Skip to main content

You will take the Dalek Factor. You will spread it through the entire history of Earth.


Doctor Who
The Evil of the Daleks: Episode Six


The penultimate episode doesn’t hang about. At a crucial moment, in terms of keeping up the plot momentum of the previous episode, Whitaker switches locations and reveals us in the true epic scale of the story. He also makes exemplary use of that old Terry Nation standby; the countdown clock.


The startling and atypical climax of Episode Five feeds into the events of the first five minutes here. No one will use the Daleks this inventively again, and no one had before. Sure, Terry Nation had a Dalek mistaking a shop dummy for a person as far back as The Dalek Invasion of Earth, but it’s always been easy to take the piss out of them. And Douglas Camfield successfully made them chilling again in The Daleks’ Master Plan. But no one else has made them endearing (certainly not Rob Shearman with his poor despondent Kaled mutant in Dalek); that Evil of the Daleks achieves this without denting their dramatic potential is as much a tribute to Martinus as it is to Whitaker (apparently the cast found the director a bit of a pain, but that’s no impediment to solid results; look at Peter Grimwade’s work on the series).

Daleks: Trains, trains, trai-ns.
The Doctor: They’re playing trains!

Doubtless much of this is down to Ron “Zippy” Skelton imbuing the Human Daleks with a sing-song innocence. It’s interesting how well the slight modulation in tone works, though; how the behind-the-sofa monster becomes instantly beneficent.

The Doctor: Oh, I’m dizzy.
Dalek: Dizzy Doc-tor.
The Doctor: Maxtible, did you hear that? They’ve got a sense of humour.
Maxtible: I’m glad you are so easily amused.

The Doctor names them Alpha, Beta and Omega; since we never see what has happened to them, perhaps it’s a surprise they’ve never made a return. Of course, The Final Problem position of The Evil of the Daleks in Who history (Terry Nation removing his creations from the show to hawk in the US) might well have made Evila pocket best left unrummaged in (this makes, appropriately given its location, Day of the Daleks’ the series’ The Empty House).

Whitaker plunders the Century 21 comic strip for the Emperor Dalek, but the most the series will ever do to reference it again is to hint at the retcon of Davros ultimately becoming it (Remembrance of the Daleks). Then there’s RTD and his Cult of Skaro; Daleks with human names and emotions. That inspiration must have come from somewhere (unfortunately he does little of merit with his idea, aside from making Dalek Caan a gibbering loon).


Having been ordered to return to Skaro, we see the first stirrings of dissent between Daleks.

 Dalek: What is that mark?
Human Dalek: The Doctor gave it to me.
Dalek: Doctor?
Human Dalek: Yes. He is my friend.
Dalek: Follow me.


Because Whitaker sets another plot thread in motion, by episode’s end we are distracted from the question of why the Daleks are so careless with their Human versions. Evidently they consider that there is no danger from this element, and they seem to have enough insight into them to present the Doctor with a fake Omega once they are on Skaro (who ends up pushed over a cliff). Other than for reasons of (understandably) the writer creating intrigue, it’s not clear why the Daleks don’t just apprehend the Doctor, Jamie and Waterfield at gunpoint when they arrive on Skaro. First they introduce a fake friend, and then they elicit screams from Maxtible and Victoria to attract them.

The Doctor couches his language in terms of civil upheaval caused by the Human Daleks, which is definitely more topical, but in terms of the way the Daleks are generally seen the effect is also akin to a virus that will infect the population. They are, after all, masters of racial purity. Certainly, 1980s Who would place their physical embodiments as central to their nature (be it through destruction by the Movellan virus or factionalisation based on Davros’ impure breeding programme)


The Emperor himself is a mightily impressive creation, both in design and size (the Davros “convertible” in Remembrance may overtly riff on the Century 21 strips but he is decidedly underwhelming in appearance).

The Doctor: The day of the Daleks is coming to an end.
Emperor: Explain.
The Doctor: Gradually they will come to question. They will persuade other Daleks to question. Until you have a rebellion on your planet.
Emperor: No!
The Doctor: I say yes! I’ve beaten you and I don’t care what you do to me now.
Emperor: Si-lence! The Human Factor showed us what the Dalek Factor was.
The Doctor: What?
Jamie: What does that mean?
Emperor: Without knowing, you have shown the Daleks what their own strength is.

It’s a clever twist at a crucial point in a lengthy story, setting manner in which the final episode will be plotted. Ultimately it will not affect the Doctor’s hopes for the Human Daleks, but it appears that the Emperor has considered everything at this point.

Emperor: They (the Human Daleks) will be impregnated with the Dalek Factor.

And so, the cliffhanger. It’s much more concise than Davros’ rant at the end of Genesis of the Daleks Episode Five, but it has the same kind of chilling implication; through the Doctor’s involvement, the Daleks will become an even greater, all-consuming force.

Jamie: What is the Dalek Factor?
Doctor: It means to obey, to fight, to destroy, to exterminate. I won’t do it.
Emperor: You will take the Dalek Factor. You will spread it through the entire history of Earth.


The central theme of the developments in Dalek society means that other characters are forced into the background. Maxtible is in a holding pattern of self-deception, but he’s fighting a losing battle. Waterfield finally realises his game.


Waterfield: You’ve sold yourself to them, haven’t you?
Maxtible: Metal into gold, that’s what the Daleks are going to give me.

The Daleks bring him to Skaro because they have plans for him, but the location of his precious lab is forfeit.


Dalek: We are destroying this area.
Maxtible: You cannot destroy my house… You promised me.


When he arrives on Skaro to find find Victoria and Kemel, his only concern is that he may not be the exclusive benefactor of his masters’ insights.

Maxtible: I know why I am. Why you are here, I’ve not the faintest idea.


His presence in the ominous, metallic, echoing city of Skaro is an effective inversion of the Daleks amid Victoriana, and adds a suitably Wellsian aspect to the tale.


There’s little to be said regarding the other characters; Victoria simpers while Kemel is as doting and emasculated as ever. Waterfield continues to struggle with his conscience but gets less screen time.


But the countdown is an effective tension builder, especially as it allows only two minutes for our heroes to escape. Which includes a bit of time spent persuading Waterfield.

The Doctor: We’ll have to follow the Daleks to Skaro… We’ll find Victoria. And Kemel too.


The Dalek city is evidently different in encompassment to the one we saw in The Daleks, although the Doctor seems familiar enough with it (to be honest I find all the timeline business highly confusing, so the relation between this, The Daleks and Genesis escapes me; the only definite is that Destiny’s city is the same one as seen in Genesis).

The Doctor: The city is all around us. At least, it’s beneath us.


A top-notch prelude to the finale, with never-higher stakes thrust upon the Doctor (at least, in terms of the fate of humanity). The shift in location adds much to the story, particularly after five episodes in one house, while it’s clear that Whitaker has the chops to follow through with his themes (even though one should probably not look to closely at the small print).

Popular posts from this blog

The Illumi-what-i?

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) (SPOILERS) In which Sam Raimi proves that he can stand proudly with the best – or worst – of them as a good little foot soldier of the woke apocalypse. You’d expect the wilfully anarchic – and Republican – Raimi to choke on the woke, but instead, he’s sucked it up, grinned and bore it. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is so slavishly a production-line Marvel movie, both in plotting and character, and in nu-Feige progressive sensibilities, there was no chance of Sam staggering out from beneath its suffocating demands with anything more than a few scraps of stylistic flourish intact.

What’s so bad about being small? You’re not going to be small forever.

Innerspace (1987) There’s no doubt that Innerspace is a flawed movie. Joe Dante finds himself pulling in different directions, his instincts for comic subversion tempered by the need to play the romance plot straight. He tacitly acknowledges this on the DVD commentary for the film, where he notes Pauline Kael’s criticism that he was attempting to make a mainstream movie; and he was. But, as ever with Dante, it never quite turns out that way. Whereas his kids’ movies treat their protagonists earnestly, this doesn’t come so naturally with adults. I’m a bona fide devotee of Innerspace , but I can’t help but be conscious of its problems. For the most part Dante papers over the cracks; the movie hits certain keynotes of standard Hollywood prescription scripting. But his sensibility inevitably suffuses it. That, and human cartoon Martin Short (an ideal “leading man” for the director) ensure what is, at first glance just another “ Steven Spielberg Presents ” sci-fi/fantas

This risotto is shmackin’, dude.

Stranger Things Season 4: Part I (SPOILERS) I haven’t had cause, or the urge, to revisit earlier seasons of Stranger Things , but I’m fairly certain my (relatively) positive takes on the first two sequel seasons would adjust down somewhat if I did (a Soviet base under Hawkins? DUMB soft disclosure or not, it’s pretty dumb). In my Season Three review, I called the show “ Netflix’s best-packaged junk food. It knows not to outstay its welcome, doesn’t cause bloat and is disposable in mostly good ways ” I fairly certain the Duffer’s weren’t reading, but it’s as if they decided, as a rebuke, that bloat was the only way to go for Season Four. Hence episodes approaching (or exceeding) twice the standard length. So while the other points – that it wouldn’t stray from its cosy identity and seasons tend to merge in the memory – hold fast, you can feel the ambition of an expansive canvas faltering at the hurdle of Stranger Things ’ essential, curated, nostalgia-appeal inconsequentiality.

Is this supposed to be me? It’s grotesque.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) (SPOILERS) I didn’t hold out much hope for The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent being more than moderately tolerable. Not so much because its relatively untested director and his co-writer are mostly known in the TV sphere (and not so much for anything anyone is raving about). Although, it has to be admitted, the finished movie flourishes a degree of digital flatness typical of small-screen productions (it’s fine, but nothing more). Rather, due to the already over-tapped meta-strain of celebs showing they’re good sports about themselves. When Spike Jonze did it with John Malkovich, it was weird and different. By the time we had JCVD , not so much. And both of them are pre-dated by Arnie in Last Action Hero (“ You brought me nothing but pain ” he is told by Jack Slater). Plus, it isn’t as if Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten have much in the way of an angle on Nic; the movie’s basically there to glorify “him”, give or take a few foibles, do

Whacking. I'm hell at whacking.

Witness (1985) (SPOILERS) Witness saw the advent of a relatively brief period – just over half a decade –during which Harrison Ford was willing to use his star power in an attempt to branch out. The results were mixed, and abruptly concluded when his typically too late to go where Daniel Day Lewis, Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro had gone before (with at bare minimum Oscar-nominated results) – but not “ full retard ” – ended in derision with Regarding Henry . He retreated to the world of Tom Clancy, and it’s the point where his cachet began to crumble. There had always been a stolid quality beneath even his more colourful characters, but now it came to the fore. You can see something of that as John Book in Witness – despite his sole Oscar nom, it might be one of Ford’s least interesting performances of the 80s – but it scarcely matters, or that the screenplay (which won) is by turns nostalgic, reactionary, wistful and formulaic, as director Peter Weir, in his Hollywood debu

Are you telling me that I should take my daughter to a witch doctor?

The Exorcist (1973) (SPOILERS) Vast swathes have been written on The Exorcist , duly reflective of its cultural impact. In a significant respect, it’s the first blockbuster – forget Jaws – and also the first of a new kind of special-effects movie. It provoked controversy across all levels of the socio-political spectrum, for explicit content and religious content, both hailed and denounced for the same. William Friedkin, director of William Peter Blatty’s screenplay based on Blatty’s 1971 novel, would have us believe The Exorcist is “ a film about the mystery of faith ”, but it’s evidently much more – and less – than that. There’s a strong argument to be made that movies having the kind of seismic shock on the landscape this one did aren’t simply designed to provoke rumination (or exultation); they’re there to profoundly influence society, even if largely by osmosis, and when one looks at this picture’s architects, such an assessment only gains in credibility.

That, my lad, was a dragon.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) (SPOILERS) It’s alarming how quickly Peter Jackson sabotaged all the goodwill he amassed in the wake of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. A guy who started out directing deliciously deranged homemade horror movies ended up taking home the Oscar for a fantasy movie, of all genres. And then he blew it. He went from a filmmaker whose naysayers were the exception to one whose remaining cheerleaders are considered slightly maladjusted. The Desolation of Smaug recovers some of the territory Jackson has lost over the last decade, but he may be too far-gone to ever regain his crown. Perhaps in years to come The Lord of the Rings trilogy will be seen as an aberration in his filmography. There’s a cartoonishness to the gleeful, twisted anarchy on display in his earlierr work that may be more attuned to the less verimilitudinous aspects of King Kong and The Hobbit s. The exceptions are his female-centric character dramas, Heavenly Creat

Gizmo caca!

Gremlins (1984) I didn’t get to see Gremlins at the cinema. I wanted to, as I had worked myself into a state of great anticipation. There was a six-month gap between its (unseasonal) US release and arrival in the UK, so I had plenty of time to devour clips of cute Gizmo on Film ’84 (the only reason ever to catch Barry Norman was a tantalising glimpse of a much awaited movie, rather than his drab, colourless, reviews) and Gremlins trading cards that came with bubble gum attached (or was it the other way round?). But Gremlins ’ immediate fate for many an eager youngster in Britain was sealed when, after much deliberation, the BBFC granted it a 15 certificate. I had just turned 12, and at that time an attempt to sneak in to see it wouldn’t even have crossed my mind. I’d just have to wait for the video. I didn’t realise it then (because I didn’t know who he was as a filmmaker), but Joe Dante’s irrepressible anarchic wit would have a far stronger effect on me than the un

Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet.

Bugsy (1991) (SPOILERS) Bugsy is very much a Warren Beatty vanity project (aren’t they all, even the ones that don’t seem that way on the surface?), to the extent of his playing a title character a decade and a half younger than him. As such, it makes sense that producer Warren’s choice of director wouldn’t be inclined to overshadow star Warren, but the effect is to end up with a movie that, for all its considerable merits (including a script from James Toback chock full of incident), never really feels quite focussed, that it’s destined to lead anywhere, even if we know where it’s going.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls… dyin’ time’s here!

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) Time was kind to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome . As in, it was such a long time since I’d seen the “final chapter” of the trilogy, it had dwindled in my memory to the status of an “alright but not great” sequel. I’d half-expected to have positive things to say along the lines of it being misunderstood, or being able to see what it was trying for but perhaps failing to quite achieve. Instead, I re-discovered a massive turkey that is really a Mad Max movie in name only (appropriately, since Max was an afterthought). This is the kind of picture fans of beloved series tend to loathe; when a favourite character returns but without the qualities or tone that made them adored in the first place (see Indiana Jones in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull , or John McClane in the last two Die Hard s). Thunderdome stinks even more than the methane fuelling Bartertown. I hadn’t been aware of the origins of Thunderdome until recently, mainly because I was