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Review #2934: Classic Doctor Who: “Planet of the Daleks”

Posted on the 02 August 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Written by Terry Nation
Directed by David Maloney

Coming on the heels of the continuity-heavy “Frontier in Space”, “Planet of the Daleks” leaves the Earth-Draconian tensions behind to focus on the Daleks. In a bit of an odd choice, the story directly addresses the Daleks that were behind the Master’s manipulations in that previous serial, but without tackling them in the context of those manipulations. Instead, it is an army of Daleks preparing to invade the galaxy from a hidden base on a planet with a “liquid ice” core. The Doctor, along with Jo and a band of Thals from Skaro, stage a desperate bid to thwart the Dalek’s latest sinister plan: acquiring invisibility.

Review #2934: Classic Doctor Who: “Planet of the Daleks”

Much like the previous story, I really liked how it more or less brought the Dalek stories of the first ten seasons full circle. Just as “The Daleks” centered on the Dalek/Thal conflict, this story touches on the history of the Daleks and their goals of conquest. It felt like it wrapped all the various Dalek stories together and moved them forward, leaving the Dalek Supreme and a few of his cohorts around for future use. In that sense, it seemed to continue the tenth season tendency of celebrating the series’ continuity, such as it was, up to that point.

I will certainly agree that there are a lot of logical issues in the story, and tons of plot conveniences. Do I need to detail the silliness of the balloon escape, for example? Or delve into the whole ice volcano concept? But frankly, I didn’t care about any of that, because it didn’t stop me from enjoying this story from start to finish. I’m not even sure why some fans complain about padding, as this story seemed to have very little of it. (I say the same thing about “Frontier in Space”, which held my attention throughout.)

One thing I really liked was the reminder that the Daleks were not simply robots or mechanical; there were actual beings inside of those shells. Not something a Whovian is likely to forget, but I like it when that is used within the story as a plot point. Also, the Daleks are sinister because of their plans and execution thereof, not simply because they are rampaging killers.

The Thals all get a degree of characterization, and one of them even gets to romance Jo a bit. That particular subplot is not at all convincing, so Jo’s apparent conflict over staying with her new paramour is a bit silly. At the same time, I saw it as a bit of a callback to “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”, and Susan’s decision to remain, the first time one of the companions left the Doctor.

One disappointing thing about “Planet of the Daleks” is that it doesn’t really resolve the conflict set up in the previous serial. Then again, the nature of “Doctor Who” is such that it doesn’t really matter; one can infer how things progressed by the fact that the Earth Empire continued to rise, or it wouldn’t have been on the decline centuries later in “The Mutants”. But it still would have been good to have seen a follow-up to all of that. (To a certain extent, the Earth/Draconian situation is addressed in the semi-sequel novel “Catastrophea” by Terrence Dicks.)

While the serial is not without its faults, I simply like how it all progressed, and more elements worked for me in the story than detracted from its overall value. I also found the entire cast to be excellent, and the director made the usual dodgy effects work for the purposes of the story. In my opinion, this continues what I have found to be a surprisingly fun tenth season.

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 2/4

Final Rating: 8/10

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