OK, after being distracted by my current obsession with Bonanza and Twin Peaks, I awoke this morning to three new comments here. When I checked in to moderate the comments, I noticed that there had been 75 hits today. I’m not sure what caused the sudden influx of visitors, but now that number stands at 90, the most popular day yet! Thanks to those who have visited, new readers that have joined in, and the two or three regular readers out there. This swell in popularity encouraged me to finally finish and write a post on The Power of the Daleks.
This story isn’t too bad, although it goes on a bit long. The 6 episode format does not help this story, there simply isn’t enough story to carry it. I didn’t think that it was a particularly great introduction to Patrick Troughton’s Doctor, I didn’t really get a good feel for his character. It’s depiction of the Dalek’s, though, is quite good. It does a nice job of showing their intelligence and deviousness.
The Doctor recovers from his regeneration, explaining that he depends upon “change” and “renewal.” He also points out that it is a part of the TARDIS and he could not survive without the TARDIS. I found this to be pretty interesting. What about the Monk? Does he also have that feature? What if he had to renew himself when his TARDIS was miniaturized? Would he have died? I don’t know whether this ever defined or described in more detail, but is definitely another question worth filing away.
Polly is pretty sure that the Doctor is still the Doctor, while Ben is skeptical. I’m not too sure why he was so skeptical — he witnessed the change. Did he think someone had snuck in while he was watching and steal the Doctor, replacing him with this younger fellow? These opening scenes, though, are pretty good. Troughton seems to adopt Hartnell’s wit, playing it coy with Ben, speaking of himself in the third person and acting as if he doesn’t remember, looking for his journal. It was a nice touch to mention his time in The Crusade and his friend Marco Polo, likely in order to assure the audience that he was indeed the Doctor as I’m sure it may have been somewhat confusing. I’m not sure how well the promotional material would have set the viewers up for this change, if at all. I like how the Doctor answered questions by playing a little flute, gave Ben some snarky responses and wanders off on his own. At this early point, I felt like I was learning about the new Doctor. But, for the rest of the story, I found him to be rather aloof. I’m not sure if they were trying to squeeze Troughton in Hartnell’s character, they weren’t yet sure how he was going to be, or if that will become his character. I’m interested to see his development. I imagine that it is difficult to completely re-write a show’s title character. In the meantime, we have the Daleks to deal with.
The Doctor finds a murdered man in the swamp near the TARDIS. When guards come to find the dead man, he steals his identity and the human residents of the planet believe him to be an inspector from Earth. The planet is Vulcan…a reference to the real-life planet theorized to be between Mercury and the Sun. Of course, there is no such planet. It became more famous as the home of Mr. Spock (I had originally written Doctor Spock. The pointy-eared Vulcan should not be confused with the famous advice-giving pediatrician.) a couple of years later. As has been the case a couple of times in other stories already, there are rebels threatening the stability of the colony. This is getting to be a go-to device for human space-colonies. It’s a simple way to create secondary character drama and potential danger for the travelers. In this case, we get both. The colony’s government has a couple of moles, one of which killed the real inspector. They are then able to use the travelers as scapegoats, claiming they are working with the rebels. These traitors hope to utilize the Daleks, discovered in a centuries old space capsule, as servants and weapons to overthrow and control the colony.
The Daleks are the best part of the story. They are smart enough to recognize the gullibility of the humans, claiming that they are their servants. Essentially, they fool them and lull them to sleep. In the meantime, they are building a Dalek army inside the capsule. They are smart enough to never gather in groups of more than three (the original number), and they build weapons and a power source with the material that they receive from the human scientist, encouraged by the traitorous government official. Of course they turn on their supporters and alleged masters, killing nearly all of the humans on the planet. The only way they are stopped is when the Doctor is able to kill them with a power surge from the power source they had built. I thought this was a good way to stop them and really highlighted their evil nature. Once again, they took advantage of the human thirst for power. They used Chen in the Daleks’ Master Plan, and this time they used Bragen, the man most interested in ruling the colony (and the one responsible for the murder of the Inspector and later the colony’s Governor).
Of course, the Doctor knew all along what was happening. But nobody would believe him. Still in his continuing attempts to well by those who host him and his friends, he sticks around and attempts to convince the humans that the Daleks are dangerous. But, he is put in jail for being one of the rebels and no one will listen. Until the scientist witnesses the building of the Dalek army. But by then it is too late. After killing the Daleks, the Doctor, Ben, and Polly head off for their next adventure.
Generally, this story is all right. The length makes it kind of boring, but the nicely written Dalek plot saves it. Ben and Polly play nearly no role (although in some of the pictures it appeared that Polly wasn’t wearing pants). Each is on vacation and misses an episode, and they spend most of their time simply trying to tell the people that the Doctor is right or trying to figure out what happened to the Doctor. As I alluded to earlier, even the Doctor isn’t particularly interesting in this story. While the story is passable, it isn’t much of an introduction to the Second Doctor.