Join me here on Tuesdays and Thursdays as I explore the earliest seasons of “Doctor Who” — as a complete newbie to the series. A full explanation can be found here. Today’s episodes — “The Dead Planet” and “The Survivors.”
The Dead Planet
The travelers have arrived on a planet that it turns out is not earth. While their initial radiation reading tells them everything is fine, we see that actually the radiation levels are extremely high.
While exploring the petrified forest in which they landed, they spot a city in the distance and naturally, the Doctor wants to investigate. But the rest of them just want to get out of there, particularly after Susan is touched by someone in the forest (who has dropped a case full of glass phials).
Their hands are forced, though, when a TARDIS part runs out of mercury and the Doctor insists they go to the city to get more.
As they explore this weird, underground city, everyone starts to fall ill — radiation sickness — and Barbara gets separated from the rest. And that’s when this show really gets going. Because she is cornered and advanced upon by some kind of robotic menace.
It’s a helluva cliffhanger. You don’t know at the time, of course, but it’s a Dalek — a race of robots that become an on-going nemesis in “Doctor Who.”
It comes to light that the Doctor actually lied about the mercury need in order to get them down to the city because he’s so curious. That scamp. But now they’re facing off with the Daleks. Ian tries to run, but is paralyzed by one of their stunner rays — the next one will be permanent, the Daleks warn.
It turns out 500 years ago on this planet (Skaro), there were two races — the Daleks and Thals. There was a terrible war between them and now the human-like Thals have been ousted from the city.
The Daleks need the anti-radiation drugs that the Thals have and it turns out that’s what was in the glass phials they found in the forest, so Susan and Ian are going back to the TARDIS for them. The Daleks plan to kill our intrepid travelers once they have them.
Thoughts and Tidbits
- As I said above, it really feels like this story is where the show gets started. Sure, the first two establish the characters and the pertinent exposition, but this is an engrossing serial from start to finish.
- Will it ever be addressed that the TARDIS doesn’t disguise itself anymore? It was an issue when they arrived in 100,000 BC, but hasn’t been mentioned again.
- Love the food machine on the TARDIS. It reminds me of the bubble gum machine in “Willy Wonka.”
- Best Lines:
- Doctor: “Food has component parts, dear boy. Flavors are rather like primary colors — you know, you blend two to achieve a third, a fourth, etc etc.”
- Doctor: “They’re intelligent, anyway, very intelligent.”
Ian: “Yes, but how do they use their intelligence? What form does it take?
Doctor: “Oh, as if that matters.”
What did you think of “The Dead Planet” and “The Survivors”?