Saturday 26 November 2011

369 Death to the Daleks Part Four

EPISODE: Death to the Daleks Part Four
TRANSMITTED: 16 March 1974
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Michael Briant
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: VHS: Doctor Who - Death To The Daleks
Episode Format: 625 video

The Doctor & Bellal penetrate deeper & deeper into the city passing more tests with the Daleks always one step behind them. As the Daleks destroy one of the traps they witness it restoring itself. The Doctor & Bellal's progress is being monitored when Bellal is taken under the hypnotic influence of the city and tried to attack the Doctor who breaks the hold. Galloway & Hamilton are ordered by the Daleks to climb the beacon to position explosives. Sarah & Jill substitute the stored Parinnium for sand. The Doctor believes they are being subjected to intelligence tests. The final test is a psychological assault which they survive permitting them to enter an inner control room where they find the body of an Exillon sat at a control console. As they watch it crumbles away in the air current from the open door, the first to penetrate the room in centuries. The city creates anti-bodies to attack them. Hamilton & Galloway set their charges but Galloway retains one. A Dalek discovers Jill missing and self destructs. The Doctor attacks the city's electronic brain but is attacked by the anti-bodies who are quickly distracted by the arrival of the Daleks which allow the Doctor & Bellal to escape. Hamilton & Galloway are ordered to load the Parrinium onto the Dalek ship. The Doctor & Bellal are reunited with Jill & Sarah. The bomb explodes restoring the power supply to the Dalek ship. Galloway hides himself on the Dalek ship. The Daleks tell the Doctor they will fire a plague missile at the planet Exillon once they are in orbit but Galloway uses the bomb to destroy the Dalek ship killing himself in the process. The Exillon city crumbles away now it's cut off from power. The Doctor mourns the city's loss realising the universe is down to 799 wonders.

Oh. It's our first "brave the series of traps to reach the inner sanctum". We started the journey into the city in this last episode but The Doctor & Bellal's trials are mostly contained in this episode. Bar the Doctor's instinctive reaction to the floor trap at the end of the previous episode I don't have a problem with the idea of the brain teasing tests and traps here. I have a problem with it's repetition wholesale in the last episode of the Pyramids of Mars (albeit some decent reasoning), the last episode of the Hand of Fear, where we even get an ancient observer at a console crumbling away to dust when disturbed, and the Five Doctor which contains a modified version of the electrified floor seen here. I'm not sure who's idea it was. Terry Nation's, because he wrote the script? Maybe. But Script Editor Terrance Dicks is responsible for the lifting of the floor sequence in Five Doctors and by this point he's being shadowed by his successor Robert Holmes who wrote Pyramids of Mars and script edited it & Hand of Fear.

Then we have the Dalek on guard duty. why oh why does it self destruct when it finds that Jill has escaped?. Deary me. There's a lovely touch as the power comes back on following the destruction of the beacon: as the lights come up in the Dalek ship the familiar Dalek control room noise starts. Fabulous.

We've also got a rather nasty insinuation from the script towards the end of the episode: The Daleks intend to contaminate Exillon by firing a plague missile at the planet. Can we then assume that they're responsible for the plague full stop? They have form for similar behaviour in Dalek Invasion of Earth.

It's not a bad Dalek story truth be told: They're devious and nasty plus they look the best the have done in colour so far. It's almost a shame they revert back to the grey in their next appearance from the silver they use here. This is also the last time until Remembrance of the Daleks that we see them operating without the command or influence of Davros hanging over them.

Novelised by Terrance Dicks in 1978 Death to the Daleks appeared after the novelization of the subsequent Dalek story, Genesis of the Daleks. The cover to this book was used as a poster by Target in the mid 1980s. Death to the Daleks was the second Pertwee story issued on video tape in 1987, following Day of the Daleks, and was the first story to be issued at the budget price of £9.99, previous releases having costed in the region of £25. It is the last remaining Dalek story and the latest story from the Third Doctor/Jon Pertwee era not yet released on DVD
and is also one of two stories that were available as compilation video releases not yet released on DVD: The other is Terror of the Zygons.

That brings us to the end of a 10 episode run on video and is also our last pair of consecutive stories not released on DVD.

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