The TARDIS lands upon a highly irradiated planet and the Ship’s radiation counter is not working, so you just know one of our heroes is going to cop a bit of radiation poisoning. Place your bets now as to whom will succumb first.
They have arrived in a petrified jungle. Effectively this means that everything has turned to stone.
Ian has already sussed that the Doctor is a trouble magnet but it is Barbara who finds it first in the shape of a psammead/alligator hybrid. Luckily, it has been fossilised along with the rest of the jungle.
When they find a huge silver city, the Doctor is all for exploration but Ian just wants to buzz off. Oh, well, I guess they will go on to the next planet, right? Wrong.
On the way back, Susan suffers an attack of the screaming ab-dabs when a mystery hand touches her. Cousin It strikes again?
The Doctor pooh-poohs what she has to say. Ian and Barbara seem more receptive but surely this dead planet is devoid of life? Has not everything been turned to stone by some nuclear holocaust?
Barbara shows signs of radiation poisoning. This does not bode well. But if you guessed it would be her that copped it first, award yourself a carrot cake and a smug look. If you guessed wrong, go sit on the naughty step and think carefully about what you have done.
A bit of light relief follows when the Doctor shows the humans a machine he stole from Willy Wonka but instead of chewing gum that tastes like a three-course meal it makes pills that taste of bacon and eggs. On the plus side, nobody turns into a huge blueberry.
This is all interrupted when a tapping at their chamber door alerts them to someone outside. Fearing it is Lenore or, even worse, Jehovah’s Witnesses, they try to dematerialise but the TARDIS has ran out of mercury. The fluid link is dry.
Naturally there is no mercury aboard the Ship. Why would the Doctor keep a supply of something which helps the TARDIS to work? Although judging by his appearance, he is more in need of a comb than mercury.
So they plan to go to the mysterious city where mercury might exist according to the Doctor. It is almost as if he planned on the fluid links running out. Surely not!
The next morning, they discover a strange box on the ground just outside the TARDIS. Could it be a bomb? Ian checks by giving the box a few clonks and bangs. Given that his body is not immediately blown apart with his limbs being bloodily flung to all four corners of the petrified jungle, he judges it safe.
Inside is a plot device…ahem…vials. You know that it is a plot device because Susan puts it in the TARDIS for safekeeping.
At the city, after an uneventful journey, they quickly gain access and explore. Barbara gets herself lost in the labyrinth of oddly-shaped corridors, opaque doors and the muzak of metallic echoey chimes. You and me, we would walk around calmly but Barbara doesn’t. Barbara runs around holding onto the walls like she is caressing a lover. Given her hysterics, we can all be thankful that she doesn’t have a responsible job such as teaching children. Oh, wait…
Just when things couldn’t get worse. Barbara is threatened by a plumber.
Meanwhile, the rest of the TARDIS crew discovers that they may be suffering radiation poisoning. Oh, and the Doctor admits to faking the mercury loss. Now he wants to go back to the Ship but, tables turned, Ian wants to stay and find Barbara.
This is where the faeces hit the fan. Our heroes are surrounded by pepper pots covered with bumps and grills, single eye-stalks, light-bulb ears and an overall dodgem-car aesthetic. Oh, and they all have a sink plunger which knocks on the head my theory that the Super Mario Brothers had caught Barbara.
Straight into a cell they all go. Typical.
Following a brief scene where the pepper pots grumble about Thals and lack of anti-radiation drugs, they have the Doctor sent into their presence where, of course, he denies being a Thal or owning anti-radiation drugs. But he knows where he can get his hands on a plot device full of vials. This interests the pepper pots who, I should add, refer to themselves as Daleks. What a nice friendly name. I bet they will be friends with our heroes. The, almost certainly friendly, Daleks explain that they are survivors of an aeon-old neutronic war with the evil nasty Thals. The war caused mutations on both sides but sadly not the cool kind of superpower-giving mutations that the X-Men all received.
The Daleks want the vials. God knows why though. They are clearly are technologically advanced. Could they not make their own? If they can’t, then the Thals must be super-intelligent scientists. Really, just think about it. If the Thals were, to pick an entirely random example, a bunch of migratory farmers, they wouldn’t have the ability to create anti-radiation drugs, right? I can’t wait to see the Thals. I bet they are all scum-bummed, cross-eyed muto dirtbags that, despite their mind-numbingly ‘orrible ugliness and personal hygiene problems, have a golden city to rival the Dalek’s silver city.
The Doctor returns to the cell where he informs them all that the Daleks will allow one of them to fetch the anti-radiation gloves…drugs…from the TARDIS. The Doctor can’t go, he is too weak. Nor can Barbara. Ian had his legs turned to jelly by the Daleks, so this leaves Susan to fetch the vials. Straight there, straight back. The Doctor, Ian and Barbara are all a-slump. They need the vials. Run, Susan, run!
Pity the Daleks are going to double cross them.
As Susan goes back to the Ship, it seems to be night again. It is also thundery and windy. So Susan runs as fat as she can, arms and head flopping about and flailing with almost rag-doll physics. As everyone knows, this is the safest method for running through a jungle at night. She doesn’t fall down once.
She is suffering more ab-dabs when she finally finds the TARDIS and the vials. Hurrah!
When Susan leaves the Ship, she encounters a male model from the cheesiest catalogue you could imagine. His is a Thal, his name is Alydon. The Thals are not as uglified as I thought.
After blurting out exposition, Alydon gives her a second set of vials which he just conveniently happened to have had concealed under his cloak. Maybe he expected the TARDIS crew to have scoffed through the vials like a tube of Smarties? Alydon suspects the Daleks are not kosher.
Back in the city, our heroes take the drugs. Alydon, thy drugs are quick.
The Daleks are spying on their conversation about how the Thals want a peaceful treaty etc. Naturally, the Daleks plan to take advantage.
When we see the Thal tribe, they look like the descendants of The Midwich Cuckoos. As mutations go, they have really lucked out.
The Daleks get Susan to write a diplomatic note. Rather laughingly, she thinks the Daleks are afraid of the Thals. They get Susan to write her name upon it in order to make the Thals trust them:
“love from Susan xxxxx“
Our heroes know that they are being overheard. They fake an argument in order to accidently-on-purpose break the Dalek’s camera. Now they they aren’t being spied upon, they can plot. Heh heh heh.
Remember my dodgem-car comment? The Doctor figures that the pepper pots are similar, drawing on static from the floor to give them power. I wonder if they bump into each other?
The Thals receive the note as dictated by the Daleks. They are duly suckered.
But the Daleks can be suckered too. Our intrepid heroes manage to break a Dalek’s contact with the floor, therefore depriving it of power. They have captured a Dalek. Odd thing though, wouldn’t the Daleks have some kind of battery in case of static failure?
I liked how they simply open it, another odd thing. Would the Daleks really have a metal shell that can be easily opened by humanoid hands? Also, wouldn’t it be opened from within instead? And why, after the removal of the gooey Dalek mutant, is there enough room for Ian? Are Daleks half-empty or TARDIS-like? Nah, if they can’t make anti-radiation drugs, they are hardly likely to be dimensionally transcendent.
I like how the Daleks are just like armadillos. Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside. Erm…
Pretending to be prisoners and guard, they escape/ Unnoticed by them, is the Dalek mutant moving a limb. Loved that. I hope it wasn’t something rude moving…
As they move through the city, the metallic chimes are still chiming.
A Dalek spots them so Susan has to fake a hissy-fit to stop it from asking the Dalek head honchos if they have permission.
The muzak chimes have not been replaced with the sound of a car revving in a wind tunnel during this scene.
Sadly, the Dalek checks anyway. Jobsworth.
In a small room by a lift, Ian cannot move or get out of his travel machine. Not good news for our male teacher. Our heroes leave via the lift leaving him to his fate. Alas, poor Chesterfield, I knew him well. Luckily for him, he somehow escapes and pops up the lift. When the Daleks finally get in, they zap the emptied shell.
Our heroes spot the Thals approaching the city from a handy window.
Ooh, first mention of ‘exterminate’! It is, isn’t it? Award yourself a stern look in the mirror if you just went ‘Squee!’
Before the Daleks can follow our heroes up the lift shaft, they send one of the Dalek’s angular Barbara Hepworth statues crashing down the shaft. Vandals.
Outside the silver city, Temmosus, the Thal’s leader, thinks he can speak with the Daleks without being exterminated. Deluded blonde twit.
The Daleks are hiding in waiting, trying to look innocent. “Exterminate you? Us? No, we’d never do that! What? Our guns? These aren’t for killing. They are for…erm…flower arranging and stuff.”
Ian sends the others off. He will warn the Thals.
Temmosus calls out to the Daleks. His oratory ringing out amongst the silver halls of the pepper pots. Will his words sway the Daleks? Will they live in peace with their fleshy cousins?
Temmosus is zap-pow-ka-splatted by the Dalek’s flower-arrangers. As the Thals hop it, his body is ironically slumped over a cache of food supplies.
Back in the jungle, the Doctor, Barbara and Susan are being taught by Dyoni, a female Thal, about the history of the dead planet, Skaro. Once upon a time, the Daleks were humanoids called Dals. They had a war with the Thals and Skaro was poisoned by the neutronic bombs. Both races suffered mutations but the Dals suffered the suffix ‘-ek’. Hold on, Skaro was scarred by the war? Skar = scar, do you see what the writer Terry Nation has done here? How clever. This proves that Nation is more subtle than me because I’d have called the planet Maimo or perhaps Destroyedo.
I do feel sorry for the Daleks in a way. Forget their later appearances as world-destroying tyrants, here they are victims just as much as the Thals are. Think about it. These creatures have been locked up in the silver city, a prison in all but name, for centuries. They are limited to one city due to their dependence on static energy. They are prisoners twice-over if you include their metallic shells as another jail cell. Think what life must be like for these Daleks creatures. Think of the mental impact put upon them. It can’t be easy. No wonder they are a little potty and more than a little insane.
When Ian arrives, with Alydon the Milky Bar Thal, it seems that all is fine. Alydon is now Chief by the process of dead man’s shoes. Plus all the Milky Bars are on him.
The Thals are pacifists so they won’t fight the Daleks. Not even if the Daleks pushed them all into muddy puddles and mocked their haircuts. Ian tries to persuade them otherwise but they are not having it.
I love how the Doctor, throughout, keeps trying to get them into the TARDIS so they can leave. After an umpteenth attempt, they all finally agree.
All’s well that ends well… But wait, where is the mercury fluid link? Ian has left it back in the city. Silly Ian. Ho hum, back they go.
Somehow, the Daleks are watching them via a Skype spy cam. Again, I point out that the Daleks can’t make anti-radiation drugs but they can make spy cams. I am still at a loss to how the Thals can make them. Perhaps they grow in the ground?
Ian appeals to the Thal’s base natures by threatening to give Dyoni over to the pepper pots. Alydon sucker-punches him.
Meanwhile, the Daleks are on some kind of hallucinogenic drug trip. The drugs don’t work. They only make it worse for the Daleks. They discover that they are now immune to radiation. Their solution? Make Skaro even more radiated. Genius. Plus it will kill all the Thals.
Back in the jungle, Che Alydon convinces his Ganatus and his fellow Thals to join him in fighting the Daleks. Ian’s plan has worked. They will attack the city on two fronts. From behind and a decoy frontal attack led by the Doctor and Susan. And if they have time, they will run a smear campaign in all the Skaro tabloids.
From behind involves the swamp, a lake of mutations, and another jungle which has inexplicably avoided being turned to stone like the one where our heroes currently plot. Very selective neutronic bombs they have on Skaro. Ian, Barbara, Elyon, Kristas, and the brothers Ganatus and Antodus can only do their best but their chances don’t look good.
Is it me or am I the only one who thinks that the Thals have names that sound like medical drugs? “Yes, Mrs Perkins, take three teaspoons of Antodus five times a day until the thrush clears up”. Temmosus sounds like he should be a shampoo for ridding one of dandruff.
The frontal attack involves running up to the city and ringing the Dalek’s door bell before running away again.
The next morning, Ian’s group spot a pipeline going to the city. Result! Pity they can’t go through the bog of eternal stench to get there. Or can they?
Elyon gets nobbled by a whirlpool. Which is bad. It is also shameful. Can you imagine when he gets up to the pearly gates and is asked how he died?
St Peter: How did you die?
Temmosus: I was exterminated while asking for peace and cooperation between the Dalek and Thal race.
St Peter: Fine. That is a noble death. Go in, my son.
(Temmosus enters Heaven. Elyon walks up to St Peter)
St Peter: How did you die?
Elyon: I was killed by a beast and then dragged deep into the swamp.
St Peter: Really?
St Peter: REALLY?
Elyon: Um..no. I was collecting water and this swirly whirlpool thing killed me. There may have been some kind of animal but I didn’t see it. Um…
(St Peter gives Elyon a hard stare and pulls a lever. A huge trapdoor opens up underneath Elyon and he is sent plunging all the way to Hell)
On the other side of the city, the Doctor and Susan are trying to figure the best route with the help of Alydon and his bird, Dyoni.
The Daleks are going to build a neutron bomb. Or they would if it didn’t take to long to build. Why the hurry, pepper pots?
Swampside, our heroes are exploring the caves around the pipeline. Ganatus falls down a crevice which might provide a way into the city. Equally it might not.
The Daleks are so puny that shining the sunlight off mirrors disrupts their monitoring and communication equipment. Good news for the Doctor and his allies, they can closer to the city. Ian’s group are not having such good news when a rock slide falls and blocks their egress.
The Daleks are tracing the Doctor and Susan by their vibrations. They are caught in the act of fusing the city’s systems with a walking stick. How very MacGyver.
Back in the caves, our heroes must get across a small gap. If only they had a whip-carrying archaeologist. As it is, Ian and the Thals have to jump it whiplessly. Ian makes it. So does Ganatus. Scouting a path ahead, they send for the others when the Thal finds one.
The Daleks reveal to the Doctor and Susan that they will use their reactors to dump radiation into the atmosphere. Those naughty scamps!
In the caves, Antodus is last to jump the gap. He misjudges however and falls. Each jump has involved Ian and whomever is jumping tying ropes around their waists. Even Barbara managed to jump. Antodus really is a big girl’s blouse. The two-man system saves their lives but Ian is struggling not to be dragged over the edge, and Antodus is not able to get back up.
Antodus makes the ultimate sacrifice and cuts the rope. Ian is saved.
Back in the city, the Doctor and Susan are cuffed to the walls. Clearly the Daleks are all fans of Fifty Shades of Grey. They are, indeed, truly evil.
Turning the lights off to save the batteries, Ian spots a light come from yonder crack in the wall. It is the Dalek’s pump house and they are saved. This is their much needed entrance into the forbidden city of the pepper pots.
The Thals say that they are farmers. So I was right in thinking them incapable of being able to create anti-radiation drugs or flash lights. So where did they get them from?
Taken to the control room, the Doctor tries to save the lives of the Thals by giving the Daleks the secrets of time travel and how to build their own TARDIS. This from a man who can’t control aforementioned time ship and who needs a notebook to remember details on how to operate it. But the Doctor only makes his offer to stop the Daleks from their plans of neutronic fallout. Still not a great idea though. The Daleks claim they can make their own but this is clearly not true. Unless time machines are easier to make than anti-radiation drugs.
The Daleks detect the Alydon’s army of Thals on their vibrators. Ian, Barbara and what is left of their Thal guides are now creeping through the city. Rather handily, they overhear a Dalek receiving news of the Thal invasion on the Dalek wifi.
The reactor is almost ready to pop. Boy, this is tense!
Alydon’s mob meets up with Ian’s group. They will go to the control zone together or at least they would if all the doors weren’t shutting themselves.
Can nothing stop the dastardly Daleks? Stairs maybe?
Eventually our heroes get to the control room. The Doctor and Susan are freed. Hurray!
The Daleks are defeated by stone-throwing savages. Seems the pepper pots are oddly weak. What wimps!
The static energy is depleted and gone. The Daleks are all dead. Every single Dalek is now in the choir invisible, pushing up the daisies, being poked by pitchfork-wielding devils. I bet we won’t be seeing them again in a hurry. Especially since they are all dead.
Back in the petrified jungle, the mercury is safe in the Doctor’s pocket.
Saying goodbye to the Thals, everyone looks so happy. Despite the fact that the Thals still don’t have food and the city is next-to-useless for their purposes.
I reckon Ganatus has the hots for Barbara. Have they been having a romance? Interesting…
The TARDIS departs with a sound like an elephant being shown home movies by an attention-seeking mouse.
Where next? Margate?
An explosion knocks them to the floor and what happens next will have to remain a mystery for now.
If you can’t wait, sigh, then I will tell you: the TARDIS goes bat-crap crazy for two episodes. Bet you wished you never asked now, eh?