Friday, 17 May 2013

The Evil of the Daleks

The Emperor Dalek

There were two seven part stories in the first season of Doctor, then none until ‘The Evil of the Daleks’ – the final story in the fourth season. Looking back over the season, it’s been an interesting one. For the sheer range of stories and ideas I think season three is my favourite thus far, but they have all been trying different things and the fourth season has been pretty interesting. It has seen the first regeneration of the Doctor, the writing out of Ben and Polly and the end to the purely historically based stories. It had two Dalek stories, including this one, and I will start this blog by saying I believe that ‘The Power of the Daleks’ is the season’s best story, followed by ‘The Smugglers’ in second place. Honourable mention to ‘The Macra Terror’.
‘The Evil of the Daleks’ is a pseudo-historical – a science fiction story with four and a half episode set in Victorian England. It was written with the thought that it might be the last ever story to feature the Daleks. I understand it is regarded as one of the best Doctor Who stories of all time. One lousy episode exists of the seven, episode two. It’s interesting – I believe it was to be either a six or four parter originally, and had episodes added later.
Publicity shot - Jamie and Victoria
It’s possible that the first episode was an add-on. David Whitaker could have simply started with the Doctor and Jamie arriving by TARDIS in Victorian England, but instead the story continues on from the end of ‘The Faceless Ones’, with the TARDIS missing. It’s not much of an episode. It’s a lot of running around, the Doctor meeting Perry (Geoffrey Colville) who then organises to for the Doctor to meet up with Professor Waterfield at the antique shop at ten o’clock that night. There’s a whole subplot about Waterfield selling genuine Victorian antiques as well, he is in London 1966 via the Daleks’ time transmat thing.
Episode two sees the story move from the present day to Victorian times. We get one scene with Victoria Waterfield (Deborah Watling) who is to be the new companion. The Daleks have brought the Doctor and Jamie to the house of Theodore Maxtible, because they want the Doctor to use Jamie as a test subject to discover the ‘human factor’. There’s a lot of phaffing around. Jamie has to rescue Victoria and get past several Daleks and a Turkish guy by the name of Kemel. In the end Kemel helps Jamie.
The set-up is episode two. Episode three is a bit of capture, escape and re-capture, and episodes four and five are the test. It’s just too long! Those four episodes could have easily been condensed down to 2, and the first removed. You would have a very tight four-part adventure then, because episodes six and seven are excellent. Of course, the powers at the BBC wanted the Daleks on screen as much as possible, which is why in their six adventures the Daleks never had a story which was less than six episodes.
The final two episodes are mostly set on Skaro, the first time the series has returned to the Dalek home world since ‘The Daleks’. Here we meet that pretty impressive Emperor Dalek, who declares the plan was to find the ‘human factor’ so they could determine ‘the Dalek factor’. Two or three Daleks are impregnated with the human factor, in some very funny scenes indeed. Then they start to question orders as well, it’s very good stuff.
The Doctor tricks the Emperor by converting many Daleks with the human factor, and war breaks out. The recon does a pretty good job of recreating this battle I think, although it’s a pity episodes six and seven do not exist.
There is a fine cast in ‘The Evil of the Daleks’,  but none so fine as Patrick Troughton, who has now fully settled in the role, and Frazer Hines as Jamie. In this story and ‘The Faceless Ones’ Jamie’s character has really had a chance to grow on screen, Frazer Hines’ has taken his opportunity and grabbed it with both hands. Jamie is now a character the audience can really ‘root’ for!
Maxtible and Waterfield implore the Doctor.
The guest cast is very strong, the most notable performance was by Marius Goring as Theoodore Maxtible, the crazy scientist who dreams of turning metal to gold. He becomes a human Dalek in the final episode, which is... a bit odd really. However, his characterisation is first rate! John Bailey as Professor Waterfield is a character filled with guilt and self-hatred, and very strongly portrayed, and there is Sonny Caldinez playing the mute Turk Kemel. Harder to gauge his performance via the recons as he didn’t speak. Deborah Watling’s debut as Victoria is good, but she really doesn’t get a lot to do until action moves to Skaro.
I think this is a very good story, if not a great story, somewhat ruined – a little – by the pacing of the first five episodes. I felt myself willing them to get on with it, and then willing the test to be over – it really is just Jamie and Kemel wandering through a big house half the time. Anyways, a very different Dalek story with quite an explosive ending!
Maxitble the Dalek - Episode Seven


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