PodKast Lands on the Planet of the Daleks!

We head back in time with this week’s podKast to revisit and reappraise the 1973 Doctor Who six part Dalek serial, Planet of the Daleks, starring Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning.

True to form, the team has not in its entirety watched the serial in its entirety: Brian watched the full DVD version last month, Christian watched half of it on VHS the other night, and James watched it in 2003. We’re not making it up, either – he really is that laid back.

Best just hit play, right?

[powerpress]

Kasterborous PodKast Series 5 Episode 10 Shownotes

PodKast introduction by John Guilor. Theme tune by Russell Hugo

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23 Responses

  1. Dr Moo says:

    I saw Planet of the Daleks before I saw The Daleks and so I think I managed to enjoy it more than a lot of viewers have done. It’s the lesser of the two serials (I doubt anyone would argue with that!) but still not especially bad. It’s underrated.

    (I still await a podKast like this one where you give the same treatment as you have here PotD to Time & The Rani.)

    • K Doctor Who News says:

      Time and the Rani will come, soonish.

      • TheLazyWomble says:

        As threats go, that is way up with the best: obey me or suffer Time and the Rani mwah ha ha

        • Dr Moo says:

          To watch Time & The Rani is fun once you realise midway into part one that it perhaps won’t be the greatest 1h40 of Dr Who that you’ll ever see. It’s at least got that going for it, something you can’t say about Love & Monsters or The Twin Dilemma.

          • James McLean says:

            I like to see Time and the Rani as an attempt by young children to make a cake for you. The cake sucks, but you can’t help feeling sympathy for the honesty, dedication and desire to please you with food-gone-wrong.

          • Dr Moo says:

            We should be pleased it exists at all given the state of the show’s relationship with the BBC at that point. But the result was still a mess!!!

            Taken from Doctor Who The Television Companion:
            “Time and the Rani opens (like the fifth Doctor’s debut story, Castrovalva) with a pre-titles sequence leading up to the Doctor’s regeneration. This unfortunately gets the Sylvester McCoy era off to a rather bad start as the viewer is given no indication whatsoever of the reason for the regeneration or the circumstances leading up to it. Even allowing for the difficulties created by Colin Baker’s unwillingness to return for a regeneration story, surely the writers and/or production team could have come up with something better than this? As for the story proper, this turns out to be a case of nice production, shame about the scripts. Writers Pip and Jane Baker did admittedly have a problem in that they had no idea who would be playing the new Doctor or how he would be characterised – and, at least when they started work on the project, the series had no script editor for them to discuss things with, either – but this can be no excuse for the fact that they came up with a story that is totally uninvolving. Time and the Rani takes place on an alien planet with alien characters in an alien situation, and the viewer really has no one to identify with and nothing to relate to. A story of this kind can sometimes be made to work if there is some other dimension to it – if it has an underlying moral message, for example, or if it serves as an allegory of a situation closer to home – or even if the characters are sufficiently three-dimensional and their circumstances sufficiently interesting. Here, however, the Bakers present a one-level plot with one-dimensional characters and, despite the suggestion of a wider universal significance to the Rani’s plan, the viewer is tempted to ask So What?”

          • James McLean says:

            Indeed. As with most productions, they are professionals doing their best. Sometimes it doesn’t work, especially in times of turmoil things can go either way – become amazingly energised or just a mess. I harbour no negative commentary to the cast and crew, and appreciate the difficulties they were all under, all I can say is what’s on my screen is just a mess. I love McCoy’s era, but its one moment I simply can’t justify. 🙂

          • Dr Moo says:

            That’s pretty much how feel about the whole of season 24 (except the criminally underrated Paradise Towers, if you don’t want to do a Time & The Rani podKast you could have a crack at that one instead) and half of season 25 (Not Remembrance or Happiness Patrol) . McCoy is my joint-third favourite Doctor, my joint-first of the ‘classics’, but he had so much crap to work with when he was the Doctor both on the show and behind the scenes. Interestingly this is similar to the Doctor he is joint with, Colin Baker.

        • Dr Moo says:

          In the aftermath of the explosion, helium-2 will fuse with the upper zones of the Lakertyan atmosphere to form a shell of chronons… In the same millisecond as the chronon shell is being formed, the hot-house effect of the gamma rays will cause the primate cortex of the brain to go into chain reaction, multiplying until the gap between shell and planet is filled.

  2. Semi-Evil Semi-Genius says:

    I loved your discussion of how to revitalize the Daleks. Making them pure military creatures, unwilling to listen any demands/bluffs/negotiations/pleas for mercy, and just over-the-top exterminating any and all things. In the Chase, they exterminated some mice they found. They would be hostile to grass, algae, and bacteria even – they have an extreme hate for anything living and not them. Skaro was practically dead, devoid of most vegetation and wildlife. If they don’t care for their own planet; they would not care for anything. They need to be a little less afraid of the Doctor; he really needs more than his reputation or a jammy dodger to stop them. The difficulty I see is that the Daleks are written to be so powerful, how can they be stopped, even temporarily, without a deus ex machine.
    My favorite story concerning the Daleks, is the Power of the Daleks. To me, it works because of two things. The Daleks there are a rogue ship, crashed and incapacitated; it’s not some lone batch of renegade Daleks that survived a silly universal purge at the Doctor’s hand that nevre takes. And the Daleks play a reasonable long con. Their movement at this point is still relegated to using static electricity circuits throughout facilities. They cooperate with humans, so the free-ranging humans can acquire materials outside of their range. The humans are deceived into gathering supplies, so the Daleks can populate and increase their ability to move. The initial amount of Daleks could already exterminate all the humans from the outset; they wait because if they did so, they’d be trapped there forever (or at least for a longer period of time). Their plans are secret. The Doctor only knows they’re up to no good because he alone knows Daleks; they don’t discuss their plans. The Doctor only learns the Daleks are growing in numbers by chance. The Daleks originally number three, and slyly keep to groups of three as they expand. All the Daleks look alike, and any human in a room with them only sees three at a time. By separating themselves, everyone is unaware they are increasing in force, except our acutely aware Doctor. And finally, I like how the Daleks in all their evil highlight humanity’s weakness by wondering why humans fight amongst themselves.
    Daleks need to come in brutal, hard, and do something to shock the viewers. They can only act merciful if they truly need something they can’t accomplish, and it must be properly explained why such an accomplished civilization can not do it themselves. I like Brian’s idea of Thals as Dalek experts – maybe not more powerful than the Daleks, just the best chance anyone has of resisting them. I can’t of any solid story ideas, but I really think the Daleks need some recognizable weakness besides a big button at the end of an episode that blows them all up throughout all time and space (but one gets away anyhow, and that becomes a few million a bit later).

  3. Pantz says:

    Do you think the Dalek Nano-Genes have helped to make the Daleks more scary? I often wonder why they haven’t thought to spread them across an entire planet to conquer every life form therein. After everything we’ve seen the Daleks do, this surely wouldn’t be beyond their capabilities.

    • James McLean says:

      Possibly. I remember as a kid finding the Dalek hybrid in Revelation of the Daleks pretty horrid for a family show. Body horror, which essentially is what nano-technology could suggest is always creepy. I tend to think there needs to be more to done how Daleks are handled. If people are “converted” into something which lacks balls, doesn’t make the balls-lacking Dalek anymore scary, just the process and scale. I think Daleks need to talk a lot less. When they speak, it’s a “moment”, and they NEVER tell you their plans and you NEVER overhear them. Their goals are evident through actions, not through exposition. Pull the Dalek right back and away from the viewer. Make them a force you don’t understand.

      • Pantz says:

        Thank you for your reply James, you make some great points. Do you think they will ever explain why the Daleks haven’t yet done this most obvious thing with their Nano-Genes yet? (well, I think it’s the most obvious thing for them to do anyway!)

        • James McLean says:

          I would say, beyond the fact it creates a Nightmare in Silver problem by making your antagonist too powerful, it would be for reasons of purity. Davros was less concerned by this issue, but Dalek factions don’t really enjoy cross genetic pollenation – I recall in the novel of Rememberance of the Daleks how the Daleks despised the special weapons dalek for its excessively radioative mutations, so I’d think that’s why nano-tech isn’t used per se, so anything like the nano tech used in the finale of series 8 would be rejected I’d say. That being said, gets harder to argue if it is simply on a slave/robomen basis. I’m open to ideas on that!

          • Pantz says:

            Well, I was just thinking that after they make a Dalek puppet, they can then go on to make that person a fully converted Dalek, like Oswin from Asylum of The Daleks. Do that to a whole planet and boom, new Dalek army. Then it’s off to the next planet. I wonder if Moffat has thought about this?

          • Dr Moo says:

            That already happened in “Bad Wolf/ The Parting of the Ways” before the 9th Doctor, Rose and Jack put a stop to it.

          • Pantz says:

            Did the Daleks use Nano-Genes in that story? I don’t remember that being mentioned.

          • Dr Moo says:

            I meant about how they were aiming to convert humans into Daleks to make a new Dalek army. That was the plot of that story, wasn’t it?

            Nano-Genes do lend themselves nicely to the Daleks though so I’d be in favour of that idea sometime. It could fit the darker tone of the 12th Doctor stories rather well if it were executed correctly.

          • Pantz says:

            I just saw The Parting of the Ways recently and although the impure Daleks in that story weren’t really all that jazzed about their existence, they still carried on with their mission. Who knows, they might have eventually given up their lives upon meeting pure Daleks like in Victory of The Daleks.

      • Dr Moo says:

        You can see the decline in Dalek effectiveness begins when their appearance becomes the cliffhanger despite having “of the Daleks” in the story title. But even then they were only showing up once every few years so it was always an event. Nowadays they are legally obliged to appear every year and their effectiveness is very little as there’s only so much left that can be done with them.
        “Into the Dalek” seemed to me to be an improvement in that area as it found something different to do with them. I wait (im)patiently for series nine to see how it’s built upon, it could turn into another Dalek Civil War or it could ultimately come to nothing. We shall see.

        • James McLean says:

          Into The Dalek, for me, was still too psycho-analytical. I tend to find serial narrative tends to alls move inwards than out; you look to explore an idea more as you move further along, I think that with the Daleks is the mistake. As soon as you’re in a position to “understand” monsters – in any capacity – they become less monsterous. We fear most the Other we don’t understand. I’d agree less is more, but as that’s unlikely, I think the “less” would have to come in how they are used, given they are always going to appear. I’d do something like Alien with a Dalek. A little like “Dalek” but without again, this need to get “underneath” the Dalek’s psyche, have something that has to be stopped, not reasoned, dialogued or understood. Make the dalek an unstoppable enemy you don’t even get to talk to. Make it a true monster.

          • Dr Moo says:

            It’s interesting that you should mention 2005’s “Dalek” because the issues with the Dalek race that are discussed in the podKast started there, with its need to examine what it means to be a Dalek. It worked well there and needed doing for the NuWho audience meeting the species for the first time but now has become commonplace, probably because the episode worked so perfectly.

            What I liked about “Into the Dalek” was how it literally went underneath the Dalek psyche and saw just how evil they really are which I saw as a step towards presenting them as the pre-Davies era pure evil but that’ll take time to fully come to fruition. It’ll be interesting to see where they take the species from there, do we now have some good Daleks as well as evil ones? If so it opens the door to some interesting ideas and gives us a nice reflection of how evil Daleks are, something that you said needs to be more of a focus.

            Daleks are meant to be terrifying. Remember the reactions of the companions in The Stolen Earth as the Daleks prepare to invade? Sarah especially and she only met them once before (as far as I recall)!

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