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Recap / Doctor Who S9 E1 "Day of the Daleks"

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No, Tom Baker isn't the solution to the problem, put the gun down.

"You don't understand. No-one who didn't live through those terrible years can understand. Towards the end of the 20th Century, a series of wars broke out. There was a hundred years of nothing but destruction and killing. Nearly seven eighths of the world's population wiped out. The rest living in holes in the ground, starving, reduced to the level of animals..."
The Controller tries to justify collaborating with the Daleks.

The One With… a three-Dalek army. Until 40-some-odd years later when they decided to do a reshoot.

Written by Louis Marks. This four-episode serial first aired from January 1—22, 1972.

Before The Terminator, before Days of Future Past, there was "Day of the Daleks".

A peace conference is being held in Britain under the auspices of Sir Reginald Styles - it's a reconvening of the one from "The Mind of Evil", and UNIT are once again providing security.

Styles is attacked and nearly killed by a guerrilla fighter in futuristic dress, but is saved by the intervention of a big — well — gorilla fighter, who knocks the assassin out and disappears. The Doctor deduces that the unconscious man is from the future, and that a device found with him is a time-travel gadget.

The Doctor poses as Styles in order to catch the assailants. They try again, but the Doctor convinces them he's not Styles. Jo accidentally activates one of the time-travel gadgets and zaps herself into the 22nd century, and the Doctor and the guerrillas follow her. One of the guerrillas, Shura, is attacked and left behind, presumed dead.

We discover that in this future, the Earth is ruled by the Daleks — who did not meet their "final end" five seasons prior after all (thanks to Terry Nation's planned American spinoff never materializing) — using their ape-like Ogron subjects as heavies. There are also human collaborators, led by "the Controller". Jo and the Doctor are taken prisoner at the Dalek base, but rescued by the guerrillas — who finally get round to explaining that they're trying to kill Styles because they believe he blew up the peace conference, which started a series of wars leaving Earth shattered and ripe for Dalek conquest. They mean to kill Styles first and change "history".

The Doctor realises that this is a Stable Time Loop — that the explosion was actually caused by the guerrillas: specifically by Shura, the injured man left behind in the 20th century, trying to fulfil his mission. He gets back to the 20th century in time to have Styles's house evacuated and the pursuing Daleks and Ogrons are destroyed when Shura detonates his bomb.


  • Alone-with-Prisoner Ploy: Played with: When the Doctor is captured at one of the Daleks' factories, the manager says he'll speak to him alone. The manager is a rebel infiltrator but the Doctor isn't a rebel so doesn't know what he's talking about, and the manager's superior interrupts them before he can get the point across.
  • Alternate History: The Doctor visits a future Earth which he then retrospectively turns into an alternate history. To elaborate, just after the Doctor left our time, World War III broke out, weakening Earth and enabling the Daleks to take over. The Doctor learns enough about how the war started to return to our time and prevent it from happening, thus erasing the Dalek-occupied future.
  • All There in the Script: Dialogue cut from the script established that all the Daleks infected with the Human Factor at the climax of "The Evil Of The Daleks" had been eradicated, indicating that that story was not the "final end" of the Daleks after all.
  • An Astral Projection, Not a Ghost: The ghosts the Doctor is asked to investigate turn out to be projections of time travellers from the future.
  • Arbitrary Scepticism: By this point, the Brigadier's already dealt with a man who can change his face and travels through time, not to mention an incredible variety of aliens, but doesn't seem to believe in ghosts. In fairness, he's right—the "ghosts" the Doctor mentions are ones from the future, not the past.
  • Bad Future: So bad that some people thought that occupation by the Daleks was an improvement.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: Near the end of Episode Two, the Doctor fires one of the guerrillas' disintegrator guns in self-defence at an Ogron, vaporising it. This is one of only a handful of occasion where the Doctor uses deadly force against an opponent other than a Dalek or Cyberman. In the special edition, the Doctor also kills a second Ogron inside the house with the disintegrator pistol.
  • Big Bad: The Gold Dalek leads their forces on Earth.
  • Bound and Gagged: This is the ONLY serial in the entire run of Doctor Who where both the Doctor and his companion (Jo Grant) are bound and gagged.
  • Bridge Bunnies: All the Controller's technicians are blonde young women.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: Images of the previous Doctors appear on the Daleks' monitor screen as they interrogate him.
  • Continuity Nod:
    "Oh, being dragged off to an alien planet five hundred years in the future, for example. Oh, you know, all that business with the miners and the colonists."
  • Conveniently Placed Sharp Thing: The Doctor rubs his bonds against a wine rack in the cellar to cut his wrists free.
  • Costume Evolution: For a given definition of "costume," this story introduces a new, dark gray design for the Daleks with black trimming as a means of accommodating their designs for color TV. With the sole exception of "Death to the Daleks", which briefly brought back the silver design (while keeping the black trimming), this look would remain in place for the remainder of the Classic Series, with "Revelation of the Daleks" and "Remembrance of the Daleks" specifically using them for the Renegade faction.
  • Crapsack World: Future version of Earth, ruled by Daleks.
  • Deception Non-Compliance: The Doctor is held prisoner and then required to reassure the Brigadier that all is well over the telephone. He finds a subtle way to secretly call for help:
    "You tell Captain Yates not to worry. Everything's fine. Tell old Styles too and the Prime Minister. Oh, and, Brigadier, don't forget to tell it to the marines."
  • Disconnected by Death: The manager of the factory is on the radio to a guerilla cell when he is killed by an Ogron.
  • Disintegrator Ray: The guns used by the Ogrons and the Guerrillas.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: The Controller helps the Doctor and Jo return to the past to try and stop the Daleks' world domination scheme, but stays behind to confront his masters.
  • Enhanced on DVD: The DVD special release does an extensive overhaul of the story. It adds a lot of CGI in place of the primitive green screen-esque colour separation overlay effects (the monitors look more futuristic, the Dalek headquarters exterior shot is completely different and the building looks more intimidating with flying vehicles in the background), laser blasts, the extermination effect is not the screen flashing and streamers popping out of the Daleks but actual blue energy beams coming out of the guns and people turning see-through with visible skeletons when hit and Ogrons being more graphically disintegrated (controversially adding a scene where the Doctor kills another Ogron). It also has veteran Dalek voice actor Nicholas Briggs portray the Daleks in place of the original and admittedly shaky voice acting. (The series had tried to write off the Daleks and thus didn't have a go-to actor portrayal ready and able, and so the producers brought on two actors, Oliver Gilbert and Peter Messaline, who hadn't been as versed with Dalek voices and by now were out of practice. Neither Messaline nor Gilbert had ever been featured in any Doctor Who media before, nor since. Roy Skelton would later be called back (alongside future Davros actor Michael Wisher) and become the definitive classic series' voice of the Daleks.) Most notably, the climactic battle at Auderly House had entire sequences re-filmed decades after the serial had been released through funding by 2 entertain to show a true army of Daleks and Ogrons duking it out versus using new and borrowed costumes, when the original tried to create the illusion of an army by re-using the same shots of only a few Daleks and Ogrons rather unconvincingly. In fact, the production team may have possibly been limited to two Daleks by Jon Pertwee's estimate (again, the series nearly wrote off the Daleks and didn't have that many props on hand), nowhere near enough to depict a fearsome battle.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Daleks' HQ. A windowless tower block in the original version; the DVD effects make it far more ominous.
  • Excuse Me While I Multitask: The Doctor is suddenly attacked by a terrorist. The Doctor throws him to the ground, finishes his glass of wine, strolls over to the table to put it down and straightens up in time to intercept the man's next attack.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: The Controller, just before he gets, well, exterminated:
    "Who knows? I may have helped to exterminate you."
  • Failed a Spot Check: An Epic Fail. Early on, the guerrillas capture the Doctor and Jo at Styles' estate and successfully hide them from hiding them in the cellar. Not a secret passage, just a cellar with a normal cellar door that's in plain sight. Yates and Benton even enter the same room that has the cellar door while looking for the Doctor and Jo and it never occurs to them to check the cellar.
  • Food Pills: The Controller claims that food in his time is almost invariably in pill form.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The serial was given a DVD release containing CGI effects, newly shot footage and new Dalek voices performed by Nicholas Briggs, who has provided the voices for the series since the 2005 relaunch.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Jo smashes a wine flask over the head of an Ogron.
  • Hollywood Darkness: "We'll wait 'til it's light", says the time traveller who's just materialised in broad daylight. Presumably they were trying to shoot day-for-night, but it... doesn't really work.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Apparently no-one in La Résistance made the correlation between their plan to blow up Styles and Styles having supposedly killed the delegates with a bomb that killed him too. They simply assume Styles was a warmonger in disguise who mistimed his murder attempt.
    • Grabbed by the Daleks with their frontal assault on the peace conference. Not only were the delegates evacuated long before the Daleks got near the house, an obvious alien invasion is just the sort of thing to make the wars the Daleks want to start less likely.
  • Immune to Bullets: A welcome aversion for the Brigadier as his machine gun works perfectly well on an Ogron.
  • Immune to Fate: Steven Moffat interprets the story this way. The Doctor can break the Stable Time Loop creating the alternate future of the Dalek rule as he is not subject to the usual laws of time.
  • Killer Space Monkey: The Ogrons, dim-witted mooks of the Daleks, put on their first appearance.
  • La Résistance: Played straight by the time-travelling guerrillas, albeit with the twist that they inadvertently caused the Dalek occupation in the first place.
  • Les Collaborateurs: A surprisingly sympathetic portrayal is shown where a future Earth has been taken over by Daleks but essentially run by collaborating humans who make things harsh and difficult to please the Daleks (and themselves) but nowhere near as dangerous as if the Daleks where running things directly.
  • Long Bus Trip: The Daleks return to the series as a recurrent fixture of the later Pertwee era, having (due to creator Terry Nation's attempts to sell a separate show featuring them in the USA) been absent from the series since the early Patrick Troughton serial "The Evil of the Daleks" five years and 135 episodes earlier.
  • My Future Self and Me: The Doctor runs into himself briefly due to a TARDIS malfunction.
  • Newscaster Cameo: Reporter Alex MacIntosh appears as himself reporting on the peace conference.
  • Oh, Crap!:
  • One-Steve Limit: The name of the Dalek killing explosive “Dalekanium” is the same name given to the material Dalek cases are made out of.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In the original cut, an Ogron slips out of its Ogron accent (a kind of cross between Simpleton Voice and Creepy Monotone) accidentally. (The scene was cut from the Special Edition.)
    Ogron: We - Found - And - Destroyed - The - En-e-my.
    Commander: Any complications?
    Ogron: [In mumbly, naturalistic tone] No complications.
    • Or the actor realised you can't say "complications" in Hulk Speak.
    • This was actually down to the decision to make the Ogrons into simpletons being taken in between the shooting of the first two and last two episodes: Ogrons only speak three times in the whole story, including twice in that scene, whereas they were scripted as being quite erudite. As originally recorded, the first Ogron line was "Mission accomplished. Target found and eliminated." That line was re-recorded (the scene suddenly cuts to a close-up at that point) but the second one wasn't.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: The Doctor finds a subtle way to secretly call for help when he is held prisoner and forced to phone the Brigadier:
    ''"You tell Captain Yates not to worry. Everything's fine. Tell old Styles too and the Prime Minister. Oh, and, Brigadier, don't forget to tell it to the marines."
  • Peace Conference: The last one obviously didn't work, so another one is held to stop a situation turning into World War III. A bomb going off starts that war and leads to the Daleks taking over Earth, which was what some guerrillas have travelled back in time to prevent by killing the man they thought was responsible. He wasn't and by blowing up the conference themselves, they caused their own problem. The Doctor is able to prevent this from occurring.
  • Pillar of Light: The DVD edition includes a version with new special effects. One of these is a narrow column of light shining upward from the Daleks' headquarters when they switch on the Time Vortex Magnetron.
  • Quiet Cry for Help: The Doctor is held prisoner and then required to reassure the Brigadier that all is well over the telephone. He finds a subtle way to secretly call for help.
  • The Quisling: The Controller, name-dropped as such by the Doctor, though he also fulfils the Redemption Equals Death trope.
    Controller: Who knows, I may have helped to exterminate you.
  • Retraux: The Special Edition" DVD release has a brand-new version of the "only three Daleks" onslaught with a much bigger army, new voices by Dalek aficionado Nicholas Briggs, and new CGI sequences. An unbelievable amount of care was taken to ensure that nothing would look out of place within the 1972 milieu: the Dalek voices were re-created with older, analogue equipment (Briggs also uses a slightly less-deranged voice set than he does on the New Series); the new film sequences were done with a period-accurate BBC 16mm camera; and the CGI was made to look a little more like a model set.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The story was inspired by the Arab–Israeli Conflict, specifically the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt and the 1970 Dawson's Field hijackings.
  • San Dimas Time: The Doctor attributes the "eight minutes in the past = eight minutes in the present" thing to the "Blinovitch Limitation Effect". Mind you, that's his excuse for everything time-related.
  • Screw Destiny: The rebels go back to the 20th century to blow up a politician they blame for assassinating a roomful of international dignitaries and starting World War III, leaving the Earth weak and open to a Dalek invasion. It's eventually revealed that it was their bomb that caused the explosion. However, UNIT intervene and safely evacuate them all, averting disaster and leaving the future more open.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Shura, in the original timeline where he blew up the house, killing Styles and all the delegates, which led to the very war he was trying to prevent. Averted in the new timeline, where it becomes a Heroic Sacrifice by blowing up the house and destroying the attacking Daleks and Ogrons.
  • Sommelier Speak: The Doctor describes Styles' wine as "a touch sardonic perhaps, but not cynical".
  • Spoiler Title: The serial's title reveals that the Daleks are going to be the main foe of a story for the first time in five years.
  • Stable Time Loop: Humans from the future attempt to blow up UNIT headquarters to prevent someone from bombing a ministerial-level conference to be held there, starting World War III and allowing the Daleks to invade. As it turns out, it is their bomb that they are trying to prevent.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: One of the earliest in Doctor Who. Had already been touched on in "The Space Museum" but this could be seen as the Trope Codifier.
  • Troll: Captain Yates suddenly turns into one for this story, in particular during the first episode, when Jo fetches Benton some food and drink, only for Yates to chase Benton away and take it for himself. When Jo calls him out on it, Yates flat-out admits abusing his rank for the sake of feeding his face.
  • Unusual User Interface: The Controller's Bridge Bunnies are always waving their hands vaguely over their consoles, implying some kind of motion-activated control system.
  • Vichy Earth: The Daleks have installed an apparently efficient system of willing human "quislings". It seems the Daleks have learned to keep people in order via more subtle methods than just sticking a radio receiver in their brains. Their collaborators are provided with sharp tailoring, cushy lodgings, blonde female staff and plenty of fruit and nuts. To do their really dirty work, they're employing the Ogrons, a race of interstellar mercenaries. The Daleks themselves remain largely hidden behind the scenes.
  • We Will Not Have Pockets Inthe Future: 22nd century does not seem to include pockets. Especially noticeable with the guerillas, who are wearing combat fatigues with no pockets. Shura has to stuff a communicator inside his tunic in order to carry it, and later does the same thing with a bomb.
  • You Already Changed the Past: Freedom fighters from a Dalek-dominated future come back to the UNIT era to kill the diplomat they believe incited a nuclear war, but it turns out that they were responsible for the terrorist bomb that started the conflict. Fortunately, the Doctor is able to talk down the bomb-carrier and break them out of their Stable Time Loop.