The Cosmic Hobo

Thoughts & reviews about the science fiction series Doctor Who.

Serial Review: Planet of the Daleks (Season 10)

“Planet of the Daleks”
Written by Terry Nation, directed by David Maloney
Featuring the Doctor, Jo Grant, and the Daleks

Rating: B-

Among the three Jon Pertwee era Dalek stories, it seems like his first, “Day of the Daleks,” is the only one that gets any consistent praise from the fan base. I usually think most of the serials considered to be classics in Doctor Who are correctly labeled such, but this happens to be a case where I disagree with everybody else. I actually thought “Day of the Daleks” was quite the snooze fest, and I ended up really enjoying “Planet of the Daleks,” despite some flaws.

Like just about all Dalek stories up to this point, “Planet of the Daleks” was written by Terry Nation. He’s essentially managed to really hit it out of the park only once, in the Fourth Doctor serial “Genesis of the Daleks,” but he occasionally comes up with a couple others that are at least very solid, and I would count this among them.

I was a bit surprised watching “Frontier in Space,” another great Malcolm Hulke story, that the plot doesn’t really wrap up in the end, but continues directly on to this adventure. It was uncommon of what I have seen so far of Classic Who to have these sort of cliffhangers, but it turns out to be quite an entertaining set of arcs.

Despite the standard pacing issues of classic stories that are any longer than four parts, “Planet of the Daleks” makes up for these issues with a handful of really cool scenes (pushing the Daleks into the cold spring, slowly floating up that weird hole with the air balloon), and an absolutely outstanding performance from Bernard Horsfall, who played Taron. He had previously been very solid in “The Mind Robber” opposite Patrick Troughton as the Doctor in the role of Gulliver, and one of the Time Lords in “The War Games,” but I really feel like his portrayal carried this serial. I like the Thals in general, but I feel like performances of this quality from supporting cast are really what makes stories like this believable.

The set design is another feather in this story’s cap. I don’t think it is quite as outstanding looking as the jungle set that would later be used for “Planet of Evil,” but it is certainly very strong. There weren’t any moments in this serial in which I was laughing to myself about how ridiculous anything looked. I could see someone thinking the big purple fuzzy blankets that the Spiridons wear are a bit ridiculous, but I actually think it looked kinda cool against the jungle backdrop, despite its simplicity.

I don’t think this is an all time classic serial, but very solid. I’m generally pretty nonplussed by Dalek stories (“Remembrance” and “Genesis” are the classics, “Destiny” and “The Daleks” are also solid), but I think “Planet of the Daleks” is firmly in the category of very solid.


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6 thoughts on “Serial Review: Planet of the Daleks (Season 10)

  1. I watched this when it was repeated on BBC in the early 90s. I think even back then I was getting fed up of it towards the end. It’s a terrible story. Almost as bad as Death to the Daleks.

  2. Well done, I’m glad to see that you’re exploring more of the classic Doctor Who range.

    I enjoy Planet of the Daleks as well, but I have a soft spot for Pertwee in general. It’s not really its own story, though, as it functions as a ‘greatest hits’ of previous Nation Daleks scripts. It is also very influenced by comic strips with far more action than usual. This is peculiar to the Third Doctor who was an action hero, unlike the other classic Doctors. This quality might have kept me from enjoying Pertwee’s era for so long. I had initially disliked his period as I found it to be too comic book-influenced and full of pulp serial ideas, unlike the 80’s stories that I preferred. Of course these days I count the first three Doctors as my preferred eras. Your opinion mat vary as well the more you watch.

    The connecting thread from Frontier in Space is rather thin, in my opinion, but I like it anyhow if only because it was a deliberate attempt to recapture the ‘long form’ Dalek story ala Dalek’s Master Plan. I’m curious to learn if you are watching these in order as I know many of the classic stories are new to you.

    Of the three Pertwee Dalek stories I think I prefer Day of the Daleks as it is the most interesting and original of the lot (probably because it had absolutely nothing to do with Daleks until Letts and Dicks struck upon the idea that it would be neat to see them again) and Death to the Daleks the bottom of the list. But all three have something to offer if you look for it. I know that Jon Pertwee disliked the Daleks, which is ironic as he faced them so often!

    Also, not to take too much away from Nation, but I think that much of the success of Genesis of the Daleks is down to Robert Holmes’ influence as script writer (especially the Davros dialog).

    Have you watched Resurrection or Revelation of the Daleks yet?

    • I have not watched those, but yeah, I’m watching in order starting with Pertwee. I’m watching them as I get them from Netflix, but also watching Tom Baker in order while I’m waiting for the Netflix stuff, since Ian from the podcast has all of his stories on bootlegs of varying legality. On Tom Baker’s stuff, I’m up to “Planet of Evil”, but I have also watched “City of Death” and “Destiny of the Daleks” separately. I’m thinking by the time the year is up I will have seen all the color-era Who, then I can get to watching/listening to the Hartnell/Troughton. I’ve already seen all of Troughton’s existing serials, + have watched “The Ice Warriors”, so I essentially just have to catch up on his first two seasons minus that and “Tomb of the Cybermen.” When it comes to Hartnell, I’ve seen everything from the beginning until (and have seen) “Keys of Marinus,” as well as having seen “The War Machines” for the podcast.

      • Hurry up and get to the 80s. Those were the days, my friend.

      • I’ve already seen Sylvester McCoy’s first six of the twelve serials, plus “Curse of the Fenric,” so yeah. He’s my favorite of the color era of classic who. I have only seen “Caves”, “Castrovalva,” “The Awakening,” and “Five Doctors” among Fifth Doctor stuff, but I’m not really a fan at all. I’ve only seen “The Twin Dilemma,” “Vengeance on Varos,” and “The Two Doctors,” among the Sixth Doctor stuff on TV, but I think he is super outstanding in the audios.

  3. While you can jump around in order for the 60’s and 70’s, I do think that the 80’s programs need to be watched in progression from Castrovalva onwards to appreciate the progression (and lack thereof in places).

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