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

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Using Cookie Monster pelts as camouflage wasn't the Doctor's smartest move...
You know, for a man who abhors violence, I took great satisfaction in doing that.
The Doctor surveys the smoking remains of a Dalek
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The one with killer insulation foam and the invisible Cookie Monsters.

Written by Terry Nation. This six-episode serial first aired from April 7 to May 12, 1973.


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.

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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.

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Tropes

  • Almost Out of Oxygen: The TARDIS is sealed in sap from the hostile plants outside, causing the Doctor to nearly suffocate as he never bothered to replenish the emergency oxygen supply. Never mind that the TARDIS is a spacecraft, so should have a sealed environmental system.
  • Aluminium Christmas Trees: Ice volcanoes, which sound like an oxymoron, actually exist, and were first discovered on Neptune's moon Triton.
  • Author Appeal: Plagues become a part of Terry Nation's Signature Style in this story. They would feature in each of his subsequent stories for Who: "Death to the Daleks", "Genesis of the Daleks", and "The Android Invasion", as well as Survivors. The only one not covered by this is "Destiny of the Daleks", though a Synthetic Plague targeting the Daleks would appear in that one's sequel.
  • Author Tract: As discussed on a DVD extra, there is a strong criticism of the Vietnam War within the plot, with the Daleks at the Americans and the Thals as the North Vietnamese, with the plague the Daleks create to destroy the jungle being an allegory for Agent Orange.
  • Balloonacy: The Doctor and a group of Thals escape from the lowest level of the Dalek city by making a hot air balloon from plastic sheeting and being carried up an air shaft.
  • Big Bad: The Dalek Supreme.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Strangely averted with the Thals' energy weapons. When defending themselves from the jungle animals, every single Thal runs out of shots.
  • Broken Aesop: The Doctor delivers a heartfelt speech that the Thals must tell their people War Is Hell, and not to make it sound like their adventure was a 'fun game'. The story involves, amongst other things, them escaping fun, toyetic Always Chaotic Evil nasty pepperpot people by dressing up in purple fur coats and MacGyvering a hot air balloon. The reason for this discrepancy is because the scene was appended to the end by Terrance Dicks at the last minute because the script was underrunning.
  • Call-Back:
  • Chromosome Casting: Aside from Jo, Rebec is the only female character in the story.
  • Continuity Nod: The events of "The Daleks" are referred back to; Taron refers to those events with the Doctor as being part of the Thals' legend, and the Doctor mentions being part of the Thal group that broke into the Dalek city and name-drops Ian, Barbara and Susan as his companions on that occasion.
  • Cowardly Lion: The Doctor urges this on Codal while they are both imprisoned not to think himself such a coward. He even assures Codal that what he did was true bravery.
    The Doctor: Courage isn't just a matter of not being frightened, you know.
    Codal: What is it, then?
    The Doctor: It's being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway, just as you did.
  • Disney Death: The Doctor believes Jo has been killed when the Daleks blow up the Thal spaceship in which she was hiding. In fact, she had been rescued at the last minute by a Spiridon named Wester.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The Dalek Supreme gives orders for his army to be freed from the ice. "WE HAVE BEEN DELAYED BUT NOT DEFEATED. THE DALEKS ARE NEVER DEFEATED!"
  • Glowing Eyes: The local beasts, about their campfire.
  • 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.
  • Invisible Monsters: The Spiridons. The Daleks are trying to imitate them.
  • Kill It with Ice: Though the Daleks may not be dead.
  • Made a Slave: The Spiridons.
  • 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.
  • Rock Beats Laser: It helps to have gravity on its side.
  • 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.
  • Slave Race: The Spiridons.
  • The Smurfette Principle: 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.
  • Suicide Mission: What the Thals think they face. For most of them it's right.
  • Synthetic Plague: The Daleks are planning to use one to wipe out the Thal intruders on the planet.
  • Technical Pacifist: see page quote.
  • 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.
  • Trojan Prisoner: Used by the Doctor, Jo, the Thals and some Spidron rebels to infiltrate the caves.
  • 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.
  • Worth Living For: Latep is afraid after he finds this in Jo and realises the arrival of the Dalek Supreme's ship gives the Thals a way off the planet.


 
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Daleks do not accept failure!

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

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