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Recap / Doctor Who S10 E4 "Planet of the Daleks"

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Planet of the Daleks
Using Cookie Monster pelts as camouflage wasn't the Doctor's smartest move...
Written by Terry Nation
Directed by David Maloney
Production code: SSS
Air dates: 7 April - 12 May 1973
Number of episodes: 6

"You know, for a man who abhors violence, I took great satisfaction in doing that."
The Doctor surveys the smoking remains of a Dalek

The One With… killer insulation foam and the invisible Cookie Monsters.

And chances are, if you pay enough attention, you might get déjà vu.

The TARDIS lands in a forbidding jungle, but with the Doctor seriously injured and slipping into a coma (thanks to being shot by the Master in the fallout of the latter's terrorism plot with the Daleks), Jo sets out to see if she can find help. She comes across a party of Thals, and stays in hiding aboard their crashed spaceship while they go to help the Doctor. After they have treated him, they tell him that they have travelled to this planet, Spiridon, to destroy a group of Daleks who have come to try and uncover the secrets of invisibility discovered by the natives. Any relation to the aforementioned Dalek/Master conspiracy is nonexistent, other than the presence of Daleks doing Dalek things and the Doctor & Jo being caught in the mix.

Another Thal ship arrives and crashes (the Thals are evidently not great pilots) and the survivors tell of a force of ten thousand Daleks somewhere on Spiridon. The Doctor and the Thals find the Daleks in suspended animation in a cavern below the planet's surface. Using explosives, they blow up a rock wall separating the cavern from one of the planet's ice volcanoes, and the Daleks are destroyed.

The Supreme Dalek and his guards arrive on the planet, only to be stranded as the Thals steal their spaceship and the Doctor and Jo leave in the TARDIS.

The story got an effects beef-up in the 2019 Season 10 Blu-Ray box set.


  • Harmless Freezing: The Daleks can be thawed without issue. However, sudden freezing does kill the Dalek inside its casing. At the end of the story the Supreme Dalek is giving orders for rescue ships to be sent to free his army from the ice.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Vaber is not very nice and stupid Hot-Blooded but he isn't wrong to point out that if they have no way back to Skaro they may as well take risks when fighting the Daleks.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX:
    • Commercially available Louis Marx Daleks were used to simulate the Dalek army, a technique previously used in "The Evil of the Daleks".
    • The "ears" of the supreme Dalek? Those are just two random jam jars stuck on at pretty much the last minute in order to make it look slightly more regal.
  • People of Hair Colour: As was the case the last time we saw them, the Thals are all blond.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Two Daleks set the Thals' supply of explosives to detonate in order to deprive them of them. Apparently the message that there was going to be an explosion in the area didn't get passed on: Two more Daleks, racing to intercept the Doctor's party, end up passing the last bomb just as it goes off and getting destroyed.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: When the Daleks are preparing to release their bacterial bomb, they administer vaccine to all their forces, including their Spiridon slave workers. This is not so much out of compassion but rather that they still need a cheap labour force to do the heavy work for them.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: It's been suggested that this story was inspired by The Vietnam War.
  • Same Plot Sequel: The story is notoriously a near-remake of the first Dalek story: Thals versus Daleks on a planet full of random monsters, with the Daleks planning to do something that will make it inhospitable to everyone but them.
  • Science-Fiction Writers Have No Sense of Scale: The Dalek's plan to conquer the galaxy with ten thousand Daleks.
  • See the Invisible: The Thals have a spray (effectively black spray paint) that can reveal invisible Daleks.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Terry Nation rehashed the plot of "The Daleks": a group of Daleks in a city encountering the Thals on a ravaged planet; a deadly plague instead of a neutron bomb; someone using a Dalek shell as a disguise; the Doctor imprisoned in a cell and with paralysed legs; and the Daleks imprisoned in their city at the end of the story.
  • Sequel Episode:
    • This is a direct sequel to "The Daleks", showing what had happened to the Thals after the Doctor met them.
    • It also follows directly on from "Frontier in Space", as the Dalek army is the one they were planning to use to invade the galaxy after Earth and Draconia had destroyed each other. The first episode even reprises the closing moments of "Frontier in Space" like a typical mid-serial episode. Of note is that the two stories were originally intended to be billed as one twelve-part serial (which would've tied it with "The Daleks' Master Plan" for the position of longest story by episode count) before being Divided for Publication as two interconnected six-parters.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Aside from Jo, Rebec is the only female character in the story. Rebec was included at the insistence of Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks, who wanted female characters on screen for visual variety and for the female audience members.
  • Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: The plan to defeat the Daleks ultimately boils down to planting a bomb behind enemy lines in such a way as to incapacitate the Dalek army.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Not only does Marat's attempted Heroic Sacrifice do absolutely nothing to delay the Daleks, it very nearly screws over the Thals completely, since the Daleks find the location of the Thals' explosive charges on his body. Only Jo's quick thinking prevents disaster for the Thal expedition.
  • There's No Place Like Home: At the end of the story Jo just wants to return to Earth, rejecting romance with Latep or more adventures with the Doctor.
  • The X of Y: Humorously, "Planet" and "Daleks" are the most common X and Y. Really, this is the archetypical Doctor Who title!
  • Trapped in Containment: The Daleks in the bacterial lab, again, since they are immune to the virus. Worse, they can never leave their confinement.
    • Plot Hole: Note that the project leader was trapped in the lab, but an identical project leader is later in another room being exterminated by the Dalek Supreme. Either he suddenly gained magical escaping powers, or this second Dalek was the victim of a poorly-timed promotion.
  • Tuckerization: Rebec was named after Terry Nation's daughter Rebecca.
  • Visible Invisibility: Spiridons move bushes, wear coats or wave objects around, so we know they're there. If they perish, however, they turn completely visible. Their intangibility is biologically generated- those biological functions stop, so does it.
  • Wham Line: "Somewhere on this planet are ten thousand Daleks!"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite his having played a major part in setting the stage for the Dalek invasion of the galaxy, the Master is conspicuously absent, and only briefly mentioned near the start of the story. In fact, Roger Delgado would never play the role again from this point onwards (due to his tragic death in a car crash between Seasons 10 and 11), with the Master not appearing again until just before the midway point of Tom Baker's run as the Doctor.


Video Example(s):


Daleks do not accept failure!

The Dalek Supreme exterminates a Dalek section leader for failure on Spirodon.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (19 votes)

Example of:

Main / YouHaveFailedMe

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