What I Learned From Doctor Who: “The Dalek Invasion of Earth,” (One, 1964)

Doctor: One (William Hartnell)

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

Time: The year 2164.

Place: Earth. London.


1. “World’s End” (Season Two, Episode Four)
2. “The Daleks” (S2, E5)
3. “Day of Reckoning” (S2, E6)
4. “The End of Tomorrow (S2, E7)
5. “The Waking Ally” (S2, E8)
6. “Flashpoint” (S2, E9)

Today’s Lessons

1. The TARDIS lands by the Thames in a quite broken down area.  Susan (that girl!) decides to go have a look by climbing part of a nearby bridge, but she falls, twisting her ankle and causing the bridge to collapse on top of the TARDIS.  First, Ian sees a warehouse and believes he can find a crow bar to pry off the girder that has blocked the TARDIS; the Doctor chuckles, bemused, and opines that he never ceases to be amazed by Ian’s optimism.  Later, the Doctor crosses over to Susan, who can’t walk with her swollen, twisted ankle, and grouses at her, causing Susan to ask that her grandfather not be mad at her, and the Doctor to threaten her with a good “smack-bottom.” My!  Though he’s right…she is too curious for her own good.

2. While the Doctor and Ian are entering the distant warehouse, which is crumbling from neglect and disrepair, Ian tells the Doctor to be careful.  The Doctor replies quietly, “I’m not a halfwit!”

3. New for Season Two: One wears a monocle!

4. New for Season Two: flying saucers.  On strings.  Which look like wrappers to Reese’s peanut butter cups.  Mmm….peanut butter cups.  Remember: history, special effects, yada yada…

5. Susan and Barbara are rescued by refugees in hiding, who are excited by the prospect that Barbara can cook.  When one of them asks Susan what she can do, she answers, “I eat!”  Point one for Susan.

6. The direction is getting better with this serial.  The reveal of the first Dalek: excellently creepy!

7. When the Doctor tells the Dalek he and Ian first meet that he would like to use wits to defeat the Daleks, the Dalek, after claiming that the Daleks are masters of Earth, responds, eventually, that “resistance is useless.”  Now, call me crazy, but I’ve decided that the Borg from the newer Star Trek series are direct descendants of the Daleks in a way: “resistance is futile,” after all…consider the similarities…

8. In this serial, and at this time, the Daleks have enslaved some of the human race by placing helmets on some, causing them to behave like robots (“robomen”).  When the helmet is removed from these humans, they go insane and eventually kill themselves.  This seems like a precursor to the Cybermen in many ways.  I wonder if some of these alien species are interrelated?

9. The Doctor and Ian are imprisoned in a heliport, where the Daleks have constructed their base.  They are captured with a rebel named Jack, who is certainly skeptical of the Doctor’s optimism at the possibility of escape from their cell.  Inside the cell, there is a magnetized container with what the Doctor theorizes to be the key to the cell.  First, the Doctor uses “three dimensional geometry” to puzzle how to get the key out.  When Jack expresses amazement, the Doctor hands the magnifying glass he was using to Jack and says, “Hold this, and shut up, will you?”  When Ian expresses that the Doctor “sometimes” amazes him, the Doctor replies glibly, “Only sometimes, dear boy?”  I think, as of this moment, we are starting to see glimpses of traits common to all the Doctors.  It seems that William Hartnell also became comfortable with the characterization as of season 2, considering that he is the pattern from which all other Doctors evolved.   I certainly laughed heartily for the first time since the feather plumed hat in “The Reign of Terror.”  The Doctor seems like the Doctor now.

10. When the Doctor, Ian, and Jack successfully open the cell, Jack opines, “You’re  a genius!”  The Doctor replies, “Yes, there are very few of us left.”  He’s funny!

11. Ian notes how the Daleks are differently designed than those seen on Skaro in Season 1.  The Doctor surmises that they are looking at an invasion force, so, naturally they would look different. Convenient!  Notably, they are also different colors – though in black and white, they all look either black or white.

12. Also, the Daleks are not yet saying, “Exterminate!”  They say “Destroy!” quite a bit, though.

13. After the rebels attempt an assault on the heliport where the Daleks have constructed their base (and parked their flying saucers suspended from strings), our intrepid foursome is split up.  Susan ends up with a rebel named David.  First, there is clearly a spark of romantic tension between these two.  Second, Susan tries to convince David to find the TARDIS with her, so that they can run away from the Daleks (with her grandfather’s permission, of course).  David explains that running away does not solve problems, and that he must defend his home, the planet Earth.  Susan expresses that she doesn’t feel she belongs to any time or place, and that she has never had a true identity or sense of identity.  Question: Isn’t she from Gallifrey?  Isn’t that her home?  Second Question: As a Time Lord (or Lady), has she regenerated by this point?  This is a question that may not be answered until later, given that regeneration was a concept invented upon William Hartnell’s departure, but what could prompt Susan to say these things, other than her constant gallivanting around the universe with Grandfather Doctor?  She is definitely a complicated alien teenager.  That Girl! Update: A kiss!  Susan and David, sitting in a tree…well, in a field…by a fire.

14. New for Season Two: on location shooting in and around London.  It’s very refreshing to see actual places, such as Trafalgar Square and Big Ben, rather than low budget sets on a sound stage.  Of course, there were some outside shots in “The Reign of Terror” serial, but they were in the country or fields to reflect the outlying areas of Paris.  Also, my thought during the third episode of the serial: this was 1964, the year the Beatles came to America.  Really puts a perspective on the whole affair, doesn’t it?

15. Motorized vehicles still work at this time…ones they find in museums, that is, as the Daleks have outlawed or destroyed all the other ones.  Which, of course, look like vehicles from England in the sixties.

16. As if our intrepid foursome didn’t have enough to contend with between Daleks and Robomen, Susan and David encounter mutant alligators in the sewer, and Ian encounters a being known as a “Slither,” which acts like a pet to the lead Black Dalek of the work camp and eats people!  This is a terrible future!  Turn it off, Doctor!

17. Hilariously, Susan later prepares an ad hoc meal of rabbit for her grandfather, David, and Tyler, the other refugee, and the Doctor indicates that Susan is “quite a good cook.”  Ha!  So, she doesn’t just eat, eh?

18. It seems the Daleks invaded Earth for the purpose of gutting the core and creating a power system to turn the Earth into a giant ship, to be piloted anywhere in the universe.  If they equip the planet with a giant planet-destroying laser… no, I think they just want a giant spaceship.  Question: why?  Don’t they already have spaceships?  Why Earth?  And when is this in relationship to when the Doctor and his companions landed on Skaro?

19. When history does not afford one the luxury of good special effects, work in miniatures and models as much as possible.  Of course, sometimes, it works well, like when the truck that Barbara and Jenny escape in explodes from flying saucer laser beams.  Sometimes, it’s less than successful, like when Ian is hidden in an explosive capsule, which is lowered and then raised in a vertical mining shaft.

20. They said it!  They said it!  When the Daleks discover that Ian is inside the capsule, they say it for the first time: “Exterminate him!  Exterminate him!”

21. While the Doctor, Tyler, David, and Susan are planning to strike the Daleks with the element of surprise, the Doctor tells David and Susan to go around and trigger bombs with David’s revolver. He adds this nugget: “Don’t stop to pick daisies along the way, will you?”  Hahahaha!  It seems the Doctor has caught on to their secret dalliance.

22. Tyler praises the Doctor by saying, “I’ll tell you one thing, Doc, life is never dull with you around.”  The Doctor thanks him, but indicates that he prefers to be called “Doctor,” never “Doc.” Now we know.

23. The Doctor has a pet name for Susan: “My little monkey.”  He also suggests that she has been “thoroughly disorganized” since she’s been away from the school where Ian and Barbara are teachers.  Hm…!

24. David is in love with Susan and proposes marriage (*sob*).  What’s more, she loves him but is highly conflicted, as she loves her grandfather as well.  When Susan hesitates, David tells her passionately that he is giving her a time, place, and an identity to which she belongs.  Aw!   What’s more, though Susan is prepared to go with her grandfather, the Doctor doesn’t give her a choice! He locks the doors of the TARDIS; tells her that though he has taken care of her and she of him, she now belongs to David and the time in which he lives.  He encourages her to go forward with her beliefs, reminds her that she will always be his grandchild, and promises that he’ll be back.  And then he leaves!  The TARDIS de-materializes before her eyes.  The Doctor could have at least left Susan with a good pair of shoes!  David then tells Susan that the Doctor knew she could never leave him and takes her hand, as she drops the necklace her grandfather gave her and walks away.  Question: Is this the end of Susan?

25. This is, by far, the best serial to date – filled with action, adventure, romance, Daleks, good acting, good directing, and some of the best writing of the early seasons.  In a Doctor Who sampler, I would consider this a necessary addition, for much of the mythology of the series begins here, with this serial, and with the way the characters interact with the Daleks and each other.  This is now my favorite of them, and I can’t wait until the next serial featuring the Daleks.

Next serial: “The Rescue” (Season 2, Episodes 10-11).


One comment

  1. kyliekeelee · January 27, 2014

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