Doctor Who Review: The Power Of The Daleks

Power-of-the-Daleks-544x350 Unfor­tu­nately despite being the first story for the Second Doctor and thus a rather pivotal moment in Doctor Who history, The Power of the Daleks is a story which is almost entirely miss­ing from the BBC archives. Which does make it rather diffi­cult to watch, never mind review.

Some years ago (okay it was prob­a­bly more like a couple of decades) I listened to the audio version which was a combi­na­tion of the tv episode sound track and narrated by Tom Baker and it seemed to be to be a really strong story. Though let’s be honest Tom Baker’s narra­tion can make anything sound good.

This time round I watched a recon­structed version that consisted of the episode sound tracks, narra­tion by Anneke Willis (Polly in the story) and a collec­tion of film snip­pets and set photos timed to the audio. It was remark­ably effec­tive and despite never having seen the story as intended I feel comfort­able saying that this is one of the Dalek’s strongest outings in the show.

This being the first time the Doctor has ever regen­er­ated (or renewed as he refers to it here) a fair amount of time in the first episode is taken up address­ing his compan­ions confu­sion. I really enjoyed this bit and the little refer­ences to previ­ous William Hart­nell stories. It doesn’t take long for Patrick Troughton to come into his own in the role and for my money this story marks the arrival of The Doctor as we will know him for the rest of the show’s lifes­pan.

dw50rev-powerdaleks5I think one of the reasons this story works so well is that it uses the Daleks as a way to spot­light the fail­ings of the human char­ac­ters in the story. Daleks are in effect a rela­tively one-note villain which is why their appear­ances get get rather samey after a while. Here the Daleks are the trig­ger of change in the balance of power, but they merely enable what vari­ous people already wanted to do. Simi­larly here the Doctor, while much more will­ing to become involved than the first Doctor ever was, essen­tially works in the back­ground trig­ger­ing reac­tions from other people.

Is it a coin­ci­dence then that this is the first Dalek story not writ­ten by their creator Terry Nation? I suspect not.

As a result, and unlike many 6 part stories, this one doesn’t over-stay it’s welcome. There are so many char­ac­ters and plot elements that even with both Polly and Ben having a “vaca­tion episode” things keep moving forward at a steady pace.

Admit­tedly it is obvi­ous even from the stills and limited film footage that Doctor Who was having it’s usual budget prob­lems. The army of Daleks very obvi­ously consists of three plus some card­board cutouts. Eh… they did what they could.

One thing that struck me on watch­ing this version (which I didn’t get from the purely audio version) is the extent to which the more recent Victory of the Daleks was paying homage with its scenes of Dalek’s serv­ing Winston Churchill.  They even use the line “I am your servant”. A lovely little nod to the past that doesn’t get in the way of the current episode.

As far as I’m concerned this is a must watch Doctor Who episode if you have any inter­est in the clas­sic series at all.

About Eoghann Irving

Overly opinionated owner and author of You can get updated on his posts directly on the blog here or through the usual social networking suspects. What? You expected me to say something interesting here? That's what the blog posts are for. Eoghann has often wondered if people read these little bio things we have to fill out everywhere on the internet and, assuming they do, why?