Me: I’d like you to close your eyes during the title sequence…
Sue: Is it called Something of the Daleks?
Me: **** it. Yes, the Daleks are in the ****ing title. There, you’ve ruined the surprise.
Sue: What surprise? It’s the bloody title, Neil!
Me: I thought it’d be more interesting if you didn’t know the Daleks were in it. Oh, sod it. It’s called Death to the Daleks. Happy now?
The episode begins…
Sue: So that’s why you wanted me to close my eyes. Terry ****ing Nation!
After an interesting opening scene, which features somebody dying from an arrow to the stomach, drowning and acute boredom – all at the same time – we join the Doctor and Sarah as they prepare for a much-needed holiday to Florana.
Sue: Is Sarah Jane going to wear that swimsuit for the whole story? It’s definitely one for the dads, this.
The TARDIS suffers a massive power failure.
Sue: It’s the 1970s. Everyone had to put up with power cuts in 1970s. It’s very topical, this.
The Doctor and Sarah are plunged into darkness. Sort of.
Sue: There shouldn’t be any light in this scene at all, but if they did that, they’d spend the entire episode bumping into each other, so I forgive them.
After manually cranking open the TARDIS doors, Sarah decides to change into something more comfortable, but not before she makes the Doctor promise that he won’t leave her.
And then, as soon as Sarah’s back is turned, he leaves her.
Sue: What an absolute ****!
Sue: He’s evil! It’s Jo’s sandwich all over again! Why is he doing this?
The Doctor walks further and further away from the TARDIS.
Sue: I never liked Jon Pertwee.
When Sarah eventually leaves the TARDIS, she’s dressed much more conservatively.
Sue: She’s gone from beautiful beach babe to Miss Jean Brodie. I bet all the dads switched off at this point.
Of course the Doctor is nowhere to be seen.
Sue: **** him! Go back inside the TARDIS, crank the door shut and leave him to it. I can’t get over the fact he lied to her like that. Seriously, why did he do that, Neil?
Sarah has been abandoned in a landscape of smoke and fog that looks genuinely dangerous and alien. She eventually decides to return to the TARDIS, but an Exxilon follows her. It gains entry to the ship and promptly assaults her.
Sue: This is very disturbing, all of a sudden. It’s turned into a stalk-and-slash film. These POV shots are very graphic. It’s very adult. Too adult, probably.
The Exxilons keep their large bulbous eyes trained on The Doctor as he traverses a narrow ravine.
Sue: Are they like the Sand Men in Star Wars? This looks very much like Star Wars, actually. Those funny little creatures with the glowing eyes will probably jump out and kidnap him.
A hidden tripwire causes a large boulder to come crashing down.
Sue: It’s turned into 127 Hours now.
Me: No, it just feels like 127 hours.
Sue: The direction is great, though. It’s different to what we usually get. It’s very creative.
The Doctor encounters a Marine Space Corps expedition who are searching for a rare mineral called parrinium.
Sue: It’s Avatar. Again. Doctor Who should probably sue James Cameron, you know.
They need the parrinium to cure a space plague that’s ravaging the outer worlds.
Sue: Terry loves a good space disease, doesn’t he?
Just as any hope of rescue looks increasingly unlikely, a spaceship enters the planet’s atmosphere.
Sue: Oh dear, this isn’t good. Two characters are looking in completely opposite directions at the same thing. Oh, and now another actor (Julian Fox) is looking directly at the camera. I think he’s expecting – or hoping – the director will say, “Cut”.
The Space Marines rush off to meet the approaching ship.
Me: Do you have any idea who might be on that spaceship, Sue?
Sue: Is it the Master? I’m joking!
When Sarah investigates a high-tech city, she’s apprehended by some Exxilons.
Sue: Are they in a leper colony?
Sarah is sentenced to death for daring to enter the Exxilons’ holy city.
Sue: They should have had better signage. How was she supposed to know it was forbidden?
Meanwhile the spaceship has landed and – surprise, surprise – some Daleks come trundling out of it.
Sue: The Doctor actually looks a bit scared here.
The Daleks’ arrival is accompanied by some of the most inappropriate theme music ever devised for a television show.
Sue: It’s ****ing awful! This cannot be Dudley Simpson!
Me: You’re right, it’s Carey Blyton.
Sue: Are you impressed that I knew it wasn’t Dudley?
Me: No. I am a little scared, though.
Sue: At least somebody is. That cliffhanger was pants.
The Daleks are completely harmless.
Sue: Now it’s the Daleks’ turn to be scared. That’s clever. However, I’d like to know where the power is coming from to make their little lights flash on and off when they talk.
The Doctor tells the Daleks, “We are all in this together”.
Sue: I told you he was a Tory.
Four Daleks convene to discuss the Doctor’s suggestion they form an alliance. Three of the Daleks become incredibly animated during this discussion, but as for the fourth…
Sue: Did one of the Dalek operators call in sick? And what the **** is this music supposed to be? Are these Daleks supposed to be French?
The Exxilons beat the living shit out of a Dalek, before setting fire to it and dancing around its remains.
Sue: The lack of music during this scene makes it look like a snuff film or a video nasty. This is very disturbing.
An Exxilon shows up who can actually shoot straight, and he kills John Abineri. Which is a shame because Sue never got a chance to warm to him like she usually does.
Sue: The guy playing Peter just looked straight down the camera again!
She’s right. And once you become aware of this, you can’t stop noticing that Julian Fox is constantly checking that the camera is still rolling. It would make for one hell of a drinking game.
Sue: This is the strangest episode of Doctor Who I’ve seen so far. It’s completely mental. I’ve never seen anything like it.
But she hasn’t seen anything yet, because now the Daleks are using a tiny model TARDIS for target practice.
Sue: Hang on a minute. Where did they get the little police box from? Have they been round our house when I wasn’t looking?
The Daleks arm themselves with machine guns and take great pleasure in massacring the Exxilons.
Sue: It’s turned into a zombie film. The faces on these aliens are very disturbing. You must remember seeing this one when you were a boy, Neil.
Me: Actually, I don’t. I have no memories of this story at all. Although I do vividly remember a clip turning up on an edition of Ask Aspel. Please don’t ask me why I remember that, I just do.
Deep in some underground caverns, the Doctor comes face-to-face with a metallic snake.
Sue: It’s a torch strapped to a hoover attachment. Another ridiculous cliffhanger to add to the collection.
Sue: I take it all back. It’s a torch strapped to a hoover attachment crossed with that flower from the Pink Floyd film.
Me: It looks like Gypsy from Mystery Science Theater 3000, if you ask me.
Thankfully, Sue is much more forgiving of Bellal.
Sue: The make-up in this story is pretty good. They’re a believable alien race. I like the little guy. He’s basically a nice Gollum.
The Daleks keep their side of the bargain by helping the humans mine the parrinium with their technological prowess. They do this by using the Exxilons as slave labour, which doesn’t sound very technologically advanced to us. It also makes the Doctor’s proposed alliance with them even more baffling.
Sue: How do they expect to mine enough stuff to saves millions of lives with a workforce of six?
A snake-like creature emerges from the lake to attack the Exxilons.
Sue: That was amazing!
Me: What? Really?
Sue: Yes, Peter didn’t look at the camera once!
The Doctor strokes Sarah’s face as he orders her back to the parrinium mine.
Sue: This is a bit full-on, isn’t it? He’s known her for, what? A week? He’s overstepping the mark, if you ask me.
As the Doctor and Bellal enter the city, I’m rocked by a wave of nostalgia.
Me: This is the bit they showed on Ask Aspel. I just thought you should know.
The Doctor is confronted by a simple maze on a wall.
Sue: It’s basically an episode of The Cube. Phillip Schofield is on the other side of that door.
The Doctor traces his finger through the maze with ease.
Sue: That didn’t look very difficult to me. Why did the other contestants die? How many goes did they need before they all died of starvation? They must have been really thick.
And then the episode concludes with…
Sue: The worst cliffhanger EVER!
Me: I thought you’d like some nice tiling.
Sue: Not for the ****ing cliffhanger! Jesus!
Sue: Is Bellal the new companion? He’d be great. The Doctor should have a companion who doesn’t look human. It would help him look a little less xenophobic.
The Doctor navigates the Tile of Doom with his sonic screwdriver.
Sue: The Doctor’s cheating. He isn’t demonstrating his intelligence at all. He just owns some clever technology. Any idiot can use a screwdriver. Well, except you, maybe.
The Daleks are right behind them.
Sue: I want to see the Daleks navigate that maze on the wall with their plungers. I demand to see that scene!
Bellal crosses the floor, as the Doctor implores him to avoid the red bits.
Sue: He’s touching a red bit already! Look!
As the Doctor and Bellal make their way through the city, Sue can sense a pattern emerging. And no, that isn’t the next riddle, by the way.
Sue: Is this episode supposed to be one big quiz show?
Me: You haven’t said anything about Jill yet.
Sue: What is there to say? She’s pretty, but that’s about it. What has she done, exactly? The characters are very two-dimensional. I don’t care about any of them.
Bellal is forced to threaten the Doctor against his will, which is when a cushion suddenly hits me in the face.
Me: Ouch! What was that for?
Sue: Hypnotism. You’ll get a cushion in the face every time somebody is hypnotised in this show from now on.
Me: Oh crap…
The Doctor thinks the final test will be an assault on their sanity.
Sue: How did he jump to that incredibly specific conclusion?
Right on cue, the Doctor is menaced by some coloured lights.
Sue: This is more like a test of someone’s patience than an assault on their sanity. And you definitely wouldn’t get away with this today. Epileptics would have a fit.
As the Doctor recovers from this terrifying ordeal, his hair looks especially defeated.
Sue: This is the least bouffanty I’ve ever seen this Doctor. It suits him.
When the Doctor and Bellal reach the city’s control room, Sue can appreciate the scale of their achievement.
Sue: It’s a bit like trying to find the exit in Ikea.
The Doctor looks for a way to switch off the city’s brain.
Sue: I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Doctor will reverse the polarity of something or other.
The city deals with the threat by growing some antibodies.
Sue: Are those Cybermen I can see in the background?
Me: I wish!
When a Dalek discovers that Jill has escaped, it self-destructs out of shame.
Sue: What the hell? Do the Daleks always do that when they **** up? The galaxy must be littered with Daleks that ****ed up.
The Daleks follow the Doctor to the control room, but the antibodies intercept them. “Evacuate! Evacuate!” scream the Daleks, as the antibodies beat the shit out of them.
Me: They’re evacuating their bowels by the sound of it.
Julian Fox stares at us one more time, for luck.
As the Daleks’ ship takes off, the Doctor ushers everyone away from the exhaust blast.
Sue: What exhaust blast? It didn’t even ripple his hair!
But all is not lost. Galloway, who Sue liked the most on account of him having something roughly approximating a personality, elects to become a suicide bomber. It’s a moving moment and Sue is on the edge of her seat when the Dalek’s ship explodes.
Sue: Whatever you do, Peter, DON’T LOOK AT THE CAMERA!
The special effects department pour acetone all over their model city.
Sue: They shouldn’t have done that. It makes it obvious the city was made from polystyrene. They should have blown the bastard up instead.
Sue: It started well. The direction was especially good in the first couple of episodes; some of the shots were really innovative, and I thought I was in for a good one. But the plot was horrendous. And the music killed it for me. What were they thinking? It was short, though. Short and silly.