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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Doctor Who Rewind - Planet Of The Daleks

Invisible Daleks, poisonous plants and giant purple furr balls. Yes, it's the return of writer Terry Nation!

Following on directly from Frontier In Space, this story see's a wounded Doctor, assisted by Joe, getting into the TARDIS. After sending a telepathic distress message to the Time Lords, he losses consciousness and it's up to
Jo to go out and look for help on the strange planet they have landed on, or been taken too (as the Time Lords have remotely controlled the TARDIS). The planet is called Spiridon.

When Jo opens those TARDIS doors she's greeted with a technicolor forest complete with strange plants that move and spit green snot like poison. It's like Dorothy emerging into Oz for the first time.

It's a testament to Katy Manning (Jo Grant) that she's given the entire first half of the first episode to fly solo, and explore her new surroundings, eventually finding an abandoned space ship she meets up with its crew, who are Thals from Skaro.

She persuades them to help the Doctor, who, meanwhile has woken up and is starving of oxygen, as the plant life outside has totally sprayed and covered the TARDIS in a hard outer shell. They arrive just in time to free him.

When he finds out who they are he tells them he has been to Skaro in the past (with Barbara and Ian - first Doctor). They explain that there is a legend of a man called the Doctor in their history but they find it hard to believe that this is him.

Taron, the leader of the Thals explains that they are the survivors of a military expedition sent to the planet to wipe our the Daleks, who have come to the planet to try and study the inhabitants, the Spiridons, the big furry walking carpets, who have the ability to render themselves invisible. The Daleks want to conduct experiments to give themselves this ability.

And so the Doctor joins forces with the Thals to try and stop the Daleks from gaining a skill which could render the entire galaxy at their mercy.

In the process Jo gets infected with a horrible plant like fungus, the Doctor is taken prisoner by the Daleks and a secret underground base is descovered with literally thousands of Daleks, seemingly on ice, and ready to be brought into action.

There's no doubt that this story remains one of the all time classics. It's got just about everything you could want from a Who story. Amazing cliff hangers, horrible monsters and a great back story. The very continuity of DW adds to it all as well with the Doctors previous encounters with the Daleks.

There are some lovely touches throughout, and some great Thal characters. The cautious Talon, who doesn't want to put his girlfriend Rebec in danger by taking silly chances. The headstrong Vaber, who can't wait to obliterate the enemy. And Codal, who overcomes his fears enough to be the bravest of all.

In fact his scene with the Doctor, when they are both held captive in the Dalek base, is one of the highlights , both for its scope of content and emotional impact. Beautifully acted too.

I must also mention the inspired set design too, it really is an other worldly jungle and must have been a greet undertaking.

With a great cast on top form, this story stands out as one of Pertwee's finest. There may not be many laughs, but it certainly had enough action and adventure and danger to make up for it.

Next time on Doctor Who Rewind, something green and slimy is coming to a welsh town...


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