The Daleks are the Doctor’s oldest enemies. In this edition of WBW Tops, we take a look at the Dalek serials of Classic Doctor Who.
Hello! Welcome to this Fifth Edition of WBW Tops! Today, I want to take a look at some Dalek stories. One of the Doctor’s oldest enemies, the Daleks have been around since the very start of the show. Today, I want to rank all the Classic Who Dalek stories. The only reason I’m excluding New Who is because they’ll have a list all their own at some point because I think more than 20 items on a list would be a bit much. Anyways, let’s begin!
The only reason Day of the Daleks is in dead last is because it doesn’t feel like the Daleks should be here. They feel really tacked on and I just don’t like it very much. The Daleks sound awful in this story and their plan is a bit daft. Louis Marks had no business writing for the Daleks. I mean, the Ogrons were fine minions, the cliffhangers were pretty decent and Pertwee was on form, but the Daleks should not have been a part of this story.
[Check out the Who Back When review of Day of The Daleks!]
My issue with this story is that it really doesn’t feel like a Dalek story. While the Daleks felt tacked on in Day of the Daleks, The Chase is just that. It’s a chase! The Daleks just chase the TARDIS all over creation just to exterminate the Doctor, Vicki, Barbara and Ian. And it ends with the Daleks being destroyed by the Mechanoids! What was that about being the masters of the universe? Also, what was all that business going on in the haunted house and having a Dalek get tossed around by Frankenstein’s Monster (Again, “Masters of the Universe”?) This was just really silly compared to the Dalek story that came before it and especially the one that came after it.
[Check out the Who Back When review of The Chase!]
I think the issue with Destiny of the Daleks was that it had to follow Genesis of the Daleks. The expectations were high, but it simply couldn’t deliver. Without Michael Wisher reprising the role of Davros, I think this story lost a bit of the magic Genesis had. Also, it emphasized a major flaw the Daleks had at the time: they couldn’t go up stairs (TOM: If you’re supposed to be the superior race of the universe, why don’t you try climbing after us?). Also, the scene with Romana’s regeneration at the start of part one is a bit too silly and really seems out of place. I don’t think that’s how regeneration works.
This is another story where the Daleks look really weak. Of course, for the sake of the story they are intentionally weakened by having their usual weapons exchanged for bullet firing machine guns. But Daleks that can be killed by spears? You must be kidding! The rest of the story has issues, such as part three’s cliffhanger being really dumb and the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane not really meshing as characters. They simply don’t work together like the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane do. And those puzzles were just so simple. Where’s the climactic ending for the Daleks here? I appreciate Terry Nation tried harder on his next Dalek script to make it good.
In my opinion, this is the best Pertwee Dalek story. Though it does look a little cheaper than his other Dalek stories, the plot itself makes up for it. The Daleks are done alright here (I like the look of the Supreme Dalek) and Pertwee was on point. Throw in the Thals, a few throwaway references, and you have a decent Dalek story for your tenth anniversary season. I’ve also stated in the past that this story pairs well with Frontier in Space. They both make for a long sitting, but it is indeed worth it just to have the Master and the Daleks interact, even if it is for just a few minutes.
[Check out the Who Back When review of Planet of The Daleks!]
The finale of Season 22 was okay. Just okay. I mean, the Daleks were done well enough here. I love the look of the Imperial Daleks (White and Gold) and Terry Molloy as Davros was brilliant. My issue is that it takes so long for the Doctor to become involved in the story. He and Peri are just walking around in a forest for the majority of part one. Even though I like this one, I still think that it’s the worst of the 80’s Dalek stories. I suppose that does make it a guilty pleasure.
The Fifth Doctor’s encounter with the Daleks was very gruesome. We have gas that can make people rot, people getting shot, mind control, and so much more. I really like this story because of Davros (as played by Terry Molloy). This is a Davros story and the Daleks are just there because of him. But I think it is a bit heavy on all the death. Heck, Tegan was super messed up afterwards. Considered legendary due to its body count (allegedly more than The Terminator), this violent Doctor Who story just isn’t for me.
Ah, now this is a good one. The final appearance of the Daleks in the Classic Series, Remembrance of the Daleks was one of those stories that had a very “go big or go home” feel. And so much was done to make it feel big. Big explosions, big ships, Davros, the Special Weapons Dalek, Ace beating up a Dalek with a baseball bat, and so much more. If they intended to start off Season 25 with a bang, they definitely succeeded here. In fact, I consider this to be more worthy of being the series’ 25th Anniversary special rather than Silver Nemesis (oh, we’ll get to that).
Okay, so here we have the original Dalek Story. I think my issue with it is that it drags a little. Seven parts is a very long time, especially when the story lags in the middle. The Daleks didn’t kill very much (I only recall one death at the hands of the Daleks themselves) and they were more subdued here than in later appearances. These Daleks were not the universe conquerors that we know today. These Daleks were survivors of a war. Survival was their only goal.
[Check out the Who Back When review of The Daleks!]
The Dalek Invasion of Earth was the story that turned the Daleks from survivors into planet conquerors. The look of these Daleks was pretty good (one of my favorite designs for the menacing pepperpots). The “Robo-Men” were an interesting addition. Why they haven’t used this idea since is strange. However, like the previous Dalek story, this one is really long and sags in the middle. Though not as bad as the previous tale, this story feels like a long watch.
[Check out the Who Back When review of The Dalek Invasion of Earth!]
We return to Skaro for what could have been the final Dalek story. With Terry Nation wanting to give the Daleks their own series, the time was coming for the Daleks to leave Doctor Who. Of course, the Daleks wouldn’t go quietly. No, we got to meet the Emperor Dalek, a great looking thing. Probably the best appearance of the Emperor Dalek, to be honest. We have humanized Daleks, which was interesting as well. All of this capped off with an explosive ending (which I’m glad we have clips of). Though they did return later on, this would have been a perfect ending for the Daleks. The final end.
[Check out the Who Back When review of The Evil of The Daleks!]
The debut for the Second Doctor, Power of the Daleks had a huge job. Not only did it have to be a good Dalek story, but it had to introduce us to this new chap as well. I have talked about why Power of the Daleks is a great post-regeneration story in the past, but what makes it a good Dalek story? Well, it’s always down to the Daleks’ plan. Get the humans to trust them, give them the energy to make an army and then kill all the humans. It’s a simple plan, but it was so effective, until the Doctor stopped them, of course. So not only was this story a fantastic way to introduce the Second Doctor, it was great as a Dalek story as well.
[Check out the Who Back When review of The Power of The Daleks!]
Okay, I’m sure most of you thought Genesis of the Daleks was going to be number one on my list. While I do think it’s a fantastic Classic Who serial, it is more focused on Davros (as it should be). The Daleks don’t really become major players until later in it, with Davros taking center stage throughout instead. That’s not a bad thing, however, as Davros is one of Doctor Who’s greatest villains. Is it one of, if not the greatest, Doctor Who story of all time? Yes, it is. Is it the best Classic Who story with Davros in it? Absolutely. But to me, when talking about the Daleks themselves, this story gets a silver medal finish.
This is the ultimate Dalek story. Coming in at thirteen parts, including Mission to the Unknown, the Master Plan saga is the longest Doctor Who story to date (if one does not count Trial of a Time Lord, which I do not), and it was so long Terry Nation needed assistance finishing it. Though many consider Genesis of the Daleks Terry Nation’s master work, I believe that his master Dalek story is this one. This is the Daleks at their finest. Throw in many shocking deaths and a bit of a downer ending, which wasn’t too often seen in 60’s Who, especially on that scale, and you have the recipe for the greatest Dalek story ever produced.
And that’s it for now. Expect a New Series Dalek list sometime in the future. Next time, though, we’ll finally get the long-delayed worst of the Second Doctor list that I promised way back in the first instalment of WBW Tops. So, until next time!
Do you wield a Sonic Quill? We're calling all Whovian Scribes who have a voice and are keen to get their ideas out there. Perhaps you write Doctor Who Fan Fiction, essays on the most obscure facets of the Whoniverse, or maybe you want to review the local stage adaptation of 'Blink'. Either way, if you'd like to join the ranks of our WBW Correspondents, get in touch and we'll chat.
Subscribe to us on iTunes now! We're dropping a new episode every week (pretty much), reviewing Classic Who, New Who and all kinds of bonus stuff from spin-offs and conventions to Doctor Who comic books.