Number : Season 10, episode 4 of 5.
Which One : Invisible Dalek army.
Cast : The Doctor : Jon Pertwee
Jo : Katy Manning
Vaber : Prentis Hancock
Taron : Bernard Horsfall
Codal : Tim Preece
Rebec : Jane How
Marat : Hilary Minster
Latep : Alan Tucker
Wester/Spiridon : Roy Skelton
Written By : Terry Nation
Produced By : Barry Letts
First UK Broadcast : 7 April–12 May 1973.
Length : 6 x 25 minute parts.
Plot : Following the Doctor’s wounding by the Master, in Frontier In Space. The Doctor slumps into a coma, after setting the Tardis coordinates a d attempting to warn the Timelords. Landing on planet Spiridon, Jo goes for help for the Doctor, meeting the local deadly fauna, invisible Spridons, Thals and Daleks.
Whats good : Strong story. SFX. Set design. Wesker’s invisible SFX. Invisible Daleks. Jo. Thal leader Vaber.
Whats bad : Nothing.
Review With Spoilers : Planet Of The Daleks is the fourth and penultimate episode of season 10 and a direct sequel, to previous Dalek adventure – Frontier In Space
Following a previous run in with the Daleks, Ogrons – and The Master. A wounded Doctor attempts to contact the Timelords and pilots the Tardis to planet Spiridon; before falling into a coma. Leaving Jo with a dilemma – stay and look after him in the Tardis, or seek help outside.
Jo decides to go out to look for help and is attacked by the local fauna. She next encounters a group of crashed Thals, invisible Spiridons and finally – a complex of Daleks.
Whilst the new series struggles to integrate the Daleks into meaningful material. It’s worth looking at an episode like Planet Of The Daleks, which shows what can be achieved when the Daleks are given centre stage. Which is also respective of their established heritage and continued evolution – not just as monsters but as characters in Who.
This time around – the twist on the Dalek story, is; their experiments on the Spiridons, in an attempt to perfect an invisibility cloak. They are also using Spiridon’s natural ice volcanos, to preserve a huge army of Daleks in deep freeze.
Also on Spiridon, a crashlanded troop of Thal’s. Who agreed to fly from Skaro to Spiridon – on a suicide mission to stop the Daleks progress.
“This one’s something new. I’ve never come across Daleks that have mastered invisibility before!” The Doctor
With the invisibility angle – its a new interesting edge to the Dalek story. Not least, the poor Spiridons – who the Daleks are experimenting on and using for slave labour.
There is some really inventive SFX to flesh out the invisible Spiridon character Wesker. Whether it be invisible footprints appearing in the dirt or the picking up and manipulating of objects, through overlay. All complimented by Roy Skelton’s creepy laboured breathing.
The jungle Spiridon set is lush enough and the camera angles close – to pass for a convincing alien world, without detracting from proceedings as an obvious studio set. The plaudits have to goto the designers for the array of landscapes and alien plants, especially the spore shooting flowers.
Who regular – Bernard Horsfall puts in a particularly strong peformance as unsure and desperate Thal leader – Taron. Even flowery companion – Jo gets a rare chance to shine at the beginning, whilst the Doctor is in his coma by being headstrong enough to go and seek him help.
The Doctor also gets the opportunity to come up with some inventive plans to escape – or evade the Daleks, especially his homemade balloon escape from the Dalek’s base, up an air vent.
Planet Of The Daleks plays like an old B-movie serial from the 1930s. It works in all departments simply because it has a strong story, good performances, strong SFX and complementing set design. Terry Nation had a clear love for his creation and as a result, wrote them strong material.
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