Doctor Who #140: The Power of the Daleks Part 4

"Ben, I've found a message in code. It's an anagram, you just take the capital letters, see, work it out yourself." "Oh, I can't do crosswords."TECHNICAL SPECS: Except for a few brief clips, the episode is missing. I've used a reconstruction (Part 1, Part 2). First aired Nov.26 1966.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor and Ben spy on a rebel meeting while the Daleks start mass-producing.

REVIEW: The Doctor really is quite charming with his clown act, at least, to the audience. This episode marks the first time he's ever said "I would like a hat like that" (about Bragen's deputy governor's cap), perhaps not as iconic as "When I say run...", but a recurring gag during his first season. Speaking of firsts, he also tries to open a lock with a dog whistle and amusingly, only manages to make a dog bark outside. Is this perhaps the origin of the sonic screwdriver? Only a man who knew what sonics could really do would attempt something so silly. And of course, there's all the clowning around when a Dalek is present, acting scared so that he appears less of a threat. Well, isn't that pretty much what the Daleks have been doing themselves?

It's no surprise that the Daleks have been using the materials supplied by Lesterson to mass produce, but while we have some fun footage of a dozen Daleks coming out of the capsule (through the easy trick of just going 'round the set), I wish we have more of the production line. From the pictures, there are mechanical arms, sprays and foams, mutants grown in a boiling soup and placed on the skirts before the tops come down. Looks awesome. What HAS survived is the cheapest bits of the sequence - toy Daleks on a moving belt and Daleks chanting in front of a cardboard cut-out army. They almost pass muster, but some angles show the trick quite clearly. Still, I like it when Doctor Who gets ambitious.

The characters in the story are ambitious as well, and may fail just as much. Janley is a beautiful monster, as bad as the Daleks, sedating a distraught Lesterson after blackmailing him with his lab technician's death. Bragen is on the cusp of usurping power from the Governor and throws the Doctor in jail with Quinn. And both seem to believe they can control the Daleks. They should look to Lesterson as a cautionary tale. After he realizes the Doctor was right, the man has something of a breakdown. I like how seeing the mutants inside has gnawed as his sanity like he's in a Lovecraft story. Having seen the ugly light, he might have a chance.

VERSIONS: The notice on the wall is much wordier in the DVD's animated version, a lot of stuff about milk rations (dog's milk is apparently a back-up). The episode also includes the Dalek factory scene, which has ugly CG mutants and cool angles oh the assembly line (and this time they're not played by off-model toys either!). And we see a whole army - no cut-outs!

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Despite some production flubs and a sad lack of Polly, the episode still hits some high notes for the Daleks and a number of intriguing moments for the Doctor. But when will they unleash their fury?

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