I’m surprised to admit that I wasn’t instantly blown away by Troughton, having expected an immediate shot to the show’s arm after the slow deterioration of Hartnell’s effectiveness. Instead, we get the kind of post-regeneration weirdness and aloofness that you’d expect from later incarnations, but without the crowning moment of awesome where the new guy really announces himself. It was certainly a bold move to have the first ever “new” Doctor spend much of his first adventure communicating primarily through the medium of the recorder.
That said, you can already sense the new dynamic that the production team were so desperate for. The Doctor is now the one running around and sorting shit out, and he’s already getting into as many tricky scrapes as his companions. It just felt like he needed a little bit of breathing space to establish his character, which there wasn’t time for during any of the six episodes.
It was a very smart move to bring the Daleks back for the first story without Hartnell, and they’re written much better here than they have been since they invaded Earth. For the first time, we see them really use their intelligence and capacity for deception, which makes them a much scarier threat all of a sudden. There’s room for humour too – more subtle than was on display in The Chase – with the Daleks pretending to be the colonists’ serrrr-vants, foreshadowing Victory of the Daleks some 44 years in advance.
Unfortunately, the Daleks don’t get much of a look-in until late on in the serial – it’s not until episode six that they start exterminating people. There’s two stories happening here – the Daleks and the power struggle within the colony, and the balance is tipped a bit too heavily towards the latter. I don’t really give a shit whether or not the rebels overthrow the governor, when I assume they’re all going to be annihilated anyway.
– Even with a series of telesnaps and limited amounts of moving footage, you can still tell that the majority of the Daleks are cardboard cut-outs.
– Nice try with the “make sure that no more than three of us are seen together” line, though.
– Interesting that the Daleks’ reliance on static electricity is brought up again, having previously been discarded because it was too limiting. I assume it’ll be dropped again the next time it’s too limiting.
– The Highlanders next. Good – it seemed odd to watch a Troughton story without him shouting “Jamieeeee” in various ways at various points.