What I Learned From Doctor Who: “The Daleks” (One, 1963-1964)

Doctor: One (William Hartnell)

Companions: Ian Chesterton (William Russell); Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill); and Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford)

Time: It’s not clear in these episodes whether it’s past, present, or future.

Place: Skaro, the home world of the Daleks


1. “The Dead Planet” (Season One, Episode Five)
2. “The Survivors” (S1, E06)
3. “The Escape” (S1, E07)
4. “The Ambush” (S1, E08)
5. “The Expedition” (S1, E09)
6. “The Ordeal” (S1, E10)
7. “The Rescue” (S1, E11)

Today’s Lessons

1. One is mischievous and stubborn!  On Skaro, he wanted to explore the (seemingly) abandoned city, but when Ian defied him in the name of the safety of everyone else, One removed a necessary “fluid” component that helps the TARDIS work in order to provide ample excuse and necessity to search the city for the requisite replacement mercury for the component, allegedly, while the Doctor surveyed his surroundings.  Karma struck, however, when the Daleks took the component from Ian, and he and Susan had to revisit the city and court capture.  Question: Why is the Doctor so stubborn in this incarnation?

2. We’ve seen Doctors eat before, but back in the day, all nutrients came in the form of TARDIS produced wafers that have the flavor of anything one wants to eat, even if the bacon is a bit salty.  It’s a little like the cakes and drinks in Alice in Wonderland or the gum in Willy Wonka, except you get to choose your flavor.

3. Need to cure a headache?  The Doctor has the elixir for you!  Of course, he’s not a doctor of medicine, so where that elixir came from…unless it’s like the TARDIS food wafers.

4. Ian and the Doctor are still vying for leadership of the group, though the Doctor has an irascible curious streak, and Ian just wants to protect everyone else.

5. The Daleks appear in episode 6.  We learn that they were cohabitants of Skaro with another race of beings known as the Thals.  The Daleks, however, dropped neutron bombs, which have radiation enough to destroy humanoid and biological tissue but not metals, while the Thals discovered an antidote for radiation sickness.

6. When history does not afford one the luxury of good special effects, to show the effects of, say, Dalek lasers, one needs only turn the camera to negative mode.  Then, a good limp will show paralysis by lasers.

7. The Doctor is most affected by radiation sickness resultant from the leftover radiation in the planet’s atmosphere.  Question: Is his Time Lord biology not a defense?  Is it because of his age?

8. Susan wins the award for whiniest companion in history.

9. The Thals are all blonde (or maybe white-haired…black and white TV makes it unclear) and are an agrarian race that used to be warriors, prior to the neutron war with the Daleks, which occurred 500 years prior to the time of the Doctor and his companions’ landing in the TARDIS.  The Daleks, according to the Thals, used to be teachers and philosophers.  Now, as we come to know, they are squishy things inside tin cans with a yen for science and “extermination.”

10. According to the guess of the Doctor, the Daleks’ outer shells are powered by static electricity generated from metal floors.  Queston: They don’t always walk on metal, do they?

11. All aliens still speak English.  I think the universal translator must be working.

12. The Thals are a human-like race that mutated from some seemingly robotic or, perhaps, Dalek-like form.  The Daleks used to be called the “Dals” and are mid-mutation as of “The Ambush.”  Yet, they stay permanently squishy.  Ironically, the Thals’ former form reminded me of the Cybermen.

13. The Daleks “exterminate” all races different from them because they are afraid of those differences, according to Ian’s theory.  Yet, the Daleks indicated that they can only survive in their present state with the power of radiation.  Question: So, they destroy worlds and create radioactive atmospheres to power those tin cans?

14. One stubbornly refuses to learn Ian’s last name.  Does it matter if the Doctor doesn’t have a last name?

15. One also values intellect above most other things, except Susan’s faith in him.  He destroyed the source of static electricity to the Dalek city and took time to revel in how smart he was.  Granted, the poor timing of the revelry didn’t seem very smart.  He also tried to convince the Daleks to abandon their plans for dropping a second neutron bomb by appealing to their intellect.   Granted, Daleks aren’t that smart, either.

16. The Doctor informed the Thals prior to departure that he “never gives advice” but encouraged them to “always seek the truth.”  He also deflected questions about his home world and intimated that he and Susan were far from home.  Question: Why are their origins a secret at this point?

Next serial: “The Edge of Destruction” (Season 1, Episodes 12-13).


One comment

  1. kyliekeelee · December 2, 2013

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