mandag den 16. marts 2009

Who Review #31 - Power of the Daleks

This is widely regarded as a classic. Alas, none of the six episodes exist. Like some of the other missing stories, all we have are a handful of clips, some of them lasting no more than a few seconds. Some of those lost story clips only exist because shows like "Blue Peter" survive in the archive and they had a Doctor Who spot.

Ben and Polly stare in disbelief. The old man they met in 1966 London has changed his appearance. The new figure lets out a groan. Getting up he says: "It's over...Muscles still a bit tight." Ben wants to know what is happening. The man gives him a mirror to hold; looking in the mirror, the man sees a reflection of the white haired, old man called the Doctor for a brief moment before the reflection becomes his once more. He mentions the Crusades and Saladdin and that the Doctor was a great collector. Polly says he is the Doctor, but the man says he doesn't look like him. The mystical blue ring no longer fits. He picks up a recorder and starts to play some tunes. He wants to go for a walk. The TARDIS has landed on the swampy planet Vulcan. A human approaches the Doctor but before he can finish speaking someone shoots him. The Doctor examines him and finds his papers say: earth examiner, accord every access, Vulcan. Polly and Ben look at the Mercury pools; suddenly she is overcome by the fumes. Ben calls out after the Doctor. Three men find the Doctor, who has been attacked by someone, and the companions. The travellers are mistaken for the Earth examiner and his assistants and talk revolves around Lesterson's capsule. In the Vulcan settlement, the Doctor plays away on his recorder, not answering Ben's questions. They meet the Governor and discuss the capsule; it has been there for centuries. The Doctor goes back to playing, after explaining he was looking to see reactions to his masquerade as the examiner. The Doctor goes to Lesterson's lab. The Doctor opens the capsule entrance. Then he seemingly retires for the night. After everyone goes, the Doctor returns, followed by Ben and Polly. Inside the capsule, Ben, Polly and the Doctor find two Daleks. They are covered in cobwebs. They deduce there were three so one of the Daleks is missing. Polly recoils at the sight of a mutant creature scuttling on the floor.

They return to the lab. The Doctor surmises that Lesterson has been in the capsule and been experimenting on the Daleks and that with the Governor jealous of his position, Lesterson a fanatic, all is not well with the colony. Bragen and Deputy Governor Quinn talk in the examiner's quarters. Quinn has been looking for him. Polly asks the Doctor what he is going to do. Save his breath, he replies, because will Lesterson listen? He starts repeating " Lesterson listen" saying it's good exercise for the tongue; Polly copies him. Lesterson enters the lab. He admits he has been in the capsule. The Doctor demands the Daleks be broken up. Lesterson refuses, whereupon the Doctor demands to see the Governor. Lesterson takes a Dalek from behind a curtain after everyone has gone; he says he will find a way to bring the Dalek back to life. Bragen says he will arrange a meeting with the Governor and asks the Doctor to be cautious in his investigation because there is sabotage and secret newspapers in the colony. In their quarters, the Doctor discovers bugs. Bragen returns and says the Governor cannot be disturbed until morning. The Doctor suddenly thinks of something and slips off. Lesterson's lab assistants are running tests on the Dalek. The power begins to revive the Dalek. The Dalek looks at one of the assistants, who jumps. Lesterson doesn't believe the Dalek is watching them or has any intelligence. The Doctor heads for a transmittor, where he finds the operator unconscious and the cables cut; there he meets Bragen and Quinn. The latter is suspected. Back in the lab another test is running. The assistant crumples to the floor when the dalek shoots him. An enquiry begins at the Governor's quarters. Lesterson interrupts; he is followed by the (unarmed) Dalek, which recognises the Doctor. Lesterson says it could end many of the colony's problems; the Doctor quips: by ending the colony itself. The Doctor tries to explain what the Daleks are capable of, whilst the Dalek begins repeating: "I am your servant".

They are surprised the Dalek talks. Lesterson thinks of the possibilities it can open up for increasing production. The Governor gives Lesterson permission to continue his work on the Daleks. The Doctor protests. Looking at the Dalek he asks if it is his servant; the Dalek has trouble replying at first, but affirms. The Doctor orders it to immobilise itself; it refuses. Lesterson asks why it didn't obey and it gives the slippery answer that then it couldn't serve him. The colonists are in awe that it can reason too. The Governor doesn't believe Quinn sent for the examiner; he gives Bragen deputy governor duties. The Doctor works on a gadget as he and the companions discuss matters. Lesterson continues testing the Dalek, asking it questions about chemistry. The Doctor comes to look and pretends to be going along with Lesterson's tests, but he quickly attempts to tamper with the energy supply to the Dalek. One of Lesterson's lab assistents, Janley, is called away. She is aiding the rebels but only in order to get rid of Hensell, the Governor; her co-conspirator is Bragen, who wants power. They discuss taking over the colony. Polly and Ben are trying to find the Doctor; Polly utters another classic: "I am going to go back to the rest room; somebody's got to clear it up." (Apropos what I wrote in the Tenth Planet review!) On her way, Janley tells Polly the Doctor is in the communications room. Valmer captures her and she is held captive. The Doctor is in the rest room, contemplating what the Daleks would do. Ben is concerned about Polly. Lesterson talks to the Dalek; it replies "I am your servant". The Dalek goes on to tell Lesterson that it must know everything in order to help and that, if provided with materials, it can build a 100% efficient computer. Lesterson goes to see the Governor, allowing the Doctor and Ben to enter the lab. The Dalek (still unarmed) orders the Doctor to move away from the capsule; he pushes it aside, only to be faced by a second and armed Dalek. Backing away, the Doctor says: "When I say run, run like a rabbit...RUN!" (This sort of thing would become a Patrick Troughton catchphrase.) The three Daleks discuss getting energy and when they have that they will conquer. Lesterson is given permission to get that energy, whilst the Doctor's explanation is dismissed. Bragen tells the Doctor that a body has been found in the swamp; the Doctor says only he and the murderer know who the examiner is. Neither willing to rock the boat, Bragen tells the Doctor to leave Lesterson and the Daleks alone. A letter says Polly is safe as long as the Daleks are left alone. Lesterson returns to the lab, where the other Daleks have disarmed themselves. A Dalek says they are servants and do not want to be feared. Lesterson tells them that he has the specified materials and watches as the Daleks say in unison: "We will get our power."

The Daleks suddenly run down as the power supply dwindles. Lesterson says he controls their power, so they must obey him. A Dalek replies they are his servants. He turns the power on and is happy they understand one another, The Dalek says icily that they understand the human mind. Ben and the Doctor report Polly is missing to Bragen; a Dalek enters the office and asks if they need liquid. The time travellers set off to look for Polly. The Governor talks to Bragen on the newly restored communications; Bragen inquires how long he will be away (a day or two) and looks at the Dalek which has remained. It asks, innocently, if Bragen has finished his liquid. Walking away, Ben and the Doctor encounter three Daleks. They realise that there are more Daleks than they thought. Back in the lab, Lesterson is beginning to worry about the Daleks and agree with the Doctor; if they cannot control the Daleks, he will destroy them. He recognises the Doctor knows more about them and wants his advice. Janley tells him that the lab assistant is dead; she has covered up the death and tells him they must keep it quiet. The Doctor asks if Lesterson has been building Daleks and if there were only three daleks in the capsule; he surmises that the Daleks are reproducing themselves. Lesterson falls faint in horror when the Doctor says nothing is beyond the Daleks if given the right materials. Janley tells the Doctor to leave them alone. She requests Valmer take the broken Lesterson and sets about laying in the power cables requested by the Daleks. The Doctor decodes a message on a noticeboard - there is a meeting to be held in rocket room P. At the meeting, Valmer tells the rebels that he has rearmed a Dalek and has a control device for the creature. It fires at a screen when ordered. (All of this is being watched by Ben and the Doctor, who have secreted themselves into the meeting.) One of the rebels is concerned as to whether the Daleks can be controlled. Janley stands in front of the Dalek; it doesn't exterminate her. Ben knocks something over. The Doctor is forced to step out. Bragen is there and says he is the only one fit to be the leader of the rebels, and that he also leads the Daleks. The Doctor says he will inform the Governor of Bragen's role but Bragen dismisses the threat. The Doctor is detained. Quinn and the Doctor talk about events in their cell. At the capsule, the leader Dalek orders a fellow to go to the communications room, watch and report. Lesterson realises they are conspiring and are evil. Inside the capsule, he discovers the horrific truth: the Daleks have established a production assembly and are reproducing more Daleks. He sees the true mutant creature inside the casings. The end of episode 4 has been reconstructed with CGI by a fan.

Lesterson runs from the capsule. Distraught, he explains what is happening to Janley. He wants to destroy the Daleks. A Dalek comes out of the capsule and triumphantly states the Daleks will soon be able to produce their own power. He runs. The leader Dalek instructs a fellow that the capsule door must be sealed and that no more than three Daleks are to be seen at a time. The Daleks are not yet ready to teach the humans the law of the Daleks! Polly is with Janley and the Dalek. Janley still believes the Daleks are going to help, despite Polly's entreaties. The Dalek says: "We are your servants." Janley and the Dalek discuss the Daleks' power needs. (Daleks need static electricity to function. And before any physicist comments....Yes, I know!) Lesterson, who is getting very close to a nervous breakdown, tells the Doctor what is happening. The Doctor uses a glass of water to create a tone, in order to open the cell door. Lesterson is arrested and taken to Bragen. There is a Dalek in the office. Lesterson asks what it is doing. It replies it is laying a new cable as per his instructions, adding "master" at the end. The Dalek is instructed to leave (inevitably, it says "I am your servant"). Lesterson begs that the Governor be recalled as they are all in danger. Janley tells him to calm himself. Bragen orders he be restrained. Polly tries to convince Valmer and another rebel captor that the Daleks will turn on the rebels too. She explains that the Doctor found the examiner dead and has been impersonating him, trying to warn everyone of the danger. Valmer too doesn't believe the Daleks will turn on them because they are friends. Polly tries to explain that Daleks regard all other life as inferior. They continue work on the power supply. The Governor returns. Bragen relates that the Doctor is an imposter and possibly a murderer. Suddenly, the Governor discovers he has been relieved of his position by Bragen. Bragen asks for the Governor's cooperation, showing him a Dalek gun as the reason for his new found power. The Governor refuses and a Dalek enters the office. It exterminates him on Bragen's order. The Dalek asks: "Why do human beings kill human beings?" Bragen orders it to carry on with its work. "Yes, master. I obey", it replies. At the capsule, a Dalek is overseeing the work. When asked why it can't continue using power from the colony, it replies that they have had to use the colony's supply to recharge but, now, with their static power they will be twice as...(it pauses)...useful. All of this is overheard by the Doctor and Quinn, who have escaped. A struggle ensues. Polly explains after the tussle what has been going on. Two Daleks observe the escape - one orders the other to return to capsule and report. In the capsule, the Daleks wait for the humans to fight amongst themselves and then they will emerge and exterminate them all. Quinn, Polly and the Doctor discover the Governor's body. Bragen declares martial law and orders their detention; he still thinks the Daleks will obey him. The Daleks meanwhile chant in unison: Exterminate all humans. They leave the capsule.

A guard leads the Doctor and Polly along a corridor. They are faced by a Dalek. It says the area is restricted. They move back; the Dalek says they will be exterminated. Janley relates that the rebels have won. Bragen tells Janley that the rebels must be killed. Bragen announces the Governor has been murdered by the rebels and that he has taken temporary control. The Doctor, Ben and Polly are reunited. The Daleks begin to exterminate the humans. Elsewhere, Janley is asked to be taken to the centre of her group by her "friends", the Daleks. Bragen announces that rebels are trying to take over. Rebels fight Bragen's guards, and the Daleks exterminate all they come across. The Doctor and co. meet up with Lesterson, who has gone completely insane. He thinks the Daleks are the new species who will overtake the place of humans. Lesterson tells the Doctor that there is a vital power cable powering the Daleks, its location is known only by Janley. She has been exterminated though. Bragen tries to raise his men, but to no avail; he tries to bargain with the daleks. Quinn tells Bragen to order his units to the centre, in order to draw off the Daleks and allow the Doctor to find the power cable. Some Daleks return to the capsule and notice the cables have been interfered with; Lesterson wants to help the Daleks and says in a monotone voice: I am your servant. They exterminate him. The Doctor overloads the Dalek power supply. The Daleks start malfunctioning and die. Valmer shoots Bragen dead. The Doctor thinks it prudent they leave Vulcan before they are sent a bill for the damage. Ben and Polly wonder if the Doctor knew what he was doing and think he wasn't very convincing. He tootles on his recorder as they go back through the mercury swamp, past dead Daleks, and enter the TARDIS. The ship dematerialises whilst a recorder is played.

"Power..." is a wonderful Dalek story. Plots, counterplots, subterfuge, betrayal - all develop and finish in the Dalek killing spree. "Exterminate!" is the most famous Dalek phrase. "I am your servant" is just as worthy. These Daleks are just plain devious. The first story - the Daleks - had a similar devious, plotting Dalek figure. "Invasion of Earth", "Chase" and "Masterplan" had one dimensional creatures intent on ludicrous plans. And, sadly, that was to return in the future. The way David Whitaker layered the story is a joy: Bragen wants to use the rebels and Daleks to gain power; the rebels want to use the Daleks to get power; Lesterson wants to use the Daleks to assist humans, and is supported by the Governor; the Daleks comply with them all to bide time as they rebuild their strength in order to exterminate and take over; the Doctor has to fight them all and is not believed.

Patrick Troughton was simply wonderful as the new man. I imagine some of the scenes with Hartnell instead. Some would work: "How dare you, sir! Take your hands off me at once!" would work, but there are other scenes that couldn't with Hartnell's tetchy, elderly statesman like Doctor. Troughton did ever so well from the get go in filling those large shoes. The little scruffy, cosmic hobo, playing his recorder as he thought things through, was a neat change.

Tristram Cary's previous incidendal Dalek music was reused. And why not? It is simply superb and works even better in Power of the Daleks!

The only slight I have is the resolution. The Daleks were, by this time, not reliant on a static electric source of power. They could move about quite freely, as seen in the Chase and Daleks' Masterplan.

The only serious gripe about this story is that we only have those few clips.

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