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27 May 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 147: The Power of the Daleks, Episode Six

Dear diary,

The thing that bothers me most about the missing episodes is days like today. Much of this episode is very action-packed, with Daleks fighting humans in the corridors of the base, and the Doctor weaving and ducking through it all. Anneke Wills tires her best to capture the frantic energy of it all in the narration, but it just doesn’t translate all that well to the audio medium. I think it’d have the same problem in a recon, too.

It’s a shame, because bits of today’s episode sound pretty epic. The Dalek guns firing, cries and screams and shouts from all directions… I’d be keen to see this one properly. There’s a danger that it may actually look rubbish, and only having it in this form is a blessing in disguise, but I can hope it’s pretty damn great.

I did worry that this episode might be a bit rubbish. Having come through five episodes in which the Daleks scheme and plot and are built up as a real threat, with tension bubbling right to the surface, I was fearful that it would all fall to pieces once they had fully amassed and army and set about trying to conquer the colony. It’s been a while since we’ve had a Dalek story like this, where they’re simply trying to survive rather than invade, and I didn’t want the ending to let it all down.

Thankfully, I don’t think it has. True, I’ve not enjoyed this episode quite as much as I did the previous five, but it’s been far from a bad episode. It just felt a lot more like generic Doctor Who than the rest of the story has. It’s telling that for all the other episodes, I’ve noted down reams and reams of Dalek dialogue to mention when I’m writing my entry, but today I’ve not written a single piece of it. I think from the moment they start chanting about conquering and destroying (at the end of yesterday’s episode), they fall back into just being the generic monsters again.

But that’s ok! I’ve noted down plenty more of Lesterson’s dialogue instead! He really came into his own yesterday once he’d had a breakdown, and that carries right on into this episode. Too. The crowning moment of his character has to be the scene where he tries to distract the Daleks, and he does it by cooing to them, in a mock-Dalek voice ‘I am your servant’, before being exterminated when the Daleks acknowledge that he gave them life. It’s probably the best Dalek moment in the episode, too, as it shows them at their coldest.

Overall, The Power of the Daleks has been a huge success. I did toy with rating today’s episode a bit higher, just so it would nudge it into the top spot, but I couldn’t do it without having to reach a bit. As it is, the story sits joint top of the ratings with The War Machines. Maybe, in the back of my mind, I’l always consider this to be just a bit ahead of that story, though.

It perfectly handles the changeover from Hartnell-to-Troughton, from the first episode largely focusing on the aftermath of that transformation, but it not even being mentioned by the end. I was expecting to have some kind of tacked-on TARDIS scene, in which Ben admitted that actually, this new chap is alright. I’m glad they didn’t do that - it works so much better when we’re left to just accept the Doctor because that’s the way the story has gone.

Troughton really is already filling the role admirably, and any worry I had about leaving Hartnell behind has long since dissipated. It’s not wonder that the first ‘regeneration’ was so successful - Troughton simply is the Doctor. The next four months should be a lot of fun, if this is any indication…

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