Friday, 29 January 2016

102 The Daleks' Master Plan Episode 12: Destruction of Time

EPISODE: The Daleks' Master Plan Episode 12: Destruction of Time
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 29 January 1966
WRITER: Dennis Spooner from an idea by Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Douglas Camfield
PRODUCER: John Wiles
RATINGS: 8.6 million viewers
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection: No. 2

"All we're doing is running to save our own lives. If anything goes wrong and the Daleks recapture the time destructor, we'll have failed for ever!"

Chen escorts Steven & Sara to the Dalek control room. The Daleks proclaim the alliance over, but Chen says he now leads it and attacks the Dalek Supreme. Unharmed, the Supreme has him taken away and exterminated. The Doctor sneaks into the control room freeing Steven & Sara and ordering them back to the Tardis. The Doctor activates the Daleks' Time Destructor and fleeing the Dalek base encounters Sara who has stayed behind. The Time Destructor starts to take effect as the wind howls on Kembel. Steven finds the safety of the Tardis, pursued by the Doctor but Sarah has fallen behind: She is being rapidly aged by the time destructor. The Kembel jungle starts to decay and even the Doctor is now feeling the effects of the Time Destructor. Falling to the ground Sara tries to help him but is turned to dust by the forces unleashed.

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Steven emerges from the Tardis and drags the Doctor inside leaving the time destructor outside the Tardis where it destroys the Daleks before burning itself out. Emerging from the Tardis the Doctor and Steven find Kembel transformed into a desert planet. Steven mourns the friends they've lost in this battle:

Steven: Bret, Katarina, Sara...
The Doctor: What a waste. What a terrible waste.
Oh that sounds superb and suitably epic. I'd love to see what this one looked like. I can imagine the effects sequences and wonder how much it would live up to what I can see in my mind. The ticking, clock like noise of the Time Destructor while it's in operation adds an eerie backdrop to the later stage of the episode.


Some of the sequence where Sarah ages to death is preserved for us in photograph and looks to be one of the most horrific things the program ever did. It'd surprise me if there weren't complaints made about this at the time! For more take a look at designer Barry Newbery's book The Barry Newbery Signature Collection which has some picture of it, plus a Dalek being consumed by the effects of the Time Destructor.

But while the planet is being ravaged by the Time Destructor The Doctor is being exposed to it as welll. What effect is the Time Destructor having on him? Does this in part contribute to what happens to the Doctor as the end of the Tenth Planet?

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By killing three prominent characters during this story the program feels like it's aiming for a much more adult level than before and it's no surprise that the notably sensitive Australian censors kicked up a stink when the ABC tried (and failed) to show it there. If anyone's got a copy of this out there please let the BBC have it back. Thus far the program has felt like a children's show but in this story the horror and the terror are ramped right up at times.

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Then there's Chen's descent into madness. From what began as a scheming machiavellian character in the earlier episodes he takes a running jump off the deep end as the story goes on, probably around episode 5 when it looks like the Taranium has slipped through his fuingers with the Doctor and Steven's escape to Mira. These later episodes he's completely off the scale believing himself to be invincible and more important to the plans of invasion than the Daleks.

CHEN: Once again, I, Mavic Chen, Guardian of the Solar System, have helped the Daleks with their conquest plan.
DALEK SUPREME: Our alliance has ended.
CHEN: What? But I have helped you time and time again with your absurd incompetence! I, Mavic Chen, will decide when the Alliance is at an end. You, Dalek Supreme, tell them they're to take their orders from me.

CHEN: I assume that this silence means that the orders have been passed. Good. You, bring me the invasion reports. It is essential that I know what stage that countdown has reached. Now, move! You did not pass on my order. Why?

CHEN: Failure to obey the orders of your ruler brings only one reward.

It comes as no surprise that they finally loose patience and exterminate him!
DALEK SUPREME: Take him away and exterminate him, but do not fire in here. You will damage us and some of the controls.
CHEN: You cannot turn against me! I, Mavic Chen, first ruler of the universe, am immortal!
DALEK SUPREME: Pursue and exterminate in safe area. Repeat, in safe area.

CHEN: You will pay for your crimes against your ruler. You cannot kill me!

Having sat through it again, I'm starting to feel the Dalek Masterplan *IS* the twelve (effectively thirteen) episode masterpiece some older fans maintain. I don't know whether it's because I'm in the groove and tuned into the Hartnell episodes now after a few months of doing this but I really got into this this time round and loved it. Even episode five, which I've struggled with previously, I enjoyed much more this time out.

Great stuff.

At twelve episodes The Dalek Masterplan is the longest Doctor Who story to date. It's nearest sixties contenders both occur in Season 6: The Eight Part Invasion and Ten Part War Games. There are extenuating circumstances there. 1986's Trial of a Timelord is numbered as 14 parts on the screen but you can argue that it's a series of stories with 4-4-4-2 episodes and a linking theme. Which I would because it's rubbish.

Sadly we have some goodbyes: This is the last episode to carry a David Graham Dalek Voice. He'll be back in the Gunfighters and City of Death in front of the camera acting and is still going strong today voicing Peppa Pig's Grandpa Pig. It's also the last time Terry Nation would write for Doctor Who in the sixties as attempts to launch the Daleks in the USA and writing for various ITC series absorb his time. This is also the last Doctor Who script credited to Dennis Spooner, although he apparently helped rewrite parts of Power of the Daleks. It's also the last story worked on by designer Raymond Cusick who created the Daleks' design and worked as designer on three of their first four stories. The Dalek Supreme - did he survive the Time Destructor inside the Daleks' base ? - leaves us now with a black Dalek Supreme not being seen again till 1984'a Resurrection of the Daleks. We get an uniquely designed Emperor in Evil of the Daleks, a Gold Dalek in Day of the Daleks & Frontier in Space and a black & gold Dalek Supreme in Planet of the Daleks. Significantly this is the last time William Hartnell's Doctor meets the Daleks, and that does make this story feel like the end of an era and the beginning of the end for Hartnell. The Daleks' are Hartnell's monster returning again and again. It's also the last Hartnell episode directed by Douglas Camfield who would take a break from the program until 1968's Web of Fear.

The making of the story took it's toll on the two men in charge behind the scenes: Both producer John Wiles & script editor Donald Tosh tended their resignations during the production and both were replaced over the next few months with successors who would guide the show into it's next incarnation and set up some of the things we feel are intrinsically Doctor Who to this day. Vicki went just before this story started to be replaced by a couple of temporary companions. We'll see her most permanent replacement very soon but when she and Steven leave in a few stories time they're replaced by Hartnell's final set of companions. In the weeks to come we've got the stories that grew under the Wiles/Tosh regime, Dalek Masterplan having been inherited from Verity Lambert and there's some real oddities in there. But at the end of it the program scores several notably succesful firsts, one of the most important of which (back to the Daleks not appearing with Hartnell again) occurs right at the very end. Although several other monsters have been created during this era with an eye on replicating the Daleks' success, the production team wouldn't strike gold (or perhaps silver might be more appropriate!) again until Hartnell's last story, which I can feel looming towards us now (coming out of the snow) even though there's seven four part stories between now and then.

Some of those involved in this story will be back: As I said director Douglas Camfield returns for 1968's Web of Fear where Nicholas Courtney , seen as Bret Vyon in episodes 1-4, take on his more familiar role in the series. Both are back later that same year for the Invasion when Kevin Stoney, who plays Mavic Chen here, returns as another classic Doctor Who Villain. These stories are key in reshaping Doctor Who for a second time for Jon Pertwee's reign.

The Dalek Masterplan was novelised towards the end of the Target Book range over two volumes - Mission to the Unknown & The Mutation of Time - both written by John Peel. Episodes 5 & 10 were released on Daleks: The Early Years along with interviews, clips and Evil of the Daleks part 2. Following the return of episode 2, all three surviving episodes were released as part of the Doctor Who - Lost In Time DVD set. The Soundtrack to all 12 episodes of The Dalek Masterplan (plus Mission to the Unknown) was released on the Doctor Who - The Daleks' Master Plan CD on 22nd October 2001 which contains narration by Peter Purves but also unnarrated MP3 version. This CD has been recently reissued as part of Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection: (1965-1966) No. 2.

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