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24 June 2013

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

Day 175: The Evil of the Daleks, Episode Six

Dear diary,

It’s very clear that we’ve got Roy Skelton on Dalek duties in this episode, isn’t it? At times, it sounds like Zippy’s gotten hold of a ring modulator! If anything, it actively helps to story – as if these child-like Daleks weren’t already unnerving enough, they’re speaking in the voice of a beloved children’s character. Fantastic stuff.

That whole opening scene, with the Daleks continuing to play their games with the Doctor, is absolutely brilliant, taking the great ending to the last episode and taking it even further. There’s something very unusual about the way that the Daleks slowly drawl the Doctor’s words back at him (though we get ‘Traaaaiiiiinnnn’ and ‘Dizzzzyyyyy’, I’m a little sorry that they didn’t attempt to copy ‘Roundabout’. I’ll have to make up for it by saying the word in a Dalek voice to myself for the rest of the day. Or to strangers on the street. Why not? Roundaboooouuuttttt…). The scene seems to keep getting creepier and creepier, until it’s drawn to a close when the Daleks ominously state ‘we must go now’. It’s said in a way that wouldn’t be out of place coming from a spooky child in a horror film, and really works.

I was starting to think that’s I’d never have a nice word to say about The Evil of the Daleks, so I’m really leased to find that things are more to my taste now. I was hoping that the shift over to Skaro would be a turning point for the story, and it seems that it has more or less coincided with this, so I’m happy. And it’s the first time that we’ve seen the Doctor travel back to an alien planet we’ve already been to! We’ve seen him return places before (He’d been to Dido in The Rescue, for example), but this is the first time that we’ve seen both of the trips to the planet (Hm? You what? Oh, all right then. Yeah yeah, we visited Kembel on two separate occasions in The Daleks' Master Plan. I'll give you that one, but as that was all part of one big adventure - spread across several different stories! - I'm discounting it. This is the first time we've seen him return to an alien planet in a completely different context.)

Years of being a Doctor Who fan means that I know full well how the sets look for this episode, with the stark black and white angles, and the Dalek Emperor sat in the corner, plugged into the city (the narration on the soundtrack nicely describes it as sitting at the centre of its ‘web’), but I can’t help picturing the stark, metal corridors of the original Dalek story – without the visuals to this episode, my mind has automatically gone back to what I consider to be the ‘default’ design.

There’s something quite brilliant about the Doctor facing up to the Dalek Emperor, who towers over him. He’s cool and confident, musing that he’d always wondered if the pair would ever meet. It put me instantly in mind of a similar scene, in which the Ninth Doctor steps out of the TARDIS and confronts another Dalek Emperor. In another similarity between this and The Parting of the Ways, the Doctor seems to issue spoilers for us, when he tells the Emperor that he’ll have a revolution on his hands pretty soon, once the new ‘humanised’ Daleks start to ask questions.

The main issue I have with all of this - and the reveal that while the Doctor thought he was isolating this ‘Human Factor’, he was actually helping to discover a ‘Dalek Factor’ – is that I’m not sure I care. Much as I love Alpha, Beta, and Omega, I’ve said before that I wasn’t really paying too much attention to the experiments that the Doctor was being forced to do, so it doesn’t feel like some massive shock revelation here. I’m hoping that won’t matter too much as we move into the final episode, which I already know is the much fabled ‘Final End’ of the Daleks (at least during the 1960s).

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