Number : Season 10, serial 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 episodes.
Plot : Following the preceding events of Frontier In Space. The Doctor slumps into a coma, after setting the Tardis coordinates and attempting to warn the Time Lords. Landing instead, on planet Spiridon; Jo goes to seek 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 serial 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 Time Lords but pilots the Tardis to planet Spiridon instead. Before falling into a coma and leaving Jo with a dilemma; to stay and provide -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 base 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. Especially, where their story is usefully continued; which is also respective of their established heritage and continued evolution – not just as monsters, but as characters in Doctor Who.
This time around, the twist on the Dalek story, is the Daleks experiments – on the Spiridons. In an attempt, to perfect an invisibility cloak. They are also using (planet) Spiridon’s natural ice volcanos; to preserve – a huge army of Daleks – in deep freeze.
Also on Spiridon, a crash-landed troop of Thals; 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, it’s 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 CSO 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 (if deadly) 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.
Doctor Who regular – Bernard Horsfall; puts in a particularly strong performance (as usual) as 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 help.
The Doctor 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 complimenting set design. Terry Nation had a clear love for his creation and as a result, wrote them strong progressive material.
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