It’s a Dalek snuff film…
Me: Ok, 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!
Me: I thought it might be more interesting if you didn’t know the Daleks were in it. Oh, sod it. It’s called Death to the Daleks. Are you happy now?
The episode begins…
Sue: So that’s why you wanted me to close my eyes! Terry ****ing Nation!
She sticks her foot in my face.
After an interesting start, which features someone dying of 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 holiday on Florana.
Sue: Is Sarah Jane going to wear that swimsuit for the whole story? It’s definitely one for the dads, this.
Suddenly, the TARDIS suffers a massive power failure…
Sue: It’s the 1970s. Everyone had to put up with power cuts like this back then. This is very topical.
The Doctor and Sarah are plunged into darkness and Sue agrees that this opening scene, which is set in an eerie, echoing TARDIS, is very spooky indeed.
Sue: Of course, technically, there really shouldn’t be any light in this scene at all. But I suppose they’d spend the entire episode bumping into each other, so I can forgive them.
After manually cranking open the TARDIS doors, Sarah decides to change into something a little more comfortable, but before she does, she makes the Doctor solemnly promise that he won’t leave her.
As soon as Sarah’s back is turned, he leaves her.
You might want to hold onto your hats…
Sue: What a ****! What an absolute ****! ****!! ****!!!
If asterisks came in capitals, these would be massive.
Sue: He’s evil! It’s like Jo and the 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.
Sarah exits the TARDIS and this time she is dressed much more conservatively.
Sue: She’s gone from beautiful beach babe to Miss Jean Brodie. I bet all the dads turned 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 just leave him to it. I can’t get over why he lied to her like that. Seriously, why did he do that?
Sarah searches for the Doctor through 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 it promptly assaults her.
Sue: This is very disturbing all of a sudden. It’s like a stalk-and-slash film. These POV shots are very graphic, too. It feels very adult. Too adult, probably.
Meanwhile, the Doctor is traversing a narrow ravine as the Exxilons keep their large bulbous eyes on him…
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 should jump out and kidnap him.
The Doctor spots a hidden tripwire, and when he sets it off, a large boulder comes 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 very different to what we usually get. It’s very creative.
The Doctor eventually hooks up with a Marine Space Corps expedition whose ship has also crash landed due to the power drain. They have come to the planet Exxilon in search of a rare mineral called parrinium.
Sue: It’s Avatar. Again. Doctor Who should sue James Cameron.
They need the parrinium to cure a space plague that is ravaging the outer worlds.
Sue: Terry loves a good disease, doesn’t he?
Just as any hope of rescue looks increasingly unlikely, a spaceship enters the planet’s atmosphere…
Sue: Oh dear, this is not good. Two characters are looking in completely opposite directions at the same thing. Oh, and now another actor (Julian Fox as Peter Hamilton) is looking directly at the camera. I think he’s expecting – or hoping – that 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 ship?
Sue: Is it the Master? I’m joking! It’s the Daleks. I know, I know!
Sarah decides to investigate a high-tech city, but she is swiftly apprehended by some Exxilons.
Sue: Are they a leper colony?
Sarah is sentenced to death for daring to enter the Exxilons’ holy city.
Sue: They should have put up better signage. How was she supposed to know it was forbidden?
Meanwhile, the spaceship has finally landed and – surprise, surprise – some Daleks come trundling out.
Sue: The Doctor actually looks a bit scared.
They are accompanied by some of the most inappropriate theme music ever devised for a television show. I mean, come on!
Seriously, if you aren’t familiar with it, please listen to it now. I mean, does this really sound like the kind of music that should herald the arrival of the most feared beings in the universe? Really?
Sue: It’s ****ing awful! This can not be Dudley Simpson!
Me: You’re right, it’s Carey Blyton.
Sue: Are you impressed that I knew it wasn’t Dudley?
Me: No. (pause) I am scared, though.
Sue: At least somebody is – that cliffhanger was pants.top
The Daleks are completely harmless; their weapons have no power.
Sue: Now it’s the Daleks turn to look scared. That’s clever. However, I would like to know where the power is coming from to make their little lights flash on and off when they talk.
The Doctor says, “We are all in this together” and Sue pounces on him.
Sue: I told you he was a Tory.
Four Daleks convene to discuss the Doctor’s suggestion that they form an alliance. Three of the Daleks are incredibly animated by this discussion. One, not so much.
Sue: Did one of the Dalek operators call in sick? And what the **** is this music? Are the Daleks French now?
On their way to a parrinium mine, our heroes are ambushed by the Exxilons (who fortunately couldn’t shoot fish in a barrel), and a Dalek decides to intervene by shouting “Exterminate!” very, very loudly.
Sue: What good is that, sunshine?
The Dalek is quickly surrounded by Exxilons and they beat the living shit out of it. Then they set fire to it and dance around its remains.
Sue: Not having any music in this scene makes it look like a snuff film or a video nasty. This is very disturbing.
Suddenly, an Exxilon shows up who can actually aim, and he manages to kill John Abineri. What a waste. Sue never really got a chance to warm to him like she usually does.
Sue: The guy playing Peter just looked straight down the camera lens again!
She’s right. And once you notice this, you can’t stop noticing Julian Fox stopping to check 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 so far. It’s completely mental. I’ve never seen anything like it.
But she hasn’t seen anything yet. Now the Daleks are using a tiny model of the TARDIS for target practice…
Sue: Hang on a minute! Where do they get all the little police box models from? Have they been to our house when I wasn’t looking?
The Daleks arm themselves with machine guns and they take great pleasure in massacring the Exxilons, saving Sarah and the Doctor in the process.
I have to explain to Sue that this is not “the Daleks suddenly coming good”.
Sue: It’s turned into a zombie film, now. The faces on these aliens are very disturbing. You must remember watching this one when you were a boy.
Me: Actually, I don’t. I have no memories of this story at all. However, I vividly remember a clip from this story turning up on an edition of Ask Aspel. Please don’t ask me how or why I remember that, I just do.
Deep in some underground caverns, the Doctor comes face-to-face with a metallic, snake-like creature.
Sue: It’s torch strapped to a hoover attachment. Another ridiculous cliffhanger to add to the collection.top
Sue: I take it 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 and his shiny suit.
Sue: The make-up in this story is pretty good, actually. They are a very believable alien race. I like this little guy. He’s a very nice Gollum.
The Daleks are in hot pursuit and our heroes are forced to escape through a narrow gap between some rocks.
Sue: Colin Baker wouldn’t have stood a chance there.
The Daleks, brilliant technologists that they are, keep their side of the bargain by helping the humans mine the parrinium. 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 seem even more baffling to Sue.
Sue: How do they expect to mine enough stuff to saves millions of lives with a workforce of six?
When the snake-like creatures emerges from a lake to attack the Exxilons, Sue is riveted.
Sue: That was amazing!
Me: What? Really?
Sue: Yes, the guy playing Peter didn’t look at the camera once!
When a Dalek is destroyed by the creature, Sue is amused by its colleagues’ reaction.
Sue: One Dalek just turned to another Dalek as if to say: “We’re ****ed”.
Sue: Oh no, Peter looked straight at us again. Naughty, naughty.
Me: I think he was supposed to that time.
The Doctor orders Sarah back to the parrinium mine. A moment of tenderness passes between them as the Doctor gently strokes his companion’s face.
Sue: This is a bit full-on, isn’t it? He’s known her for what? A week? He’s overstepping the mark a bit here.
As the Doctor and Bellal attempt to gain entrance to the city, I am rocked by a wave of nostalgia.
Me: This is the bit they showed on Ask Aspel. I just thought you ought to know.
The Doctor is confronted by another puzzle; this time it’s a simple maze on a wall.
Sue: It’s The Cube. Phillip Schofield is going to be on the other side of that door.
The Doctor traces his finger through the maze with ease.
Sue: That didn’t look that difficult. Why did the other contestants die? How many goes did they need before they all died of starvation? They must have been 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!top
Sue: Is Bellal a new companion? He’d be great. The Doctor really should have a companion that doesn’t look human. It makes him seem a bit xenophobic.
When the Doctor navigates the Tile of Doom with the aid of his sonic screwdriver, Sue isn’t impressed.
Sue: The Doctor is cheating. He isn’t demonstrating his intelligence at all. It just means he owns some very clever technology. Any idiot can use a screwdriver.
The Daleks are right behind them…
Sue: I want to see the Daleks navigate that maze on the wall with their plungers. No, I demand to see that scene!
As the Doctor talks Bellal across the red and white tile, he implores him not to touch the red bit.
Sue: He is touching the red bit! Look!
As the Daleks roll up to the tile, Sue doesn’t fancy their chances.
Sue: The Daleks are completely ****ed here.
A Dalek rolls over the tile and it gets an electric shock for his troubles, a fate it is perfectly happy with.
As the Doctor and Bellal continue to make their way through the city’s tests, Sue can sense a pattern beginning to emerge.
Sue: Is this episode is just one big quiz show?
Meanwhile, as Sarah and Jill plan their next move…
Me: You haven’t said anything at all about Jill.
Sue: What is there to say? She’s very pretty but that’s about it. What has she done? The characters are very two-dimensional in this story. It’s hard to care about any of them.
When Sarah asks Jill how much parrinium they have managed to mine, Sue jumps in, quick as a flash:
Sue: About an ounce.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Bellal have arrived at the next test. Bellal is overwhelmed by an unseen force and he aims a gun at the Doctor.
It’s at this point I am hit in the face by a flying cushion.
Me: What was that for?
Sue: Hypnotism. You get a cushion in the face every time someone is hypnotised in this show from now on.
Me: Oh, crap.
The Doctor declares that the final test will be an assault on their sanity.
Sue: How did he manage to jump to that very specific conclusion?
Right on cue, the Doctor is menaced by some coloured lights.
Sue: This is more like a test of their patience than an assault on their sanity. And you definitely couldn’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 finally reach the city’s control room, Sue appreciates the scale of their achievement.
Sue: It’s like trying to find the exit to Ikea.
The Doctor immediately searches for a way to switch off the city’s brain.
Sue: I’m going to go out on a limb here – the Doctor will reverse the polarity of something or other.
The city decides to deal with the threat by growing some antibodies.
Sue: Are they Cybermen I can see in the background?
Me: I wish.
Meanwhile, a Dalek discovers that Jill has escaped from his custody and it promptly self-destructs out of shame.
Sue: What the hell? Do Daleks always do that when they **** up? The galaxy must be littered with Daleks that have ****ed up.
The Daleks have followed the Doctor to the control room, but the antibodies intercept them. “Evacuate! Evacuate!” scream the Daleks, as the antibodies beat seven shades out of them.
Me: They are evacuating their bowels by the sound of it.
And then, just to top things off, Julian Fox stares at us one more time, for luck.
The Daleks are triumphant and they decide to leave our heroes on Exxilon to die from yet another space plague (!), and as their ship takes off, the Doctor orders everyone to get away from its 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 approximating a personality, becomes a suicide bomber and he blows himself and the Daleks up. It’s a very moving scene and Sue is on the edge of her seat.
Sue: Whatever you do – DO NOT LOOK AT THE CAMERA!
Thankfully, Julian manages to resist, and as Sue breathes a huge sigh of relief, the special effects department pour acetone all over their model of the city.
Sue: They shouldn’t have done that. It just shows you that it’s carved out of polystyrene. Just blow the bastard up instead.top
The Final Score
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 as for the music? It killed it for me. What were they thinking? It was short, though. Short and silly.
The experiment continues…top
Adventures with the Wife – the Podcast
I am going to produce a short audio recording to tie into our upcoming Pertwee retrospective and to celebrate how far we’ve managed to come without killing each other.
And this is where you come in. Yes, you. Especially you.
I am looking for very short audio clip(s) recorded by your kind selves which I can then include in this podcast. These clips could take the form of a question (for Sue or Nicol), or a short statement (I love/despise Adventures with the Wife in Space because…). The more creative among you could even write a song or a poem – it’s entirely up to you!
Please try to include information about who you are at the beginning of your audio clip. So, for example: “Hi, I’m Neil from Durham and I’ll like to ask Sue…” etc. It will make life easier for me when I come to edit it.
To send an mp3 file to me you will either need your own webspace so you can upload it (then send me the address where I can download it), or you can deposit the files via a free online storage service like this or even Soundcloud would do at a pinch. Please send any links to me via the usual contact form.
If you are too shy or (heaven forbid) too incompetent to record anything, please send your question via the normal channels and I’ll do my best to include it in the podcast if I can.
The very best submission will inevitably win one of our new mugs.
The deadline for submissions: Thursday 15th March. That’s only two weeks away so you’ll have to get your skates on!top
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