Obviously, this introduces the most iconic of The Doctor’s enemies – the evil race known as The Daleks. (Shame they didn’t keep the original name, I think it’s a much better title for the story.) The first episode is called “The Dead Planet” – there are 7 episodes in the serial “The Daleks”.

 After cleaning up, the four intrepid heroes go to explore. They find a petrified forest, full of brittle plant life, blasted soil. They spot a city from afar, and Susan gets a fright – she thinks someone or something touched her in the forest. Back in the TARDIS, Barbara tries to comfort Susan, find out what happened. Susan is insistent that there was someone there, though The Doctor is adamant that nobody could live there.

 Ian confronts The Doctor over being unwilling travelers, I’m sure a regular plot device in the early episodes. The Doctor avoids questions by introducing them to a food machine that creates little bars of food that, in this case, taste like bacon and eggs. Ian (almost begrudgingly) gives The Doctor a compliment.

 The Doctor wants to see the distant city, but the companions are insistent that they leave. The Doctor sabotages the TARDIS (pretty much in plain sight, but I guess it was supposed to be subtle) so they can’t leave. But Ian quickly catches on to the fact that The Doctor must’ve been behind it.

 At the city, they separate, which as any horror fan knows, is bound to be a poor decision. Surely enough, when they regroup, Barbara is not there and has found a bit of trouble. The episode ends with a plunger arm coming towards her, she’s pinned against the wall and screams! Oh noes!

 Obviously, it’s a Dalek!  

This is a longer story than most serials – 7 episodes, and is considered the most popular of the run from the early 60s.  It’s a good one, once you account for productive values and clumsy filming techniques from the 60s.  All in all a great one, though perhaps it could have been done equally as well with 1 or 2 less episodes.  


The sets are pretty basic, bland; it’s a sign of the budget and the times (again, this show started airing in 1963), but it also fits for the Daleks – any buildings they’d build or reside in would be Spartan.

 Ian and The Doctor’s reaction to discovering technology is interesting; Ian, a science teacher, begins to speculate about the race that uses the tech. The Doctor is more interested in the advanced tech. They find a geiger counter, which indicates that radiation is in the danger zone, which explains why they don’t feel well. The Doctor admits his chicanery regarding the malfunction of the TARDIS, and more arguing happens. The Doctor wants to leave without Barbara, Ian and Susan oppose. He acquiesces and they walk into a greeting party of Daleks.

 Ian attempts to run and is shot by The Daleks; the effect is only paralytic to his legs, though a second shot will be permanent – this is a strange fact, I’m used to the Dalek gunfire being lethal with one, maybe two shots at the most.

 Reunited with Barbara, they begin to speculate about the Daleks (though the name has yet been used); Susan finds the idea that there’s someone inside the robot shells to be comical. The Doctor is ailing from the radiation sickness, the others are as well but not as strongly, yet.

 The Daleks, talking amongst themselves, seem to think that the four are part of a race called the Thal people, who live on the surface without suffering from radiation sickness, through using drugs. (Interesting to note, if you’ve ever seen the Genesis of the Daleks serial during Tom Baker’s run.)

 We learn that 500 years before, the Neutronic War between the Daleks and the Thals devastated most of the world; the Daleks retreated into their city, and the surviving Thals became mutant survivors. (Rather suspect this is the Dalek version of history.)

 It is agreed that Ian will go to fetch the radiation drugs (which they found outside the TARDIS, after Susan was touched on the shoulder), but Susan will have to go with him – the lock on the TARDIS has 21 key holes, only one is right – the wrong ones will cause the interior of the lock to melt. However, Ian can’t walk, Barbara and The Doctor are too weak, so Susan must go alone.

 Susan is in the jungle/forest, and there’s a storm. It’s important to note that the branches/limbs/plantation is moving in the wind, though when they first explored it, they made a point to note that the plantlife (petrified) did not move in a “considerable breeze”. We get a bunch of scenes of Susan running while lightning flashes. She gasps and stumbles and gasps and runs and gasps and… well, you get the idea. Something moves in the forest, something alive. I’m guessing a Thal.

 In the third episode (“The Escape”), Susan departs the TARDIS with the drugs, but encounters a Thal, who apparently is the one who scared her in the forest. Turns out he left the drugs behind for them. Susan remarks on that he looks like he is not a mutation, and he escorts her to the city. The Daleks are on to the fact that Susan has been in contact with Alladin, the Thal, and are hoping to use them to lure the Thals out.

 Susan relates the Thal history. Life on the surface is harsh, and the Thals are in danger of dying out because of crop issues. The Daleks overhear this, of course, and are manipulating our heroes into a false sense of security – letting them have the drugs, getting some rest and bringing them food and water.

 A group of Thals congregate about the TARDIS, and they speculate on the Daleks – each people is ignorant of the current status of the other. Through their talk, we learn that the Dalek people were once philosophers, the Thals were the warrior tribe.

 The companions stage a fight as an attempt to take out the camera watching them, so they can make their plans unobserved. The Daleks know they are up to something. They use the word “extermination” for the first time, discussing what to do with The Doctor and his companions. Meanwhile, the heroes discuss and agree that they believe the Daleks are propelled by static electricity, passed through the floor to their chassis.

 Using their knowledge, they manage an escape, debilitating their Dalek captor and taking the creature within out. Ian gets inside the Dalek shell… rather a comical concept. They leave with their pretense, and back in their cell, we see a claw-like appendage beneath the cloak, the creature from within.

 The Thals come into the city, into The Ambush that titles the fourth episode. The Doctor and the women return to the TARDIS, while Ian tries to warn the Thals, but the Daleks spring their trap and kill many of the Thals.

 Everyone reunites at the TARDIS; we learn that the Thals history has them and the Daleks (formerly the Dals), as different races altogether, even before the Neutron War. This obviously flies in the face of the established history, involving Davros. The Doctor and companions are ready to leave the planet, but then Ian announces the fluid link was taken from him, and is still within the city.

 Ian tries to get the Thals to help them go get the link, to fight for them, but they refuse. Alladin, the new leader, strikes Ian. Meanwhile, the Daleks have reactions to the anti-radiation drugs (that they duplicated from the samples Susan brought) and start dying as a result. They realise that they need radiation to survive, and consider setting off another Neutron Bomb.

 “We do not have to adapt to the environment, we will change the environment to suit us.” – Dalek philosophy, or human? Hmm. There’s a lot of social commentary in the early episodes, yet not crammed down your throat.

 The Thals finally agree to help them, and they split, Ian and Barbara accompanying a party of Thals through mountains and swamp, where monstrosities are encountered. The Doctor and Susan are with another group, scouting out the city from afar.

 “We must presume that they don’t leave anything to chance!” – The Doctor, speaking of the Daleks. I think Sun-Tzu would approve.

 The Daleks abandon the plan to build a Neutron Bomb, as it would take 23 days, which is too long, and search for another method to irradiate the area.

 This Doctor is very full of himself and this often leads to him getting in trouble; after sabotaging a power supply of the city, Susan advises him to flee, but he’s too busy patting himself on the back, and they are taken prisoner by Daleks. The arrogance of The Doctor, and repercussions thereof, seems to be a regular plot device throughout all incarnations.

 The Doctor pleas with the Daleks to help the Thals, but it is to no avail. The Daleks speak of extermination and then three of them speak about being the masters of Skaro… and I’m thinking it was supposed to be in unison (as they often do in later serials), but the actors couldn’t get it remotely in sync?

 There’s some spelunking drama, some violence, the Daleks counting down to irradiating the area, and a last minute victory, resuling in the death of the Daleks… obviously, there must be other Daleks, somewhere.

 “Always search for truth. My truth is in the stars.” – The Doctor.

 As they’re leaving, The Doctor says that he might visit the Thals’ grand-children, wonder if he ever does…

 The serial ends with the TARDIS traveling in space (Ian looks to be smoking a cigarette) when there’s a sudden thunderous BOOM, and the TARDIS shakes, sending everyone to the floor. A title for the next serial comes up and credits roll.  

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