Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Doctor Who: The Power Of The Daleks

As a self confessed nerd I tend to go through obsessive phases, one of my favourite things to obsess about is Doctor Who.

The British TV series will celebrate it's 50th anniversary in 2013, so for those who are new to the show there is a wealth of back catalogue material to feast upon.

I have been watching the show since the late seventies, when Tom Baker inhabited the lead role, so, as a child it was fascinating to me to discover that there had been three previous incarnations of this great hero of whom I had been completely oblivious.

My favourite of these was (and still is) Patrick Troughton, a thoroughly likeable personality, who gave the impression to his foes of being a bumbling fool, but he was always one step ahead of them. How sad then that the majority of this fine actor's work is most likely lost forever after the BBC wiped the master tapes of many of the stories made in the 1960's during a cost cutting purge in the early 1970's.

The Power Of The Daleks was Patrick Troughton's debut story, which now only exists as an audio recording. Anneke Wills, who played Polly in this story provides linking narration, which works well and makes the plot of the story easy to follow.

The Doctor, Ben & Polly arrive on the planet Vulcan, where the Doctor is mistaken for a visiting official, there to settle the in-fighting happening at the nearby Earth colony. Upon arrival at the colony the Doctor meets Lesterson, a scientist, who has discovered a capsule which is thought to have crashed on the planet many years before.

The Doctor inspects the capsule and then very quickly announces that they have seen enough for one night and tells everyone to go off to bed. Ben and Polly notice the Doctor sneaking back to the capsule late at night and accompany him inside the capsule where they discover two dormant Daleks. The Doctor is concerned that Lesterson is trying to reactivate a third missing Dalek.

Maybe this is heresy, but I'm not the biggest fan of the Daleks, for me this is one of their best stories, I prefer them to be schemers and manipulators, which Mark Gatiss and Robert Shearman have successfully brought to their "Nu Who" stories. But more often than not they seem to be reduced to stereotypical bile spouting killers who can't be reasoned with, which in my opinion makes them rather dull.

Patrick Troughton's performance is great, you warm to him immediately. And Ben and Polly's reaction at the start of the story when the Doctor regenerates is far more believable than in later stories where companions just seem to accept a complete change of the main character within a few minutes.

So if you are a fan of this wonderful show, and you love it enough to investigate an audio recording of a story not seen since the late sixties, you are in for a treat.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed! The Daleks work best as schemers lurking in the shadows or unstable despots as evinced by Genesis and the subsequent stories (alas, mired in continuity at Terry Nation's behest).

    Who could ever forget the 'glass Dalek' from Revelation? The stuff of childhood and adult nightmares.

    Fast forwarding to present era Doctor Who. Too often, the sense of any real threat, is diluted by hordes of CGI Daleks appearing en masse...