They’re back, after an absence of 134 episodes, equating to about five months’ worth of my marathon. And after a five year break for the production team, it seems like they kind of forgot how to do them. The voices in particular are really off – staccato to the point of sounding hesitant. Where’s Zippy when you need him?
And yeah, you could totally tell that there were only three Dalek props available. I wasn’t aware that there even was an attempt to disguise the fact until I read about it afterwards – I assumed that the entire invasion had been carried off by just three Daleks, one of whom was gold. Maybe it would have been easier to pass them off as dozens if they were all the same colour, rather than attempting to suggest that they all hang around in groups of two greys and a gold.
I kind of liked my interpretation that all they’d subjugated and enslaved an entire planet with just three of them – it fits in to the descriptions in Dalek that made me fall in love with them in the first place. As it is, though, it’s another example of the shoddy workmanship that plagues this serial. The Ogrons weren’t terrible, but they were seemingly only there because they were cheaper to make than more Daleks, and the cheapness showed. With the exception of Aubrey Woods – who I always thought was creepy as fuck in Willy Wonka, so it’s no surprise he makes such a good villain – most of the guest cast are woeful. Then there’s weird little things like CSO elements disappearing from shot to shot, and the theme tune scream appearing after the cliffhanger resolves. Just why?
But the worst thing? You set up a scene at the beginning where The Doctor and Jo are visited by another version of The Doctor and Jo from the near future, seemingly from towards the end of the same serial. And then we get to the end of the serial… and there’s no corresponding scene where The Doctor and Jo visit their past selves. Not even a hastily-inserted line of dialogue to explain what that visit was all about. Unless they do something amazing, like resolve this hanging thread in the last episode of the season, I’m going to come back in time and remove one point from my rating for this episode.
EDIT: Yep, see below.
It’s a shame, because underneath all of that, there’s a decent story to be told, it’s just not the one that involves the Daleks. The stuff with the “ghosts” appearing at the manor house was much more intriguing than the dystopian future – again, Aubrey Woods aside – and that eventually developed into a brilliant timey-wimey story. Just as I was wondering how they could possibly resolve this plot without invoking a paradox, they go and explain that they’d been aware of that all along. It works well, and there are plenty of other good points – Pertwee and Manning are both on fine form, and there’s some great little UNIT moments, particularly those involving Benton, Yates and a plate of cheese.
But the problem is, apart from that little moment where they cycle through pictures of Hartnell and Troughton, I’d kind of rather The Daleks weren’t in it. This is not ideal for a long-awaited comeback. Overall, not an absolutely terrible serial, but I sincerely hope it’s not the best Dalek story I see this week.
RATING: 7 6