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Recap / Doctor Who S2 E8 "The Chase"

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The Main Event: Salt Shaker vs. Christmas Ornament

"Don't just stand there and scream, you little fool, run!"
Ian, to Vicki, speaking for a nation.

The one where a Dalek gets sand in its britches. Or lack thereof.

Written by Terry Nation. This six-episode serial first aired from May 22 to June 26, 1965.

Episodes: "The Executioners", "The Death of Time", "Flight Through Eternity", "Journey into Terror", "The Death of Doctor Who", "The Planet of Decision".

Using the Space/Time Visualiser (a souvenir from last week's "Space Museum"), the Doctor and friends watch The Beatles, then discover that there's a Dalek time machine on their tail.

In a chase through time and space, the TARDIS with the Daleks in hot pursuit lands on the desert planet Aridius, on top of the Empire State Building, on the deck of the Mary Celeste — the appearance of the Daleks causes the crew to abandon ship (wouldn't we all?) — and a fairground haunted house. Despite good intentions, Team TARDIS fails to do anything at all to help any of the people they meet during this journey, although they do amuse a guy from Alabama.

They eventually end up on the jungle planet of Mechanus, where a group of robots called Mechanoids take the travellers prisoner. They were sent fifty years earlier to build a city ready for a human colony to arrive and take possession. The colonists never showed up, but the Mechanoids continue to defend the city in readiness. The Doctor and companions meet Steven Taylor, a traumatised human astronaut who has been the Mechanoids' prisoner for two years. (And who's played by the same actor as aforementioned Alabama guy.)

The Mechanoids and Daleks battle and mutual destruction ensues, with the Mechanoids getting a landslide victory. Meanwhile, the Doctor and his friends decide to escape by lowering themselves down 1500 feet from the prison using nothing but a length of cable. After sending Vicki down first (who's shaking and screaming and generally not a fan of heights), Barbara and Ian soon follow, but Steven runs back inside to rescue his only true friend: a stuffed panda bear named Hi-Fi.

After the Daleks all die, Ian and Barbara decide to use the rather more reliable Dalek time machine to get home to 1960s London. The Doctor is very offended by their decision, but Vicki convinces him to help his friends regardless. The two teachers make it back home (albeit two years after they left), blow up the Dalek ship and proceed to traipse about London, playing with pigeons and statues and police boxes, overjoyed.

Steven Taylor stows away on the TARDIS, and is not discovered by the Doctor until the following serial.

This serial holds the record for most companions in a single story in Classic Who, an honour it shares with "The Daleks' Master Plan" if you count Bret. It was surpassed by the Tenth Doctor story "Journey's End" in New Who. The 20th anniversary special "The Five Doctors" potentially has as many as ten companions featured, depending on who you count.

The Mechanoids reappear 40 years later, in the Big Finish Doctor Who audio play "The Juggernauts".


  • All There in the Script: The three main pillars of the Mechanus forest set were referred to in the script as the "Gubbage Canes".
  • Bat Scare: The first animatronic "threat" in the haunted house is a flock of bats.
  • Big Bad: The Black Dalek is the one who despatches the assassination squad after the TARDIS crew.
  • Bond One-Liner: After dispatching his Dalek-made mechanical duplicate...
    The Doctor: Hmm. I must get a doctor.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Ian impersonates a Dalek to freak Barbara out.
  • Chronoscope: The Time-Space Visualiser.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The Doctor's theory on the (supposedly?) House of Horrors. Although the Daleks clearly believe they're on Earth, their weapons do not seem to incapacitate supposedly "fun-fair" dummies and one of them even throws a Dalek upside down and make them run in fear.
  • Classical Movie Vampire: The Doctor meets Dracula who looked just like the stereotype. Although, in fact, the Doctor had only met a Dracula android. Seriously.
  • Clip-Art Animation: Shots of the Daleks' time machine pursuing the TARDIS through the Vortex are clearly achieved by moving cardboard cut-outs of the two ships on a painted background.
  • Clumsy Copyright Censorship: The Region 1 DVD release has two minutes cut from Episode 1 in order to avoid paying for the rights to include a short scene with The Beatles.
  • Comic Trio: A truly bizarre example — there's a permanently frustrated Pointy-Haired Boss Dalek, a stupid Dalek who gets confused easily, stumbles over his words and falls over and a Dalek who is better at exterminating but is powerless to resist orders from his superiors.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Ian impersonating a Dalek.
    • Barbara protests when Ian destroys her cardigan again.
    • Also, the fake Doctor telling Ian to kill the duplicate with a rock - like the Doctor almost did in on the very first serial.
    • Ian quips that the trail he and Vicki finds at least isn't a pool of acid: one of the hazards encountered on "The Web Planet".
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Daleks versus Frankenstein and Dracula!
  • Death of a Child: A woman who jumped overboard on the Mary Celeste was carrying a baby. This is a case of Shown Their Work. Among the people who disappeared from the Mary Celeste were the captain's wife and two year-old daughter. Note that the captain yells his wife's historically-correct name (Sarah) before he jumps overboard, presumably in a futile attempt to save his family.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Ian's rather impressive Dalek imitation was a rather poor joke. It's amazing the others laughed it off, instead of punching him out for it.
  • Early Instalment Character Design Difference: This serial sees the final stage in the evolution of the Dalek design. It added the final vertical panels, conceived as solar panels for power collection (after being reliant on static electricity in "The Daleks" and limited-range radio dishes in "The Dalek Invasion of Earth").
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Barbara and Ian finally arrive home after two years. At the time of the show's run, it would be assumed that this is a long time to be time-hopping and that they should have arrived sooner.
  • Evil Knockoff: The Daleks' android version of the Doctor.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Daleks vs the Mechanoids.
  • Fake Shemp: In a bizarre example of this trope, William Hartnell's regular body double Edmund Warwick was recruited to play the Daleks' android version of the Doctor later in the story. Unfortunately, the director didn't attempt to disguise the fact that Warwick didn't look anything like Hartnell from the front, resulting in an effect somewhat akin to the body doubling from Plan 9 from Outer Space as the android changes from being played by Warwick to being played by Hartnell (and back) from shot to shot.
    • Oddly, the concept may have worked had they just let Warwick be the Doctor and speak some lines - the reason for such being that the Daleks' technology was faulty, so their Doctor not only ends up calling Vicki "Susan" but his face doesn't actually resemble Hartnell's.
    • Making things that much stranger, there's an occasion where the trope is actually carried out correctly — Warwick plays the real Doctor at one point during the fifth episode (specifically, when the Doctor and Ian are carrying the unconscious Vicki into a cave), and unless you look very closely at the Doctor's face throughout the sequence you probably wouldn't realize that it was actually Warwick playing him.
  • Flynning: The Doctor and the Robo-Doctor "duel" with their brolleys (umbrellas). Basically doing a Slap Fight.
  • Fungus Humongous: Not only are there giant toadstools on Mechanus—they're walking, ejaculating giant toadstools.
  • Ghost Ship: The Mary Celeste.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Steven.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Apparently, the country boy tourist. Or he just thought the Daleks were completely ridiculous.
  • Haunted House: Subverted, since it's really a closed funfair exhibit. The Doctor and company never learn this, and neither do the Daleks.
  • Historical In-Joke: The Mary Celeste, again, as she really existed and really was a Ghost Ship.
  • Hong Kong Dub: William Hartnell voices the android double of the Doctor even in the scenes where the double is played by Warwick. Since the BBC's production methods at the time didn't allow for voices to be dubbed on in post-production, this meant that Hartnell had to record the robot's dialogue ahead of time, and the dialogue was dubbed in live during filming. Since Warwick didn't have any reference point for when the dialogue was being played, the dubbing is less than accurate.
  • Hostile Animatronics: An animatronic Frankenstein's Monster (built for a funfair Haunted House) destroys a Dalek.
  • Impersonating the Evil Twin: Subverted. The Daleks have made a robot double of the Doctor, which he pulled the plug on. The travellers discuss having the Doctor pretending to be the robot, and conclude that it's an absurd idea because the Daleks should know that their own robot isn't working. The Doctor sneaks off in the middle of the conversation to do it anyway... and is caught in around five seconds.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: The Doctor's duplicate gives itself away when it calls Vicki Susan.
  • A Little Something We Call "Rock and Roll": Subverted. From the way the others had been describing them, Vicki (who is from The Future) is surprised to hear The Beatles playing what she considers to be "classical music".
  • Man-Eating Plant: Mechanus is covered in them.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Terry Nation happily admitted that the Mechanoids were a deliberate attempt to replicate the Daleks from a merchandising perspective.
  • Monster Mash: The haunted house's animatronic characters/creatures include Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster (two of him!), and a ghostly Screaming Woman.
  • Mood Whiplash: The story is mostly a ridiculous comedy with Slapstick and a Comic Trio of Daleks who don't seem all that threatening. The atmosphere is very loopy and comfortable. Then Ian and Barbara, two very, very loved companions who'd been there since the beginning of the series, realise they can use the Daleks' time-ship to return to their home time and inform the Doctor they're leaving, and he snaps at them both out of selfish grief. Maureen O'Brien also really sells Vicki's sheer terror as she's forced to climb down a very large height to escape a burning building.
  • Narrating the Obvious: The protagonists are chased through time by a group of Daleks in their own time machine and make a brief stop on a sailing ship, and when the Daleks show up they fight and kill the crew before resuming the chase. The camera then pan over the now deserted ship before stopping on the name plate, which reads "Mary Celeste". That's kinda funny, right? Cut to inside the TARDIS, where Ian tells Barbara that the ship was, in fact, the Mary Celeste. Maybe the writers were afraid the audience looked away at the wrong moment.
  • Newspaper Dating: Ian & Barbara find out they’re (near enough) home by checking the windscreen of the nearest parked car to find its tax disc expires on New Year’s Eve 1965. (This is referenced in An Adventure in Space and Time when the audience is shown that it is 1966 by displaying a car's tax disc.)
  • Obvious Stunt Double: William Hartnell's usual stunt double plays the Doctor's robot duplicate. With his face clearly visible on screen for literally minutes. And, inexplicably, in scenes where only one actor had to be around. He does look a lot like Hartnell, but not so much that they're not readily distinguishable.
  • Opt Out: Ian and Barbara, rather than continue with the Doctor, use the Daleks' time machine to return to their home time (or close to it).
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Uniquely for a Dalek story, this is a straight-up comedy story with semi-sympathetic Comic Trio Daleks and almost no horror elements. It has outrageous comedy setpieces, Slapstick, a Fake Americaninvoked laughing at the Daleks, a subverted Journey to the Center of the Mind in an amusement park, and a much rarer plot structure to usual as well (the characters go to a different location each episode, when almost every other Classic story kept them in the same location).
  • Pit Trap: Ian constructs one to catch the Dalek guarding the TARDIS in Episode 2.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: One of the first scenes has the Doctor and his companions watching footage of The Beatles on the newly-acquired Time-Space Visualizer. The BBC released this serial on DVD in 2010 but has announced that outside of Region 2, the original footage will be replaced, as the BBC's licence to use the footage does not extend outside the UK.
  • Robot Me: The Daleks' robot double of the Doctor, designed to assassinate the time travellers.
  • San Dimas Time: The TARDIS and the Dalek time machine always arrive in the right order, despite the fact they travel through time. Ian and Barbara arrive in London two years after they left, after having travelled with the Doctor for two years.
  • Self-Offence: Vicki knocks out Richardson, who has caught Barbara. Then Barbara and Vicki mistake Ian for a sailor.
  • Simpleton Voice: One of the Daleks says "er..." a lot.
  • Single-Biome Planet: From what we see of both, this trope applies to Aridius (desert planet) and Mechanus (jungle planet).
  • Stern Chase
  • Stock Audio Clip: During the Daleks' fight with the Mechanoids, all the lines spoken by the Daleks are from earlier in the serial (in fact, mostly from their first scene in the first episode).
  • Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: Theme park robots in the "house of horrors" which are powerful enough to curb stomp Daleks without using any weapons but their bare hands. Of course, they are from the far-flung era of 1996, when constructing such powerful machines will surely be child's play. (Again, the Expanded Universe addresses the Fridge Logicinvoked of theme park robots being that tough.)
  • Tap on the Head: Used by Vicki to knock out Richardson, and Ian. Oops!
  • Title Drop: Morton Dill asks the Doctor if they are filming some kind of chase for a movie. The Doctor responds. "Yes, it's The Chase."
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: "The Death of Doctor Who". The robot dies.
  • Two of Your Earth Minutes: Even when only speaking to each other, the Daleks talk about time in 'Earth minutes'.
  • Visible Boom Mic: Not the boom mic, but Ian walks right into the camera's shadow when he and the Docter are exploring the 'haunted house'.
  • Wacky Americans Have Wacky Names: Morton Dill.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: The Doctor is being followed by Daleks who have constructed their own TARDIS, and occasionally make pit-stops. When the Daleks first catch up to them on a desert planet, the setting and plot fit, but part 3 in particular is just two comedy setpieces (tourists on top of the Empire State Building, and people on the Mary Celeste) stuck together, neither of which change anything about the Doctor's predicament - we just see the TARDIS crew first poke their heads out, chat to people and leave, followed by the Daleks showing up.
  • Wham Episode: It may seem like a comical and lesser Dalek story, but has major implications. The Daleks have created a time machine, so for the first time the Doctor's enemies can time travel and returning to the TARDIS no longer means safety. It's also the start of the deranged pepper-pots being able to show up anywhere or anywhen, allowing the Last Great Time War to happen. (Indeed, some people have theorised that this serial is actually the earliest appearance of the Time War in the series, and these Daleks are trying to take the Doctor out of the war seven lives early, commando-style.) It also saw the departure of William Russell and Jacqueline Hill, marking the point where the series definitively transitioned from its original ensemble cast to Revolving Door Casting where William Hartnell as the Doctor was the only constant. Only one final leap lay ahead - the idea that you could recast the Doctor too...
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Alas, poor tourist.

I shall miss them. Yes, I shall miss them. Silly old fusspots. Come along, my dear, it's... time we were off..