Doctor Who Grudge Match: Daleks vs. Thals

The Complete Doctor Who: Serial 2, Episode 7

Weighing in at an impressive 800 episodes, Doctor Who has been entertaining audiences for the past 50 years. Yet, despite this vast backlog of content, I know next to nothing about the actual series. For that reason, I’ve decided to watch this unusual show from the beginning, to discover the source of its unique appeal. Come with me as I tackle this daunting sci-fi phenomena from the very beginning in The Complete Doctor Who.

Warning: the following contains spoilers

Well, here we are at last, the long anticipated end of the Dalek saga. Will the crew of the TARDIS find their fluid link? How many times will the Doctor run away? Will the Daleks succeed in re-nuking their planet? These are just a few of the not-so compelling questions you can look forward to being answered in…

Episode 7: The Rescue

Last episode ended in a literal cliffhanger with perpetual wet blanket Antodus dangling over the side, pulling Ian down with him.

As Ian fumbles for a handhold, Antodus gets his first big actor moment.

“I can’t hold on. I can’t hold ooooooon!” he shrieks, in what I’m sure became a regular inclusion on his sample reel.

BBC

BBC

Ian struggles to hold on, until Antodus finally does us all a favor and just cuts the rope. Then, down the chasm he goes, landing in what sounds like an orchestra pit full of cymbals. Which, I believe brings the death toll on this expedition up to two and we haven’t even reached the city yet.

Speaking of the Daleks, Susan and the Doctor remain their prisoners, bolted into what looks like the G.I. Joe playset I had as a child.

BBC

BBC

The Daleks are hard at work, sorting out the details of their plan to vent vast amounts of radiation out into the world.

Seeing as how the outside world is already an irradiated wasteland whose only inhabitants are a race of people with an impressive stockpile of anti-radiation drugs, I’m a little unclear on what’s at stake here. It’s not like they’re going to make the world worse. If the Daleks want to blow off a little radioactive steam, why not just let them have their fun?

I guess we’re meant to believe the Daleks are hoarding enough radiation to overpower the Thals medication, which, I guess, is no less stupid than the Daleks requiring vast quantities of radiation in order to live. I’m just going to go ahead and say hard science isn’t this show’s strong suit.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Doctor seems to have gotten into the hyperbole pills this week, unleashing such choice bits of dialogue as, “This senseless evil KILLING,” to seemingly no one at all.

Back in the cave, things are not going well. Ganatus is distraught over his brother’s death and to make things worse, the group discovers that there’s no way through the cavern. They talk about heading back, but then their flashlights start to die.

Thankfully, we’re spared another trek through the caves of tedium when Ian shuts off all the torches and notices light spilling in from somewhere above him. He pokes his head through a hole and finds an opening leading directly into the city.

From there, we cut back to the Thal’s home base, where their leader Alydon rallies the remaining group. “We may be farmers,” he says, “but have we forgotten how to fight?”

Um, yes, you have. Remember, you were all militant pacifists until literally moments ago? Aw, forget it, I guess violence is just like riding a bike, because moments later they’ve armed themselves with a variety farm implements straight out of the mob scene in a Frankenstein film.

Meanwhile, back in the control center, the Doctor plays his final trump card, telling the Daleks about the TARDIS and its ability to travel through time and space.

This piques the Daleks’ interest and for a moment, it looks like one of the Doctor’s plans might actually work. Then, he sabotages everything by telling them exactly where to find it.

The Daleks make the obvious leap of logic, telling him they’ll just go find it on their own. The Doctor tells them they won’t be able to operate it without his help, but the Daleks respond that, “Every problem has a solution.” Which is such a fresh, can-do attitude that I think it deserves some recognition.

demotivational_solution

Go ahead, hang that up at work and watch your productivity soar.

The Daleks start the venting process, counting back from 100.

Outside, in the hallways of Dalek city, Ian’s group runs smack dab into Alydon. They make nice for a moment, then the Daleks start sealing off floors. Luckily, among his other talents, Ian possesses super strength, enabling him to hold the doors up so his team can shimmy underneath.

As they all race to the control room, we get what’s actually a pretty good scene with the Thals scurrying around trying to free the Doctor in silence while the Daleks’ countdown drones on in the background.

The Thals are quickly discovered and the battle is joined.

BBC

BBC

Rocks are thrown, Daleks are ridden, and one particularly dramatic Thal leaps from a rope Tarzan style only to get shot in the crotch. 

It’s worth noting there were no ropes in the room seconds ago, which means he somehow attached a rope to the ceiling, then scaled it simply for dramatic effect. Didn’t exactly go his way, did it?

During the battle, one of the Thals clumsily knocks out their own power supply. That’s right, we’re 7 episodes deep into this thing and the villains are beaten when one of them essentially trips over their own power cord. Wow.

The Daleks stop functioning and, I guess, the day is won.

Alydon marks the occasion, saying, “It is finished, the final war.”

Fortunately the Doctor is on hand to spoil his celebration. “No doubt you will have other wars to fight,” he says.

Sounds like the Doctor needs an attitude adjustment. Fortunately, I know of a great inspirational poster that would look lovely on the walls of the TARDIS.

A short while later, the crew of the TARDIS is packed up and ready to go. The Thals fawn over the Doctor, questioning him about his incredible knowledge and petitioning him to stay, which is remarkably charitable given that his contributions consisted of getting captured twice.

The Doctor insists that he must be going and signs off, saying, “Always search for truth. My truth is in the stars and yours is here.” Um, thanks? Maybe you could have told us how to find some food or something, but you know, that’s great too.

Everyone gets ready to board the ship, but not before Susan is gifted with another eyesore of a cloak. Ganatus takes Barbara aside for a tender moment and she responds with the world’s worst goodbye kiss.

BBC

BBC

Come on Barbara, I’ve kissed my Grandma more passionately than that. I mean, that is…let’s just move on.

The ship disappears, the Doctor oversees the controls, then a massive explosion rocks the interior, knocking everyone unconscious. Which makes us 0 for 3 on the TARDIS performance spectrum.

Join us next time when the TARDIS receives a massive overhaul in The Edge of Destruction.

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