Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day 144: The Power of the Daleks, Episode Three
The problem with a story like The Power of the Daleks, when I'm enjoying it so much, is that I never have all that much to write about once it's finished. It all rather falls into the trap of me simply repeating myself over, and over, and over, etc. To that end, I'd like to apologise - today's post may feel a bit like deja vu in places!
They really are playing the Daleks as a slow-burn here, aren't they? I praised the way the reveal was handled back at the end of Episode One, and the way the Dalek finally spoke at the end of Episode Two, and now we're given another great Dalek-based cliffhanger as the other two pepper pots are reactivated and surround Lesterson, chanting in unison 'we will get our power!'
By the third episode of The Daleks, we were already watching them scheme against the Thals. By this stage in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the Doctor and his friends were beginning to draw up plans to defeat them. Here, we're edging slowly, oh so very slowly, towards the real threat of the Daleks. I keep waiting for it to fall flat. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I can't quite believe that they can draw the tension out any further, but it's being pulled off with a real skill.
It helps that we're being slowly drip-fed more information about what's happening in the colony. Here, we discover that the guest cast aren't all as naive about the Daleks as we've been led to believe, and that there's several games in play at the moment. It adds a new dimension to events, especially since we know that the Daleks will never consent to being one person's private army. I'm becoming more-and-more convinced that this story could end with everyone being killed - were this a season earlier, I'd be sure of it.
Things like this are all helping to keep the interest levels high. There's so much going on, and all the characters are so richly-drawn, that I'm not being given time to be bored by events. We're still moving along with the story of who shot the real Examiner (thug that's been pretty much confirmed, here, and we're at a stalemate), everyone is double-crossing everyone else, and Polly's been kidnapped. I can only assume that Anneke Wills was due a week off, and won't be with us for tomorrow's episode.
That's not altogether a bad thing, though! The time we spend today with just the Doctor and Ben exploring are fantastic, and the chance to hear more of that is one that appeals to me. He's almost - but not quite - accepting that this is the Doctor, now, so that could be interesting to explore if they're given the time to do it in the next episode. I mentioned back during The War Machines that Polly had always felt like the more present of the 'Ben and Polly' companionship, but that feels less true now that I'm hearing it all properly. Ben is quickly becoming another one of my favourite companions, and it's gratifying to hear him working as well with Troughton as he did with Hartnell.
While on the subject; three episodes in and I'm not doubting this new man as the Doctor at all. It does help, of course, that I know he's the Doctor, and how long he'll stick around, and how often he'll return to the role, but in terms of following the overall story of Doctor Who in order, I'm completely sold. All that stuff during the end of The Tenth Planet and the first episode of this story that made the changeover scary, and something that you wouldn't want to trust has pretty much melted away now, and we're simply left with a new Doctor.
Someone commented to me yesterday that Troughton in his earliest stories plays a Doctor slightly different to the one he plays for much of his tenure, but I have to confess that from where I'm positioned right now, I simply can't tell. He's playing his recorder much more, certainly, but otherwise he just feels right as the Doctor. I've not had cause to question him yet.
As the episode ended, my phone flashed up to warn me that there was only 10% battery remaining, and I listened right to the end of the theme music in the hope that the battery might die and I could make a wonderful (or woeful, take your pick) 'I will get my power!' joke to end today's entry, but it's still clinging on, so I guess I'll have to go without. Bah.