2x2. The Dalek Invasion of Earth
Writer: Terry Nation
Director: Richard Martin
Script Editor: David Whitaker
Producers: Verity Lambert & Mervyn Pinfield
Synopsis: The TARDIS materializes in London in the year 2164,
the city mostly deserted and under control of the Daleks. The Doctor
his companions join forces with a resistance group and find that the
plan to remove the planet's core and use it as a spaceship to travel
the galaxy. The Daleks' plan is defeated, but Susan, who has fallen in
with the rebel David Campbell, stays behind to help Earth rebuild.
Review: "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" gets a lot of attention
being the second Dalek story, and it certainly does establish them as
recurring villains, but I find it most interesting as the first
"epic" Doctor Who serial. The script and the performances
convey the sense of a conflict with a broad scope and high stakes, and
production team prove up to the task with some good location work.
The series had arguably attempted similarly large-scale stories in the
first season with "The Daleks" and "The Keys of Marinus," but they
quite pull it off. The former was conceptually strong but relied too
on mediocre and simplistic action scenes, and the latter revolved
a somewhat oblique threat to an alien society that was portrayed in a
disjointed manner. In "The Dalek Invasion of Earth," we know exactly
happening and what the risks are: the Daleks have taken over Earth, and
the resistance fails, the remaining humans will face either death,
or enslavement as Dalek-controlled "Robomen." To add to the stakes, the
eventually reveals that the Daleks' plan will ultimately kill even the
collaborators and the Robomen.
The serial isn't quite as sophisticated as "The Daleks," but it makes
for it with superior execution. There are fortunately only a couple of
"action" scenes, and the incoherence of the initial abortive attack on
Daleks actually kind of works. Dortmun's bombs, which were supposed to
a powerful new weapon, instead prove completely useless, and the plan
collapses into a mad dash to free some prisoners and escape that
fails and leaves most of the rebels dead. The Daleks' presence and
was certainly disturbing in their debut, but in this serial they're
menacing. One of the most effective scenes is also one of the simplest,
which one of the rebels splits off from the others for a solo mission
is quickly ambushed and killed by Daleks. They really do seem to be
and their cold willingness to murder to achieve their goals is
even more than in their previous appearance. Overall, this is a
portrait of the Daleks as "masters of the Earth," and never once did it
the least bit phony, despite the fact that the serial never ventures
The most interesting subtext of "The Daleks" was that of the Daleks'
and the way they and the Thals had been affected by the trauma of
war. In "The Dalek Invasion of Earth," the weightiest material is to be
in the way the humans react to the oppressive invasion force that has
over the planet. The rebels are dedicated to their cause, but we can
that the resistance is taking its toll on them. One of them, for
starts crying at the latest radio broadcast warning them to surrender
be killed, and the survivors of the failed bombing attack are clearly
afterwards: Dortmun later launches what is essentially a one-man
mission against the Daleks, and Jenny, who has been cynical from the
seems to hold no real hope of victory even though she teams up with
for most of the latter half of the serial. Others, meanwhile, are not
at all, such as the smuggler who takes advantage of the chaos and
for his own purposes and the two seemingly kind old women who betray
and Jenny to the Daleks in return for food. The extremes of fascist
are rendered literal in the depiction of the Robomen, who no longer
any identity or purpose other than to serve the Daleks: one of them is
killed by his rebel brother, to whom he has no emotional reaction
"The Dalek Invasion of Earth" is also significant for marking the first
departure of a companion from the series. While I can't say I was sorry
see Susan go, her romance with David Campbell is written and acted
well, and Terry Nation does a nice job of building up to her parting
the Doctor at the end. There's a scene in the middle where the Doctor
her one of his "Do as you're told" lectures, and at first I thought he
just being an overbearing jerk, but in retrospect I think he was
her to see how ready she was to forge her own path and lead a more
life. It makes sense that, as she tells David, she never really had an
of her own while traveling in the TARDIS and that she might find that
staying behind to help rebuild Earth. Their last scene is appropriately
especially Hartnell's delivery of the farewell speech that has since
immortalized by its inclusion at the beginning of "The Five Doctors,"
it's a nice change of pace for a Doctor who hasn't always shown much
compassion or attachment. His decision to lock her out of the TARDIS,
fact, doesn't come off as callous at all: rather, it seems a
that Susan does want to stay on Earth, however reluctant she might be
say so, and that for the two of them to part ways is what's best for
now. (It's also kind of patronizing, of course, but that's in line with
First Doctor's character as well.)
"The Dalek Invasion of Earth" is not without its flaws, most notably
fact that the ending is a little disappointing. The revelation of the
plan to turn Earth into a giant spaceship is pure boilerplate material
I can believe that they might do that if it served their purposes and
be accomplished efficiently enough, but we're given no explanation as
why they embarked on this plan in the first place -- and it seems that
entire thing is short-circuited by little more than Ian sabotaging a
and causing the Daleks' flying saucer to be destroyed with them inside.
it's a very successful serial as a whole, and it earns its place as one
the series' early standouts.
- I'm pretty sure the Doctor's claim that the events of "The Daleks"
millions of years in the future won't square with later continuity.
the next three Dalek serials are missing, so I guess I'll have to rely
plot summaries to see if this is explained further any time soon.
- I got a kick out of Barbara's attempt to distract the Daleks by
that an uprising is imminent and mixing in facts from various famous
especially when she names "Indians" (meaning Native Americans) and a
objects that they are already "masters of India." As a semi-New
I was hoping that they'd also claim to be masters of Boston when she
the Boston Tea Party, but no such luck.
- The weakest aspect of the serial might actually be the "Slyther," a
monster that attacks Ian and several others at one point, but
it's not around long enough to elicit too much snickering.
- Why were the rebels using those "Vetoed" signs to tell each other
they'd gone? I mean, sure, I realize it's code, but it seems like it
still stand out and possibly get the Daleks' attention.
Rating: ***1/2 (out of four)
"One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there
be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your
and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine."