Power of the Daleks (1966)

Power of the Daleks is the first post-regeneration story in Doctor Who. The format for a post-regeneration story is pretty much set with the new Doctor being a bit out of it and an alien threat almost being successful. That is what makes this story very unique. David Whittaker is the writer of this story and as well as having to write a good Dalek story he has to introduce a new Doctor which cant have been an easy job. In the Mighty 200 DWM survey of 2009, this story was put in 21st place which is the highest first story for a Doctor as well as the second highest second Doctor story only being beaten by ‘The Evil of the Daleks’ (1967).

Moments after William Hartnell regenerated into Patrick Troughton (though its not called Regeneration its called Renewel). Ben and Polly are cautious about the person who is infront of them but it does lead to silly point number one. If someone changes infront of you and its clear there is no way that they could have done the swap, why act like you don’t believe it’s the same person. The story sees a group of (presumably) earth colonists on a planet called Vulcan (which predates Star Trek) and the Doctor pretends to be an examiner from Earth and soon finds himself trying to stop Lesterson from resurrecting the Daleks. Silly point number two – I don’t believe for a second that no one knows of the Daleks. Even if it’s just a myth, why even someone who is clearly a smart man like Lesterson would want to bring back the Daleks is beyond me.

The Daleks in this are wonderful. They have a level of deceit that had never been seen before in this way before. They hold back their real intentions for an unbelievably long time and it’s amazing that David Whittaker kept his nerve and didn’t blow it before the two-third mark. There are some lovely moments such as the moment when the Dalek asks “Why do humans beings kill human beings?” The Daleks that we are getting in this story were what inspired Mark Gatiss in his 2010 story Victory of the Daleks. Every time they said “I am your servant!” I always find it very un-nerving.

Patrick Troughton’s opening story is a largely enjoyable adventure. It must have been tough to take over from William Hartnell and try and make his Doctor seem different. To his credit he does a great job, his Doctor does things that you could never have seen Hartnell do. There is no way that Hartnell would have pretended to be a dead person. Anneke Wills & Michael Craze are both very good supporting a new Doctor. Admittedly to begin with it’s just odd as Ben doesn’t believe that the Doctor is the Doctor. Anneke Wills was absent in Episode Four and Michael Craze was absent from Episode Five because they were on holiday for those episodes. I think the disadvantage for filming for most of the year during this time was that they would be absent and when they are involved in it their absence becomes noticeable.

Power of the Daleks is a very good story with perhaps the best use of the Daleks before Genesis. David Whittaker is a nice six parter and it boded well for the rest of the second Doctor even though most of it doesn’t exist of videotape. Christopher Barry directs another very good story and shows why he would become one of the most prolific Doctor Who directors. Power of the Daleks is well worth a listen on either CD or downloading via iTunes. Anneke Wills reads this story very well and makes the gaps seamless.

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