Recap: Doctor Who S3 E4 "The Daleks' Master Plan"
Your ideas are too narrow, too crippled. I am a citizen of the Universe, and a gentleman to boot.
— The Doctor
A 12-episode monster, which begins with the TARDIS arriving on the planet Kembel and meeting Bret Vyon (Nicholas Courtney
!) of the Space Security Service. Vyon is looking for Marc Cory, one of the men killed in the teaser "Mission to the Unknown
". Together, they discover that the Daleks plan to use the "Time Destructor" to conquer the Solar System.
They report this to Mavic Chen, "Guardian of the Solar System" (i.e. Leader of the Second Great and Bountiful Human Empire) but it turns out he's in league with the Daleks and he sends SSS agent Sara Kingdom after Vyon and the travellers. The Doctor has meanwhile managed to steal the Taranium core of the Time Destructor, putting a spanner in the works.
Katarina is killed early in episode 4, blowing herself out of an airlock along with her captor in order that the Doctor should not be forced to give in to his demands. Whether she knew what she was doing, or simply pulled the wrong level, remains a Riddle for the Ages
. Sara Kingdom shoots Bret Vyon (her brother) before making a Heel-Face Turn
and joining the TARDIS crew as a companion.
En route, we also revisit the Meddling Monk, and the Doctor "borrows" another bit from his TARDIS to help his own function more predictably.
The action is interrupted for the Christmas Day episode, in which the TARDIS materialises on a film set, the cue for much silent comedy with Chaplin and the Keystone Kops, before Steven points out that they missed Christmas. The Doctor produces a bottle of champagne and Steven wishes him a Merry Christmas - the Doctor then shatters the Fourth Wall
by looking straight out of the camera and wishing "a Happy Christmas to all of you at home".
Sara Kingdom dies, in the end, as the Doctor turns the Time Destructor on the Daleks.
Incidentally, Bret Vyon was played by Nicholas Courtney, who would become rather better known as The Brigadier
, while his sister Sara Kingdom was Jean Marsh. They would be reunited in the 1989 serial "Battlefield
"... where Jean Marsh's character boasted to Nicholas Courtney's character that "the next time we meet, I shall kill you." Considering that this story was set millennia after "Battlefield"...Only episodes 2, 5 and 10 remain, and the Christmas episode in particular was destroyed by the BBC, but you can watch the rest here.
However, there is an attempt to reconstruct "The Feast of Steven" here, using its surviving audio track.
It holds several records: longest serial ever (except for the "Trial of a Time Lord", though that's technically an arc) and first almost-companion with Bret Vyon, among others.
- Action Girl: Agent Sara Kingdom.
- Always Save the Girl: Painfully subverted in part 4, hilariously subverted in part 7.
- Anyone Can Die: Sara, Katarina and Bret along with most of the minor characters.
- Apocalypse How: Kembel suffers a Class 6, being reduced to a lifeless dustball by the effects of the Time Destructor.
- Applied Phlebotinum: Cactic power
- Artistic License – Physics: Bret Vyon is restrained in a magnetic chair. As Mystery Science Theater 3000 said about another movie: "And if your hands were metal that would mean something."
- Ascended Extra: Sara Kingdom only appears in this serial, but she is regarded as a companion by some traditionalist fans and reference guides because she gets to travel in the TARDIS. (The "anyone who travels in the TARDIS is a companion" rule was developed during this era of the show because there was very rarely any TARDIS travel inside stories: later generations of fans would be more dubious about it because of ludicrous results like Duggan or the platoon of Cybermen who hijack the TARDIS in "Attack of the...".)
- Badass Family: Implied, since Sara and Bret are siblings.
- Bad Habits: The Meddling Monk is still dressed as a monk, even though he gains no advantage by doing so.
- Batman Gambit: The Doctor saves Steven from a dangerous forcefield by tricking the Daleks into shooting him only once. He even lampshades that it was fortunate they didn't get a second clean hit.
- The Blind Leading the Blind: The Doctor is rather disoriented by 20th-21st century events without his Genre Savvy companions regarding history; it does allow for an easier way to introduce comedic situations, especially in "The Feast Of Steven".
- Blooper: In-universe. The Doctor, Sara, and Steven are responsible for a few in various silent films.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: "The Feast of Steven" ends with the Doctor wishing everyone at home "a Happy Christmas".
- Character Development: This serial basically established the Daleks to what they are today.
- Chewing the Scenery: Chen's actor in the last episode he appears.
- Christmas Episode: Purely by chance though. At the time, it was assumed that people would be celebrating with their loved ones in traditional style and not wasting their time watching the idiot box, so rather than doing any special Christmas scheduling the BBC simply broadcast whatever would have been on normally that day of the week, with a Christmas twist. This was why the Christmas episode was so disconnected from the rest of the plot: it was assumed only the lonely or misanthropic would be watching.
- Cool Ship: The SPAR, both TARDISes, the Dalek time ship
- Conveniently Close Planet: Desperus just happens to be on the Kembel - Earth route.
- Darker and Edgier: This is a very dark story compared to the previous Dalek serial. In fact, with the arguable exception of the following story, it may well be the darkest story of the entire Hartnell era.
- Death by Irony: Mavic Chen.
- Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: Katarina, as described above.
- Downer Ending: The Daleks' defeat does little to brighten the mood. The Solar System is saved, but nearly everyone except the Doctor and Steven died, including two of the Doctor's companions and the entire planet of Kembel.
The Doctor: "The waste...What a terrible waste."
- Evil Versus Evil: Of the Unholy Alliance to take over the Universe, at least the Daleks, Chen and his adviser are all suffering from Chronic Backstabbing Disorder and are all ready to take over the others as well to rule the Universe alone. Anyone else involved and not chronic backstabbers (which the Daleks seem to equate and/or confuse with power-hunger) and with enough power to seem like a hindrance in one of the bigger schemer's way will risk a quick death.
- In "Counter Plot", Daleks vs. Monsters (which are strongly said to be not Gentle Giants but ferocious creatures) Daleks wipe out all who dare approach them, though not without their moments of panic.
- Fakin' MacGuffin: At one point, the Doctor manages to get away from the Daleks by handing over a fake version of the taranium core they're chasing him for.
- Forgotten Fallen Friend: Katarina. After her death in episode 4, the only time she's mentioned again is at the very end of episode 12.
- God Guise: Katarina thinks the Doctor is the god Zeus and the strange worlds they travel through are the Afterlife. The Doctor is not happy and neither were the writers — given the difficulty of writing a character who fails to have at least a basic understanding of her situation (not to mention a healthy skeptism about the Doctor), she was quickly bumped off — the first companion to get killed and the last for some time.
- A Handful for an Eye: Steven blinds a Dalek by smearing a handful of mud on to its eye stalk.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Katarina, Bret, Sara.
- Hostage Situation: Happens three times, and the Doctor only manages to save the situation once.
- Hostage for MacGuffin: Twice, but the first time is a subversion.
- I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Desperus
- I Never Said It Was Poison: The Doctor realises that Daxtar is allied with Chen when he mentions the taranium before anyone else does.
- Insane Troll Logic: Chen thinking the Doctor just wants his place next to the Daleks. Hey, after his Villainous Breakdown, he went insane, so that's a bit of an excuse.
- The Egyptian's marvelous Bat Deduction that the Daleks are not their Gods because they speak in notions they can't comprehend. Because, you know, if your Gods would decide to talk to, say, other Gods right above you, they'd be speaking your language and in terms you understand, right?
- Invisible Monsters: The Visians
- I Surrender, Suckers: The Doctor pulls this twice over the Daleks, first time probably knowing that the natives will distract the Daleks, and the second time as a Batman Gambit to free Steven from the choking shield.
- I Will Only Slow You Down: Kert Gantry. He's absolutely insistent on the point.
- Karma Houdini: Mavic Chen's advisor, Karlton. He conspired with Chen to betray humanity to the Daleks, but nothing happens to him. With not only Chen dead, but also every human from this time period who knew about Chen's treachery, it's even possible Karlton succeeds Chen as Guardian of the Solar System.
- The novelization adds a scene where Karlton is found out and arrested thanks to Marc Cory's message that the Doctor gave to Bret Vyon.
- Kill 'em All: Most of the principal guest cast bite it.
- Large Ham: Mavic Chen slowly descends into this as his grip on sanity loosens.
- Legion of Doom: The Daleks and the Galactic Council.
- MacGuffin: The Time Destructor's core.
- Misapplied Phlebotinum: Discussed and dismissed when Steven does something stupid that traps him in a force field that incidentally wards off one Dalek shot. He quickly wishes to turn this to cover the entire TARDIS, to which the Doctor tells him it's a stupid and dangerous idea.
- Mistaken for Special Guest: During the Hollywood interlude in "The Feast of Steven", Steven is mistaken for one of the Keystone Kops and the Doctor is mistaken for Professor Webster, an expert on Arabian culture.
- No One Gets Left Behind: Bret tries this with Kert Gantry, who refuses to go along with it.
- Oh, Crap: Everyone at some point or other
- Out-Gambitted: Mavic Chen.
- Penal Colony: Desperus. The Earth authorities don't even bother with niceties such as cells or guards - they just dump the prisoners on the surface and let them fend for themselves.
- The Plan: It's hinted that Mavic Chen is trying this against the Daleks.
- Please Put Some Clothes On: The Doctor tells an actress portraying an Arabian princess to cover herself up.
- Putting on the Reich: Space Security (SS) — black uniformed soldiers who kill without questioning their orders.
- Racist Grandpa: The Doctor in the Feast of Steven.
The Doctor: "We must get back to the TARDIS. This is a madhouse. It's all full of Arabs"
- Rapid Aging: How Sara is killed by the Time Destructor.
- Rock Beats Laser: Ancient Egyptians trap the Red Dalek with rocks.
- Round Robin: Episodes 5-8 are written by alternating authors (Terry Nation, Dennis Spooner, Nation, Spooner).
- Sanity Slippage: Mavic Chen. See Villainous Breakdown below.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: More specifically, No Sense of Mass. Putting aside individuals claiming to rule entire galaxies, multiple galaxies joining up to conquer a single star system is nothing less than massive overkill. A throwaway line suggests the Hand Wave that Earth exhibits influence beyond its normal sphere, but militarily it's never described as anything but the "Solar system."
- Shoot the Hostage: More accurately, The Hostage Shoots Herself.
- Smug Snake: Delegate Zephon.
- The whole crukking council, to various extents.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Not in the story, but on the Daleks: The Early Years VHS. At the time it came out, the BBC apparently did not have the audio of episode 1, and so the surviving trims from that episode were accompanied by "I'm Gonna Spend my Christmas with a Dalek".
- Sssssnake Talk: Zephon has a distinctly sibilant hiss when he speaks.
- Stupid Sacrifice: With flavors of Senseless Sacrifice (Katarina) and Yet Another Stupid Death (Sara). There were rather easy ways to avoid these deaths: they could have taken the prisoner to wherever he wanted or to where they wanted without much trouble or delay and even take him along in their quest; Bret almost made things worse by getting himself killed - and this mostly by his fault too, apparently going for Sara's gun, which means The Good Dog Kicked First and she was just defending her position; Sara herself going to rescue the Doctor was reckless and useless. Of course, each had their motivations (Katarina saw the Doctor as a sort of God and would do anything for him, Bret was fighting for bigger things than his family - that is his race and the Universe, and Sara probably wanted to save the man that helped her brother she didn't believe and killed) and it all ended in saving the Universe (this time, at least) from the Daleks, but it could have worked with fewer or no deaths.
The Doctor: The waste...What a terrible waste.
- Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: Played straight, but quickly subverted. An Egyptian thinks the Daleks' voices are from the Gods, but a sort of leader reasons that Gods would only talk for humans to understand, and as such are not Gods but invaders with metal armors.
- The Starscream: Mavic Chen is working with the Daleks but plans to overthrow them, though the Daleks exterminate him when You Have Outlived Your Usefulness.
- Stern Chase: Most of the middle episodes.
- Thicker Than Water: Not this time.
- Thrown Out the Airlock: How the hostage shoots herself.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: When the TARDIS briefly materializes during a sports match, the commentators spend more time discussing how its appearance will affect the outcome of the game than the fact that a police box appeared in the field out of nowhere.
- Unwitting Pawn: The Council delegates.
- Villainous Breakdown: Chen goes insane at the realization that the Daleks don't need him either and his mind concocts the paranoid idea that the Doctor doesn't want to destroy the Daleks, but wants to hand them over the MacGuffin and rule in Chen's place, followed by...
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Katarina, Bret, Sara.
- Weirdness Censor: Sara. Getting inside a ship bigger on the inside? No reason to mention it, or wonder about it. 1066? Question the reference of a later year, but pretend it didn't happen. Random people trying to dress you up in weird clothes for unspecified reasons? Pyramids and Egyptians? Sure why not. All it matters is getting where they're supposed to and finishing the mission. It was foreshadowed by Chen that she was unquestioning loyal, but it becomes ridiculous as the series progresses.
- The expanded universe novels subsequently did an Author's Saving Throw and established a gap of several months between episodes six and eight, so Sara presumably had time to acclimatise herself to the Doctor's lifestyle.
- There are also the commentators at a cricket match calmly noting the sudden appearance of a police box on the pitch and casually discussing how it might affect the match.
- Although anyone familiar with Test Match Special would recognise this as Truth in Television...
- Wham Episode: "The Traitors" and "The Destruction of Time", which featured Katarina and Sara's deaths respectively.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: The Council members tend to think they're in a series where they're the Big Bad and not the Daleks, that if the Daleks have their way, the Daleks keep their word, and eventually, that the Daleks are naive enough to just let one of them stroll around enough to take power from the Daleks. That's of course assuming that there's no group of heroes ready to stop them, or who would have any chance to.
- You Have Failed Me: The Daleks on the pursuit ship.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
- Trantis apparently doesn't prove particularly useful to the Daleks, who decide to test the Time Destructor on him. Fortunately, the device's core was swapped out for a fake by the Doctor. Unfortunately, the Daleks just exterminate him in the usual manner straight afterwards.
- The Galactic Council. In a twist, the Daleks imply that they still intend to have the Council members' battle fleets attack alongside them, presumably explaining why they kept the members alive and imprisoned rather than just exterminating them.
- The Daleks later have to do this to Mavic Chen a second time, after he escapes and thinks that he's not only working with the Daleks, but actually the leader of their alliance. This time, they make sure to dispose of him properly.
- You Just Ruined the Shot: The TARDIS lands on a Hollywood movie studio. Through the scanner, the crew see a man in a black cloak about to feed a girl into a circular saw via a Conveyor Belt-O-Doom. Steven and Sara charge out to rescue her, only to find they have just disrupted the shooting of a melodrama.
- You Look Familiar: The Doctor actually says this, to an extra who was also an incidental character in "The Crusade". However, he completely fails to notice that he's also seen Sara Kingdom before, also in "The Crusade", where she was Joanna.
The Melodrama the Doctor, Steven, and Sara interrupted filming of in part 7 contains examples of: