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Recap / Doctor Who S2 E2 "The Dalek Invasion of Earth"

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"We are the masters of Earth!"
A Dalek

The one where Barbara runs over some Daleks. Also the one where Susan says farewell.

Written by Terry Nation. This six-episode serial first aired from November 21 to December 26, 1964.

Episodes: "World's End", "The Daleks", "Day of Reckoning", "The End of Tomorrow", "The Waking Ally", "Flashpoint".

After the runaway success of "The Daleks" in season one, the Green Blobs in Bonded Polycarbide Armour are back. And they've invaded Earth.

It's the future — some point after 2164 — but our heroes don't know that yet. They've landed the TARDIS in London, and take a while to notice that it's become a post-apocalyptic Crapsack World. Susan investigates, and manages to simultaneously twist her ankle and drop half a bridge on the TARDIS, leaving them stuck in place for a while.

When Susan and Barbara wander off a bit, they're taken in by La Résistance, led by wheelchair-bound Dortmun, who explains what's going on. Ten years ago, the Daleks brought a plague to Earth. Then war. Then slavery. Then conversion into mindless robomen. These are later Dalek models than the ones the Doctor found on Skaro, and they're stronger as well. Barbara immediately sets to work in La Résistance's kitchens, and decides to fight the Daleks as best as she can. Susan befriends a soldier named David Campbell. Meanwhile, Ian and the Doctor are treated to a more intimate encounter with the Daleks, and find out that the Daleks are mining into the core of the Earth (in Bedfordshire of all places).

It turns out that they are planning to plant a bomb in the Earth's core which will hollow out the planet, so they can replace the core with an engine and pilot the planet around like a spaceship.

Ian rigs up a barrier in the mineshaft which detonates the bomb prematurely, conveniently destroying the Dalek mothership and most of the Daleks in the process, not to mention creating a new volcano in Bedfordshire. Barbara and the Doctor imitate Daleks and command the Robomen to attack their pepperpot masters. Susan has meanwhile fallen in love with David Campbell, and is absolutely torn between the choice of staying with her grandfather and making a life of her own rebuilding Earth. The Doctor catches on quickly, mumbles an excuse, goes into the TARDIS and vworps off before Susan can protest.

"One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs, and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine. Goodbye, Susan. Goodbye, my dear."

It was adapted as Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., the sequel to Dr. Who and the Daleks. Susan returned in "The Five Doctors", and her fate on future Earth would eventually become the main plot of season four of the Big Finish Doctor Who New Eighth Doctor Adventures.


  • After the End: Most of the human race is dead, their cities are deserted and the survivors are more concerned with just staying alive than fighting back.
  • Alien Invasion: Obviously. This was the first time Doctor Who did this trope, but it would not be the last...
  • All Women Love Shoes: Susan mentions having dozens of pairs of shoes.
  • Almost Kiss: Susan and David actually start, but the sudden appearance of the Doctor from off camera cuts it short.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 1
  • Artistic Licence – Gun Safety: David at one point takes a clip out of his gun while pointing that very gun at his head.
  • BBC Quarry: An actual quarry was used for scenes set in the quarry. Albeit one on future Earth run by the Daleks.
  • Big Bad: The Black Dalek is in charge of the mining operation, although he makes a reference to receiving orders from "Supreme Command".
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Susan and David — a Time Lady and a human celebrating their newfound love in the middle of a massive interstellar war.
  • Black Market Produce: An old woman reports the main characters to the Daleks and is rewarded with food, including an orange. "I haven't tasted an orange in years..."
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Instead of just Exterminating Barbara and Jenny, the Daleks leave them to die in an explosion. They live.
  • Book Ends: In the first serial of the show, and by extension, the first story with Susan, the Doctor bitterly notes how he and Susan are exiled from their home planet before pondering that "one day, we shall get back; yes, one day." In the last episode of this serial, and by extension, the last episode with Susan as part of the main cast, the Doctor starts his farewell speech with the words "one day, I shall come back; yes, I shall come back."
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Barbara imitates a Dalek voice over a Dalek radio.
  • Bury Your Disabled: Dortmun, the wheelchair-bound leader of the rebels, dies facing off against the Daleks.
  • Canon Immigrant: The look of the Daleks' flying saucers, which first appeared on the DVD release as replacement special effects, and later appeared in the series itself, was originally from the comic strips.
  • Car Fu: Barbara Wright runs down a few Daleks in a lorry.
  • Characterization Marches On: While more developed than the last time we saw them, now being the utterly ruthless Nazi-analogues we know them as today, the Daleks seem to have a lot in common with the Cybermen this serial.
    • The Daleks get overpowered by a mob of humans and robomen. Later Daleks would have just exterminated the lot easily.
    • The Daleks have already been deactivated at the time, since they're dependent on radio signals in order to operate on Earth, and Susan and David blew up the local mast. This is another weakness that will never be seen again.
  • Les Collaborateurs: The women in the wood who betrayed Barbara and Jenny to the Daleks in exchange for food.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The TARDIS crew make several references to their previous encounter with the Daleks, including that the Daleks have adapted a way around their reliance on static electricity for power.
    • Part of The Doctor's farewell speech to Susan is based off of a line he said in "An Unearthly Child".
  • Crapsack World: Earth has been conquered and subjugated by the Daleks, with humans reduced to working as slaves in mines and some irreversably converted into mindless robomen. Food is so scarce that the humans who still have their own minds are willing to betray others to the Daleks in exchange for food.
  • Creator In-Joke: Several signs read "VETOED" throughout the serial. Supposedly part of the resistance code, this was actually a joke from the production designers, in particular Spencer Chapman. If sets were too ambitious, then the designs would be stamped with the word "VETOED" and handed back to the designers.
  • Darker and Edgier: Easily the darkest Doctor Who serial made up to this point.
  • Day of the Jackboot: Despite being set in the 22nd century, uses just about every common trope imaginable from the "Third Reich conquers the UK" Alternate History subgenre, such as La Résistance and Les Collaborateurs.
  • Doom as Test Prize: The Doctor realises that his cell contains items that will allow him to escape, and does so. Oops, it was an intelligence test to select people to be turned into Robomen.
  • Early Instalment Character Design Difference: The Daleks' design continues to evolve. Here, they have clunky looking satellite-style disc aerials on the backs of their casings, conceived by the designers as a wireless power supply (the original Daleks had been unable to leave their city as they drew electrical life-support power from the floors).
  • Earth That Used to Be Better: In the 22nd century the Daleks occupy the planet for a whole decade.
  • Enhanced on DVD: The DVD release digitally enhances the Dalek spaceship and the Battersea Power Station.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Daleks have invaded Earth.
  • Exty Years from Publication: The story is set in 2164, exactly 200 years in the future when it was broadcast in 1964.
  • Fake Shemp: William Hartnell's stand-in plays the Doctor in Episode Four, as Hartnell was recovering from a back injury.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: The story opens with the image of a roboman staggering in agony to a festering river and drowning himself in despair, and later shows Barbara chained to a wall with a neck cuff.
  • Fantastic Slurs: In the 22nd century, the humans who survived the Dalek invasion of Earth call the Daleks "dustbins" as a slur.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Being a Roboman is said to be this.
    • Driven to Suicide: As seen in the beginning of this story, Robomen eventually malfunction and kill themselves.
  • Future Society, Present Values: Dortnum has some very 1960s attitudes towards women, such as Stay in the Kitchen and so on, despite being from 2174.
  • Hand Wave: As the first (of very many) examples of attempting to explain how the Daleks can still be around despite being totally destroyed in their last appearance, the characters decide that this must be an earlier point in history, and they really were destroyed forever last time.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: A ton of them. If there is a character that's not The Doctor or a companion, there is a 1 in 2 chance they will die trying to protect someone. And most of the others die anyways.
  • I Choose to Stay: Susan stays on Earth to help rebuild civilisation, though arguably the Doctor makes the decision for her.
  • Idiot Ball: The Doctor shows a rare case of it on the Dalek spaceship. After discovering that his cell contains exactly what they need to escape captivity he tries to escape. It turns out it was an intelligence test to find suitable cyborg zombies.
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: The Doctor, saying goodbye to his own granddaughter for what he clearly expects to be a long time, gives her a poetic speech about being true to your beliefs. At no point does it include the words "I love you" or "I'm proud of you".
  • Karma Houdini: The two women who sell out Barbara and Jenny to the Daleks are never seen again afterwards and presumably went on with their lives after the Daleks were defeated.
  • Logic Bomb: Ian breaks a Roboman by telling him to "get new orders."
  • Mayfly–December Romance: While not evident at the time of the story's original airing, Susan will definitely outlive David. Even without Time Lord regeneration, she could still live to be one thousand years old.
  • Monumental Battle: Not a battle so much, but Barbara and Jenny's flight through London with Dortmun takes them past Daleks milling around some of central London's most prominent monuments, such as Westminster Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square. The 'Daleks parading across Westminster Bridge' image in particular has become quite iconic, and has been restaged for publicity shots several times since.
  • Monumental Damage: The characters are shocked to discover that one of Battersea Power Station's iconic chimney-stacks has collapsed, presumably during the chaos of the Dalek invasion.
  • Mook Horror Show: The Dalek POV shots — when the Doctor is just about to get the upper hand over the Daleks, we're suddenly in a Dalek's head for the scene as the First Doctor stares it with a Psychotic Smirk and we know he's done something very clever.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: While "The Daleks" had elements of Fantastic Racism, here the Dalek = Nazi parallel becomes overt. For example, Daleks greeting each other by jerking their plungers up in the air (see photo above) and referring to the genocide of humanity as "the final solution".
  • Newspaper Dating: The TARDIS crew discover the year is 2164 (or later) via a calendar in an abandoned warehouse.
  • No Peripheral Vision: The Doctor avoids the Daleks by pressing himself up next to a door. It works.
    • Slightly justified as later we get a Dalek POV shot that reveals the limitations of the eyestalk. It still doesn't excuse the Dalek who looks right at The Doctor. And you.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The story opens with a shot of a cyborg committing suicide near a sign that informs us "it is forbidden to dump bodies into the river". The crew spend the first episode wondering around, trying to imagine who or what could be responsible for the total collapse of civilisation. Then something comes out of the Thames... with its eye stalk wobbling back and forth and its plunger waving.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Wells uses this against the Daleks in his first scene.
  • Patrolling Mook: The Robomen.
  • People in Rubber Suits: The Slyther, which, curiously, is considered by fans to be the first true "monster" of the series (the first non-humanoid, non-robotic adversary).
  • The Power of Love: Larry uses this in an attempt to free his Robotized brother of the Dalek conditioning. Sadly, it doesn't work out so well, and they end up killing each other instead.
  • Psychotic Smirk: The Doctor gives one when he knows he's got the Daleks beaten at the end.
  • The Quisling: An old woman and her daughter hand characters over to the Daleks and are rewarded with food.
  • Right-Hand Attack Dog: The Slyther - a man-eating creature the Black Dalek keeps as a "pet".
  • Rule of Cool: The Daleks' master plan is to turn Earth into an enormous spaceship...even though they self-evidently have an invasion fleet that can get them get them anywhere they want. Why? So viewers get to see Daleks gliding around contemporary London.
  • Scenery Porn: The story benefited from heavy Prop Recyclinginvoked of the Peter Cushing Dalek movie, meaning the Dalek ship interiors looked brilliant, and also delivered some gorgeous shots of an abandoned London.
  • Sequel Episode: To "The Daleks".
  • Sewer Gator: Susan is almost eaten by alligators that escaped from zoos during The Plague and managed to thrive in the London sewers.
  • Sound-Only Death - As Susan and David crouch in a corner hiding from the Daleks we hear a man in the street begging a Dalek for his life before he gets killed.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Played With. Barbara and Susan get taken in from wandering around unprotected by the Resistance against the Daleks, and their leader presses them on their useful skills. He asks Barbara if she can cook - she says she can get by - and then asks Susan what she does, who replies "I eat". In response, the leader clarifies that he's not asking for gender-based reasons - the resistance is just currently short on cooks. Susan's sarcasm is confirmed when we later see her cook an apparently delicious rabbit stew from a wild rabbit she hunted and prepared herself.
  • Temporary Substitute: In Episode Four, David fills in for the Doctor due to William Hartnell's injury.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: Dortmun confronts the Daleks and buys time for the others to escape by climbing out of his wheelchair and standing to face the Daleks at last.
  • Too Much Information: One sign which appears in shots it shouldn't appear ininvoked reads "It is forbidden to dump bodies into the river."
  • Trojan Prisoner: Barbara has an attempt at this. The Daleks are not amused.
  • Unwilling Roboticisation: The Robomen. Jenny:
    There aren’t that many Daleks on Earth. They needed helpers. So they operated on some of their prisoners and turned them into robots... The Transfer, as the Daleks call the operation, controls the human brain. Well, at least for a time... I've seen the Robos when they break down. They go insane. They smash their heads against walls. They throw themselves off buildings or into the river.
    • It's clearly implied are effectively dead from the moment the transfer is carried out – there is no way they can be "cured" or "freed" as the film versions possibly can; the only freedom is death. In some ways, they make the Cyber-alternative look almost merciful. But then, that's the Daleks for you...
  • Vichy Earth: In the 22nd Centry the Daleks have wiped out 9/10ths of the population with a plague, leaving the strongest as slaves. The Dalek Supreme rules the planet from his unlikely capital in Bedfordshire. While there are only a small number of Daleks overseeing proceedings, the population is kept under control by the Robomen who are unwillingly made to do their bidding via intrusive cranial cybernetics.
  • Villain World: The Daleks have taken over the Earth. Since the Daleks are Nazi expies and both stories were made in the sixties, the iconic image of Daleks on the streets of London was pretty powerful for its time.
  • Visible Boom Mic: When the group of rebels led by Baker is ordered to stop by a Dalek, a boom microphone appears in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen and pulls away, but not before being lit up by a spotlight.
  • Wham Episode: This was the first time the TARDIS crew changed at all, with Susan leaving at the end of Episode Six.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Dortmun and most of his resistance colleagues are under the illusion that he's The Hero who is destined to take down the Daleks, and that the Doctor is just some fool who's in over his head. They're wrong on both counts, of course.

What do you get when you cross a Dalek platoon with a truck?