Written by David Whitaker
Directed by Derek Martinus
The Victorians were rubbish, weren’t they. All pompous grandeur, repressed sexuality and class division. Every so often you’d get a Manet or a Kropotkin or a Dostoyevsky to break the tedium, but on the whole they were rubbish. Worse still, the whole era was infested with bloody Daleks. Who’d visit them.
The Evil of the Daleks is an odd beast. On one hand its a generally well written story, with some great tension and moments of real drama, but on the other, it frequently slides into the absurd. David Whitaker was probably my favorite writer of the Hartnell era, but he couldn’t write pseudo-science for shit. Maxtible’s speech about how the Daleks appeared on Victorian earth is too dire for words. Jamie’s solo adventure to rescue Victoria, though, was great, as was the accompanying plot to find the ‘human factor,’ whatever the fuck that is. Here, Jamie demonstrates his never previously mentioned ability to kick the shit out of people much bigger than him in a variety of situations, with his bare hands or with a sword. How Scottish of him. But he also get to show the better side of humanity, demonstrating compassion and kindness to an apparent enemy.
Sadly, not all of the Doctor’s companions are quite as good in this story. Polly was never really a beacon of feminism, but she did fight her corner and didn’t let the blokes push her about. Sadly, the same can not be said about Victoria Waterfield. The best things you can say about her are that she’s very pretty and extremely good at screaming, which is not what you want from a companion really. Their not faults as such, but not the basis of a character either. She doesn’t get to do much in this story other than to sit about in various goal cells and get rescued by men. And scream. A lot. don’t get me wrong, I’d probably like her as a person, but I hate whatever it was going through the producers’ heads when they decided to create such a stereotypical damsel in distress for a companion.
As for the Daleks themselves, it’s hardly their worst appearance, but not their best either. After the spectacular creepiness of Power of the Daleks, Evil of the Daleks is a bit of a let down. This was originally supposed to be their final appearance in Doctor who, and does a reasonable job of drawing a line under them, but it’s nothing like as great as ‘Power’. And much as I’m really rather fond of Alpha, Beta and Omega, friendly Daleks are not great for preserving the threat of the monsters. The cleverness and structure of the plot though, with the build up of Dalek and Human ‘factors’ is much more like a current Moffat written story than a classic who, but unlike the current 45 minute episodes, this 2 and a bit hour marathon does allow for exposition, so no one can make up accusations of plot hole because they weren’t paying attention.
The Second Doctor’s first year ended here, and while it probably wasn’t as good as the very first season of Who, it was by far the best thing since then as far as I’m concerned. Troughton is great as the Doctor, and he has a solid crew to accompany him on his adventure. Some of the writing is great too, with a couple of all time classic stories.
So the Daleks have gone forever (yeah fucking right), who’s going to replace them as the Big Bad of the series? Well, there was only one choice really. No prizes for who the Doctor faces next time in Tomb of the Cybermen.