"I've learnt a lot from the Daleks..." The Doctor
It is no exaggeration to say that The Daleks is the most important story in the history of Doctor Who.
Aired in 7, thirty minute segments, The Daleks ran from 21st December 1963 - 1st February 1964 and introduced the world to the Doctor's greatest enemies, The Daleks!
The creatures were an instant hit with the fans and lead to what is termed Dalekmania, not unlike the Beatlemania that occurred during the sixties.
Its not hard to understand why they became so popular after watching this television story.
There are a number of good ideas in this serial, in particular the TARDIS food machine which provides some comedic moments between the reluctant TARDIS crew.
Despite the low budget, the petrified forest and Dalek city are incredibly well realised and the set design is highly impressive and the city design is completely unforgettable despite the incredibly low budget.
Skaro is the show's first ever alien world and feels alien in every way from the lighting to sound design and props. The entire set is incredibly well realised.
A fascinating point to note about the Daleks is that their plans in this story are motivated for their need to survive rather than their later plans of universal domination. Modern day audiences can easily draw conclusions between the Daleks and the Nazis and are a warning of what will happen when fascism and racism is left unopposed and free to corrupt society and freewill. The Thals represent the peaceful, civilised and kind societies who want to survive without betraying their beliefs. There is also the common sixties theme of nuclear warfare and this story deals with the dangers of fallout and the destructive impact it has on society, politics, culture and ultimately on civilisation. The two groups, The Daleks and the Thals represent small pockets of civilisation who have survived a nuclear war and their desire to survive.
Author, Terry Nation isn't the only person who should be credited for making the Daleks such a success, the design is stunning and has remained constant throughout the show's history. Their voices are so different and unlike the Cybermen, are capable of feeling emotion, in particular anger and hatred.
The character of the Doctor is well played by William Hartnell and while he seems a little warmer than he did in An Unearthly Child, we do get the feeling that if the Doctor could leave Ian and Barbara behind he would.
This story is a good one for Susan who is given a lot to do and doesn't descend into screaming hysterics like we have seen before. She is responsible for introducing the audience to the Thals and tries to hold onto everything that is simple and beautiful like the alien flower she finds in the first episode while everyone else descends into despair. She seems more brave and proactive in this tale than she does in others and is generally well served by the script.
Barbara is still the reluctant traveller but is able to put on a brave face after her experiences in the previous serial. The subtle romantic chemistry between her and the Thal Ganatus is wonderfully played. She enjoys a couple of maternal scenes between herself and Susan especially when she is talking to the girl about why the Doctor doesn't believe what happens to his granddaughter in the forest.
Ian is also a developing character and is the traveller with the greatest moral compass. He is a quick thinking person and surpasses the Doctor on a couple of occasions in this respect throughout the story.
The Daleks is a great story and possibly, the most important story in all of Who history. It introduces the world to the Doctor's greatest enemies and gives us a great tale. It is unfortunate that it is an underestimated tale though as there is a lot to offer here and continued to set the world of Doctor Who up for modern viewers.