EPISODE: The Daleks Part 1: The Dead Planet
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 005
STORY NUMBER: 002
TRANSMITTED: 21 December 1963
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Christopher Barry
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
FORMAT: DVD - The Beginning Boxset
We have an odd effect at the beginning of this episode that every time I see it makes me think my TV has gone wrong. Then Fluffing Billy makes up for the previous four episodes with wonders such as "Chesterfield" and "Semi Solidified" when talking about the beast (more follows) which looks like it's stood on a garden barbeque built of breeze blocks! Going back to the Tardis just holds the story up with a lot of mucking about with the food machine. Eventually we get to go to the city thanks to some sabotage from the Doctor.
The city model itself is great and the episode picks up in the last few minutes as we reach the futuristic city. Oooooh, that door noise is superb, still occasionally used today. NOOOO, Don't split up! Everyone's starting to feel ill by this point as they realise Barbara's missing. She runs round the city, and is taken in a lift down to a lower level where she's menaced by an unseen creature with a robotic arm.....
You'll remember that I saw all four parts of the first Doctor Who story when it was broadcast as part of the Five Faces of Doctor Who season in 1981. Here's how I came to see the next episode: I went to secondary school in 1984, Greycourt School in Ham, Richmond. My maths teacher for the first year was one Stephen Payne, who we discovered was a Doctor Who fan (I later learned he was the first Doctor Who Appreciation Society president). He left at Christmas 1985 to run full time his publishing company, Visual Imagination, which had acquired the rights to publish Starburst magazine from Marvel. Before he left he asked us if there was any old Doctor Who we'd like to say. We said the first Dalek story. So one lunch time, after wrestling with the school TV set in Lab 3 we settled down to watch The Dead Planet.... and I was bored out my skull. It's sooooooo slow. To make matters worse due to problems setting up we barely made it into episode 2 and never reached the good bit..... But I had by then seen the first five episodes of Doctor Who. It would be another seven years before I stretched this run to the first Eleven episodes.
The Daleks is the second episode of Doctor Who to be recorded twice. The first recording was plagued by a technical fault that caused backstage voices to be recorded, so the episode was remounted a few weeks later. The original recording does not survive, save for a few seconds used in the recap at the start of the next episode.
Great debate exists about the overall story titles of some of the Hartnell series. This story has been referred to as "The Daleks" (obviously), "The Dead Planet" (after the first episode) and "The Mutants" (as the name exists on some BBC paperwork) This last name fell out of favour in the 1970s when the Jon Pertwee story The Mutants was broadcast (DVD pre-orders for that story coincidentally went up yesterday). You might not agree with the overall titles I use but they are the names on the DVD, VHS & CD cases so that gives them some authenticity. The Doctor Who Target Books range did occasionally change the name of the story for publication (The Cybermen, Auton Invasion, Cave Monsters, Doomsday Weapon, The Dinosaur Invasion, Giant Robot and Loch Ness Monster all have different titles when broadcast on the screen) which creates even more confusion!