Saturday, 5 November 2016

135 The Power of the Daleks: Episode One

EPISODE: The Power of the Daleks: Episode One
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 05 November 1966
WRITER: David Whitaker
DIRECTOR: Christopher Barry
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
RATINGS: 7.9 million viewers
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes volume 3 (1966-1967)
TELESNAPS: The Power of the Daleks: Episode One

"Ben, Polly, Meet the Daleks!"

The new Doctor shakily rises to his feet. Ben & Polly are suspicious as to whether he is the Doctor or an intruder that has taken his place, and these suspicions are not helped by his habit of referring to the doctor in the third person. Rummaging in a chest he finds the Doctor's 500 year diary and a piece of metal obtained from the Daleks. Leaving the Tardis they find themselves in a world of mercury swamps. A man, saying he is the Examiner, approaches the Doctor but is shot. The Doctor takes his identity badge before he sinks into a mercury pool. The Doctor is knocked unconscious by the assassin and as he falls a button is pressed into his hand. Ben and Polly are overcome by mercury fumes but all three are rescued by staff of the Vulcan Colony and taken to the Governor Hensall. The Doctor poses as an Examiner and goes to see the space capsule unearthed by the colony's scientist Lesterson. The Doctor opens the hatch gaining access to a chamber within. Returning later at night the Doctor opens an inner door showing Ben & Polly what lies within: a pair of Daleks! The Doctor notes that there was a third, now missing, Dalek casing within the space. A Dalek mutant scuttles across the floor scaring Polly and causing her to scream.

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Clever episode this: Any doubts the audience might have about the new Doctor are echoed by Ben & Polly, turning the story into a demonstration that this is the Doctor for both them and us.

POLLY: His face, his hair, look at it.
BEN: He's breathing, and the Tardis seems to be normal.
POLLY: Ben, what are we going to do? We can't just leave the Doctor there.
BEN: What, him? The Doctor?
POLLY: Well, that's who came through the doors. There was no one else outside. Ben, do you remember what he said in the tracking room? Something about 'This old body of mine is wearing a bit thin.'
BEN: So he gets himself a new one?
POLLY: Well, yes.
BEN: Oh, do me a favour.
POLLY: Then whatever happened, happened in here.
BEN: But it's impossible.
There's no better way to prove that this is the Doctor than to put him up against his arch nemesis so out come the Daleks. In the background we have a murder mystery to occupy the Doctor and hints at discontent in the colony as a set up for later.

Mercury - the liquid in the swamps - is a favourite plot element of David Whitaker, the first Doctor Who script editor who returns to write this story. It's used in The Daleks, the second story he script edited, here and The Wheel In Space. You have to wonder if Whitaker or writer Terry Nation was responsible for it's insertion in the Daleks....


Joining us this episode is Patrick Troughton, replacing William Hartnell as The Doctor.. Born 25 March 1920, he served in the Navy in the Second World War before commencing an acting career which found him as the first television Robin Hood. He took to acting on television, much preferring it to theatre work, or "shouting in the evenings" as he famously put it, becoming a regular face on the small screen. He was approached to take a part in the Gunfighters but had to refuse due to a film he was contracted to work on. However when the BBC needed a new Doctor Who his name was on their list and being attracted to the prospect of a regular income to pay his sons' school fees, he accepted. We'll hear more from his sons later but one of them, Michael Troughton has written a great biography of his late father.

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The real Examiner, making a brief and final appearance this episode, is played by Martin King who provided voices for two of the later Gerry Anderson Puppet Series: Captain Scarlet & Joe 90.

For a missing episode there's an awful lot of Power of the Daleks 1 in existence. For a start there's nearly a minute of 8mm film material recorded by pointing a camera at a broadcast of this serial in Australia. This mainly covers the earlier portion of the episode, with the newly regenerated Doctor and includes the moment where the Second Doctor sees the First Doctor's reflection in a mirror. Sadly the transition from second to first Doctor's faces is missing but a comparison with the telesnap show that the 8mm film is slightly zoomed in.

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Then in 2001 Andrew Martin, a BBC employee, found a nearly complete trailer for episode 1 attached to the end of a film recording of a different program. This trailer includes the moment where The Doctor finds the Daleks in the Space Capsule and, like the 8mm film above, can be found on Doctor Who - Lost In Time.

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As you can see from the above photo one of the Daleks in the capsule is out old friend with the broken neck ring, aka Dalek 2!

Power of the Daleks is a six part story, the first since the mammoth 12 part Dalek Masterplan in the previous season. Since then we've had

The Massacre
The Ark
The Celestial Toymaker
The Gunfighters
The Savages
The War Machines
The Smugglers
The Tenth Planet
After this it's another run of 4 parters:
The Highlanders The Underwater Menace The Moonbase The Macra Terror
Till the end of the season gives us the six part Faceless Ones and the seven part Evil of the Daleks.

We noted that Star Trek started broadcasting just before this series of Doctor Who starts. I don't have any classic Trek DVDs to check, but I'm assuming that Spock's home planet of Vulcan was mentioned before Doctor Who showed their version planet Vulcan. However since Vulcan isn't shown in Star Trek till the second season opening episode Amok Time, Doctor Who can genuinely claim to have got to Vulcan first!

In August 2016 reports began circulating that the BBC was going to animate Power of the Daleks. This is something that had been suggested by fans for a long time and generally thought to be beyond the means of the BBC's commercial wing following the lack of animations for the missing episodes on the Web of Fear and Underwater Menace DVDs. However on the 7th September the BBC announced that Power of ther Daleks had been animated with the first episode available on the BBC store at 17:50 today, the 50th anniversary of it's release. A DVD is due to follow on the 21st November, 2 days before Doctor Who's 53rd anniversary.

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