‘Doctor Who’ review: ‘The Power of the Daleks’ Episode 6

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Despite being missing from the BBC’s vaults since the purges of the early 1970’s, ‘The Power of the Daleks’ remains top of many a Doctor Who fan’s wishlist.

Thanks to BBC Worldwide, the story has been granted new animated visuals to accompany the lovingly recovered soundtrack and is available to purchase in the UK from BBC Store, with a DVD release and a limited edition Blu-ray steelbook on their way in November and February.

As CultBox is (of course!) far too youthful to have seen the original airing, and we were in short trousers when the novelisation appeared, we have decided to treat the story as new episodes – which to our eyes they pretty much are…

As we reached the end of Patrick Troughton’s debut story, there was death and destruction all around as the Daleks were finally let off their leash.

Having kept the critters in the shadows, slowly building up their forces whilst keeping up the pretence of aiding the humans on the Vulcan colony, David Whitaker’s story lets rip with the full force of Dalek rhetoric – “Exterminate! Annihilate! Destroy! Daleks conquer and destroy!”

As they did the human villain Bragen (Bernard Archard) also ignited his plans, setting his guards against the Daleks, despite their ineffective weapons, and endeavouring to kill off all the rebels whose usefulness was now at an end. In many ways, Bragen is just as ruthless as the Daleks and for her part, his chief collaborator Jansen (Pamela Ann Davy) appeared to have second thoughts about the wholesale slaughter of colonists. Powerless to do anything about it though; she fell in the repeated rounds of extermination.

This was an action packed finale, as the situation swiftly became grim and the body count increased, and of course it took the Doctor to finally defeat the Dalek menace. Unlike his predecessor though, Patrick Troughton’s Doctor, who has spent a goodly part of this six-part story pretending to be the Earth Examiner, or concerned about vague suspicions while those in authority did not listen to him, did not seem to have a grand plan.

He may have won his assistants Ben and Polly over, but his characterisation does not have the steely authority that William Hartnell could muster when the occasion called for it, we can imagine this tale ending much faster as he would have insisted on being taken seriously by the Governor and would not have been ignored!

Doctor Who The Power of the Daleks

Instead, playing his cards close to his chest, and maybe by a little more luck than judgement, he was able to overload the power to the Daleks with the colony’s main supply, using their own installation, and blow them up – in an echo of his attempt to destroy the first Dalek way back in Episode 3. His plan was assisted by Lesterton, (Robert James) the scientist responsible for awakening the creatures, who provided a crucial distraction and redeemed himself at the cost of his life. Just prior to his moment of atonement, we loved his mimicry of the Dalek phrase “I am your servant”.

As Bragen met his end, at the hands of the rebel Valmar, we saw in one moment the potential for a peaceful future on Vulcan; not bothering with any recriminations, Deputy Governor Quinn was straight on to the case of restoring the colony.

Slipping away quietly at the end of the tale, leaving quite some mess in his wake, it is clear to see we have a very different Doctor now. This one is a scruffy, clownish figure who seems easily distracted and fond of hats, as well as his recorder, one who watches and waits before acting but is still capable of pulling off the seemingly impossible and fighting evil in style.

One thing is certain, Doctor Who will never be the same again!

Aired on Saturday 10 December 1966 on the BBC.

Buy ‘The Power of the Daleks’ on DVD on Amazon here.

Buy  ‘The Power of the Daleks’ limited edition Blu-ray on Amazon here.

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