Skip to main content

If you want the Human Factor, a part of it must include compassion.


Doctor Who
The Evil of the Daleks: Episode Four


So this is the “I’m a Doctor Who Companion Get Me Out of Here” episode, as Jamie endures Dalek trials observed by an attentive audience. It’s an extended trifle, without much substance.


Jamie wins out through showing mercy to his foe, Kemel; he saves him, and then they ally to overcome the Daleks and rescue Victoria (there appear to be no consequences for the Dalek destruction derby they embark upon). Aside from Kemel, various axes and spikey objects block his path. There isn’t much in the way of tension to these scenes, as we know it is just a test. Excepting the climb to the staircase towards the climax.


In respect of Kemel, the strong, silent savage aspect may well be a leftover from an earlier draft of Whitaker’s plot. Here, a caveman named Og would have featured in the challenges faced by Jamie. It would certainly have laid the story less open to accusations of racism, although quite likely Og would have been unintentionally amusing.


More meat is provided in the other plot threads. The Doctor instructs the Daleks on the human “ingredients” that are required.

The Doctor: If you want the Human Factor, a part of it must include compassion.

He also informs them,

The Doctor: But there is instinct too. Jamie used instinct to avoid your trap.


But it’s the interaction between Waterfield and Maxtible that scores strongest. Waterfield’s stricken conscience foreshadows the concerns voiced by the Doctor later in the story, but with the same religious overtones that imbue the Daleks with a satanic majesty.

Waterfield: There’s no end to this, the hands of the Devil.

Maxtible, single-minded in his avarice, insists that they are not to blame (for the deaths that have occurred, the most recent of which is Toby’s). His patience is running thin with his colleague and stooge (“Waterfield, I am sick of you… Am I to blame for everything?”)

Waterfield: How many people must dies so that my daughter can live?
Maxtible: We are not the murderers.
Waterfield: No, just the silent partners. But we are just as much to blame because we stand by and do nothing.

Waterfield has a strong moral compass, and the Doctor’s conversation with a belligerent Jamie in the following episode sees him hold forth similarly regarding the ends justifying the means. Just in less emotive language.


Maxtible’s base desires are laid bare this week, as he gets stroppy with his masters. He still labours under the delusion that he has equal bargaining power with them, such is his tunnel vision.

Dalek: Do you threaten the Daleks?
Maxtible: It is not beyond me to ruin the entire enterprise… The secret., the secret. You promised to give it to me. That is why I have done all this.

He worships the alchemist’s dream. Not the immortality of the Sisterhood of Khan, but the more prosaic version; the transmutation of metal into gold.


Maxtible: To possess such a secret would mean power and influence beyond all imagining. And I am about to discover the secret. Nothing will stop me! Nothing! Nobody!

It’s not a little ironic that he is blind to his scientific achievements (whatever their quantifiability; they certainly appear to have opened a portal to another dimension, even if it is the Daleks who provide the nuts and bolts of time travel apparatus). There’s a slight echo of the advancements and proclamations of Nikola Tesla in his science beyond the imaginings of the world of the 19th century. But Tesla was dedicated to his practice, with little interest in financial rewards. For Maxtible, riches and prestige are the sole point of his dabblings.


Elsewhere, the increasingly combustible Terrall mystifies Ruth. His assessment of poor Molly might be better applied to the ever-wilting Victoria (well, the sniveling part).

Terrall: She’s a mean, snivelling little minx.


A so-so episode. But it’s not as if other lengthy (quality) stories aren’t the victim of similar less-than-essential padding. Both Invasion of the Dinosaurs and Planet of the Spiders include lengthy chase sequences that take up an entire episode.

Popular posts from this blog

You were this amazing occidental samurai.

Ricochet (1991) (SPOILERS) You have to wonder at Denzel Washington’s agent at this point in the actor’s career. He’d recently won his first Oscar for Glory , yet followed it with less-than-glorious heart-transplant ghost comedy Heart Condition (Bob Hoskins’ racist cop receives Washington’s dead lawyer’s ticker; a recipe for hijinks!) Not long after, he dipped his tentative toe in the action arena with this Joel Silver production; Denzel has made his share of action fare since, of course, most of it serviceable if unremarkable, but none of it comes near to delivering the schlocky excesses of Ricochet , a movie at once ingenious and risible in its plot permutations, performances and production profligacy.

He’ll regret it to his dying day, if ever he lives that long.

The Quiet Man (1952) (SPOILERS) The John Wayne & John Ford film for those who don’t like John Wayne & John Ford films? The Quiet Man takes its cues from Ford’s earlier How Green Was My Valley in terms of, well less Anglophile and Hibernophile and Cambrophile nostalgia respectively for past times, climes and heritage, as Wayne’s pugilist returns to his family seat and stirs up a hot bed of emotions, not least with Maureen O’Hara’s red-headed hothead. The result is a very likeable movie, for all its inculcated Oirishness and studied eccentricity.

No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.

The Matrix  (1999) (SPOILERS) Twenty years on, and the articles are on the defining nature of The Matrix are piling up, most of them touching on how its world has become a reality, or maybe always was one. At the time, its premise was engaging enough, but it was the sum total of the package that cast a spell – the bullet time, the fashions, the soundtrack, the comic book-as-live-action framing and styling – not to mention it being probably the first movie to embrace and reflect the burgeoning Internet ( Hackers doesn’t really count), and subsequently to really ride the crest of the DVD boom wave. And now? Now it’s still really, really good.

Well, something’s broke on your daddy’s spaceship.

Apollo 13 (1995) (SPOILERS) The NASA propaganda movie to end all NASA propaganda movies. Their original conception of the perilous Apollo 13 mission deserves due credit in itself; what better way to bolster waning interest in slightly naff perambulations around a TV studio than to manufacture a crisis event, one emphasising the absurd fragility of the alleged non-terrestrial excursions and the indomitable force that is “science” in achieving them? Apollo 13 the lunar mission was tailor made for Apollo 13 the movie version – make believe the make-believe – and who could have been better to lead this fantasy ride than Guantanamo Hanks at his all-American popularity peak?

Haven’t you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?

Batman (1989) (SPOILERS) There’s Jaws , there’s Star Wars , and then there’s Batman in terms of defining the modern blockbuster. Jaws ’ success was so profound, it changed the way movies were made and marketed. Batman’s marketing was so profound, it changed the way tentpoles would be perceived: as cash cows. Disney tried to reproduce the effect the following year with Dick Tracy , to markedly less enthusiastic response. None of this places Batman in the company of Jaws as a classic movie sold well, far from it. It just so happened to hit the spot. As Tim Burton put it, it was “ more of a cultural phenomenon than a great movie ”. It’s difficult to disagree with his verdict that the finished product (for that is what it is) is “ mainly boring ”. Now, of course, the Burton bat has been usurped by the Nolan incarnation (and soon the Snyder). They have some things in common. Both take the character seriously and favour a sombre tone, which was much more of shock to the

You think a monkey knows he’s sitting on top of a rocket that might explode?

The Right Stuff (1983) (SPOILERS) While it certainly more than fulfils the function of a NASA-propaganda picture – as in, it affirms the legitimacy of their activities – The Right Stuff escapes the designation of rote testament reserved for Ron Howard’s later Apollo 13 . Partly because it has such a distinctive personality and attitude. Partly too because of the way it has found its through line, which isn’t so much the “wow” of the Space Race and those picked to be a part of it as it is the personification of that titular quality in someone who wasn’t even in the Mercury programme: Chuck Yaeger (Sam Shephard). I was captivated by The Right Stuff when I first saw it, and even now, with the benefit of knowing-NASA-better – not that the movie is exactly extolling its virtues from the rooftops anyway – I consider it something of a masterpiece, an interrogation of legends that both builds them and tears them down. The latter aspect doubtless not NASA approved.

We’ve got the best ball and chain in the world. Your ass.

Wedlock (1991) (SPOILERS) The futuristic prison movie seemed possessed of a particular cachet around this time, quite possibly sparked by the grisly possibilities of hi-tech disincentives to escape. On that front, HBO TV movie Wedlock more than delivers its FX money shot. Elsewhere, it’s less sure of itself, rather fumbling when it exchanges prison tropes for fugitives-on-the-run ones.

Drank the red. Good for you.

Morbius (2022) (SPOILERS) Generic isn’t necessarily a slur. Not if, by implication, it’s suggestive of the kind of movie made twenty years ago, when the alternative is the kind of super-woke content Disney currently prioritises. Unfortunately, after a reasonable first hour, Morbius descends so resignedly into such unmoderated formula that you’re left with a too-clear image of Sony’s Spider-Verse when it lacks a larger-than-life performer (Tom Hardy, for example) at the centre of any given vehicle.

So, you’re telling me that NASA is going to kill the President of the United States with an earthquake?

Conspiracy Theory (1997) (SPOILERS) Mel Gibson’s official rehabilitation occurred with the announcement of 2016’s Oscar nominations, when Hacksaw Ridge garnered six nods, including Mel as director. Obviously, many refuse to be persuaded that there’s any legitimate atonement for the things someone says. They probably weren’t even convinced by Mel’s appearance in Daddy’s Home 2 , an act of abject obeisance if ever there was one. In other circles, though, Gibbo, or Mad Mel, is venerated as a saviour unsullied by the depraved Hollywood machine, one of the brave few who would not allow them to take his freedom. Or at least, his values. Of course, that’s frequently based on alleged comments he made, ones it’s highly likely he didn’t. But doesn’t that rather appeal to the premise of his 23-year-old star vehicle Conspiracy Theory , in which “ A good conspiracy theory is an unproveable one ”?

He doesn’t want to lead you. He just wants you to follow.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022) (SPOILERS) The general failing of the prequel concept is a fairly self-evident one; it’s spurred by the desire to cash in, rather than to tell a story. This is why so few prequels, in any form, are worth the viewer/reader/listener’s time, in and of themselves. At best, they tend to be something of a well-rehearsed fait accompli. In the movie medium, even when there is material that withstands closer inspection (the Star Wars prequels; The Hobbit , if you like), the execution ends up botched. With Fantastic Beasts , there was never a whiff of such lofty purpose, and each subsequent sequel to the first prequel has succeeded only in drawing attention to its prosaic function: keeping franchise flag flying, even at half-mast. Hence Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore , belatedly arriving after twice the envisaged gap between instalments and course-correcting none of the problems present in The Crimes of Grindelwald .