Although the group is very split up in this story, with several different story lines taking place at once, the main vein is obviously Susan’s departure. They are preparing us for it throughout the entire story. At first I thought this was nice and well done, but having seen this particular histoire multiple times my opinion evolved. By the end of the story I was bored with how unceasingly it was drilled into us that it might be the right time for Susan to leave. Susan relying more on her new beau than her grandfather. Susan complaining about not feeling as though she belongs anywhere. Just moving from planet to planet with the Doctor to escape danger. Well, I’ve got news for Sus, it seems like the humans are just running on earth too!
Anyway, I thought it a rash decision. She only met the guy a couple days ago and already she’s in love?! I don’t think I was in live with anyone at 16 or whatever age she is. But hey, maybe that’s the way to make decisions and be happy in life. And maybe she had a wisdom beyond her years. And maybe it can all be explained away by Susan’s desire for committed companionship. When they first landed, Susan did ask Barbara if it is selfish to want to stay together.
The music at the very end creeped me out. As did The Doctor when he told Susan that she should “live normally like any woman should do”? What does that mean? Was it sexist or just implying woman meant human?
Overall I thought it was a little anticlimactic for Susan’s last show. I will miss her character. If I was her I probably would have kept the necklace as a keepsake, but whatevs. My overall, mostest, bestest, favorite part is how the Doctor leaves Susan with only one shoe. Hah, that’s what you get for leaving!
Aside from all if the above, I enjoyed seeing more of the early Daleks. It could be just me, but it seemed like there was more variation in the different Dalek voices, giving the impression of slightly more individualized personalities than many of the newer stories. Although now that I think about it there is individuality shown in Asylum of the Daleks and whenever the Cult of Skaro shows up. Visually there were some interesting differences as well. Our view from the Dalek’s eye stock is just a regular camera in a circle. It is not the blue we see now.
Finally, Barbara’s hair is so darn big. I know it has always been big. It is just so big.
And what was up with the slither?? What was that?
- Story Grade: C-
Jael, I do agree with your assessment of the sexist side of Doctor Who, but I will cover that (more in depth later). But firstly, I disagree that the entire episode was just a set up for Susan’s departure. Sure, it was a major theme and this plot (as with most plots in Classic Who) was easy to see through, but it there was more going on. This story was the first true Dalek story in my eyes. We see Daleks on a different planet (Earth) trying to take over and run a new planet; even saying “EXTERMINATE”. The shots we see of the Daleks early on, roaming the streets of London and crossing the bridges, and those shots are signature shots of the Daleks. It’s incredible, because we all know that the Daleks come from Skaro, but as a viewer of a TV show, we also associate them as
British, nay, Londoners.
Though the writing gets more and more sophisticated over time, nearly every Dalek story follows this story’s plot-line; Invade Earth (another planet), take over, threaten the people with extermination, The Doctor saves the day.
Now let’s revisit the piece where we do agree. Sexism in 1960s Doctor Who. Sexism was not just in Doctor Who, it was a plague in all of business and even at home. Coming off of the 1950s (at least in America), women knew their places, in the kitchen. Their goal in life (as dictated by society) was to get married and make babies. Yes, verity Lambert was the show-runner at the time, but she was still playing a man’s game and the over-whelming majority of the writers were men, so yeah, good luck being able to turn this ship around on a dime.
Jael already mentioned The Doctor telling Susan to do what a woman does, and she already mentioned that Susan fell rather quickly for David. David was mostly a decent enough guy, but it seems as though Susan had much more to offer the universe than being trapped on Earth. The writers reduced her to a screamer, but there were other times where she showed great depth and a will to explore. I would have loved to have Susan find her own TARDIS and find her own companion(s). As touching as The Doctor’s speech was at the end, the whole sentiment of Susan leaving was not nearly as pretty.
We will see many women leave the show throughout the series leave the show to get married, it’s almost a default was to leave. Sure, some women and men will want to get off the TARDIS because of love, but to think that it would be due to a week long stop and sparks fly seems naive. I am sure there are more things I can find when it comes to sexism in this story (and a whole book can be written if you include the entire series), but my concentration level is next to empty since I am watching Coupling right now. (Check that show out if you haven’t already. It’s Steven Moffat’s much more impressive version of Friends, and yes, there are a few Doctor Who references in the series.)
I apologize for the quick ending here, there is also the topic of racism in Doctor Who (mention of the RED Indians in the story seems to ring a bell), but I will cover that when we have a much larger showing of racism (say, Talons of Weng-Chiang?). Read my notes below, there are a few nuggets of decent thoughts, even if they are just fragments.
If you want further detail, here are my notes:
Right away we see a sign about dumping bodies, should be eerie.Susan twists an ankle and the bridge falls. The Doctor is still crabby about this and blames Susan, since it blocked the TARDIS, so much so that he threatens to spank her when he and Ian return. WHAT?!Bodies floating in the river, men saying they are trying to help Barbara and The Doctor finds out it 2164. Then we have a weird helmet for picking up radio waves.The robo-men almost look like Cybermen. Even the idea of them is similar.A Dalek coming out from the river, wow!It’s weird, the first Dalek story was very cool since its the first time we see them; but this story is more of a classic Dalek episode, since they are trying to take over a planet. Move them from Skaro and suddenly you have true classic Daleks.Ian and The Doctor get taken by the Daleks. A man is killed by the Daleks and the rays that kill him sound like very loud and poorly recorded waterfalls.It will work! – say the resistance team to Barbara’s plan of acting like robo-men with the extra helmets.Hold that and shut up would you? – The Doctor to the other prisoner after his plan to get the key works. (Magnets and light, nice work.)Episode two closes with the initial attack commencing.The Doctor is saved by two rogue warriors with Susan and Barbara waiting outside.The ship is cleared and Daleks are tipped. We also see the Daleks using their laser guns, though it looks more like something used for mating on the Discovery channel. Ian remains on board, but not locked up.Finally in episode three do we get to see the Daleks iconic stroll on the London bridges. The music is even kind of fun, although a bit too upbeat, not just heart pounding intense action. I’m getting a big Prisoner vibe from this scene and music.Good, they got the scientist to his headquarters in order to fix his problem with the bomb. Turns out it’s the metal they are made of, Dalekanium.Then the scientist sacrifices himself to see if the bomb works.After a bit of everyone positioning themselves I the story the cliffhanger for the 3rd ep. is a Dalek bomb!The Daleks using slave labor to mine definitely has some comparisons to Nazis.Susan seems to be challenged by the one boy, even as far as liking him. (David)Wow, Barbara SMASHES the Daleks with a big-rig.Alligators living in the sewers of London after escaping the zoos. How cool is that?Susan cannot climb a ladder. She nearly falls into the water where a tiny lizard, I mean full grown alligator (wink wink) is awaiting a meal.Look out for the Slither, Ian!The Doctor takes out a robo-man with a cane, wicked! Susan’s is just getting closer and closer to David.It has resorted to brothers killing brothers.Susan and David nearly make a baby when he surprises her with a fish. Full on smooching!Removing the core of the planet, that sounds like an easy task. Probably tough with Ian in the capsule though.YES! Racism in Classic Who: “I was talking about RED Indians.” Thanks Barbara, and thank you writing team. It’s so cringe-worthy, and as much as it was the times, I cannot stand behind that cop-out.Just don’t call him Doc, thank you.The view through the Dalek eye-stalk. Barbara and The Doctor’s impersonation of the Daleks was priceless.Robo-men turn on the Daleks, thanks to the great voice acting.I wonder how the BBC could afford such a large explosion; certainly wasn’t stock footage.Starting a new beginning, a new civilization, but Susan is staying behind to help the new world. The Doctor knows that this is the end and is hurting because if this. This is the first time we see him have such raw emotions (besides anger) and the first time he is nearly speechless.David wants love AND marriage right away. Susan has to choose between David and The Doctor.The Doctor decides to just leave her. His speech is touching and very fatherly. One day he shall come back! (Oh if he’d only come back.)And so concludes the first companion send-off.
- Story Grade: C+
- There are some very iconic shots and moments in this story, unfortunately they come early and late, while the middle part drags quite long.
My thanks go out to the writers for writing such a nice “first send-off”. Thank you also to Carole Ann Ford; being the first true companion will always be looked back on by history, and you carried out the role wonderfully. Thank you, Terry Nation (writer) for making a better Dalek story than the Dalek introduction. The scenes of the Daleks rolling across town and on the bridge felt very powerful and very close to the present day Dalek stories.