Wednesday 12 January 2011

051 The Dalek Invasion of Earth Part 6: Flashpoint

EPISODE: The Dalek Invasion of Earth Part 6: Flashpoint
TRANSMITTED: 26 December 1964
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Richard Martin
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Dalek Invasion Of Earth

Ian interferes with the capsule stopping it's descent: a team of Robomen are tasked with hauling it to the surface. He escape through the base of the capsule into the shaft. Barbara & Jenny arrive in the control room - yay we get the Dalek door noise! The Daleks plan to exterminate all the humans in the explosion when the Earth is penetrated. While trying to control the Robomen using the Daleks voice command systems they are restrained - in a piece of very bad scenery we find them having to hold their own bonds closed. The Doctor and Tyler penetrate the Dalek control area as Ian does the same from the tunnels: he barricades the shaft which prevents the bomb from reaching it's destination. The Daleks leave for the Saucer to avoid being destroyed narrowly missing the Doctor & Tyler who release Barbara and Jenny. Susan and David work to immobilise the power supply transmitting to the Daleks. A patrolling Dalek enters the control room but due to their efforts looses power. They use the Daleks control mechanism to get the Robomen to assault the Daleks, which the prisoners are only too happy to join in. Ian is reunited with the Doctor & Barbara and they flee the mine before the bomb explodes destroying the control area and (offscreen) the Dalek saucer. Returning to London the Tardis is freed allowing the travellers to depart. But Susan seems reluctant to leave. Having broken her shoe the Doctor goes inside to repair it, joined by Ian & Barbara. Susan lingers to talk to David who she has fallen in love with. She feels torn between David and her Grandfather. The Doctor realising this purposely locks Susan out of the ship. He says goodbye to her, speaking to her over the scanner saying he wants he to belong somewhere. He bids her farewell with a promise:

"One day I shall come back, yes I shall come back. Until then there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove that I am not mistaken in mine. Goodbye Susan, Goodbye my dear"

The Tardis dematerialises leaving the Doctor's granddaughter on 22nd century Earth. She drops her TARDIS key in the rubble and leaves with David.

The episode is a game of too halves: a compressed quick ending to the Dalek invasion and a drawn out farewell scene. It unbalances the episode slightly and gives a little bit of an unsatisfactory ending to the Invasion storyline with the Daleks just leaving and being destroyed off screen. Susan's farewell then dominates the episode, and very poignant it is too. The speech the Doctor gives her, quoted above, turns up again as the pre-title sequence in the 20th anniversary story The Five Doctors. Susan leaving changes the Tardis crew for the first time, but in this case it results in her replacement by an effective clone. However it sets in motion a chain of events that will future proof the show. That the companions can be replaced with others soon becomes common place with nine companions accompanying the first Doctor. But eventually Hartnell would need to leave and the path to that change effectively starts from here. It would be another eighteen years before we would see Susan again in the anniversary special, The Five Doctors.

Susan's character has popped up in several Doctor Who books, but I do need to bring to your attention the excruciating Legacy of the Daleks which attempts to do a Dalek Invasion of Earth sequel featuring, and I'm not making this up, the Master as a villain trying to reactivate the Daleks leading to an ending with the Master lying scarred & injured marooned on an alien planet for the Time Lord Chancellor Goth to find him in the run up to Deadly Assassin and Susan wandering the Universe in the Master's Tardis. Seriously. The book reads like bad fan fiction of the highest order, avoid at all costs!!! Here endeth the warning

This episode marks the end of the first recording block of Doctor Who episodes, after which the remaining cast members had a holiday. Behind the scenes Mervyn Pinfield, the associate producer, departs with Verity Lambert having proved her credentials to the powers that be. Also departing is script editor David Whitaker, who would be back as a writer the very next story (starting a "tradition" that Terrance Dicks would later claim to follow in The Robot) and returning to write The Crusade, Power of the Daleks, The Evil of the Daleks, The Enemy of the World, The Wheel in Space and The Ambassadors of Death.

Like The Daleks, Dalek Invasion of Earth was filmed for the cinema and released on the big screen. It was a showing of this Movie on television that was my first exposure to Doctor Who. The Daleks blowing the shed up and the bomb chasing Roy Castle down the corridor scared a 4ish year old me silly.

Dalek Invasion of Earth is the second Hartnell book produced by Target books: The Daleks, The Zarbi & The Crusade, reprints of earlier sixties volumes, launched the range on 2nd May 1973, two days before I was born. The Tenth Planet, significantly the last first Doctor story and the first Cyberman story so an ideal candidate for release, was published on 19th Feb 1976 followed by the Dalek Invasion of Earth on the 24th March 1977. Keys of Marinus follows on 28th August 1980, followed by An Unearthly Child on 15th October 1981. It wouldn't be until The Aztecs, the first historical novel written for Target, was released on 20th September 1984 that the floodgates to further Hartnell stories appearing in book form would be opened. The Dalek Invasion of Earth caused me to have a complete melt down as an Eight year old: in the WHSmiths in Richmond I found both Dalek Invasion of Earth and Tenth Planet. Mum said I could have one, I wanted both. And couldn't decide. I was led away with the Tenth Planet in floods of tears that I might be leaving behind the only copy of Dalek Invasion of Earth I would *EVER* see. Mum sneaked back, bought it, and gave it to me as a present to keep me quiet at a wedding a few weeks later!

Dalek Invasion of Earth was an early Hartnell video release, only the third Hartnell story to appear. I can remember vividly buying this story to watch the same day I went on my second ever date! The story would later become the second Hartnell DVD which features some optional CGI extras and enhancements.

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