Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Tomb of the Cybermen

For many years, The Tomb of the Cybermen was regarded as the holy grail of Doctor Who – fans spoke of it with tones of veneration as though it were the single greatest piece of television ever.  Those that hadn’t had the chance to see it first time around were remiss that they missed the chance, and when it was eventually rediscovered, people raced to see it, and many were ultimately a little disappointed.  It is still held in high regard by some, but for a large number it sadly didn't live up to the hype.  It’s very standard fare, really, particularly by Troughton’s standards.  It’s a base under siege story, and the earliest complete Troughton serial existing at the moment in the vaults, but that’s all that is really going for it.  Troughton is superb – and being given the chance to see every single moment of his performance allows us to see more of him than we ever have before.  There are moments in serials such as The Power of the Daleks, The Macra Terror and The Evil of the Daleks which are no doubt sublime; because we cannot see them, though, we take it for granted.  Here we are able to witness just how nuanced his portrayal of the Doctor is.  There is the potential for it to have been brilliant, but there are so many weak moments that it is by no means the perfect serial that it could have been.

The serial opens with a wonderful prelude of sorts, as the Doctor and Jamie welcome Victoria into the TARDIS.  Deborah Watling’s character was a late addition to the crew in the previous serial, only meeting our time travellers in episode 5 of the 7-part The Evil of the Daleks.  As such, she doesn’t have the relationship built up with the travellers that we’d expect from the outset; unlike Vicki’s introductory story, The Rescue, which focussed solely on her and her troubles, Victoria is given a story similar to Steven’s introduction, which was in the penultimate episode of The Chase.  It works surprisingly well, and one thing I am particularly taken by, doing this experiment, is how my opinions of characters can so swiftly change.  I always took Victoria to be something of an irritation, a typical whiner who tags along with the Doctor and Jamie through necessity following Evil, rather than by choice.  Now, whilst that is true to some degree, what is also surprising is how quickly she takes everything in her stride, and how proactive she is. 

What is also wonderful about this short prelude is that is allows Hines, as Jamie, the chance to have grown as a character too.  When he joined the crew, he was the boy from the past, out of his depth and asking silly questions that a contemporary audience would scoff at.  Now, though, he has become the old hand in the TARDIS, and is able to give Victoria a guided tour without issue.  No longer is he the boy afraid of “flying beasties”; instead he gestures to panels of knobs and levers with a nonchalance, talking of them as “controlling our flight” while Victoria becomes the incredulous traveller.   The conversation turns to a mention of the Doctor’s age, currently approximately “450 years old” which is a wonderful little set up for a conversation in episode three which is absolutely smashing.  Victoria is then sent to change her clothes whilst the Doctor steers the TARDIS off through time.

Meanwhile, in on the surface of Telos, an expedition of various nationalities is gathered on a cliff face, whilst a black giant of a man is lumbering on the outcrop above.  Pedler and Davis’ script cleverly introduces these characters and their traits within moments; Viner is a whiny, snivelling man terrified of his own shadow, Toberman is a lumbering servant with no individual brains, Kaftan is the financier of the expedition, Parry is a caring and compassionate archaeologist who is concerned that Kaftan and Klieg are trying to take over his expedition.  All of this is setup very quickly, and effectively.  All the same, the direction falls a little flat; the group are all gathered, staring up at one area where explosives have been set, and there is a fantastic explosion which reveals nothing.  Meanwhile, whilst the entire crew are looking forlornly, off-screen we hear a low rumble – evidently supposed to represent a landslide – and a gormless American minion points in totally a different direction, where the tomb entrance has been perfectly and conveniently revealed.  The incidental music here is wonderfully effective, though, and again is all from stock; the use of silence to contrast the hubbub of action moments before the explosion is an excellent moment of tension.

With the arrival of the Doctor and his companions, though, the action ramps up, as does the tension.  Moments before, an unnamed explorer has died horrifically after touching the doors into the eponymous tombs.  The Doctor and co are naturally accused – par for the course – but Troughton very quickly takes command of the situation, informing the archaeological party exactly what happened, where and how.  There is some fantastic makeup evidenced by the burn marks on the man’s hands, too, which just about makes up for the dreadful accents sported by Hopper and his crewmates – George Roubicek’s enthusiasm is palpable, as he chews his way through lines like “it’s not exactly peaches!” and constantly calls people “sport” or “guy”.  The writing here is partly to blame, but his hands-on-hips Flash Gordon-esque performance doesn’t exactly help to sell the character. 

What is interesting is the disregard Troughton’s Doctor seems to have for the lives of the people on the expedition.  From the outset, he is actively endangering everyone involved; once he hears mention of the Cybermen – although why he needed to hear it is beyond me, since there are massive motifs stencilled either side of the door! – he actively pushes the group forward.  They are just about to give up when he helps them to open the doors to the tombs.  Soon, he also helps the group open doors on either side of the main room by explaining the method needed, and further assists Klieg in opening the vaults which lead to the tomb proper.  He is flippant with each of these things – and when one considers that Klieg and Kaftan are simply not smart enough to have managed to infiltrate the tomb alone, and one cannot escape the feeling that all of this could have been avoided, if the Doctor had just kept his mouth shut.  Indeed, I touched on this in the last blog update I wrote, for The Evil of the Daleks, but we can’t help but feel that the Doctor’s impish, clown-like and scruffy exterior is hiding much darker motives; he is still the manipulative man we see much later in the Doctor’s travels, particularly during McCoy’s era. 

There is an interesting moment of power play between Klieg and the Doctor, where he says that he manages to work things out by “keeping my eyes open and my mouth shut” – as he says this, Toberman sneaks away right in line with the Doctor’s vision lines.  It is an odd moment, one which is justified in the next episode and we discover that he has sabotaged the fuel links on the rocket, stranding the group on Telos.  Again, the Doctor allows him to leave, and although he makes a passing comment about the damage a large man like Toberman could do, he never comes out with his accusations, instead just watching and planning.

There is some wonderful comedy again between Hines and Troughton – the scenes before the group enter where they inadvertently hold hands always makes me chuckle aloud, and the flattery of Victoria’s dress is equally lovely, with a quick-witted comment on the skirt length – “a bit short?  I shouldn’t worry about that – look at Jamie’s!”  Once the team are inside the hidden city, there is a wonderful sense of scale to the place; the set design is simply magnificent, making the most of being studio-bound as it is, Martin Johnson’s set design is wonderful, all functional dials and huge control panels, with sliding doors and hidden guns, as well as the bizarre choice to have the Cyberman face stencilled on literally every surface – indeed, even each stool has a Cyber-face staring up at you.  This is only one small fault, though, as overall the design work is a masterpiece. 

The scenes in the testing room and the projector room are suitably tense, as the title has promised us Cybermen, and the cliffhanger allows us a glimpse at the eponymous villains, back for their next serial three serials after their last appearance.  The reveal of the Cyberman is suitably chilling, appearing as it does in a hail of gunfire, executing poor Haydon, the best guest actor of the group by miles.  Episode 2 opens with a recap of this, and it is painfully frustrating – not one of them will confirm what they must all have seen, and even the Doctor simply mutters that he “saw something”.  They point out that they were all looking at the screen – where the Cyberman came from! – yet are unsure that it is what they saw.  Instead, the group focus on the significance that he was shot in the back, revealing the large weapon hidden therein. 

During the entirety of episodes 1 and 2, by far the most frustrating thing is Cyril Shaps’ portrayal of Viner; for an actor that went on to appear in four serials, he is surprisingly one-note, all high-pitched whines and repetitive complaints.  The Doctor investigates the dummy Cyberman and the gun which appears from the wall, while in the central room, Toberman returns to confirm that “it is done”.  Once the whole group return to the central chamber, where Klieg continues to puzzle over near-impossible logic sequences, Hopper returns to say, in a typically melodramatic drawl “Well, I'm going to tell you something now. The first guy that set sets foot in my rocketship is going to stop the repair work just like that!”  As such, our deus ex machina is in place, and the group are stuck within the tombs whether they like it or not.  Quite how everyone seems to miss the suspicious activity going on between Klieg and Kaftan is baffling – and this being 1960s Doctor Who they are, of course, foreigners, lurking in the darkness, exchanging furtive glances and whispering confidentially. 

Once again, it is due to the Doctor’s interference that the group are able to enter the actual tombs – had he not interfered and explained the method, the group would merely have been stuck in the central chamber waiting for Hopper and his men to fix the rocket.  Instead, the team head down into the tombs, where we are granted the view of yet another spectacular piece of design wok – the honeycomb design of the Cybermen’s tombs are magnificently lit, and look incredible, particularly in the defrosting sequences as the Cybermen are reawakened by Klieg’s meddling.  Sadly, director Morris Barry doesn’t make the most of these sequences, instead choosing to linger on them for overly long sequences which are then soon repeated, somewhat undermining the power of them.

As I mentioned at the start, what makes this serial so important is the fact that it allows us to see Troughton, on top form, from start to finish.  There are so many subtle and clever moments throughout this serial – such as when he casts suspicious glances at Klieg down in the tombs – that make the absence of his stories all the more painful.  There is so much we must surely be missing, things which we can only guess at.  By all accounts, several of the scenes in the recently rediscovered The Underwater Menace episode 2 show that this serial is far from the joke many considered it to be.

The waking of the Cybermen, as I say, is an awesome moment, and their slow rise to consciousness, bursting forth from their cocoons to the ‘Space Adventure’ theme tune is an iconic moment.  Slightly less iconic, though, is the moment at which we meet the Cyber-controller.  As he is revealed, squatting, it is far less visually striking than it may have been.  However, the cliffhanger remains incredibly effective, as the shrill and invasive singsong tones of the Controller utters “You shall be like us”.

Episode 2 is also wonderful for giving Victoria a chance to grow as a companion; Watling here works tremendously well in the sequences where she is forced to watch Kaftan in the central chamber, rather than following the boys into the tombs below.  Whilst the motive may be a little sexist, she attempts to fight it, demanding to be allowed to follow the men.  There is a wonderful moment where Kaftan asks Victoria if she wishes for some food, but Victoria is put off by the futuristic appearance of the food cubes – it is a subtle reminder that this Victorian girl is out of her depth in a futuristic universe.  When she is drugged by Kaftan, it becomes standard female-companion fare, until she awakens and turns Kaftan’s gun on the Cybermat sidling towards her, suddenly becoming crack shot with a pistol.

Klieg is yet another of those typical human villains in Doctor Who, much like Mavic Chen in The Daleks’ Master Plan and Theodore Maxtible in the last serial, The Evil of the Daleks.  Blinded by his own ambition, he genuinely believes he is equal to them, but within moments of meeting them, he is forced to his knees, a quivering wreck.  Desperate for their approval, he begs and pleads, before realising the danger that the hulking giants represent – although that too is only a short-lived realisation, but more on that later.

Episode 3 allows us to appreciate the Cybervoices fully, and Peter Hawkins does a wonderful job; having voiced them since their introduction in The Tenth Planet earlier that year, he has also voiced them in their second serial, and the nuanced performance has been honed somewhat – for me, though, the perfect Cybervoices are the original work of Hawkins and Roy Skelton in The Tenth Planet, where they had a horrifying singsong quality, with the emphasis always seeming to be on the wrong part of the word.  Now, though, they have a very human inflection down to a tee, but the voices still work effectively.  The droning “You shall be like us” is chilling.  Less effective is the ridiculous buzzing noise made by the 8 Cybermen that are released and attacked by the smoke bombs thrown by Hopper on his mission to save the Doctor and co from the tombs.  It is a horribly invasive sound – and not in a good way – and detracts somewhat from their menace.  Similarly, the Cyberman that pursues Jamie through the tombs is equally ridiculous, doing preposterous double takes.
This sequence is notorious for another reason though;  one of the most embarrassing things about being a Doctor Who fan is those moments when you pray no one will walk in on you watching it, and the fight sequence in which Toberman is lifted by the most ridiculously visible wires is one of those unforgivable moments in the show’s history, along with the Kandy man’s appearance in The Happiness Patrol and the dinosaurs in Invasion of the Dinosaurs.  I once heard someone refer to it as being caught masturbating.  It’s that embarrassing.  There are one or two moments which baffle you – if that wasn’t worth a retake, what kind of muck up would be?!  There are moments where both Roy Stewart as Toberman and Hines’ Jamie each trip on the way up the stairs – Hines falls downwards, and it is only because of Troughton’s fast-thinking that he doesn’t end up face-planting.  These are still forgivable, as one could imagine the characters, in their heightened emotional states, tripping and stumbling.  But the sight of the enormous crampon attached to Stewart’s waistband, as well as the cable is shocking.  Worse still, Stewart is lifted into the air before the Cyberman is even in position to lift him. 

Equally rubbish is the sequence with the Cybermats.  Inexplicably, these are more than double the size of the original one which attacked Victoria and Kaftan, and it is never made clear whether these are supposed to be the same as the first, or a larger model.  Instead, it is left to the audience to decide.  Some ten models were made by the FX and props guys, of differing manoeuvrability, with some fixed to nylon wires, other remote control, and others completely stationary.  When the ‘masses’ of them attack the group in the central chamber, it is unclear precisely what is supposed to be happening, or even what the threat is.  Unlike in later Cyberman stories like Revenge of the Cybermen, where the Cybermats have a clear function, here they seem to attach themselves to their victims yet do absolutely nothing.  They don’t bite, or poison.  Instead, they sit there until the victim knocks them off.  As such, this sequences has no tension to it – the Doctor lays down a wire which is electronically charged and it fries the circuits of the Cybermats.  And there ends the threat.  To be fair, they could simply have picked them up and thrown them away.  There is another wonderful comedic moment here, too when the Doctor refers to them having had a “complete metal breakdown” – and it is interesting that it is Jamie who does the pantomime eye roll and sighs outwardly at this poor attempt at a joke.

It is sequences like this which show Morris Barry’s inability to direct action sequences; whilst the smaller moments are well lit and tense, with suitable atmosphere, the action sequences for the most part decline into silliness and farcical noises.  One such beautiful moment is the scene between Troughton and Watling, where the pair discusses their families.  Victoria’s monologue is heartbreaking, and we are reminded that this story takes place hours after the events of The Evil of the Daleks, so she has only been an orphan for about a day.  Likewise, we are given a rare glimpse into the Doctor’s life before we met him, and he talks of a family in a poignant speech;
“I have to really want to, to bring them back in front of my eyes. The rest of the time they sleep in my mind, and I forget. And so will you. Oh yes, you will. You'll find there's so much else to think about. So remember, our lives are different to anybody else's. That's the exciting thing. There's nobody in the universe can do what we're doing.”
It is a powerful moment, and one with great resonance.  It achieves the difficult task of creating a rapport between Doctor and companion which is founded on trust and love, as well as respect and admiration.

The cliffhanger of episode 3 is something of a damp squib, sadly; having realised that Klieg is hell-bent on trying to resurrect the Cybermen for his own demented ends, he is locked away – in the weapons testing room.  With the weapons.  It’s utterly ridiculous, and adds further to the idea that the Doctor is manipulating everyone still.  Part way through episode 2, he admits that he knew Klieg’s intentions all along, but was just watching to see “what he was up to”.  There’s a flippancy here which is unnerving.  But yes, Klieg is locked up in the weapons room, surrounded by Cyberman weaponry;   yet still sort of works.  It further highlights how, due to their absence from history for more than 500 years, the threat of the Cybermen seems to have been forgotten.  But Klieg and Kaftan’s re-emergence at the end, and the shot off-screen followed by a scream, is all terribly pat.  The show is called Doctor Who.  The likelihood of the Doctor being killed off-screen partway through a story is minimal.  And yet... and yet...  We must remember that it was whilst facing the Cybermen that Hartnell died, regenerating into Troughton.  It was also mid-season, although not mid-serial.    But really, dying at the hands of a madman like Klieg was never likely.

Instead, it is Callum that has been shot and wounded, jumping in front of the ray and taking a bullet for the Doctor – making this the second time in as many serials that someone has gladly sacrificed himself for the sake of the Doctor.  Again, it is striking that the death toll continues to rise hour by hour, and again it strikes me that this could all have been avoided.  The Doctor’s irresponsible behaviour continues, though, as the group are lead back down into the tombs by Klieg, and the group of Cybermen are revitalised, having returned to their tombs to reenergise.  And here is my biggest issue with The Tomb of the Cybermen as a serial:

Throughout the serial, we are told that Klieg intends to use the Cybermen to rule the world, indeed to rule the universe, for the Brotherhood of Logicians.  Yet when we finally see these reawakened Cybermen, who have been within their tombs for more than 500 years waiting for qualified minds to awaken them, we cannot help be struck by how utterly inept they are.  Having spent 500 years hooked up to all of the machinery within the tombs, in a state of suspended animation, they are out of their units for no more than a few hours before needing to plug themselves back in?  Even the Cyber-controller is in need of a recharge, his voice slowing down throughout the scenes in which he menaces the Doctor and the others in the central chamber – and the Doctor again assists the Cyber-controller by helping him into the rejuvenation chamber.  There is a throwaway moment where Troughton jokes that he needs to teach Jamie how to tie a proper knot as the rejuvenated Controller bursts through the door to the chamber and menaces the entire group once more. 

Kaftan’s death scene is another of those moments which seems utterly redundant.  With the Cyber-controller rejuvenated, he demands that the tombs be reopened.  The group refuse, so he does it himself.  Kaftan runs over and throws a switch – and the Cyber-controller executes her, before flipping the switch back and continuing on with his mission.  It is a needless moment of self-sacrifice, albeit one which is visually very impressive as the smoke bubbles forth from the collar of her shirt and she crumples to the ground.  Ultimately, though, her death is only a tool which allows Troughton to take control of the situation.  Toberman, part Cyberman now, is so enraged by the death of his beloved mistress that he throws the Cyber-controller into the entrance panels.  Of course, this is again one of those laughable effects – we see the head fall off the dummy! – but we take it in our stride as we are working up to the finale. 

I’m really not quite sure how I feel about Toberman, as a character.  My issue isn’t the ‘racism’ of having a dumb near-mute foreign looking character – we’ve had it only the serial before with Kemel, after all – but rather the very one-dimensionality of him generally.  Had Toberman been a character, rather than just a cardboard cut-out of a strong man, throughout, these final moments would probably be more touching and poignant.  Instead, though, we have barely seen a moment of Toberman being human; his delight at the prospect of hurting Jamie ultimately boiled down to a “Hulk smash”-like glee as he twisted his fists.  His dialogue has been entirely monosyllabic and sparse in the greatest degree regardless.  Toberman, once converted into a Cyberman, seems no different.  We see the oscilloscope footage superimposed to show that he is taking orders, but even his movements are not really that different to his shifty exit in episode 1 when he took his orders from Kaftan.  At the end of the day, Toberman’s function is that of a slave, a servant to follow the bidding of a master.  And this is what makes me dislike the turn of the story, as too much of it hinges on Toberman’s character, but there just isn’t enough character there for it to rest upon.  The scene in which he destroys another Cyberman with his bare hands, meanwhile, is magnificently gory and explicit, and genuinely quite nerve-wracking.

The serial ends with the group finally escaping the tombs, with the hatch locked down and the Cybermen all back in their cells, in a scene in which we watch the “awakening” in reverse.  Once out, they are pursued by the Cyber-controller and it is Toberman, sacrificing his life, which saves them – he forces the doors shut, regardless of the electric current running through the system as a security measure against further exploration.  And again, I’m not sure how I feel about this, either.  To some extent, it is a moment of redemption for Toberman – after all, it was his fault that the party were stranded on the surface of Telos anyway.  But it is because of the Doctor’s security system that Toberman has to die at all, and that makes me a little uncomfortable.

I’ve talked about it a number of times during this blog and the last, but I’d just like to point out, once again, that all of this is Troughton’s Doctor’s fault!  Had he not meddled, the group would have just left.  Only one casualty, the nameless man who was looking to claim fifty pounds but who was electrocuted for his trouble.  Instead, Hayden was shot in the testing room, Klieg was murdered by a Cyberman, Kaftan was executed by the Cyber-controller, Viner was shot by Klieg, Callum was shot protecting the Doctor, Toberman was electrocuted... all because of his curiosity.  It’s an uncomfortable thought, that due to his constant intrigue he has led a number of people to their grave – yes, some of those people were ‘bad guys’, and their ends were deserved, but only because the Doctor helped them gain entrance in the first place.  To set “a fatal” current through the doors and panels seems a little extreme, too – considering the difficulty the expedition group would have had in the first place, it seems frivolous for the Doctor to be responsible for any future deaths.  Similarly upsetting is the fact that Toberman’s body is simply abandoned.  He sacrifices himself for their sake, dying in the process, and yet everyone kind of shrugs and heads off in their own direction, with the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria returning to the TARDIS, and those remaining of Parry’s expedition returning to Hopper’s rockets.

And a solitary Cybermat runs past, hinting that this isn’t the “final end” of the Cybermen we were faced with at the end of the last Dalek serial.  All told, this isn’t a bad serial, per se.  It’s far better than some we’ve seen, and is certainly better than some that will follow.  For me, though, the faults within the story and the direction are just too distracting for it to rightfully own the title of ‘classic’ that it is revered to be.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Evil of the Daleks

The Evil of the Daleks is widely considered one of the best serials ever made during the classic run.  According to Wikipedia, it was voted the best ever serial in a poll held by Dreamwatch for the 30th anniversary.  But why?  What is it about this particular story that makes it so good? Bear in mind that in 1993, when the poll was held, the episode had not existed in any visual format for years.  Indeed, only one episode from this serial exists now, discovered in 1987, 6 years before the 30th anniversary.  The originals had been wiped in the late 60s, meaning that unless you saw it on original broadcast, chances were you’d missed it.  The novelisation was released in 1993, not long after the vote, and was in fact the very last serial to be novelised, with the exceptions of the Adams stories, such as City of Death. 

So what is it, then, that makes this such a popular serial?  It has everything we’d want from an outstanding story; Daleks?  Check. New companion? Check. A race through time and space? Check. Genetic testing? Check.  But all of these are not what makes The Evil of the Daleks such a phenomenal serial.  No, that honour solely comes down to Troughton – here, we finally can see the Doctor is back on form.  Rather than winning by chance, or coming to some final negotiations to prevent a war, or having to be saved by the proactive nature of his companions, here he is the Time Lord Victorious that we have come to expect.  He is forward thinking, proactive, dynamic, funny, warm, compassionate, and, most of all, brave.  This serial comes at the end of the fourth season, which has seen Hartnell leave, the last vestiges of his tenure have finally been shaken off with the departure of Ben and Polly in the last episode, and the TARDIS team are now finally free to reinvent themselves. 

Thankfully, Terry Nation was unable to write for this serial – designed to be the final face-off with the Daleks, as Nation was trying to break USA with the Doctor’s nemesis – and so David Whitaker was brought in.  Whitaker had previously written for Troughton’s Doctor, and the Daleks, in The Power of the Daleks, arguably one of the finest Dalek stories to date.   In addition to that, it allows Troughton and Hines to perfect the double act between the two which we saw the beginnings of in The Faceless Ones.  Here, the two are given the chance to gel perfectly, honing their relationship, before adding into the mix Victoria Waterfield, soon to be the newest companion.  Of course, this is another difficult one to watch and analyse effectively, as most of it is missing.  Much of it does exist in telesnap form, though, and the photo-novel is published on the BBC website.  Reading through this whilst listening to the audio track helps to gain some appreciation for how wonderful this serial is, though.

We are thrust straight into the action at the top of episode 1, with the Doctor and Jamie still in hot pursuit of the TARDIS following the final scene of The Faceless Ones.  Like Sherlock and Watson, the pair unravel clues and track the ship down – starting with a wonderfully comedic scene as the Doctor and Jamie have to interview an employee of the airport, before being handed a note saying that the TARDIS was due to be collected at 3pm, and signed for by J. Smith – possibly a little nod to the Doctor’s alter-ego, John Smith, although he hasn’t used that moniker yet.  That’s the trouble with time travel, of course, where things never happen in quite the right order.  Troughton’s Doctor is first given the name John Smith in The Wheel in Space, which was also co-written by David Whitaker. 

Of course, all is not as it seems, and the TARDIS crew are being monitored by a man in a nearby field, listening in on their conversation via a wireless radio.  As it turns out, though, no one is quite who they seem, and the Doctor and Jamie end up following their source, whilst being tailed by a man named Kennedy.  Kennedy is in contact with a man called Waterfield, played with sympathetic gusto by John Bailey.  What is fascinating is the way in which these two storylines are running in tandem, with small connections throughout.  The Doctor and Jamie soldier on unravelling clues, whilst we get to see Bailey’s Waterfield working away, suspiciously out of his own time.  His costume is decidedly Victorian, as is his speech pattern.  There’s a lilting rhythm to his dialogue, and we cannot help but feel comfortable in his presence.  That is, of course, ironic, since he is ultimately involved in the scheming and as such should not be trusted.  Waterfield’s suspicious origins become more and more intriguing as we see him visited by a gentleman named Perry who comments on antique furniture, which is in mint condition, as though it were brand new.

The Doctor and Jamie arrive outside a warehouse, whilst inside Hall, refusing to be involved in a kidnapping plot, is beaten unconscious by Kennedy.  The time travellers enter in time to find him laid out across a vast sum of money, mumbling a name.  The detective work continues as the Doctor manages to deduce characteristics and mannerisms about the attacker from a book of matches, before the pair set off, watched by Kennedy.  Kennedy is played with sleazy relish by Griffith Davies, and the scenes between him and Waterfield that follow are wonderful.  The ease with which Kennedy talks about beating up Hall and the like makes him horrifically unknowable, calculating and murderous in equal measure.  Watching as he spies on Waterfield from outside the room is unnerving, too; this man has no moral compass, no honesty or decency within him.  Waterfield, meanwhile, continues to lead the Doctor and Jamie on a merry dance, as he uses photos of the two to send Perry to talk to them.  The multilayered scheme comes across as confusing and convoluted, but works on every level simply because it is so brazen. 

There’s a smashing moment in the cafĂ©, as the Doctor and Jamie sit listening to The Seekers, where they discuss the fact that they are conscious that they are being toyed with – there is no company by the name signed on the delivery order, according to the phone book, and he says that if only they knew who their enemies were, the Doctor could deal with the situation.  When Jamie asks if it is still the Chameleons responsible, the Doctor responds that it is “something else. I can feel them, closing in all around us.”  This psychic sense is a call-back to a throwaway line in The War Machines, during which Hartnell’s Doctor noted that he sensed his nemeses, the Daleks.  At the time, of course, it was a theory discounted due to the presence of the eponymous War Machines themselves; but bearing in mind we now know of the time frame in which this story, as well as the previous one and Ben and Polly’s first ever adventure, is set, it becomes all the more interesting to think that the Doctor, back then, noted that the Daleks were around at the same time.  Likewise, when Perry arrives and hands the Doctor a business card, intended for Doctor Galloway and Mr McCrimmon, he announces that it is Mr Waterfield who is expecting him – the true person behind the scheme is revealed, yet still shrouded in secrecy and cunning.

The episode rattles towards the first cliffhanger at a great pace, as Kennedy attempts to break into the secret room at the back of Waterfield’s office, a room filled with technologically advanced machinery which has no place in 1966.  Of course, what makes this all the more unsettling is the fact that this machinery, which has no place in 1966, is in a room belonging to a man that has no place being in 1966.  It is an incredibly clever scenario, one which completely throws the audience.  The emergence of the Dalek in the final moments, uttering “Who are you? Answer!” is horribly unnerving, and despite their presence in the title – spoilers, damn it! – we almost forget that they are supposed to have been involved.

Episode two, thankfully, exists, so once again we are given the opportunity to relish Derek Martinus’ direction.  Whilst most of his work is missing, from the existent episodes of his work still available, we can tell that Martinus is a gifted director – his work on Spearhead from Space, the very first colour serial, is simply breathtaking, as is his work on The Ice Warriors and The Tenth Planet, so we know that such a strong script is in suitably skilled hands.  The materialisation scenes are wonderfully shot, and again the deep-focus is used perfectly, particularly in an early scene to enhance the comedy in the double act of the Doctor and Jamie – as he warns Jamie not to be clumsy, moments before knocking a vase off to be caught by Jamie behind, who gives an over-the-top eye roll before resetting it on the worktop.  Moments like this are magnificent when we are able to see them, and we can only imagine what the rest of this looks like.  The scenes in Waterfield’s shop are wonderful – from the Doctor and Jamie continuing on their Sherlock-and-Watson double-act and discovering Kennedy’s body, and Jamie’s utter lack of subtlety, to the scenes with Perry fetching the Police Officer, so utterly trusting – and the direction simply works.  There’s a bizarre Star Wars-esque screen wipe as we cut from Troughton’s face in close-up to a copy of the photograph Perry had earlier on being placed into a trap by Waterfield. 

Waterfield is a wonderful narrative construct, and he is played with perfection by Bailey – being able to see him in this episode allows us to better appreciate his performance throughout the serial.  He truly is a man torn, stuck between a rock and a hard place.  His wish to hand himself to the authorities in a few episode’s time becomes more relatable having seen him here, in mental anguish as he struggles with the right and the wrong of his actions; he desperately wants his daughter back, but the death of Kennedy makes him realise that there is more to the Daleks than at first there appears to be.

What Whitaker does so magnificently with his script, though, is to confuse us.  Still, more than half way through the second episode, we’ve only seen the Daleks briefly, and whilst they have committed murder onscreen, their plans are still an utter mystery.  It all seems so ridiculously convoluted, with the Doctor and Jamie following clue after clue – many of them utterly redundant anyway – to get them into the back room of a Victorian antique specialist’s shop in 1966, where they are then transported back to 1866, only for them to still remain in the background, using humans to complete their work as they become babysitters for Deborah Watling’s Victoria Waterfield.  Watling gets an unfair level of criticism, I feel, principally due to her being the companion instead of Pauline Collins’ character from The Faceless Ones, who would have been a more contemporary identification figure.  Instead, Victoria, as a character, comes across as more of a damp squib, a Victorian girl terrified by almost everything she sees.  Here, though, she is surprisingly confident, never screaming or even really whimpering.  There is fear evident in her eyes, but she follows the instructions of the Daleks to the letter, and simply bides her time, confident that she will be rescued, somehow.

As the time travellers are dragged back in time by the time machine in the back of the shop, they wake to find themselves in Maxtible’s home, which is frankly magnificent.  The set designs here are luscious and the contrast created between the contemporary shop, filled with Victorian bric-a-brac, then the futuristic backroom, followed by this grand scale is magnificent.  Of course, we are fortunate that these ornate doorways are wide enough for Daleks to fit through – they no doubt chose Maxtible exclusively for his huge doorframes, as well as the enormous sprawling property he owns, allowing for the most elaborate game of Mousetrap ever.  The very first mention of Maxtible is wonderful; as Mollie refers to him as “the Master”, Troughton’s Doctor does a double-take which is fantastic, before we are introduced to Maxtible for real – played with wild-eyed enthusiasm by Marius Goring, who is simply spectacular as he intones that “we are all of us the victims of a higher purpose”.  Again, his ulterior motives are somewhat predictable, but Goring plays the role with such genuine conviction that we cannot help but be enamoured by his blind ambition.

Troughton’s Doctor is magnificent in the early scenes in Maxtible’s laboratory, and Goring’s pride is wonderfully contrasted with Troughton’s seemingly bumbling silliness.  What is telling, though, is that moment that we hear mention of “Static”, and Troughton’s instant about-face.  He goes from impish clown to serious scientist in a heartbeat, as he realises the implications of the static electricity, and who is therefore responsible for the manipulative games at hand.  Whitaker here continues the ideas originally set out in Terry Nation’s earliest Dalek stories, and sketches the creatures as Nazi despots, horrifically single-minded in their desperation for what they see as the purity of all civilisation; the mention of testing on humans is enough to make anyone shudder, and that it should be Jamie who is to be tested upon is all the more shocking.

With Jamie finally waking up in the drawing room, we see more of the lover, as well as the fighter, from The Faceless Ones that we have come to expect; he flirts outrageously with Molly, the serving girl, as well as with Ruth Maxtible to some extent, and is instantly drawn to the portrait hanging above the fireplace.  Quite why Maxtible has a portrait of Waterfield’s wife is never made entirely clear, but this slight oddity can easily be overlooked.  The episode ends with a stranger in the window striding forward, knocking Jamie unconscious with a cosh before planting the unconscious Molly in his seat and leaving.  Meanwhile, two Daleks chant in abrasive tones that there will be no delay to their plan to test on Jamie.

Episodes 3 and 4 are sadly where things seem to go a little wayward for me during The Evil of the Daleks.  Obviously, in a 7 episode serial we come to expect a little filler, but there are entire sequences here which seem utterly irrelevant, and are particularly difficult to sit through with no visual aid.  Firstly, we have the discovery of the maid, unconscious, and the Doctor follows a clue – a piece of straw – to the outhouses, where Jamie has been taken by Toby, the burly stranger from the previous episode.  Here, it appears he is under the employment of one James Terrall, fiancĂ© of Ruth Maxtible.  Terrall swiftly succumbs to some form of interference, though, and becomes an entirely different person.  Toby insists that Terrall offered to pay him substantially for the kidnapping of Jamie, but Terrall denies this stringently, and the thug attempts to blackmail him in a later scene, leading us into the cliffhanger which is a direct reprise of the end of episode 1 – the thug in question this time is Toby, rather than Kennedy, but his fate is the same.  The Doctor’s following of the clue to the outhouses is utterly pointless, since Jamie is freed by Terrall anyhow.  Likewise, Terrall’s motives for asking Toby to kidnap Jamie in the first place are unclear, and we never gain any closure from it – with Toby’s death, so too does the story.  All in all, it seems like a redundant sidestep in the action; although well acted, and well scripted too, it adds nothing to the plot.
Whilst all of this is going on, there is also a bizarre sequence in which we meet Kemel, Maxtible’s Turk slave, played by Sonny Caldinez in his first Doctor Who appearance.  Caldinez will go on to appear in four further serials, each time playing an Ice Warrior.  He is a mountain of a man, an impressively built man in fact, and the first scene featuring him with Maxtible is entirely set up for the scenes to follow in the opening scene of episode 4.  Here, though, it all seems a little perfunctory.  Simply by looking at him, we can tell that he is a monstrously strong character, so the scenes in which we see him shatter planks of wood with his bare hands, or bend iron rods around his neck in an attempt to prove his strength to the watching Dalek, all seem rather pointless.  Likewise, the explanations about the danger of the spikes and so on; ultimately, we could simply have seen Jamie become almost impaled, and that would have been just as effective. Kemel is another of those stock characters that Doctor Who does so well, but which will from here on gradually dwindle in frequency; the gigantic racial stereotype, who seems all brawn and no brains but which shows compassion and humanity.  This is epitomised by Toberman in the very next serial, The Tomb of the Cyberman, but here seems to be being trialled. 

Really, episode 3 – and 4, and much of 5 too – is all set up for, and completion of, the experiment.  Jamie is being tested for the Doctor to extract ‘the human factor’ as Jamie is monitored completing a number of tasks, ultimately saving Victoria Waterfield from her captors.  What is particularly interesting here is that the Doctor comes across as manipulative; Sylvester McCoy is regarded – rightly – as having created the “Darker Doctor”, a more manipulative and devious character who plots and plans and uses everyone for his own ends.  He has a game plan, and knows where everything is heading.  This is most notable in his final season, in serials such as Ghost Light and The Curse of Fenric.  But this is proto-McCoy.  Here, Troughton intentionally baits Jamie into heading off to do the righteous thing and to save the girl, all the time using him for his own ends.  The heated argument between Troughton and Hines is horrible to watch – our Doctor and our Jamie, at each others’ throats, makes for uncomfortable viewing indeed.

n episode 4, we have a fight sequence which seems to last forever; whilst it all sounds great, it’s difficult to tell exactly what is happening without Hines’ exuberant linking narrative.  Eventually, however, through Jamie showing compassion and mercy to Kemel, the fight comes to an end and the two make an uneasy truce; one which is later solidified.  There is what sounds like a hilarious scene in which a Dalek enters with Victoria’s lace handkerchief, laying it down in position for a trap.  The image of a Dalek with something as innocent and feminine as a lace hankie makes me giggle.  Whilst Jamie’s quest continues, we have scenes intercut with the Doctor in the laboratory, monitoring his progress and gradually distilling chemicals based on what he watches.  Exactly what or how this is done is unclear – which chemical exactly will help to imbue compassion within a Dalek?! – but it is often better not to look too closely at the science of Doctor Who, at least not until Christopher Bidmead joins the staff.

The scenes in which the Doctor extols of the virtues of compassion is quite an interesting one, particularly as it is juxtaposed with a wonderful scene between Maxtible and Waterfield, in which Maxtible shows that, like the Daleks, he too is missing that vital ingredient in the ‘human factor’ the Daleks are so desperate for.  Gradually, episode by episode, Maxtible is revealing himself to be more and more insane in his hunger for wealth.  Still, during episode 4, we don’t even know why he is working with the Daleks.  It is the ultimate slow burn, forcing the audience to question the motives of this man.  Waterfield shows regret, remorse, sympathy for the victims in all this – including himself, of course – and yet in contrast, Maxtible feels nothing but overwhelming self-assurance and pride in his experiments and his laboratory.  There’s a chilling scene at the end of this episode between Maxtible and a Dalek in which Maxtible, under no circumstances, uses the word “obey”.  He argues that they are mutually exclusive business partners, and they are assisting each other in their experiments.  But under no circumstances is he, Theodore Maxtible, the servant of the Daleks!  As he says, “You have a strange way of putting things. I prefer to say that you have asked for certain services, I have provided those services punctually and efficiently.”  When the Daleks commands that he obey for the third time, his response is a pointed “I understand”.

Finally, after the cliffhanger at the end of episode 4 seeing Kemel and Jamie coming face to face with a Dalek in the banqueting hall where Victoria is being held, we get to see Jamie and Victoria meet.  The scene at the beginning of part 5, where the pair throw their rope over the Dalek before propelling him over the edge of the balcony sounds wonderful, and probably looked it too.  Victoria then reinforces the relationship that the mute Kemel had suggested exists between them, and the pair are evidently close, but what is even more evident is that there is a definite chemistry between Hines and Watling; the pair hit it off instantly, and it speaks volumes of their relationship that the pair are still close today, appearing in documentaries and on conventions together, the two are inseparable.  The trio then barricade themselves in the room, as the experiment comes to an end.  In the laboratory, the Doctor has finally gathered enough evidence and samples to create the elusive ‘human factor’.  There is a wonderful moment during which Troughton’s Doctor refers to himself as a “Professor of a far wider academy”, and following the scenes in episode 4 during which he tinkers and smiles with glee as Jamie’s life is endangered, we almost get a sense that the Doctor would quite enjoy being able to test future companions in such a way.  Indeed, it perhaps goes some way to explain Hines’ presence as the longest running companion; he more than proves his worth many times over.

Meanwhile, we have further evidence of Maxtible’s lack of compassion and humanity in his scenes with Waterfield – after threatening to kill him in the previous episode, and being prevented only by Terrall’s sudden appearance, the two continue to argue about the morality of their experiment.  Contrasting with these scenes, we have the moment when Terrall kidnaps Victoria via a secret passage and ends up in a sword fight with Jamie.  Again, it sounds wonderful, but it is ultimately more filler, not adding anything to the plot.  Terrall isn’t in charge of his own faculties, so it hardly works as a criticism of humanity in the same way as Maxtible’s inhumanity does.  The same goes for Terrall’s mistreatment of Molly earlier on; whilst Maxtible is choosing to do inhuman things for his own reasons – the acquisition of the secret of turning base metals to gold – Terrall is being controlled, and so is ultimately just a monster in the same way as the Robomen of The Dalek Invasion of Earth. 

Waterfield’s humanity and conscience leads to one of the most telling moments for Troughton’s Doctor we have yet seen, continuing the idea that he is being manipulative, and providing us with a moment of troublesome foreshadowing; as Waterfield talks about the “destruction of a whole race” due to their meddling, he is meaning that if the Daleks were to acquire the ‘human factor’, it would make them utterly unstoppable.  The Doctor’s response, however, has far darker connotations, as he mutters “I don’t think you quite know what you’re saying, but yes.”  Here, the Doctor is making perfectly clear that he intends to destroy the Dalek race.  We will not see such an ethical dilemma involving the Daleks until Tom Baker’s infamous “Have I the right?” speech in Genesis of the Daleks.  There’s a terrifying moment where Waterfield even contemplates murdering the Doctor – now of course he wouldn’t, and indeed couldn’t, do that; he’s the moral compass in this right now.  Maxtible raising an axe behind Waterfield in the last episode was believable, because he comes across as a person willing to commit atrocities for his own ends.  Waterfield, though, is too good, and pure, and innocent.

The cliffhanger is truly unnerving, though, as we see the humanised Daleks running amok, taking the Doctor for a ride and generally acting in a silly and bizarre manner.  Really, this shouldn’t work as a cliffhanger; Maxtible muttering “an amusing little game, eh, Jamie?” isn’t a moment of mortal peril.  No-one is in danger here; rather they’re all messing about and having fun.  The beginning of episode 6 is equally frivolous, with scenes of the Daleks chanting the word “trains” in their grinding grating timbre, and playing roundabouts and chanting “dizzy” is all a little disconcerting.  In hindsight, this is the pivotal moment that brings about the Daleks’ “final end”, but for now it just sits strangely.  Similarly, the Doctor naming the Daleks is uncomfortable – for such human things as names to be associated with such inhuman creatures as the Daleks makes an audience uncomfortable.  But that’s sort of what Whitaker is going for here; when we instil the ‘human factor’ into a Dalek, it seemingly utterly removes the ‘Dalek factor’ itself, leaving the creatures as petulant children, pouting and asking why before stomping their foot and going to their room.

The destruction of Maxtible’s laboratory, as everyone is taken via the time machine to Skaro, sounds terrifically bombastic, and no doubt looked phenomenal.  The sound of horror in Goring’s voice as Maxtible realises that his entire life’s work is about to be destroyed is awful; what makes it all the more disturbing is that it again allows us to draw parallels between Maxtible and the Daleks.  His daughter, Ruth, has run away with Molly and Terrall – no longer under the influence of the mind-controlling technology – and yet he is utterly unfazed by it, as his true child, his baby, is his laboratory.  So too do we see this in the final scenes of episode 6 reflected in the Emperor Dalek, whose willingness to sacrifice the 3 human-Daleks is chilling.  Whilst on Skaro, Maxtible’s self-confidence and misguided surefootedness continues to baffle, as he insists that “No-one can help you – no-one but me!” he remains blinded to the truth.  Ultimately, although the alchemical secret is given to him, he can do nothing with it.  Instead, he is stranded on an alien planet, utterly insane and infused with the Dalek Factor.  There is a chilling moment in episode 7 where, once converted, he responds with the phase “Obey”, proving once and for all that the last vestiges of what made him human are now gone forever.

The Emperor Dalek itself is simply magnificent, sitting astride a magnificent dais as it is, looming over the Doctor and the other Daleks, tentacle-like wires and pipes coiled around it.   The voice, too, is horrifying – it almost seems more human than other Daleks, capable of cunning and malicious cognitive processes as it is.  The Emperor Dalek ultimately reveals the real plan – all along, the Doctor’s experiments have been a shroud, a red herring to allow the Daleks to monitor what it is exactly that makes humans tick so that they can then distil the ‘Dalek Factor’.  The cliffhanger at the end of episode 6 is hauntingly cried out by the Emperor; “You will take the Dalek Factor, and you will spread it throughout the entire history of Earth!”  Whilst the Doctor has been tinkering away, he has unwittingly allowed the Daleks the ultimate weapon, one which will turn every human being, ever, into a Dalek.

Victoria finally gets the chance to step up to the fore here.  What is interesting is that this story is due to introduce her as a new companion, and yet she was only introduced to us in episode 2, met no-one human until episode 5, and still has never met the Doctor.  Even though she’s not met him yet, she holds out hope for him, which is wonderful.  Jamie has evidently told her and Kemel all about the Doctor and how wonderful he is whilst they were locked in the lumber room – despite his argument with the Doctor shortly afterwards – and so she shows guile and cunning, understanding the Daleks’ plot all along – the scene in which she berates Maxtible for screaming to attract the time travellers’ attention is fantastic, showing foresight and grittiness which she will sadly be lacking as her adventures continue.

Episode 7 rattles along at a fantastic pace – now that the real threat has been unearthed, and the Doctor has been given his ultimatum, the story belts through to its explosive and magnificent conclusion.  With the TARDIS still under Dalek control, and the entire hope of humanity locked in one room, with a deadly arch to pass through to escape, the tension is palpable.  The scene in which the Doctor pretends to be infected with the Dalek Factor is magnificent, and makes the Doctor unknowably alien once more.  He makes a passing reference to “not being human”, but what is most impressive is that not only does he pass through the arch without being infected; he also manages to ignore Maxtible’s mesmerism.  Instead, once on the outside, he manages to supplant the Dalek Factor phial with one of the Human Factor.  His cunning with the Dalek Emperor is marvellous, too; in pretending to be infected with the Dalek Factor, he is able to plant the subconscious suggestion that there are dissidents amongst the Dalek troops, and that his own Human Daleks are creating rebellion.  Only by passing through the arch to ensure that they are fully “Dalekised” (for want of a better word) can Skaro be safe. 

The scenes with the Doctor in the cell, before his ‘transformation’, are rather bizarre with hindsight, too; at one point, the Doctor even talks about returning to his home world.  Although it is not name-dropped yet as Gallifrey, it is still troubling to think that he believes the current situation worthy of facing the Time Lords.  In only two season’s time, we will be faced with other Time Lords and the very idea of contacting them for help chills the Doctor to the bones.  Waterfield’s death is a touching moment of inevitable hubris too – despite his conscience, he ultimately was always going to have to pay for his sins, and so it is only right that he dies by protecting the Doctor, who in turn promises that he will always look after Victoria.

The final scenes are utter carnage, and sounds magnificent – the deaths of Waterfield, as well as lovely, helpful Kemel, are horrifying, as the whole of Skaro is torn apart by a rebellion brought about by the human nature within the Daleks, forcing them to question the orders barked at them.  Hines’ narration really sells the disgusting acts of genocide and individual scenes of true horror; at one point, he describes “the mutant creature within recoils in its final death throes.”  Ultimately, though, it was inevitable, and there is a wonderful moment as the Doctor pauses with Jamie and Victoria, looking down at the destruction they have ultimately caused, and comment that this is the Daleks’ “final end”.  Not quite, Doctor.  Not quite...