It’s that time again! Another mostly missing serial has been given the full animation treatment and this time it’s the seven part Dalek epic “The Evil of the Daleks”, a story that at the time was meant to write the titular aliens out of the show for good. Taking place in then-modern England, Victorian England and the planet Skaro itself it does a lot to justify its runtime, but does it do enough, or does it suffer from obvious padding? Let’s find out!
The Daleks draft the Doctor into distilling the human factor in order for them to understand why they have always been bested by humans in the past. Once implanted, it will make the Dalek race invincible. Jamie’s faith in the Doctor is stretched to the limit as the Doctor appears to be collaborating with the Daleks. The Doctor has a few tricks up his sleeve, but then again so might the Daleks…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Edward, Maxtible and The Doctor try to out-crazy-scientist each other.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph the main problem that these longer serials can run into is becoming stagnant and boring, and while some middle episodes did suffer a bit from obvious padding (see “The Bad”) for the most part the biggest praise for Evil has to be how it keeps the story from getting too stale by switching locations and story beats. It picks up from the ending of “The Faceless Ones” as The Doctor and Jamie chase the TARDIS as its loaded onto a truck and taken away, leading to the first episode and a half being still set in modern (at that point 1960s) London. The Doctor and Jamie meet Edward Waterfield (John Bailey), an antiques dealer whose antiques are somehow both in mint condition and definitely Victorian, and soon find his secret teleporter / time machine before being knocked out and waking up in 1866 London instead. A bit of episode 2 and episodes 3 to half of 6 then take place at the estate of Theodore Maxtible (Marius Goring), as The Doctor finds out that The Daleks are behind everything and wants him to distil the “Human Factor” and insert it into some Daleks so whatever gifts the humans have that allows them to beat the Daleks can be added to them and make them “invincible”.
There are some good moments here: Maxtible is obsessed with the idea of turning lead into gold and thinks the Daleks will give him the technology if he cooperates, Edward Waterfield is only going along with everything because the Daleks have his daughter Victoria (Deborah Watling, may as well put her name here as it’s her debut appearance!) held captive but as the bodies start to pile up he wonders how right he is in putting his daughter’s life above others is, and Jamie goes off on his own to rescue Victoria and not only fights and befriends silent Turkish stereotype Kemel (Sonny Caldinez), takes out some Daleks and rescues Victoria (briefly) but he also has a full-on sword fight with Arthur Terrall (Gary Watson) who was Maxtible’s future son-in-law and under the mind control of the Daleks. So lots of focus on Jamie, which was nice. He believes The Doctor betrayed him but actually The Time Lord was going along with the Dalek’s scheme to test Jamie in order to create the “Human Factor” because he hatched a plan that introducing these emotions into Daleks would make them good rather than evil, a theory that is proven true when three Daleks have the factor inserted and start playing children’s games and having fun, The Doctor naming them Alpha, Beta and Omega.
Alpha, Beta, Omega (not that Omega) and The Doctor play “trains”.
The second half of episode 6 and the whole of episode 7 then take place in the Dalek city on Skaro, as everyone leaves the Maxtible estate in the time machine and arrives there before the old manor house explodes. The Doctor, Jamie and Edward meet the Dalek Emperor himself, who reveals that in creating the “Human Factor” he has actually allowed the Daleks to create the “Dalek Factor”, which he orders The Doctor to spread on Earth. They show this technology off by converting Maxtible into a Dalek slave, but of course The Doctor soon outwits the Emperor, swapping the Dalek Factor with the Human Factor and converting a bunch of Daleks before intentionally stirring up a civil war. Edward gives his life to save The Doctor, pleading with him to take care of his daughter, and Kemel is killed fighting off the Dalek-ised Maxtible, leaving The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria heading off to the TARDIS as the Dalek city explodes due to the massive Dalek gun battle taking place, The Doctor remarking that it’s the “final end” of the Daleks…
So over all it’s a good story, I do enjoy the idea of the Daleks trying to figure out just how the humans have bested them, only for it to turn out just to be “how do we make them like us” rather than the other way around.
Andrew and Jamie look on horrified at the Dalek Emperor… meanwhile The Doctor is imagining how much more fun playing trains with it would be.
The animation is once again top quality. Although I really enjoyed Fury From The Deep where as some disliked the animation style, I will concede that this team does have the highest quality and that quality has only gotten better. Hell, the fight between Kemel and Jamie and the sword fight would’ve been impossible just a few releases ago. It shows how far they’ve come, not to mention animating seven episodes in one go! Now Episode 2 still exists and is fun to watch in isolation but I once again stuck the all seven parts full colour animation on to watch it this time round and it was a great night in.
Jamie and Kemel argue over who is the bigger cultural stereotype.
Although I’ve seen far worse cases of episode padding in Doctor Who serials it’s hard to deny some parts and characters in this story were just that. A character named Toby (Windsor Davies) appears in Episode 2, kidnaps Jamie for Arthur, Arthur is confused and walks away as The Doctor arrives to help Jamie, then Toby appears again in front of Arthur in Episode 3, knocks him out, takes his keys and tries to rob the Maxtible estate only to get zapped by a Dalek. Beyond giving Edward Waterfield further reason to despair at the cost of going along with the Daleks it didn’t do anything other than extend the runtime. In fact most stuff involving Arthur, his soon-to-be wife Ruth Maxtible (Bright Forsyth) and their maid Mollie (Jo Rowbottom) were pretty pointless in the long run, the fact that at the end of Episode 5 The Doctor tells the trio to get in a horse and cart and run, writing them out of the serial completely shows that. The Doctor may as well have said “we’re about to move on from the Maxtible Estate part of the story, so it’s best you leave now”.
Ignoring the “strong but simple-minded foreigner” stereotype that is Kemel there isn’t much else “bad” about the story, and really like I said the padding isn’t that bad. We get a sword fight out of it at least! I will say that Victoria’s reputation of just hugging people and crying out in fear is still very much alive here in her debut appearance. Start as you meant to go on, I guess…
The first “Jamie holds back Victoria in protection” scene! … The first of many…
The main one is the fact this follows on directly from the cliffhanger at the end of “The Faceless Ones”, with Jamie even wondering if the Chameleons were behind their new troubles. As for the Dalek civil war, we find out in Second Doctor comic “The Bringer of Darkness” that the non-Human Factor Daleks won and the Dalek Emperor somehow survived, but much later on (from The Doctor’s perspective) he encounters Alpha and the Human Factor Daleks alive and well on the planet Kyrol in the Eighth Doctor comic “Children of the Revolution”, apparently a good chunk of them fled Skaro in the confusion.
This isn’t the last time The Daleks mess around with Human gene splicing, in the Tenth Doctor TV story “Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks” the Cult of Skaro (who are Daleks that have even given themselves names, so very similar to Alpha, Beta and Omega here) try to breed a Human/Dalek hybrid to make themselves more adaptable. There have been a fair few other stories showing Daleks becoming more human and able to be kind, but I’d be here all day looking into that…
Lastly are a few little connections, like the Dalek city and its surrounding caves matching the look of the first Dalek TV story “The Daleks”, or the concept of using mirrors and electricity to create time travel, which is reused in the Eighth Doctor Audio “The Time of the Daleks” and the Tenth Doctor TV story “Turn Left”.
An “on-set” colour photo of the Dalek Emperor. Got to love its booming voice, it’s something I’m glad Nicholas Briggs carried over for its later audio and TV appearances!
The Evil of the Daleks is a great story. Slowly building up to a big showdown between The Doctor and the Dalek Emperor it manages to change locations and switch the plot up enough for the story to never really drag that much (with one or two exceptions in the middle episodes). The animation was top notch too, made the story come alive again like I never thought it could, beyond actually being found obviously. It’s an easy five stars from me, because trust me, as I say in the rating image I made so many years ago: I’ll be watching again, many times!