Doctor Doctor Who Guide

‘The Evil of the Daleks’ is a masterpiece. Based on the soundtrack and episode two alone, it vies with ‘The Power of the Daleks’ for the title of my favourite Second Doctor story and it is one of my top ten favourite Doctor Who stories of all time. The reasons for this are many.

Firstly, the characterisation is superb. Whitaker always excels at this, and here is no exception. In episode one alone, we meet four characters, three of who are not present for most of the rest of the story, but who are all satisfying characters in their own right. Bob Hall, Kennedy, and Perry all play their parts in luring the Doctor and Jamie to Waterfield’s antiques shop, but they also serve another purpose in that they allow us to learn about the character of Edward Waterfield. We know from very early on that he is working for the Daleks and is luring the Doctor into a trap, which would normally be enough to make him a villain. Instead, via conversations between Waterfield and Kennedy and Waterfield and Perry, we learn more about his true character; clearly he is under enormous stress caused in part by his current actions, and is a reluctant conspirator. This is obvious from his fraught conversation with the Dalek in the hidden room, but the feeling is enhanced by his concern for Bob Hall when Kennedy explains that he knocked him out – Waterfield is clearly not accustomed to, or comfortable with, violence. He is also slightly aggrieved when Perry tells his employer that he won’t do anything “dicey”; Perry has clearly gathered that Waterfield’s strange behaviour has more to it than he is being allowed to see, but whilst this is true, Waterfield in turn is clearly unhappy that Perry believes that he might be a criminal. Finally, at the beginning of episode two, Waterfield discovers the corpse of the exterminated Kennedy and in that moment is shown to be completely out of his depth, as he almost breaks down on the spot. This then, is the secondary function of these characters; whilst they advance the plot by getting the Doctor to Waterfield and ultimately to the Daleks, they also allow us to gain insight into Waterfield’s character. That they are so well defined as characters is testament to the writing skills of David Whitaker. In short, whilst they are to an extent padding, they never actually feel like padding, so well portrayed are they. Likewise, later in the story we have Toby and Arthur Terrall, both of whom are seemingly superfluous to the larger plot; indeed, we never do learn why exactly Terrall ordered Toby to kidnap Jamie. Closer scrutiny reveals however that they play a subtler role; Arthur Terrall is under Dalek control, but the process used is erratic. Whilst it is clearly more advanced than the technology used to create the zombie-like Robomen in ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ since it allows Terrall to retain his intelligence and personality, it is unreliable, since he frequently shakes free of the Dalek influence, leaving him confused and disorientated. Toby is used to demonstrate this, by presenting Terrall with Jamie and demanding his payment, causing both Jamie and subsequently the Doctor to realize that all is not well with him. This may seem trivial, but once the Daleks’ true plans are revealed, it makes sense, since the Daleks clearly cannot reliably control humans in this manner and therefore perfect the Dalek Factor instead; once processed, Maxtible is the perfect human servant, combining the loyalty and dedication of the Robomen with the intelligence of the original human. Toby also serves another purpose, since his extermination allows us to contrast Waterfield’s earlier reaction to Kennedy’s death with Maxtible’s far more self-serving reaction…

Maxtible and Waterfield are crucial to the success of ‘The Evil of the Daleks’. Here we see two men, both working with the Daleks, but for entirely different reasons and with hugely different characters. Waterfield is motivated by a desire to have his daughter released by the Daleks, which is his sole reason for abducting the Doctor and Jamie and going along with the Daleks’ schemes. John Bailey’s performance is outstanding, making Waterfield a hugely sympathetic figure and conveying a feeling throughout that Waterfield is close to a complete breakdown, caused by concern for Victoria and guilt at his part in the deaths of Kennedy and Toby and his part in a plan that he believes will make the Daleks invincible. Bailey is so convincing that it is hard to believe that he’s actually acting at times, genuinely seeming emotionally exhausted right up until the final episode. Waterfield’s sacrifice, his own life for the Doctor’s, seems appropriate to his character. He tells Maxtible that once he has Victoria back, he will confess his part in the entire affair, including the death of Toby and is clearly seeking to redeem himself for his part in the Daleks’ plan; in saving the Doctor he finds this redemption, and as the Doctor promises to the dying man that he will take care of Victoria, he seems to also finally, find some peace. It is a surprisingly touching moment, demonstrating Whitaker’s ability to make the viewer care about supporting characters just as much as the regulars. Maxtible on the other hand (flamboyantly portrayed by Marius Goring), is a willing accomplice in the Daleks’ schemes, having been promised the secret of transforming “metal into gold!”, and therefore unimaginable wealth and power. He is motivated purely by greed, with a callous disregard for Waterfield, who clearly considers him a friend, and also his daughter and her boyfriend, the latter of whom he regards with clinical interest as Terrall suffers under Dalek control. It is inevitable that Maxtible will pay the price for his alliance with the Daleks, just as Mavic Chen did in ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’. Despite this comparison however, Chen and Maxtible are very different characters. Chen was fully aware of the Daleks’ reputation and did not trust them in the slightest, but considered the risks of an alliance to be worthwhile, since the possible gains far outweighed them. Maxtible however, underestimates the Daleks from the start. He seems to genuinely believe, in spite of increasing evidence to the contrary, that he has entered into an arrangement with the Daleks, which they will honour. When he impatiently confronts a Dalek over their delay in honoring their side of the bargain, he finds himself physically attacked and is clearly frightened by this; immediately after the Dalek leaves however, he frantically justifies its response, obviously trying to convince himself that the Daleks simply have their own way of going about their affairs, which is different from his own, but that this doesn’t automatically mean that he cannot trust them. He is, in short, blinded by greed. Significantly, shortly after this confrontation, he sets about manipulating Terrall into obeying him, assuring him that the Daleks are confident in Maxtible’s judgement; having had his authority challenged by the Daleks, he desperately needs to assert it elsewhere and chooses Terrall because he is a vulnerable target. In addition, it was Terrall who stopped him from shooting Waterfield earlier on, at which time it was Terrall who was in a position of authority, and by reversing this Maxtible restores his self-confidence. However much he tries to convince himself that he is going to benefit from his alliance with the Daleks however, it is repeatedly made clear to him how woefully mistaken he is; the destruction of his house is the most obvious example, but once on Skaro he still tries to justify the Daleks actions, because the lure of what they offer is so strong; he impotently chastises them like naughty school children, only to have his confident façade shattered once more as he is threatened with severe consequences for failing to bring the Doctor to Skaro. Later, in the cell, he tries to convince Victoria and Kemel that he is the only person who can mediate with the Daleks in their behalf, but he is again trying to convince himself of his own importance rather than his companions. Tellingly, he also tries to convince them of the need to mollify him if they want to benefit from his supposed friendship with the Daleks; here, he seems to be finally realizing that he has made a series of terrible mistakes, and wants to ally himself with his fellow humans because he is at that point rejected by both them and the Daleks. This selfish remorse is swiftly dispelled however, when the Daleks finally offer him the secret of transforming metal into gold; once more blinded by greed, he refuses to heed the Doctor’s warnings and surrenders his humanity to the Dalek factor. 

The regulars are well served by ‘The Evil of the Daleks’, with both Troughton and Hines impressing as usual, and Deborah Watling getting a strong debut. I’ve noted that in both ‘The Macra Terror’ and ‘The Faceless Ones’, the Doctor seems to be enjoying getting involved enormously. This story is no exception, but on this occasion, he makes a serious error of judgement. During the first two episodes he is motivated by the need to recover his ship, and as he solves the clues provided by Waterfield to lure him into the trap, he gets to show off his deductive skills, easily following the trail of the TARDIS to the antique shop. This part of the story has been criticized for the fact that these clues are rather too obscure, but I don’t think this is really the case; the only leap he really has to make is finding the matches, and going to the coffee shop where they were purchased. Prior to that, he simply follows the blatantly suspect Bob Hall, and afterwards Perry meets him and tells him where to go. Having been transported back in time to 1866, he is immediately intrigued by the plight of Waterfield and Maxtible, and is clearly burning with curiosity as they begin to explain. When the Dalek actually bursts out of the cabinet however, the look on Troughton’s face is a testament to his acting talents, combing horror and even fear at having realized just who has set the trap that he calmly walked into. Having learned of what he thinks is the Daleks’ plan however, he soon settles into his previous pattern of trying to manipulate his opponents. He is obviously wary of the Daleks, gravely confirming Waterfield’s fears about how deadly they really are, but he quickly seems to become absorbed by his task of monitoring Jamie’s progress through Maxtible’s house in search of Victoria Waterfield. His irrepressible curiosity also comes to the fore once more, during a wonderfully quotable scene in which he confronts the controlled but unstable Terrall and tells him “I am not a student of human nature, I am a professor of a far wider academy of which human nature is only a part. All forms of life interest me.” More than anything however, it his manipulative streak that is most obvious, as he helps the Daleks because he strongly suspects that introducing the Human Factor into them will not have the effect that he thinks they desire. Ultimately, he is able to turn this fact to his advantage and the possible final destruction of the Daleks on Skaro, but he almost comes undone as the Emperor reveals its real plan… Whilst I’ve never seen the missing episode six, I can always imagine the smug look on the Doctor’s face as he proclaims “I’ve defeated you, I don’t care what you do to me now”, and I can always imagine his face falling as the Emperor retorts “The Human Factor showed us what the Dalek Factor is”. Ultimately, it his only his immunity to the Dalek Factor, not predicted by the Emperor, that allows him to finally defeat the Daleks. During the final episode, as the Doctor salvages victory, he is once again frantic, cajoling humanized Daleks into fighting the Emperor’s black-domed Daleks and telling them to ask the Emperor why they must obey orders. As he leaves Skaro and looks down on the carnage, the relief in his voice as he quietly mutters “the final end” is palpable. The entire story encompasses some of Troughton’s finest moments. Jamie (and indeed, Frazer Hines) meanwhile gets his own chance to shine, as he takes centre stage during episodes three to five. Inevitably, the largely action based sequences as he narrowly avoids the plethora of traps prepared by Maxtible and the Daleks don’t work as well on audio as they probably did in the original television story, but Jamie still comes across well without the visuals. His determination to save Victoria and do what he sees as the right thing regardless of the Doctor’s seeming objections emphasizes that he is not just the Doctor’s loyal companion, but a decent and heroic character in his own right; we’ve seen his bravery before when he faced two Macra in the tunnel and later boarded the Chameleon Tours aeroplane, but here he is at his bravest and most resourceful, overcoming every obstacle in his path. More than that however, we get to see other character traits as he saves and quickly befriends Kemel. In addition, his reconciliation with the Doctor in episode five cements their friendship once more, and really establishes the bond between that characterizes this Doctor/Companion relationship. Victoria also impresses; whilst she is clearly there to fill the traditional screaming female companion role, she is far braver and more resilient than a closeted Victorian upbringing might suggest. Although clearly terrified and on the edge of hysteria whilst a prisoner of the Daleks, in her very first scene she is also defiant in as much as she dares. Later, as soon as she has other human company, she seems to draw strength from it; when she, Kemel and Maxtible are imprisoned on Skaro, she focuses on her concern for Kemel rather than on her own fear, and makes her contempt for Maxtible plain, as well as continuing to show defiance to the Daleks. Because she remains a prisoner for most of the story, she gets very little else to do, but these character traits and Deborah Watling’s portrayal make Victoria instantly likeable.

Finally, there are the Daleks themselves. If they were cunning and manipulative in ‘The Power of the Daleks’, then here they are positively Machiavellian. The cliffhanger to episode six, which I’ve mentioned above, is a classic moment, made all the more memorable by the revelation of the visually impressive (judging by the photographs at least) Emperor Dalek. 

The Emperor is a creation that I’m particularly fond of, despite the fact that only appears for little more than one episode. The reason that I like it is because it provides a focal point for the Daleks’ absolute evil, a central governing mastermind sitting like a spider at the heart of the Dalek Empire. And frankly, I just think it looks and sounds great, which is why I’m glad that Big Finish have used it in their Dalek Empire stories. According to Andrew Pixley’s archive in Doctor Who Magazine issue 200, after the final battle at the very end of episode seven, the lights in its shattered casing come back on, to indicate that this may not be the final end of the Daleks, and I like to think that the Emperor, in some ways the Doctor’s ultimate enemy at this point in the series’ history, survives. The scope of the Daleks’ plan rivals that in ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’, as they scheme to “spread the Dalek Factor through the entire history of Earth”, and achieve a total victory over humanity. They almost succeed, but in the end and thanks to the Doctor, they instead are defeated by humanity, as massed ranks of Daleks are infected with the Human Factor and civil war breaks out. Despite the unfortunate use of toy Daleks, the surviving special effects footage shows an impressively mounted and explosive climax, which is a fitting end to the last Dalek story of the nineteen-sixties. Finally, the humanized Daleks are a memorable curiosity, the incongruity of a Dalek announcing “He is my friend” and “I will not obey” leaving a lasting impression. It contrasts nicely with the Daleks announcing, “I am your servant” during ‘The Power of the Daleks’, because whereas that was said in the normal Dalek monotone, the humanized Daleks sound different due to greater vocal inflection introduced by the voice artistes to great effect. 

Overall then, ‘The Evil of the Daleks’ is deserving of the label “classic” and is a superb end to Season Four. Despite the mixed quality of the season and the poor use of the Ben, Polly and Jamie companion combination, the change in lead actor is achieved effectively, with Troughton quickly making the role his own. With a new status quo established amongst the TARDIS crew, everything is ready for Troughton’s first full season…

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