Doctor Who #9: The Expedition

"So, there is something you'll fight for?"TECHNICAL SPECS: The episode is on disc 2 of The Beginning DVD boxed set as part 5 of The Daleks. First aired Jan.18 1964.

IN THIS ONE... Ian convinces the Thals of the need to fight the Daleks and sets off with Barbara and a Thal party into the wilderness to flank the Dalek city.

REVIEW: So how are you liking those titles? A lot more Voyager than TOS, right? We haven't yet fallen into a pattern, but to me, a Doctor Who title should sound like NOUN of SCARY NOUN. A couple more generic titles to go, I'm afraid. With The Expedition, we finally hit the padded portion of the first Dalek adventure. The beginning really belongs to The Ambush, and the end to The Ordeal, while the middle bits don't really do much at all.

So the fluid link is in the Daleks' possession, but the TARDIS crew can't get it back without the Thals' help. The Doctor and Barbara want to use, even manipulate, the Thals, but Ian doesn't. While he's no pacifist, he believes they should find their own reason for fighting the Daleks. He tries to convince them that the Daleks will eventually come for them, but they claim they'll just move away. So he shows them through actions, by attempting to bring Dyoni to the Daleks so they can experiment on her, and gets Alydon's fist in his jaw as a result. He's shown them a new way, and destroyed an entire way of life in the process. But while we might muse at the moral implications today, the show doesn't really do so. The Thals' pacifism might as well be communism, and centrist authority figures like the teachers hold that one extreme is as bad as the another. The Doctor, for his part, represents revolution (or will). his presence changes things (though companions sometimes act as catalysts), so no status quo is safe, whether left or right-leaning.

In the middle of the episode, we have a sequence that shows the Daleks to be far less interesting when they have no human foil to interact with them. It's a lesson that will have to be learned again and again by various production teams, both in and out of canon. Through the drone of technobabble, we learn that the Thal anti-radiation drugs are incompatible with Dalek biology, making them go insane. There is something very disconcerting indeed about the mad Dalek's moans. They deduce that radiation is actually healthy for them, and that the level is too low outside the city and plan to drop another bomb. The Thals are in danger, but don't know it, and Science isn't in a much better position. The cardboard stand-up Daleks that shore up their numbers aren't TOO noticeable, but they won't be hard to find.

On the Thal side, plans are drawn to infiltrate the Dalek city from the rear while a distraction is staged out front. As Barbara, Ian and some Thals enter the marshlands, we step deep into movie serial territory, a danger every few minutes. The good intersects with the bad, with a cool squid-like monster rising from the mist contrasting with ill-fitting nature film footage of "giant" grubs. Ian makes himself useful, finding a shortcut through the mountain using logic, while Barbara makes her fears known and seems to hand around Ganatus a lot. Not that there's any chemistry between them, but he does sleep with his head on her ankle. Early-60s-tv code for Love, I suppose. The cliffhanger has one of the Thals fall prey to a weird vortex effect in the swamp while he's refilling the water gourds from a source said to be full of phosphorescent chemicals! Confirmed: Science is definitely in jeopardy.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - There just doesn't appear to be enough material for a full episode here. The bits you're likely to remember will always seem like they're from the previous or next episode.

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