C072 Death to the Daleks



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Sarah Jane hand-cranks the TARDIS doors and narrowly escapes ritualistic murder while The Doctor finds a more interesting temporary companion.



Hot off the heels of Invasion of the Dinosaurs, The Third Doctor hold true to his promise to brand new companion, Sarah Jane Smith, and embarks on a trip to the planet Florana. Instead, however, they land on the foggy planet Exxilon and the TARDIS goes belly-up.

Also present on Exxilon are a human landing party, there to find a rare resource unique to the planet, and the local Exxilons themselves, mostly comprising a tribe of muddy monks. Enter Daleks, stage right, also on a mining operation of sorts and ready to stir some sh*t up.

A local abandoned city seemingly absorbs all energy, though, including that of the TARDIS and of all electronic weaponry, and consequently all parties must now cooperate, so that they can all leave the planet and go their respective ways.

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6 Responses to “C072 Death to the Daleks”

  1. Jim The Fish

    It’s established that Pertwee decided to leave after Katy Manning’s departure and the death of Roger Delgado. However it was the frustration he felt while making Death that made his mind up

    After manually cranking open the TARDIS doors, Sarah decides to change into something more comfortable, but not before she makes the Doctor promise that he won’t leave her. Then, as soon as Sarah’s back is turned, he leaves her. What a dickhead!

    I really like Carey Blyton’s score for this episode. While too playful for daleks, I still love me some Saxophone and Clarinets. Definitely a sound rarely heard so prominently on Doctor Who, before and after. The melodies and intervals used in the music for this story are supposed to be representative of the music of the Incas and Aztecs. The themes of ancient civilisations and impossible architecture. Which is exactly what this story revolves around.

    The Exxilons, Ok, so they’re just primitives but by God they’re creepy. Episode one in particular, when they are gliding around the place in the dark. The way the Exxilon cloaks blend in with their surroundings is put to good effect. One moment, it seems like a huge rock, but then, it moves in pursuit of the Doctor. The sand-people in Star Wars are very reminiscent of the Exxilons. Maybe they were inspired by them? Star Wars was 2 years after this. Bellal is a wonderful character and while the actor playing him had a very hard time in the costume, he definitely should have been a companion.

    The trip the Doctor and Bellal, one of a more enlightened faction of Exxilons who are friendly, take through the city, avoiding its traps and solving its puzzles, has a dungeon and dragons feel, but it demonstrates the problem-solving abilities of the Doctor.

    Question: Why are the Daleks able to move if all the power is being drained?

    Daleks with Machine-Guns was cool. Conjuring a deeper Nazi-esque feeling.

    Rating 4.1 (Tiny model Tardises) /5

    Reply
  2. Paul Fauber | @wordsmithpaul

    Jon Pertwee’s final Dalek story began with the TARDIS’ arrival on the foggy planet Exxilon, with all its power drained prior to materialization. Once the Doctor and Sarah Jane separated, robed native Exxilons menaced them both. Terry Nation’s favorite adjective described an Earth expedition of Marine Space Corps members who face the same problems until the title villains arrived to threaten everyone. The power drain didn’t slow the Daleks down. They conquered the planet with mechanical weapons they tested against a model of the TARDIS. Cute.

    Like the space marines, they came to Exxilon for parrinium, the cure for a plague. Both groups joined forces to compel enslaved Exxilons to mine the mineral. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Sarah Jane learned, from a Terry Nation staple rebel group, the story’s primary antagonist was a living city most Exxilons worshiped, but the rebels wanted to destroy. It caused the power drain and occasionally attacked the planet’s visitors with deadly roots. Watching the Doctor cheer for a root attacking a Dalek was amusing. Space marines set out to destroy the beacon atop the city with bombs which inevitably appeared in Terry Nation’s stories while Daleks chased the Doctor into the city.

    Despite not being the story’s primary antagonist, Daleks remained threatening and evil. They planned to withhold the plague’s cure and prevent future mining on Exxilon, thus maintaining their intergalactic advantage. Their greatest enemy’s assistant, Sarah Jane Smith, spent the early part of this story being a damsel in distress. Once she was reunited with the Doctor. they leaped into the Exxilons’ dangerous sacrifice pit to avoid being massacred by Daleks. In the end, she ensured the space marines’ mission’s success and thwarted the Daleks’ ability to exploit the plague. Beforehand, her friendship with the rebel Belal shifted the plot’s focus to the Doctor. By comparison, his fights with Exxilons, escape into the sacrifice pit, and solutions to the simple obstacles inside the city seemed relatively inconsequential.

    Script Editor Terrence Dicks, who novelized the serial for Target Books, indicated in interviews the show was most interesting when viewers could see the title character. This assertion was proven here as the Doctor found the dissimilar pattern in a group, navigated a maze, and helped Belal survive a deadly hopscotch board. This perilous pattern was the basis for as ineffective a cliffhanger as the show ever presented. The Doctor’s approach to defeating the city, introducing a paradox to drive its logical mind insane, was characteristically nonviolent. The climax had Daleks chasing the Doctor and Belal through the city, while it went bananas and the antibodies it generated tried to repel the invaders.

    The ideas in this story were familiar, fascinating, and poorly executed. Nevertheless, “Death to the Daleks” entertains.

    Reply
  3. Trenton Bless | @trentonbless

    Death to the Daleks is indeed an improvement on the two previous Pertwee stories that involved the menacing pepperpots, but it’s still riddled with issues. Let’s discuss.

    The cliffhanger for episode 3 is just pants, for a start. Why is a floor so threatening? I mean, we know later but to end an episode on “stop, don’t move” and a closeup of a checked floor is really just boring. Pertwee and Sladen don’t really mix well here, with the Doctor coming off as patronising at some points. And the Exxilons easily defeated the Daleks with spears and arrows. What was that about being the masters of the Universe? And those puzzles were a bit anticlimactic, don’t you think?

    But on the subject of the Daleks, they are done much better here than they had been the two years prior.. It’s interesting to see them with actual bullet shooting guns rather than with the usual “exterminator” gun. Plus, they don’t trundle about like the Daleks from Planet of the Daleks do and they aren’t 100% unnecessary like they were in Day of the Daleks. Maybe because they are actually using repainted Daleks from the 1960’s made it better? I mean, the silver works with the Daleks, but I still think the gunmetal grey looks way better. The Daleks are these Nazi like creatures and the gunmetal grey fits them, unlike a later Dalek design (*cough* Paradigm Daleks *cough*).

    Overall, this story is your basic Dalek runaround. Terry Nation delivers once again, but I think the misuse of the Doctor/Sarah Jane and the boring puzzles and the lot were just bleh. The Daleks were good, and that’s what matters. Let’s wait until Season 12 rolls around, then we’ll get a great Dalek story. For now, this story squeaks by with a 3.1/5. The curse of the disappointing Pertwee Dalek stories continues (and pretty much concludes)!

    Reply
  4. Right then!

    Here it is. This is the story that made me a Doctor Who fan at 14. I was home sick looking through my dad’s VHS collection and found this. I’ve been hooked ever since.

    It’s got a great spooky beginning, really eerie music, some amazing location work and I love seeing the daleks taken down a peg for a bit and having to be inventive.

    I love the sentient city idea and Bellal..he should’ve been a companion!

    The needless dalek panic attack is a bit weird, but this gem of the Pertwee era cannot be anything but…

    5

    Reply
  5. Michael Ridgway | @Bad_Movie_Club

    Golden Nuggets:

    • The title! On par with ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’, but meeting expectations.
    • Spooky city: it’s robot snakes, death traps, anti-body zombies, & melty control room man.
    • The Daleks – back on form. Particularly liked their target practice on a toy Tardis (always assumed the Daleks did this but have never actually seen it).
    • Bellal. Love that little guy!
    • Galloway. Grumpy villain turned hero (erm) suicide bomber.

    Beefs:

    • Story Award for Total Git: The Doctor. “You won’t wander off will you?”
    • How did those three dead guys not pass the maze test? It was the easiest one!
    • And how did one manage to waste away, die and rot to a skeleton whilst STANDING UP?
    • As a sucker for paperwork I would have demanded to have seen the Dalek’s ‘Scorched Planet Policy’ and all its supporting protocols and procedures.

    Questions: what does the WhoBackWhen gang think are the other 699 wonders of the Universe, that the Doc refers?

    Summary: I had this on VHS as a kid so clouded by nostalgia. But this was fantastic. Atmospheric and tense. Temporarily powerless Daleks added a new dimension. The effects still impress (the robot root attack in the pond and then slithering into the mud, and the melty city).

    Rating: 4.5/5 grunting, chanting, machine gunned and barbecued Exxilons.

    Reply
  6. Peter Zunitch

    We are presented with a living city which can absorb all power, including, apparently from passing
    alternate dimensions. It also sends out roots that both absorb and defend from organic-based elements.
    It’s a wonderful basis for levelling the playing field. All the characters are in it together. One could even
    argue that the primitives have the upper hand. Great concept.

    The design was phenomenal, from the culturally instilled alien primitives to the beautiful, if under-
    decorated city. The root probes were both astonishing and menacing, no doubt inspired by War of the
    Worlds.

    However there’s obvious issues. There are no outstanding performances. Everyone’s just okay. Pacing is
    also a problem. One that could have been played down, had it not been for the music score, which
    seemed specifically designed to emphasize how plodding the action was.

    Ultimately though the epic fail is the series title itself. This is the story that SHOULD have been named,
    “The City of Death”. Sure a few toasters snuffed it, but the name has nothing to do the plot. The Daleks
    are totally under-utilitized and should probably have been removed entirely.

    Because the ideas are as unique as the flaws, this mediocre production manages to pull out an end
    result that is re-watchable, albeit rarely. I should like this story more than I do, but it got a half-heated
    effort from all involved. In fact, lets call it “City of Death 2, Cruise Control”, because that’s what
    everyone was on. Sandra Bullock would be proud. 2.6

    Reply

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