Destiny of the Daleks (1979)
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This is a four part serial, first broadcast between 1 - 22 September 1979. A brief and somewhat spoiler-ish summary of the plot: the Tardis lands, and the Doctor and Romana find themselves in another quarry. "Oh look, rocks!" Hey look, Daleks!
Though the on-screen credits list Terry Nation as this serial's writer, much of it was actually written by script editor Douglas Adams. This might be a good thing in theory, but 'Destiny of the Daleks' isn't really a great story.
One problem is that after seeing a number of Terry Nation's Dalek stories, you find that many of them seem to be constructed from one single template. Let's see:
- In part one the Doctor-plus-one land in another quarry. 'Where are we?' 'Let's find out. Oh look, rocks!' Slowly, the Doctor-plus-one discover that there's something wrong, though they're not sure what. The object-that-will-go-missing is introduced, for instance anti-radiation medicine that the companion needs in order to survive the planet's hostile atmosphere or a device that the Doctor needs in order to be able to leave the planet. The Doctor and the companion are separated. The object either goes missing now or in part two. The cliffhanger is the appearance of... the Daleks!
- In part two the object goes missing, if it hasn't already done so in part one. The Doctor finds himself among militaristic strangers with great firepower who are on a mission and who explain part of the plot to him. The companion finds herself a prisoner among powerless strangers and may get to do a bit of slave labour. She, too, has a bit of the plot explained to her. The Daleks have a plan, and though we don't quite know what it is we see it being set into motion. The companion does something that has little or no impact on the plot and ends up in (even more) peril. The Doctor realises he needs to get away from the militaristic strangers in order to stop their mission / stop the Daleks / find his companion / retrieve the missing object.
- In part three the Doctor escapes. We see more of the Daleks. The companion is saved, either by the powerless strangers or by the Doctor, and is reunited with the Doctor. The two of them enlist the powerless strangers' help in order to stop the militaristic strangers' mission / stop the Daleks / retrieve the missing object. They almost succeed, but are either thwarted by the Daleks and / or the militaristic strangers. In the cliffhanger we find ourselves with a situation that seems impossible to resolve.
- In part four the situation is resolved because the Doctor is smarter than everyone else / the militaristic strangers' plan is flawed / the Daleks' plan is flawed / both plans cancel each other out / all of the above. The missing object is either found or dismissed as irrelevant. After some light-hearted banter between Doctor and companion the Tardis leaves.
Actually, part four is quite entertaining and the - minor spoiler ahead - 'logical impasse' plot-line is rather clever, but I suspect we have Adams to thank for those rather than Nation.
Some good things about this serial:
- good sound, good light, good camerawork
- the set and costume design and the model work may not always be successful (personally, I think the Movellans are among the sillier-looking Doctor Who aliens) but the designers obviously try to do something new and interesting
- as indicated earlier, the story is basically Douglas Adams making the most of a fairly uninspired Terry Nation plot
Not good at all:
- Davros is fairly powerless in this story, and reviving him in this way is a waste of an interesting villain
- the Movellans, this story's militaristic strangers, are push-overs who pose no real threat in hand-to-hand combat
A continuity problem:
- the landscape seems to be too fertile to be the war-torn, radiation-ridden wasteland that is the Daleks' home planet Skaro
Not the best Dalek story. Not the best Douglas Adams script. Little to see here, move along.
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