‘Doctor Who’ Brit Binge: 10 Greatest Dalek Episodes
Tomorrow (August 30) we will see how the Twelfth Doctor gets on in his first confrontation with Dalek-kind, with “Into the Dalek.”
It’s a testing moment for any new regeneration, and he could find himself flying into a rage—as Eleven did in his first Dalek story “Victory of the Daleks”—or struggling to convince people that he’s the Doctor and the Daleks are his most deadly foe, as Two did in “The Power of the Daleks.”
In fact, it’s fair to say the relationship between Time Lord and Dalek is one that brings out something unique in both parties.
Here are 10 examples:
Because it is fascinating to see how far these space rotters have come since they first met the Doctor. They were originally only able to move on metal flooring and were fond of stunning their prisoners rather than automatically exterminating them. But the fact is they were still cold-hearted warriors from the start, and it can be argued that without the Doctor, they would have just taken over Skaro, and that would have been that. It was his involvement that set them off exploring time travel and interstellar invasion, just as if he had poked a hornet’s nest with a big stick.
The aftermath of a Dalek encounter is often a time for new beginnings. So while “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” is the serial in which the Doctor bids that beautiful fond farewell to his granddaughter Susan, “The Chase” is where he unwillingly says goodbye to his first human companions Ian and Barbara. It also contains time-traveling Daleks, the Marie Celeste, Shakespeare, Dracula, Frankenstein, the Empire State Building, a robot Doctor and another Dalek plan to destroy the TARDIS. Oh, and it ends in an almighty dust-up between Daleks and Mechanoids. Fetch the popcorn!
“Death to the Daleks”
When the Third Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith and the Daleks arrive on the planet Exxilon at the same time, they find all their power has been drained away and they’re stuck. To make matters worse, a plague is sweeping the galaxy, and, sadly, the only antidote is on the planet. The Doctor and the Daleks are forced into a truce (for as long as it takes the Daleks to work out how to make mechanical weapons, at least) while they work out what the source of the power drain is, how to leave Exxilon, and who gets to keep the antidote.
“Genesis of the Daleks”
This is regularly voted the best Dalek story in Doctor Who history, and one of the best stories period. The Fourth Doctor is sent back to Skaro before the development of the Daleks, to try and convince their creator Davros not to go ahead with his work. He even has the chance to wipe out his most hated race before they have even developed. But will he?
“Resurrection of the Daleks”
Dalek stories are often about the corruptibility of power, and in this case, the Doctor is able to use Davros’s ego and desire to breed a new race of loyal Daleks to his advantage, pitting them against the forces of the Dalek Supreme, who are already fighting off Movellan forces, and foiling their plans to create a clone Doctor to infiltrate Gallifrey. The conclusion is so traumatic it once again forces a companion to leave—Tegan in this case—and yet the takeaway note is still that the Doctor struggles to shoot an enemy at point blank range, even when faced with a foe that definitely will.
“Remembrance of the Daleks”
Remember those warring Dalek factions? This is the story in which that battle becomes really nasty. There’s a star-killing device called the Hand of Omega that the First Doctor left in London in the 1960s. The Daleks want it, they get it, but the Doctor has rigged it to extinguish the sun around which Skaro spins. Once again he walks away believing the entire Dalek race to have been eradicated, and once again he is wrong.
Still enormously traumatized from his experiences in the Time War, the Ninth Doctor runs into the last living Dalek, and for once that breezy confidence slips, revealing a scarred and bitter man underneath.
“Bad Wolf” /”Parting of the Ways”
Because no matter how bitter the Doctor was with that one Dalek, finding out there was an entire fleet left over from the Time War—created from bits of humans, genetically grown to become pure enough to attain Dalek-hood and continue as they always had—was enough to break his spirit. And never mind the Time Vortex forcing him to regenerate, maybe this was the key moment for him to try letting go of the immediate past and move on a bit.
“The Stolen Earth” / “Journey’s End”
The Tenth Doctor had to wait a while after his regeneration before he met the Daleks, and this time they cost him the companionship of Rose Tyler (in “Doomsday”). Then, just as Rose had made her way back to him, they shot him, forcing him to use one of his regenerations. Things don’t exactly end well for Donna Noble either, and that’s before you factor in Davros’s reality bomb.
“Asylum of the Daleks”
Just when you think there are no new Dalek stories to tell, there’s this. The Dalek Asylum, human spies with Dalek eyestalks coming out of their foreheads, souffles and flirting and a particularly upsetting revelation for one Oswin Oswald. And, for once, a tragic goodbye that would eventually turn out to be a hello after all.