Doctor Who Sunday: Dalek Invasion of Earth
Before this: The Reign of Terror
Season 2, Episode 2: Dalek Invasion of Earth
The Dalek Invasion of Earth is the second serial of the second season of Doctor Who. It has six parts, and was the second appearance of the Daleks and thus the first time an enemy re-appeared. This serial marks the final regular appearance of Carole Ann Ford as companion Susan Foreman.
It was definitely a shock going from the splendid graphics of the Eleventh Doctor, to the grainy black and white First Doctor stories. Fortunately, Dalek Invasion of Earth is complete, so we didn’t have to struggle through audio-only episodes. And it definitely was a story worthy to return to. The plot was solid, not too convoluted, and well paced, neither too slow nor too fast. The story split the characters up again, although it was still easy to follow the three separate storylines. The Daleks, which were always quite similar to the Nazis, really hammer home parallels in this story. While more relevant at the time, it is an obvious allegory of what Britain would have looked like during a Nazi invasion. They are also scary because they are everywhere, always a shadow looming over the story, even though the Robomen are the more common bad guys initially. The Robomen too are incredibly eerie, especially when several commit suicide – really bleak stuff for a children’s show. That being said, it was cleverly written, and interesting to watch, despite the dark and violent content.
Dalek Invasion of Earth is important in Doctor Who canon for several reasons. First of all is the fact that there is the first major companion romance on screen, between Susan and David. Whilst technically The Aztecs does have the Doctor accidentally proposing to an Aztec lady, this romance is the first serious one. Including the first major Doctor Who on screen kiss. Very exciting. (The Doctor would have to wait until Doctor Who – The Movie in 1996 for his first kiss.) However, this romance also impacts the second major aspect of this story: Susan’s departure. It is quite a moving scene when the Doctor, upon realising the strength of Susan’s emotions for David, locks her out of the TARDIS forever. He gives one of the more famous monologues in the early series, and then vanishes. As a side note, one of the reasons that Carol Ann Ford left was because of the fact that she, as a feminist, felt (rightly) that Susan was becoming nothing more than a “screamer” and a weak character. Still, the scene is still fairly moving, and it was worth watching Dalek Invasion Of Earth based on that alone.
Even with the jump from the modern series, the graphics were not that horrendous. Possibly because some faults were hidden by black and white, the fact that everything was models didn’t seem too difficult to believe in. Mind you, the Robomen uniforms were a little bit tacky, with some of the (cardboard) helmets falling apart at the seams. Nevertheless, the Daleks were very well constructed, and the scene of them emerging out of the water was awesome. The acting, aside from old Bill’s slip ups, are also very strong, and overall, the episode shows signs of having a massive increase in production efforts, a reflection of the growing popularity of the show.
In conclusion, a very strong story, with excellent (relatively) production. It is even a little bit moving towards the end, and certainly worth watching for any ‘Whovian’ that enjoys the classic series.
During all the years I’ve been taking care of you, you in return have been taking care of me. You are still my grandchild and always will be. But now, you’re a woman too. I want you to belong somewhere, to have roots of your own. With David you will be able to find those roots and live normally like any woman should do. Believe me, my dear, your future lies with David and not with a silly old buffer like me. One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine. Goodbye, Susan. Goodbye, my dear.
One of the most genuinely moving moments in Doctor Who history is when the Doctor leaves Susan behind on Earth, to start a life with David Campbell, a resistance fighter against the Daleks.
While this scene is certainly one of the reasons it’s a true classic episode, Dalek Invasion of Earth stands up well against the test of time. The TARDIS lands in the future, in war ravaged London. As Aidan said, it’s a fairly thinly-veiled allegory: the totalitarian, fascist Daleks are the metallic, alien Nazis of the future.
As this is classic Doctor Who, director Terry Nation saw fit to tell the story over six parts. This does mean that the story tends to drag, especially in the middle. Luckily this episode is intact – even with all the audio and the video, it can be a bit of a struggle. The action is split between three stories, which does make it interesting to follow, but I must be typical Gen Y: my faulty attention span means that I may have tuned out around the fourth or fifth episode. I can’t imagine how young children in the 60s tuned in consistently, but good on them.
Still, the graphics in this season are a definite step up from the last. The increased budget allowed for better graphics, more physical Daleks rather than the painted cardboard of the first Dalek episode, and a lot of location filming. This allows for some fabulous establishing shots of the devastation in London, as well as some very believable cross-country antics. By antics, I mean essentially becoming terrorists in an attempt to disrupt the Daleks’ master plan, while trying to avoid getting brainwashed into becoming Robomen, Dalek slaves controlled via helmets. Pretty heavy stuff. Unfortunately as I said above, this episode suffers from a problem quite a few early Doctor Who episodes suffer from: the story could easily be resolved in half the time, or at least by cutting one or two parts.
Altogether, an iconic story with a killer ending…but just a little too lengthy.