Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day 146: The Power of the Daleks, Episode Five
There'a a lovely moment towards the end of this episode where we listen to a good thirty seconds of the Daleks shouting 'exterminate!' over and over, before cutting away to another scene. It's perfectly effective and all (though 'exterminate' doesn't pack the same punch as the other chants we've had in this story), but when we cut back to the Daleks a few minutes later and they're still chanting it, they don't half come across like loonies. One of them then gets a message through to give new orders and there's a moment of it effectively hushing the others. It's quite charming in a way. Completely bonkers, though.
But elsewhere, they're still the best Daleks that we've ever had in the series. They're scheming and manipulative and… so scary in places that that the only reaction is to laugh-out-loud because it's so bizarre. There's a fantastic moment - it might even be my favourite moment in the story so far - when a Dalek is asked why they want to create their own static power, and it replies with a voice growing louder, and ranting, 'With static power, the Daleks will be twice as…!', before realising and catching itself, lowering the tone to a creepy drawn out 'useful'.
These really are Daleks unlike any we've ever seen before. Way back at the beginning, in The Daleks, they were painted as these sneaky creatures, using Susan as a pawn to draw the Thals out of hiding so they can massacre them, and they trick Mavic Chen in Masterplan, but here they're really going at it. There's another scene in this episode where one is laying the power cables around an office, and Lesterson is trying to convince everyone that the Daleks aren't taking orders from him, so the Dalek replies that he's doing what he was told to do, and then calls Lesterson 'master'. If a Dalek could smile wryly, this one would be doing so.
Lesterson himself is fab in this episode, too. The Doctor is somewhat relegated to the background, so we're really given plenty of time for Lesterson to take centre stage. The first half of the episode is based around him trying to convince everyone that the Daleks aren't to be trusted, and he's just hitting stumbling blocks because he was too good at making everyone love them. I think it's fair to say that he'll end up exterminated by the end of the story.
Robert James is turning in a fab performance throughout the whole story, but especially now that he's having to lose his mind. I won't quote them all, but my notes for this episode are filled with snippets of his dialogue - it ranges from cries that the dales are duplicating themselves to a wonderful Frankenstein moment, when he screams 'They forget that I gave them life! Now I've taken it away again!', and it's not long before he's shouting that he's going to 'wipe out the Daleks!'
If anything, this story is making me sad that we didn't get that Dalek spin-off that I tasted back with The Destroyers a couple of weeks ago. Had Nation run the show, but invited Whittaker to penn the odd serial like this, then it could have been fantastic. There's enough going on in this story that I think you could remove the Doctor and his companions, substitute them with SSS agents and it would still be marvellous. Here's hoping that things remain strong for the final part - this could become the highest-rated story so far!