The TARDIS arrives on the edge of the Thames, but when the Doctor and his friends step outside and look around, it’s obvious that London has seen better days. Susan hurts herself while climbing onto a crumbling bridge to look around, and Barbara stays to tend to her as Ian and the Doctor investigate a nearby warehouse, where they find a murdered man with a strange device attached to his head. A pair of desperate-looking men take Susan and Barbara to their hiding place, telling them it’s not safe to wander around London. The Doctor and Ian encounter a group of men wearing the same unusual headgear, commanded by Daleks. The Daleks have dominated Earth for over ten years, enslaving humanity in an effort to mine something of vital importance under the Earth’s crust. A resistance movement is fighting against the Daleks, but they need outside help from someone who has experience in beating the Daleks.
Guest Cast: Bernard Kay (Carl Tyler), Peter Fraser (David Campbell), Alan Judd (Dortmun), Martyn Huntley, Peter Badger, Reg Tyler, Bill Moss (Robomen), Robert Aldous (Rebel), Robert Jewell, Gerald Taylor, Nick Evans, Kevin Manser, Peter Murphy (Daleks), Peter Hawkins, David Graham (Dalek voices), Ann Davies (Jenny), Michael Goldie (Craddock), Michael Davis (Thomson), Richard McNeff (Baker), Graham Rigby (Larry Madison), Nicholas Smith (Wells), Nick Evans (Slyther), Patrick O’ Connell (Ashton)
Broadcast from November 21 through December 26, 1964
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
This outstanding six-parter is one of the darkest and most violent shows of the William Hartnell era, with shootings and stabbings aplenty, and corpses – along with large signs asking people not to dump them in the river. There are also some really fast-moving Daleks seen here, certainly the fastest I’ve ever seen. These Daleks zip down ramps and roar through London with the greatest of ease. I pity the poor souls who were locked inside…
One of the most charming, and often overlooked, aspects of the story is the dynamic between Susan and David the rebel. One of the most convenient ways to write out a female companion in Doctor Who was to marry her off, and this was one of the best examples of handling that plotline well – as opposed to, for example, 1977’s The Invasion of Time, where Leela stays on Gallifrey with Andred with little or no preamble. A bond is shown to be growing between Susan and David as early as the third episode, until finally she’s faced with the decision between continuing to travel with the Doctor, or rebuilding Earth with David. And the Doctor finally makes the decision for her, and not without regret. The “one day, I shall come back” speech will probably be the most familiar part of the entire show, as it was used to open The Five Doctors in 1983. It truly is a sad ending, and must have been quite a shock – Susan was the first companion to leave the series.
Susan also gets one of the cleverest lines of the entire story; when Tyler and David ask Barbara if she can cook, she replies yes; when they ask Susan what she does, she responds “I eat.” In other humorous moments, a Dalek bellies up to a radio transmitter to deliver another edict of terror to the rebels, and it sounds like it’s clearing its throat just before it speaks. And on the Dalek ship, the Doctor delivers a withering verbal assault – worthy of Pertwee or Colin Baker, two of the most acerbic Doctors – on a sarcastic, less-than-helpful fellow prisoner.
Certainly worth a watch, and one of the best Hartnell adventures.