode and dragged so much there. Another reason is that it provides one of the most memorable and shocking scenes of the entire story as Antodus sacrifices himself to save both his brother, Ganatus, and Ian.


He's spent two episodes whining to his brother about how he doesn't want to be there. I said last episode that:

He didn't want to come on this part of the expedition having seen what happened to the three other Thals in the original scouting party to the swamp but he and Ganatus are the only one with knowledge of the area. I've always had Antodus down as cowardly but watching his again I'm starting to think he's more traumatised by he's earlier experiences.
What I'd forgotten then, and only remembered after watching it with my son, is that Antodus is also the injured Thal from episode 5 who was in the party who tried to go back for Temmosus' body. He's witnessed the horrors in the swamp, he's been injured in the initial trip into the Dalek city. No wonder he cracks when taken back to the site of his initial trauma. I've always viewed his end as a heroic act very much in contrast with the rest of his portrayal but I'm thinking very differently now.

And yet it was all for absolutely nothing! No sooner do they get into the city when they run into Alydon, who's walked in the front door easy as anything! That's TWO episodes of travelling just wasted. I had to remind myself why they'd come that way:

DOCTOR: If we get this intelligent anticipation, we shall succeed. Let's see this. Now, what is this area here?
GANATUS: The swamp. Here are the mountains. This is the far side of the city. I've been into the swamp. It's surrounded by lakes, here, as you see. The lakes are inhabited by all sorts of strange creatures.
IAN: Can we get into the city this way?
ALYDON: Over the mountains?
IAN: Yes.
GANATUS: That means going through that swamp.
ALYDON: We can't go through the swamp. It's too dangerous.
GANATUS: It is dangerous, yes, but I realised last night when I was talking to Barbara that it is undefended.
ALYDON: Undefended? It's a perfect natural barrier. All those creatures, you know that yourself.
GANATUS: Yes, I know, but I mean the Daleks won't be on guard there. There's a chance to take them by surprise. Believe me, I'm not happy about this, but it's the best possible chance there is.
DOCTOR: Yes, yes. Well, now, I suggest we split into two groups. The one to distract the Daleks on the city wall side, and the others to try and force a way through the mountains.
(From episode 5)

I'm not sure the risk was worth it.


The Doctor and Susan spend most of the episode bound in the Daleks' control room. Never one to miss reusing a trick Terry Nation does exactly the same thing to Barbara and Jenny in Dalek Invasion of Earth part 6!


It's during this sequence that the Doctor attempts to bargain the secrets of the Tardis for their freedom. A desperate move or a bluff?

Terry Nation uses another of his soon to be familiar tricks to add some urgency to the episode: it's a Countdown!

There's a visible tramline scratch to the right of print all the way through the episode. It's been repaired for the DVD restoration but it's still visible. There's also a very noisey Dalek in the corridor at about 8 mins into the episode!

"If only there had been some other way"

You feel that the Thals really would want it to be different. Both sides are interested in their survival. The Thals are willing to work with the Daleks, the Daleks don't give a stuff. And really the Thals don't stand much of a chance against the Daleks: it's only the accidental damage to the Daleks' power supply during the attack that allows them to win the battle. But that leads to the exchange between the Doctor and the dying Dalek which is one of the great moments in the story.


At this stage each episode of Doctor Who has individual episode titles and we never actually see the story titles on screen. This Doctor Who *episode* has the same title as a later story: The Rescue (episodes 52 & 53) is a 2 part 1965 William Hartnell story which introduces his new companion Vicki. The previous story to that, the Dalek Invasion of Earth has an episode entitled The Daleks (episode 47) which is what most people call this story now. The only other exact match I can find is episode 57 The Romans 4: Inferno, later the last story of the 1970 season of Doctor Who. There's two very near misses though: Episode 62 Web Planet 5: Invasion, later used as The Invasion a 1969 Troughton Cybermen tale and episode 69 Space Museum 2: The Dimensions of Time which is very similar to Dimensions in Time the title of the 1993 Children in Need crossover with Eastenders. But really we'd prefer to forget that ever happened and don't want to talk about it.

So the Daleks: a complete game changer for Doctor Who. It introduces the show's first and best monsters. It also effectively kills them off little imagining they'd be back again in the year as the show's first returning villains. The story as a whole *is * a game of two halves: The initial episodes with the Daleks in the city, which is by and large fabulous, and the trek to the city, which isn't. It picks up again towards the end. The good very much outweighs the bad but watching it as a whole the last half drags somewhat and affects your opinion of the whole story whereas if the trek had come first it might be quite different.

You can easily measure the success of the Daleks in this story's ratings:

Doctor Who
Episode #
Story Story
Episode #
Episode Title Viewers
1 An Unearthly Child 1 An Unearthly Child 4.4
2 2 The Cave of Skulls 5.9
3 3 The Forest of Fear 6.9
4 4 The Firemaker 6.4
5 The Daleks 1 The Dead Planet 6.9
6 2 The Survivors 6.4
7 3 The Escape 8.9
8 4 The Ambush 9.9
9 5 The Expedition 9.9
10 6 The Ordeal 10.4
11 7 The Rescue 10.4

The series gains 3.5 million viewers from first to last episode of this serial and a massive 6 million from the ratings for the very first episode of Doctor Who.

The success of this Dalek story caused the BBC to very quickly commission another story from Terry Nation, which became The Keys of Marinus one of his two non Dalek works for the show (The other is the Android Invasion). Following that he was then commissioned to write a sequel to this story: The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

At the end of this story, Nation had killed his creations off good and proper which caused some problems when the Daleks returned in less than a year, and not just from a narrative point of view: Four Dalek props were made for this story. At the conclusion of production Two were given to Barnardos children's homes while the BBC retained the other two. When production started on The Dalek Invasion of Earth the two props were recalled from Barnardos and found to be in a state of disrepair. At the end of that story two props were sent back to Barnardos..... just not the same two props they'd originally received leading to the "broken neck ring Dalek" which you're able to track through the remainder of the 1960s Dalek stories.

In 1965 the TV version was adapted as a feature film, Doctor Who and the Daleks, which would be many peoples first exposure to this story. I'd seen bits of the film version of the sequel in 1978 and it had scared me to death as a five year old but I never saw the original Doctor Who and the Daleks film till I caught a showing of it in (I think) 1985. I never got round to it when I watched all the Doctor Who episode in order but at some point I must have a look at the Dalek films. It still turns up on UK television to this day, most recently shown on UK Television on Channel 5 on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th November 2013 to celebrate Doctor Who's 50th anniversary.

The Daleks were of course a HUGE success and very soon had spawned an entire industry. To this day a significant proportion of the Doctor Who merchandising market centres around Dalek toys. Go to eBay, search on Dalek* and look in the Toys & Games category. When I was growing up in the seventies I had a Dalek toy (Red Palitoy talking Dalek). We've had Daleks that move, Daleks with a friction drive in them, Daleks with swappable parts, big Daleks, small Daleks, Dalek plasysuits and even a Dalek fairground ride!. Terry Nation, who wrote the first Dalek story, cunningly kept his share of the rights to the Daleks and in the process made his fortune on the back of a wealth of Dalek merchandise issued over the years. Terry Nation would return to write for the series again and again over the years and would also create Survivors and Blake's Seven for the BBC.

Doctor Who & the Daleks has the distinction of being the first Doctor Who story to be novelised written by the series script editor David Whitaker, who I believe was responsible, uncredited, for many early Doctor Who works including stories in the first annual and the Daleks comic strip. The Daleks adaptation was initially released in November 1964 as Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks and added a significant amount of different material at the start to explain why Ian & Barbara are in the Tardis: Ian rescues Barbara from a car crash in Barnes common and they stumble into the Tardis. In 1965 Doctor Who & the Daleks was joined by Doctor Who and the Zarbi and in 1966 by Doctor Who & the Crusade. There the Doctor Who book range remained until the rights to these three books were bought by the fledgling Target Books in 1973. Doctor Who and the Daleks was reprinted as the first Target book Doctor Who & The Daleks launching a successful book range that would last over twenty years and novelise all bar five of the Doctor Who stories.

My first encounter with the book was with the first Doctor Who book was in the Tudor Drive library in Kingston in the early 1980s. The edition they had was a strange one, with Tom Baker's face on the front! I've since learnt that this was published by White Lion and you can see a picture of it here. I then saw an early Target paperback version in my junior school library, by that point with a much faded cover, which was the first time I'd seen a Target book with the older blockier Doctor Who logo. I'm not sure when I bought a copy but it remains on my book shelves to this day. Recently, over the anniversary week, I had the pleasure of listening to the audiobook version of this story, read by the great William Russel (Ian in the television version) and it's superb.

The seven episodes of the first Dalek story exists due to the efforts of Ian Levine. The BBC had retained no episodes of this story in it's film and video library. They were found instead at BBC Enterprises, allegedly all tied together and marked to be destroyed. Whatever you think of the quality of these episodes, and my personal opinion is that the story varies a lot, I believe that they were essential to keep as a historical record of the first appearance of the Daleks the greatest villains the series ever had. But there again I'd have kept all the Dalek episodes from the 1960s but to this day 26 of them (Mission to the Unknown, Dalek Master Plan 1, 3, 4, 6-9 and 11 & 12, all 6 episodes of Power of the Daleks and episodes 1 and 3-7 of Evil of the Daleks) are missing.

This episode was repeated in Doctor Who night on 13th November 1999. The whole story was repeated 5 April to 9 April 2008 on BBC4 as a tribute to Verity Lambert.

Doctor Who and the Daleks was released in a double video set in June 1989. Tape 1 contained episodes 1-4 and tape 2 contained episodes 5-7. It will come as little surprise to you that I watched the first tape more than the second! It was the first William Hartnell story released on Video and the first story to be released episodically: all the stories up until that point were released as compilations. I was given a copy of this story as a Christmas present by University friends in 1993: Unfortunately my parents had also bought me a copy that same year! Theirs went back and was exchanged for The Talons of Weng Chiang.... Hmmmm Daleks would have been £20, Talons was a single tape so it was ten. I wonder what else the Daleks was exchanged for? A second, restored, release of The Daleks followed 12 years later in February 2001.

The Daleks was released on DVD as part of The Beginning Boxset on 30th January 2006.

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