Recap / Doctor Who S4 E3 "The Power of the Daleks"

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Headless Daleks? Clearly there's a rogue model running around, trying to be the only one...note 
The Doctor: Life depends on change, and renewal.
Ben: Oh, that's it, you've been renewed, have you?
The Doctor: Renewed? Have I? That's it, I've been renewed. It's part of the TARDIS. Without it I couldn't survive.

The one where Two says hello.

Arguably one of the most important Doctor Who stories ever madenote , The Power of the Daleks had to establish that a new actor could take over the lead role and play the Doctor completely differently, yet still remain true to the character.

The Doctor has changed. Ben and Polly discuss what's happened. Ben does not believe this stranger could possibly be the Doctor, while Polly thinks it must be him, reasoning that they've seen many impossible things recently. It doesn't help when the man continues to refer to "The Doctor" in the third person.

The TARDIS lands on the planet Vulcan, the site of a future Earth colony, and the Doctor goes out to explore with Ben and Polly following him. The Doctor has hardly set foot on the planet when he witnesses a murder and, on examining the body, discovers a pass proclaiming the dead man to be an Earth Examiner. Attacked from behind, then rescued by people from the colony, the Doctor decides to impersonate the dead Examiner and investigate. He discovers that there is a rebel movement bent on overthrowing the governor, but also that there is a far more dangerous problem in the form of a crashed space capsule containing inactive Daleks.

Despite the Doctor's warnings, the Daleks are activated and present themselves as willing servant robots, taking advantage of the colonists' trust to set up a reproduction plant. Meanwhile, internal power politics in the colony sees Security Chief Bragen secretly leading the rebels as a way of deposing Governor Hensell and seizing power for himself, while Deputy Governor Quinn has been locked up. Bragen believes the Daleks will help him and has rearmed them.

Of course it's only a matter of time before the Daleks are strong and numerous enough to emerge from their capsule and go on a killing spree. Many colonists are killed before the Doctor uses the colony's power supply to overload and destroy the Daleks.

Ben concedes that this probably is the Doctor after all, and the three depart for adventures new.


This story only survives in total in an audio format, thanks to fans at the time tape-recording it. There are a few short visual clips composed of extracts used in other programs and short clips made by pointing a camera at the television during transmission, as well as a partial trailer for the story. The few minutes of existing material can be found on the "Lost in Time" DVD set.

In September 2016, it was announced that the entire serial would be animated to the original soundtrack. The DVD was released November 21, 2016; the digital download was released November 5, 50 years to the day after it first aired.

On Christmas Day, 2016, just before the new Christmas special, all six parts were on BBC America, in a colourised form.

Tropes

  • Absentee Actor: Polly is absent from Episode Four and Ben is absent from Episode Five.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The animated reconstruction adds a cold-open recapping the Doctor regenerating (making this the second time that scene's been animated). As each story has it's own stand alone home video release, and an animated story might draw in audiences unfamiliar with the classic series, the doctor's post-renewal state might have been confusing otherwise.
  • All Planets Are Earth-Like: His companions are alarmed when the Doctor goes to walk out the door without checking the atmosphere. The Doctor raises a finger as if checking wind direction and reels off the planet's characteristics.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • In the novelisation, frequent mention is also made of the Interplanetary Mining Corporation as the driving force behind the colony's founding and funding. The IMC's first mention in the television series was not until Colony in Space.
    • More background is given to Valmar: he was one of the chief engineers on Vulcan, but was demoted after Hensell blamed him for an industrial accident that killed four men.
  • Arbitrary Scepticism: Ben, who has seen his friend possessed into building war robots by an intelligent computer, been taken in a bigger-on-the-inside time machine back to 17th Century Cornwall, and battled cyborgs from Earth's identical twin planet, absolutely refuses to accept that the Doctor is still the Doctor after his first regeneration, suggesting, even though he saw him transform in front of his very eyes, that someone else sneaked into the TARDIS, murdered the Doctor, and took his place. Of course, this isn't helped by the fact that the Doctor isn't quite sure that he's the Doctor yet either. Possibly justified as it was the first-ever regeneration on the show and Ben's scepticism functions both as a channel for audience feelings about the change as well as his own feelings of betrayal by the First Doctor's death. The novelization also has the Doctor Lampshade it:
    "Like common sense. The Doctor falls down in agony and then you get up — dolled up in new togs and everything. Do me a favour!"
    The little man gnawed at his lower lip. "I don't understand your brand of common sense, Ben," he said. "Does it grasp the principles of time travel?" He raised an eyebrow inquisitively.
    "Well," Ben blustered, "I don't know all of the ins and outs, of course, but—"
    "But you do know it's possible?"
    "Well, yes," Ben had to concede.
    Turning to Polly, the stranger said: "And you, Polly. You can, of course, explain how the TARDIS has the shape of a small police box outside and yet is far, far bigger once you step through the doors?"
    "No," Polly admitted. "No, I can't explain it."
    Yet both of you accept the two things.’ The man spread his hands and looked at them expectantly.
    Ben was confused and angry. "Well, we know that they happen!" was the best he could manage.
    "Exactly," the maybe-Doctor replied. "Then accept what has happened to me — even if you don't understand it."
  • Armor-Piercing Question: A Dalek in a philosophical mood: "Why do human beings kill other human beings?" Ouch.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: How Bragen meets his end.
  • Batman Gambit: The Daleks side with the rebels, just in order to be pushed to the front lines, just so that they can exterminate all soldiers at once.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Doctor manages to stop the Daleks and earn the trust of his companions, but a lot of civilians are killed and the colony is severely damaged. Furthermore, the Doctor isn't even thanked for his heroic actions and it is implied the colonists would have pressed charges on him for the damage.
  • Black Comedy: There's a subtle, macabre humor in the writing, as well as from the Daleks' voice actor. As the story goes on, you can tell that the Daleks' repeated refrains of "I OBEY" and "I AM YOUR SER-VANT" are becoming less and less sincere; near the end, it almost sounds as if they can hardly bring themselves to say the words anymore.
  • Blatant Lies: "I AM YOUR SER-VANT!"
  • Cassandra Truth: The Doctor trying to convince the colonists the Daleks are evil, and later Lesterson after his descent into madness.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The rebels are shown how the Dalek weapon can blast a hole through thick metal, later demonstrated again when the Doctor uses Deadly Dodging to get a Dalek to destroy the Dalek power source.
  • Circular Drive: One of the few surviving clips from the story shows the four Dalek props representing an army in this way.
    • Averted in the animated version, which is free to show dozens of Daleks on screen at once.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Cursed with Awesome: An audio version exists with Tom Baker narrating, and he claims regeneration is this for a Time-Lord.
  • Cut Futuristic Interstellar Communications Equipment Lines
  • Deadly Dodging: How the Doctor manages to get one of the Daleks to shoot the panel providing energy to all the Daleks, causing a Phlebotinum Overload.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Doctor picks up a bit of this:
    Ben: Who are we, then?
    The Second Doctor: Don't you know?
  • Death By Genre Savvy: Resno realizes something isn't right with the Daleks and says so. He promptly gets "accidentally" zapped for his troubles.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Who do you think?
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Mostly regarding the Doctor's regeneration:
    • The term "regeneration" hadn't been applied to the process yet, so here it's called "renewal".
    • The Doctor claims it's something the TARDIS does for him.
    • While he's always a bit scrambled after a regeneration, he usually doesn't refer to "The Doctor" as a different person.
    • The Doctor's clothes seem to change with the regeneration as well.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Ben tells the Doctor that a ruined Dalek is just scrap iron now. As the TARDIS dematerialises, the Dalek's eyestalk raises to look.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • A Dalek is incapable of understanding why a human would kill another member of its race. (It's important to remember that every time Daleks have fought each other, it's been between "pure" Daleks and mutated or malfunctioning Daleks.)
    • Bragen balks at sacrificing his men just to provide a diversion, though he does it when Quinn points out they're all going to die anyway.
  • Falsely Reformed Villain: "I AM YOUR SER-VANT!" And if you believe that, the nice man in the wheelchair has a timeshare on Skaro you can invest in. Unfortunately for them, the colonists on Vulcan do believe it...
  • Fanservice: Audience favourite the Daleks are brought back to smooth over the risky transition between Doctors.
  • False Utopia: The human colony of Vulcan seems like a nice place to live at first, but to say it's an unstable civilization would be an understatement. Most of the major figures are either over-ambitious, self-righteous or mentally unstable, and all of them are horrible judges of character. It's no wonder the Daleks managed to manipulate them all so easily.
  • Gambit Pileup: The rebels are trying to overthrow the colony's government while Bragen is using them and the Daleks to oust Quinn so he can take the governorship from Hensell while Lesterson is trying to use the Daleks to increase the colony's production capacity while Quinn is trying to investigate the rebels and their connection to Bragen while the Daleks are pitting everybody against each other so they can rebuild themselves and destroy the colony while the Doctor is running around trying to keep the innocent alive and stop the Daleks and their allies...
  • Genre Blind: The colonists fail history forever.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The color version of the animation was made thanks to BBC America's broadcast plans, and was completed by a different team to the original animators. The colorists did not have the same attention to detail as the original animators, coloring the TARDIS console as blue instead of cream or lime green (the prop was green to appear off-white in black and white, and a cream colored prop was used once the series switched to color) and using a light/dark blue color scheme for the Daleks rather than silver/white.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: While Lesterson is rather mentally rigid to begin with, when he sneaks into the capsule and sees the Dalek reproduction factory, he has an epic Freak-Out that eventually drives him to willingly take a Dalek Death Ray to the face.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: The Daleks and the Doctor and friends are firmly black and white respectively, but the rest of the supporting human cast is grey, with most, if not all of the major players having serious character flaws. The writing of the story illustrates how the colonists unwittingly gave the Daleks everything they needed to carry out their destructive mission through their own rather trivial and selfish goals.
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Janley, for reasons of self-preservation as much as anything else.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Everyone in the colony, basically.
  • Infant Immortality: In the animated version, as the Daleks are on their killing spree, two Daleks are moments from discovering parents hiding with their baby before the Doctor wipes all of the Daleks out with a Phlebotinum Overload.
  • Ironic Echo: After Lesterson snaps.
    Lesterson: I am your serrrrvant.
  • Just Think of the Potential: Lesterson begins fiddling with the spaceship because the alloys it contains are remarkably resistant to damage and wear.
  • Kangaroo Court: The governor subjects Quinn to a drumhead trial based on some extremely flimsy evidence provided by Bragen.
  • Kill 'em All: Aside from the Doctor and his companions, the only ones who survive the story are Quinn and Valmar.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Bragen
    "I am still the Governor, and you will obey—"
  • Klingon Promotion: Bragen "becomes" the new governor by powering a (dysfunctional) Dalek long enough for it to kill the previous.
  • Large Ham: Lesterson starts out a bit histrionic and by the end of the story has gone so far over the top he's somewhere in high orbit.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: A dalek nearly gives their evil plan away to Valmar in Episode Five.
    "With static power the Daleks will be twice as... useful"
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: The Doctor stumbles across the body of the freshly murdered Examiner: an official sent from earth to investigate strange goings-on in the colony on Vulcan. Taking the Examiner's badge, he is mistaken for the Examiner by the colonists.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: With Patrick Troughton replacing William Hartnell, the show would live or die based on the strength of these first few serials. It lived.
  • The Nth Doctor: The original.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Even after the brain-scrambling of regeneration wears off, the Doctor is still speaking and acting strangely...until he locates and destroys the listening device in their room.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: Parts of the Dalek factory sequence were achieved using commercially-available licensed toy Daleks, but with considerable work done on them to make them look better.
  • Oh, Crap!: When the Doctor realizes that Lesterson has reactivated a dormant Dalek.
  • Only Sane Man: The Doctor has a hell of a time convincing the colonists that their new friendly robot buddies are not as nice as they think. And he never really succeeds. The colonists and rebels alike only learn the truth when the exterminations begin.
  • Out-Gambitted
  • Phlebotinum Overload: How the Doctor finally manages to take out all the Daleks, using "static electricity". Somehow.
  • Plot Hole: The Doctor pulls a bunch of random items out of a drawer in his TARDIS, including a cube of Dalekanium. When he gets out onto Vulcan he discovers that it's one of two keys for a downed Dalek ship - the other one in the possession of Lesterson. It's quite reasonable for a ship key to be in the vicinity of a ship, but how the heck did the Doctor get hold of his key? Some fans Fan Wank that the First Doctor had found it in an unseen Dalek encounter, but there is really no place to fit it into the continuity unless you take Broad Strokes.
  • Public Secret Message: The rebels place a secret message detailing the time and place of their next meeting hidden in a notice placed on a public noticeboard.
  • Putting on the Reich: Bragen's clothing gradually becomes closer and closer to an SS uniform as he puts his plan to achieve dictatorship into operation. His guards don blackshirt uniforms once they are granted authority over the colony.
  • The Radio Dies First
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The chilling incidental soundtrack is reused from The Daleks and The Daleks' Master Plan.
  • Resistance as Planned: Bragen is behind the resistance mainly so that they'll cause trouble until he himself ascends to the governorship.
  • Resurrection Sickness: The Doctor is in pain for a while right after regenerating. Compared to later regenerations, this is a mild case.
  • Sanity Slippage: Lesterson, and to a lesser extent Bragen, undergo this through the course of the story.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Vulcan colonists find a space capsule that's been submerged in a mercury lake for hundreds of years. Inside: Daleks.
  • Shout-Out: In the animated version, as a Freeze-Frame Bonus, the notice announcing a cut to milk rations talks about substituting dog milk, a reference to Red Dwarf.
  • The Starscream: Bragen is the story's least sympathetic human character in a secondary cast mostly consisting of shades of gray. He's a power-hungry usurper and a generalissimo who believes that, as the governor, he has absolute authority over the colonists and the Daleks. He's quite confused when neither parties listen to him or obey him.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The entire colony to the Daleks, Lesterson in particular.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Daleks.
  • We Need a Distraction:
    • Quinn forces Bragen to call in his guards from the outlying regions, to distract the Daleks long enough for the Doctor to sabotage them. Even Bragen is reluctant, as he knows they'll just be slaughtered. It's the Doctor's idea too.
    • The Daleks have just noticed that someone has been tampering with their cable when Lesterson appears. It's not clear if this is Redemption Equals Death or if he's just totally insane.
  • Wham Line: EX-TERMINATE ALL-HUMANS!
  • The X of Y: Starting here and continuing until the end of the Classic Series' run, every Dalek story (barring only "Death to the Daleks" and "Frontier in Space" if you want to count that as a Dalek story) will be in the "(something) of the Daleks" format.
  • Your Use-ful-ness Has En-ded: Not only the Daleks, but Bragen orders the rebels killed once they've put him in power, for fear that they might depose him as well.
  • You Have to Believe Me: The Doctor, and Lesterson (who's Not Helping Your Case by raving like a lunatic).

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