The Doctor appears to have transformed before the eyes
of his companions, Ben and Polly. Can they trust this stranger
who claims to be their friend? That question becomes the least
of their problems, however, when the TARDIS lands on the Earth
colony of Vulcan, where a scientist has discovered a crashed
space capsule - containing Daleks...
This is actually the third audio release of this story. It
was originally issued on cassette in 1992, narrated by Tom
Baker. More recently it was released, remastered and with
new narration by Anneke Wills (Polly), as part of the now
sold-out 40th anniversary Daleks tin. If you didn't
manage to get hold of one of only 8,000 copies of this tin,
then now's your chance to hear the classic tale in crystal
The sound has been cleaned up considerably since the cassette
version was released, which is a real plus. However, I'm not
sure it was necessary to replace Baker's narration. The BBC
Radio Collection didn't see fit to replace Colin Baker's voice-over
when The Macra Terror was reissued on CD. Sure, Tom
Baker's narration was somewhat obtrusive at times, but on
the other hand Wills has a tendency to sound a tad dispassionate.
about the story itself, though?
is the first Dalek serial not to be written by their creator,
Terry Nation. Former story editor David Whitaker takes over
the writing chores, though he does find inspiration in Nation's
original Doctor Who script, The Daleks, by once
again making the creatures dependent on static electricity
It is significant that Whitaker returns to The Daleks
as source material (the music department follows suit, by
reusing Tristram Cary's incidental score from that serial),
because in so doing he effectively abandons the expansionist
approach that Nation had been taking, which was reaching unsustainable
proportions. Nation's first Dalek sequel, The Dalek Invasion
of Earth, saw the malevolent machine-creatures conquering
our own planet. In their next story, The Chase, they
acquired the power of time travel. Then, in the epic The
Daleks' Master Plan, they threatened to conquer the entire
galaxy. Where could they go from there? The universe? Beyond?
Whitaker goes back to basics. He depicts a (to begin with)
small party of Daleks, who use their considerable cunning
to gain the trust of the colonists. Rather than ranting about
universal domination and extermination, they pretend to be
helpful servants - although, thanks to the sterling efforts
of voice artist Peter Hawkins, their murderous intent can
always be heard lurking beneath the surface. We have every
reason to believe the Doctor (Patrick Troughton) when he fearfully
states that one Dalek would be sufficient to destroy the entire
certainly makes an impression as the new Doctor, as he alone
voices concern about the Dalek threat. However, during much
of the story he isn't very talkative, preferring instead to
communicate via tones on his recorder. We share Ben's (Michael
Craze) frustration with this cryptic new Doctor, whose performance
would take several more episodes to settle down.
Of the other performances, Robert James stands out as the
scientist Lesterson. He starts off as an eager, though naïve,
pioneering spirit, but convincingly degenerates into a delusional
wreck once the true nature of the creatures he has revived
this story fits in with the rest of Dalek history is unclear.
Their reliance on static electricity, the fact that the colonists
have never heard of the Daleks, and the dateline of 2020,
which is stated in BBC publicity material including Radio
Times, all point to this serial being set before The
Dalek Invasion of Earth.
the date is never mentioned in the transmitted story, and
the Daleks' vertical midriff slats, which were added to the
props from The Chase onwards, imply that this serial
takes place post-Dalek Invasion. (OK, I know this is
an audio release, but you can see the slats on the cover.)
While the Daleks need static in order to move around the colony,
they are also said to be storing the power, and a Dalek is
later discovered outside the settlement, so perhaps they only
need a regular supply during their initial recharging period.
The fact that the Daleks recognise the newly regenerated Doctor
suggests that they have met this incarnation before, in The
Evil of the Daleks
or some un-televised story. The colonists' failure to recognise
the Daleks is tricky, but it could indicate that several centuries
have passed since Dalek Invasion, and the colonists
might not be too hot on their Earth history.
As a piece of Who history, though, The Power of
the Daleks is essential listening.
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