I’d seen this one before a couple of times, but watching it in sequence made me appreciate just what a huge step up from the previous ten stories it represents. The whole world of Doctor Who just seems to open up all of a sudden, thanks to the scale and production value provided by the addition of location filming.
The story is similarly huge and ambitious, establishing an enthralling and believable future dystopia very quickly indeed. The Robomen are great, and clearly inspired the rather more enduring Cybermen a few years later. The little satellite dish on the Dalek’s backs are the first in a long line of contrivances to get around established continuity in order to tell a better story, and the Daleks are much better for their increased mobility. The sight of one rising from the lake at the end of episode one is extraordinarily good.
Plus, of course, this story concludes with the departure of Susan. The Doctor’s goodbye speech is so iconic that I feel like it’s been lodged in my memory from birth, but it managed to bring a lump to my throat when placed in the context that sequential viewing gives. That said, I was kind of glad to see the back of Susan. I love Carol Ann Ford’s performance, but the character herself is kind of an annoying wuss at times. It wasn’t always the case – she was great when she was all mysterious in An Unearthly Child and The Sensorites, but for the last few serials she’s been screaming, crying and generally being pathetic far too often. When you’ve got an older female role model that kicks as much arse as Barbara, it’s a shame to also have such a stereotypical girly girl with such little backbone.