Wednesday 6 April 2011

135 The Power of the Daleks: Part One

EPISODE: The Power of the Daleks: Part One
TRANSMITTED: 05 November 1966
WRITER: David Whitaker
DIRECTOR: Christopher Barry
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks
TELESNAPS: The Power of the Daleks: Part One

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.

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. There's no better way to do that 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 write Terry Nation was responsible for it's insertion in the Daleks....

Joining us this episode is Patrick Troughton. 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.

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.

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.


  1. This is of course the only serial to get a release as part of the Reconstructed range. Combining the soundtrack and telesnaps works well (I do it manually for other serials) and I wish there had been more Reconstructed releases. The Highlanders Reconstructed did appear on Amazon but was cancelled.

  2. Have you been reading what I've written for part 6 already?

    As we'll see later it isn't that hard to attempt a telesnap reconstruction yourself. Almost all the telesnaps are on the BBC Website:

  3. I love this episode. Their remains something genuinely magical about the whole process of Troughton entering the show - I don't think anyone had actually made recasting the lead actor an actual part of the plot before. I do love the way that we don't get a proper explanation for what has just happened either - Troughton almost seems to take Ben's sarcastic accusations and fashion them into a vague hand-waved explanation that the humans will be able to grasp, but never actually comes out and offers them any evidence or even a direct confirmation that he is the same person. He just asks them, and the audience to take him on trust whilst occassionally speaking of The Doctor in the third person. There is a real sense of mystery and magic to the whole thing. And then the Daleks are revealed to be waiting in the wings. If you are going to rejuvenate the lead character and the series at once there are few better ways to go about it.

  4. I think it works waaay better than the "lets have the doctor confused/unconcious" template that evolves later.

    Have you ever seen the Reconstructed version Karl?

  5. This is without a doubt the best post-regeneration episode of Who ever. Although Matt Smith's The Eleventh Hour is a close second. I love the fact that the Doctor feels no need to really explain in any detail what has transpired and how Ben gets so totally annoyed by it.

  6. Karl Thurgood5 May 2011 at 21:10

    I must admit I haven't ever seen the Reconstruction. At the time it came out I didn't have much that could play MP3CD (still don't) and I was looking for something I could listen to on the move (my Power CD is one of the ones that often goes with me when I travel - perfect way to unwind on a long train journey while I watch the world rush by).