By Roy Mathur, on 2020-08-19, at 23:49:15--23:36:36 BST (next day, and some taped the day after too), for Captain Roy's Rocket Radio Show, Listen
I had very little to talk about in the pod yesterday, hence no taping of the usual geek stuff, hence a day later and I'm recording this extra Old Who rewatch episode instead, though still to be uploaded as promised by Friday. All of which I've already said, but my podcast is nothing if non-linear.
Today, I'm tired. Tired from gardening, tired from losing an eBay bid, and tired from life. It wears you down. Where is this going? Thank the gods for this pod.
Where's my cider?
Fourth Doctor: Tom Baker
Sarah Jane Smith: Elisabeth Sladen
Harry Sullivan: Ian Marter
Director: David Maloney
Writer: Terry Nation
Producer: Philip Hinchcliffe
Fourth story of the 12th season, following The Sontaran Experiment covered in 329, 6 x 25 minute episodes, first broadcast from 8 March to 12 April 1975.
No. 1 in the UK was If by Telly Savalas. Look it up, it's... interesting, and though I'm someone who likes Telly a lot, I did snigger. Just imagine a portly middle-aged man with a lot of gold chains, puffing on a fag, serenading a very young woman. It is genuinely terrible, but somehow Telly just about pulls it off.
Instead of arriving back at the ark in space, after their confrontation with the Sontaran on future Earth, the transmat redirects our friends to a misty, blighted landscape. A Time Lord, dressed like an evil court jester, asks the Doctor to stop the Daleks at their conception to prevent their path of mass destruction. The Time Lord gives the Doctor a bracelet (time ring) that will return the team to the TARDIS after their mission is complete. He also reveals, to the Doctor's surprise, that they are already on Skaro.
They are thrown into the midst of the endless war between the Kaleds and Thals on Skaro and the irradiated Mutos.
They are eventually confined to Davros's HQ/lab, but escape and tries to some of the more moderate Kaleds to stop Davros, but Davros is a step ahead and helps the Thals destroy the Kaled city with their doomsday rocket, after which Davros turns his Daleks on the Thals and the remaining Kaleds. The plan, however, backfires and Davros himself is also killed by his own creations.
Some Thals, led by Bettan, a young Thal woman who previously befriended the Doctor, blow up the remaining Daleks in a tunnel a moment after the Doctor makes it to safety.
As the Doctor, Sarah, and Harry activate the time ring and begin their journey home, Sarah points out that the mission failed, but the Doctor says he has at least delayed the Daleks by a thousand years.
That line about using bows and arrows is carried through to New Who's The Magician's Apprentice, where we actually see Kaleds armed with bows and arrows. It seems we are going further and further back in Davros's timeline. It would not surprise me if, in a future episode of New Who, we visit his ancestors in some variation of the grandfather paradox.
The Kaleds are Nazis; xenophobia, black uniforms, handguns that look like Lugers, sieg heil salutes, armbands; the works.
I thought for a moment that actress Harriet Philpin, who plays a Thal fighter Bettan, was Blake 7's Soolin (Glynis Barber), but no.
Michael Wisher is superb as Davros. Sneaky, ruthless, evil, and ultimately killed by his own creations?!
Despite the story being quite fast paced, I still think that six episodes was stretching it.
We're again getting the full Peter Hinchcliffe horror treatment. There's nothing funny about Baker being attacked by a slimy un-shelled Dalek, or having his companions tortured by Davros.
When the Doctor uses the time ring to leave Skaro, the effect is very like that of the portkey in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The Doctor and companions, hand-in-hand, go spinning off into space. It's a nice image.
The Doctor is definitely a glass half full kind of guy. He considers the universe's thousand year respite from the terror and death, that the Daleks will eventually inflict, a favourable outcome.
Davros dead? Yeah, I know, and you know what? Though this is a rewatch, I cannot remember how Davros returns... and I'm tempted to leave it there and let his return surprise me a second time around.
Yet another bit recorded the next day because there is a pivotal moment that this story is known for, and I completely forgot to talk about. This is the scene in which the Doctor debates whether to end the Dalek species. He rigs up a bomb that will destroy Davros's creations. Before detonating the device, he holds up the two wires that will complete the circuit and ponders the morality of his decision whether or not to commit genocide. While I don't want to downplay the gravity of the situation, it should be noted that the Daleks are an artificial lifeform created by the application of genetic engineering to super-evolve Kaleds to their ultimate form. The Doctor has to consider balancing the death of a possible future offshoot of one sub-species against a galactic scale apocalypse. Sounds like a simple decision, right? No chance you'll end up at the Hague? I thought so, until I started writing this, but now I'm not so sure. Suppose the Daleks change and become good? Killing them at this stage, would end any possibility of that, and also kill a sentient species.
According to DoctorWhoLocations.net, Betchworth Quarry in Surrey, not too far from where I used to live and work, stood in for Skaro during the filming 6--9 Jan 1975. I couldn't find the place on Google Maps, because it was completely filled in by 2005.
Not quite finished! I read that the creature design for Davros was based partly on the look of the Mekon from Dan Dare---another mad scientist/fascist dictator from sci-fi based on Adolf Hitler.
And even more, though not related to this story. A quick RIP to Earl Cameron (1917-08-08--2020-07-03), Bermudian actor in the UK who played the first black astronaut on TV in The Tenth Planet, covered in pod 58.