Sue: We used to have a wardrobe like that. Actually, everyone had a wardrobe like that in 1973. And why have we never seen this wardrobe before? Have the Time Lords sent the Doctor some furniture in his hour of need? Is it a magic cupboard of some sort? What the **** is going on?
She’s referring to the IKEA-style flat pack wardrobe-bed-combo unit that’s suddenly an integral part of the TARDIS set.
Sue: Why is the Doctor sleeping in the control room? I thought the TARDIS was supposed to be massive? And where does Jo sleep? Does she curl up in a chest of drawers?
The Doctor slips into a coma.
Sue: What’s wrong with the Doctor, anyway? Was he shot in the head by the Master?
Me: I think so. It isn’t clear.
Sue: He looks fine to me. He’s probably come down with a bad case of man flu. He’s even worse than you, Neil.
Jo checks the Doctor’s hearts.
Sue: She’s listening to his tummy. She can’t tell if he’s alive or not, but she knows what he had for breakfast.
Before we know it, the Doctor is covered in white powder.
Sue: That’s the worst case of dandruff I’ve ever seen. The Doctor’s goggle-eyed stare is a bit Worzel Gummidge, as well. Is he going to grow a new head, like David Tennant grew a new hand?
Jo operates the TARDIS scanner.
Sue: Can’t they afford a colour television in the TARDIS? That’s a bit cheap.
As Jo surveys their surroundings, a mysterious substance is squirted at the scanner screen.
Sue: They’ve landed in the middle of a paintball tournament. Jo will need to find some protective goggles if she’s seriously thinking about going outside. Not that she should, of course. I mean, why would you?
Jo puts on a raincoat and leaves the safety of the TARDIS.
Sue: Look at the size of that collar. If there’s a strong gust of wind, she’ll take off. Actually, I had a raincoat like that, once. But it was the 1970s and practically everyone had a raincoat like that. I’m sure my collars were smaller than hers though. It’s windy up north.
As Jo explores the jungle, Sue doesn’t know what the poor girl hopes to achieve.
Sue: What does she expect to find? A chemist? And is Jon Pertwee doing a William Hartnell this week? Has he got the week off? The lucky bastard…
As she says this, the Doctor wakes up alone in his ship.
Sue: If only Jo had waited two more minutes, everything would have been fine. That’s just typical.
Jo stumbles across a crashed spaceship in a clearing and takes a look inside. Unfortunately, when its occupants turn up, it doesn’t take them very long to discover her pathetic excuse for a hiding place.
Sue: Has she been rescued by ABBA?
The Doctor learns that the TARDIS is rapidly running out of oxygen.
Sue: I bet he wishes he could crack open one of the police box’s windows. I could make a list of TARDIS design flaws, you know.
The Doctor is rescued by the astronauts who saved Jo.
Sue: Oh yes, I remember the Thals. They’re completely useless, aren’t they?
The Doctor tells the Thals that he encountered their kind on Skaro long ago, when he was travelling with Ian, Susan and Barbara.
Sue: Barbara! Oh, how I miss Barbara. Can you imagine Barbara and Jo joining forces for a story? That would be great, wouldn’t it? You wouldn’t need the Doctor at all.
The theme music kicks in as a horrified Doctor discovers the presence of an invisible Dalek.
Sue: Nice cliffhanger.
Me: Aren’t you bothered that the Doctor is surprised to see that Dalek, even though he saw them last week, and he’s specifically come to this planet to stop them?
Sue: He isn’t surprised to see a Dalek, stupid. He’s surprised to see an invisible Dalek. Do try to keep up, love.
As luck would have it, Sue misses Terry Nation’s name during the opening credits again. The fact that I distracted her with a jelly baby is neither here nor there. And no, we don’t eat jelly babies while we watch the episodes. Just some of them.
Sue: I’m sure I’ve seen this actor in something else…
She’s referring to Prentis Hancock, who’s playing the Thal named Vaber.
Me: We’ll be here all day listing everything Prentis Hancock has been in. Do you remember Space 1999?
Sue: No, I don’t. He’s very intense. Is he always this intense?
Me: I won’t hear a bad word said against Prentis. He’s my favourite bad actor of all time.
Sue: You know, Jon Pertwee looks more and more like my mam as the series goes on. It’s his grey bouffant. The resemblance is uncanny from a certain angle.
With invisible Daleks roaming the surface, our heroes are saved by the planet’s early warning system, otherwise known as the eye-plants.
Sue: Just make up a joke about Steve Jobs, love. I’m too tired to think of one.
Me: Okay. And don’t worry, I’m sure Captain Jack will be fine. Stop worrying about him and start worrying about Jo Grant. It’ll take your mind off things.
The Doctor sets off to look for Jo, but the Daleks spoil his plans when they shoot him in the knees. And then, adding insult to injury, they make him walk back to the city doubled-up in agony.
Me: Ironically, this is how Jon Pertwee ends his days.
Sue: Are the Daleks going to take him to the Master? He’s been keeping a very low profile so far.
The Doctor ends up sharing a cell with a Thal named Codal, and it doesn’t take very long for the two men to bond.
Sue: That was a nice scene. I like this bloke, he has a Paul McGann thing going on.
The Doctor wants to escape, so the men turn out their pockets to see if they’re carrying anything that can help them.
Sue: So, the Daleks put the Doctor in a cell without emptying his pockets first? The Daleks deserve everything they get. Although, having said that, it’s probably hard for them to search anyone with arms like theirs. Oh, they’ve left him with his sonic screwdriver. There’s simply no excuse for that.
Meanwhile Jo has been rescued by an invisible Spiridon named Wester.
Me: I have a vivid memory of watching this particular scene when I was three years old. All I know for sure is that I was ill at the time. Stomach-ache, I think. It’s a very sketchy image, but I’m definitely lying on the settee with a hot water bottle on my tummy. I can remember it like it was yesterday. But I don’t remember the Daleks at all. Funny, that.
Sue: Either the invisible man is making hot chocolate or he’s draining Jo’s blood. I can’t really tell.
Wester pours the contents of the bowl over Jo’s arm.
Sue: Chocolate sauce and cabbage. Not a good look for Jo.
As the Daleks glide around the city, Sue admires their new look.
Sue: I like the Daleks’ paint job. Battleship grey makes them look like they mean business. The Daleks are less scary when they’re bright and multicoloured. These Daleks would be quite threatening in the dark.
Codal and the Doctor make a break for freedom.
Sue: Don’t tell me. The Doctor reverses the polarity of something?
Of course he does.
Sue: I could write this, you know.
The episode concludes with another Thal spacecraft crashing into Spiridon.
Sue: The Thals may have invented space flight, but they haven’t invented space landing yet.
Me: The most interesting thing about this episode is that it was only available in black and white until very recently.
Sue: Interesting use of the word ‘interesting’, there.
When Terry’s name appears in the title sequence, I turn to Sue so I can gauge her reaction.
But there’s no response. Nothing at all.
Me: You’re thinking about Captain Jack again. I can tell.
I don’t blame her. Our cat, Captain Jack, has taken over our lives. He came down with a urinary tract infection two weeks ago which resulted in various complications, the biggest being that if he doesn’t empty his bladder every 48 hours, he’ll die.
I could write a book about feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) after what we’ve been though. Last Sunday, we had to drive the little fella to a specialist at four o’clock in the morning – in the snow – because the Valium he’d been prescribed was making him hallucinate and he was trying to eat lumps of coal.
One of the vets told us that Jack would have to be put down, while another (much more expensive) is determined to give him as many chances as possible. Which means we have to stay alert for any signs of Jack doing his business. If we can’t be certain that he’s peed, then a cry at 6am could mean his bladder is going to explode, instead of, “I want some ham”. It’s a nightmare.
I’m doing the night shift right now – it’s 5:30am as I write this – and he’s slept through the night. I just hope he’s okay. If the problem persists, the only alternative is a very complicated operation. And we’d have to call him Captain Jackie, too.
Anyway, back on Planet of the Daleks, Jo is spying on some Spiridon collaborators dressed in purple furs. They’re supposed to keep out the cold, but I reckon it’s to stop them bumping into each other.
Sue: If the natives are completely naked when they’re invisible, where is this one holding its stick?
The Thals enter a tunnel carved out of ice.
Sue: That’s pretty good. Actually, the direction isn’t too bad. I haven’t noticed anything terrible yet.
Me: It helps that these scenes were shot on film.
Sue: I wish they’d shot the whole thing on film. Even the crap bits look better on film.
Codal and the Doctor manhandle a Dalek in order to screw with its central impulses.
Sue: This reminds me of the first Dalek story we saw. It feels very old-fashioned.
Me: It’s funny you should say that.
Sue: Why is that funny?
Me: You’ll work it out eventually.
As Sue ponders this – and I feel increasingly guilty about the lack of foot rubbing – a Thal named Marat sacrifices himself so his colleagues can escape. Which makes me feel even more guilty about not rubbing her feet.
Sue: That would have been a noble death if he’d actually helped them get away. But he didn’t. So it wasn’t.
A Dalek with a laminated map stuck to its plunger tells his colleagues that he found it on Marat’s corpse.
Sue: I want to see the scene where the Dalek searched the body. What a farce that would have been. No wonder they need henchmen. Actually, where is the Master? We’re nearly halfway through the story and there’s still no sign of him.
I can’t do it any more, so I tell her what happened to Roger Delgado.
Sue: That’s really sad. So did they write him out of the story at the last-minute?
Me: No, the Master was never going to be in this story.
Sue: What? But that makes no sense at all. They promised us Dalek/Master action the other week. That doesn’t seem fair.
The Doctor and the Thals escape thanks to a lot of hot air.
Sue: That was okay, I guess. Although it isn’t quite the same when Captain Jack isn’t here to watch it with us.
Jack’s back home again, off his whiskers on the cat version of Ecstasy.
Sue: Terry Nation! I should have bloody guessed.
Me: I owe you a foot rub, love. Fair’s fair.
Sue: I can’t move my feet when Jack’s on my knee. Look at him. How could I possibly move him?
Me: Just don’t say I didn’t offer.
Sue: I don’t care. All I want right now is Jack on my knee. I’ll punish you later.
As the Doctor and his Thal companions rise up the shaft in their hot air balloon, the Daleks follow them on an anti-gravity disc.
Sue: If this was the new series, the Daleks would just fly after them. Maybe it was this encounter with the Doctor that forced them to sort that out.
The Daleks call a meeting so they can discuss their plans for galactic domination.
Sue: The one with the drooping eyestalk looks like he might be asleep. I hope he isn’t supposed to be taking the minutes.
When the Doctor and Jo are reunited, Jo excitedly exclaims, “And then I was rescued by a bowl!”
Sue: What a great line. Only on Doctor Who.
Taron tells Rebec that he loves her, and that her presence on this mission will be the reason they’ll fail. In short, he’ll be too busy focusing on her tits to concentrate.
Sue: What a dick! He may as well have told her to stay in the kitchen on Skaro.
As our heroes head for the Plain of Stones, Vaber starts to freak out again.
Sue: He should be shot for mutiny. He’s pulled a gun on his commander twice now! How many verbal warnings do you give a man before he blows your ****ing head off?
Vaber runs into the jungle with the Thals’ remaining explosives. Unfortunately for him, he’s captured by some Spiridon collaborators, one of whom sounds suspiciously like Wester.
Sue: Hang on, is the invisible man who saved Jo a double agent? Or do all the Spiridons sound the same? And does this guy’s safety really deserve a cliffhanger?
Sue: They should have called this one Planet of the Tinsel. I’m sorry, but that’s the best I can do. I can’t really concentrate on this when I’m straining to hear the cat.
Me: I think…
Sue: Shhh. Can you hear him crying?
Me: No, that’s the sound of a bird cawing on the soundtrack to this episode. It’s been cawing throughout the entire story. In fact, he caws in every jungle-based Doctor Who story. He’s in The Daleks’ Master Plan for a start.
When Wester arrives at the Plain of Stones, the Doctor tries to brain him with a stick. Thankfully, Jo intervenes.
Sue: How can she know which invisible alien is which? Is it because of the unique stains on his rug?
The purple rugs remain a source of fascination for Sue.
Sue: Jack would love a rug like that.
Sue: I don’t know why they don’t just throw the purple rugs over the Daleks. They’re the perfect weapon.
And then, approximately 12 minutes into Episode Five, we reach an important milestone.
Sue: We should do a dance or something, but I’m not in the mood right now. I just want Captain Jack to have a wee.
Me: Give me a kiss instead. I’m really proud of you for making it this far.
Sue: Halfway, eh?
Me: Yeah, it’s all downhill from here.
Sue: I suppose it’s appropriate that the halfway point reminds me of the first episodes you made me watch. If you turned down the colour, you’d think you were watching a 1960s story, what with all these Daleks having long, boring conversations with each other in metal rooms. Terry ****ing Nation.
As if to prove her point, a Dalek runs into some polystyrene rocks.
Sue: It was never going to make it through that gap. That was asking for trouble.
Sue perks up when the Thals take her advice and throw the Spiridons’ rugs over the Daleks’ heads.
Sue: The entrance to the city looks like the entrance to the tube.
Me: The London Underground?
Sue: No, Channel 4’s The Tube.
Me: Oh yeah. So it does.
The Daleks hope to unleash a deadly plague on the galaxy (“Terry Nation doesn’t half love a good plague”), so Wester sacrifices himself to stop them. And when he dies, his true features are revealed to us.
Sue: With a face like that, you can see why they want to be invisible.
Jack is curled up on Sue’s knee, off his tits on diazepam, the lucky bastard.
Sue: The Daleks are pushovers, aren’t they? You just have to get behind them and hang on a bit. No wonder they’re so desperate to become invisible. It would stop people laughing at them.
The Dalek Supreme’s ship arrives on Spiridon.
Sue: That’s a great design for a spaceship.
Me: It was designed by a 10-year old child. I’m not joking, either.
Sue: It’s great. It references the original Dalek design and there’s a nice simplicity to it. Can you buy this ship as a toy?
Me: Give it time. Give it time.
The Dalek Supreme emerges from his ship.
Meanwhile Jo is chatted up by a Thal named Latep.
Sue: Jo could do a lot better than him. Even Mike Yates would be a better catch than him. He looks all right, I suppose – he’s a bit Keith Chegwin for my taste.
It turns out that the Dalek Supreme isn’t quite as fancy as he first appeared.
Sue: It’s got an Everready torch for an eye! They haven’t even bothered to hide it. Did a 10-year old design this as well?
The Dalek Supreme is unhappy with a progress report he receives from one of his subordinates, so he exterminates him.
Sue: He’s the Daleks’ Darth Vader.
Jo and Latep abseil into the Dalek city, and Latep is extremely eager when it comes to helping Jo down.
Sue: Watch your hands, sunshine. You ain’t married yet.
Believe it or not, Sue liked the Dalek’s frozen army at first.
Sue: That doesn’t look too bad.
Me: Are you serious? Are you actually looking at it?
Sue: I don’t see the problem. Oh, hang on, I see what you mean. They don’t look right, do they? They’re too pointy at the front.
Me: They’re toys!
Sue: Well, what else were they going to do? They weren’t going to build 10,000 Daleks, were they? At least they aren’t using cardboard cut-outs this time.
The episode concludes with a lacklustre explosion and some lukewarm jeopardy. And then, when the dust settles, the Doctor warns the Thals not to glamourise their exploits when they return to Skaro.
Sue: That was profound.
Me: Yeah, it’s just a shame the Doctor’s dialogue is drowned out by what sounds like a very randy elephant.
Sue: I like the message, though: don’t turn this story into a movie. I can go along with that.
Latep (or Lametep, if you’re Sue) asks Jo to return to Skaro with him.
Sue: Oh no, she’s actually going to leave with him, isn’t she? Why would she want to live on a planet crawling with Daleks? Hasn’t the Doctor told her that Skaro is a dump? And I bet they won’t be able to land the ship properly, so she’ll probably die before she even sees the shit hole she would have ended up living on. It’s Susan all over again! Jo deserves a lot more than this.
But no! Jo Grant blows him out. Phew.
Sue: It’s going to be a long journey home for Cheggers.
And then, just when we think it’s all over, the Dalek Supreme emerges from the jungle for one last – and thoroughly fruitless – throw of the dice.
Me: Sorry, love, this story is actually 18 episodes long. Ouch!
One of the few cushions I actually deserved, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Sue: That went exactly how I expected. The only surprise was that the Master wasn’t in it – and that wasn’t even a nice surprise. Some of the performances were okay, and the direction was fine, especially considering the ridiculously over-optimistic script, but it didn’t do anything for me. It could be that I’ve got other things on my mind right now, but I’ve forgotten it already. And I can’t say I’m overjoyed to see Terry ****ing Nation back again. I didn’t even get a foot rub out of it. Please tell me he isn’t back for good, Neil.