65 – The Chase

Having yesterday reviewed the serial that follows this one (The Time Meddler) we now look at a very significant story in Doctor Who’s history. Following the popularity of the Daleks’ first appearance in Season One, demand was high to bring them back on screen as soon as possible, hence their appearance in earlier Season Two adventure The Dalek Invasion of Earth. In that story the momentous decision was taken to allow Carol Ann Forde to leave her role as Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter. In this serial, the show takes an even more decisive step away from the origins of An Unearthly Child, and bids goodbye to Ian and Barbara. One appreciates afresh what this must have meant for William Hartnell in the docu-drama An Adventure in Space and Time – surely paving the way for his own transition at the beginning of Season Four …

Aside of this significance, there is of course a highly entertaining story to be told, with the Daleks determining that the Doctor and his crew must be put to death for crimes against the Daleks, determining to pursue him through all of time and space in their own time machine until he is exterminated once and for all. In that regard, the serial bears certain resemblances to earlier story The Keys of Marinus, insomuch that each episode effectively operates as a standalone adventure, in which the TARDIS crew narrowly escape the Daleks at each turn. Along the way they confuse an American tourist on the Empire State Building, get lost in a funfair haunted house, almost fall for a (not very realistic) doppleganger of the Doctor, and reveal the real reason why the Marie Celeste was found with no crew on board …

The story concludes with a face off between the Daleks and one-time villains the Mechanoids – a robotic foe it was erroneously hoped might one day rival the Daleks. Sadly, this is only true for dedicated fans of the show, the robots not quite capturing the public imagination in the same way. The battle enables the Doctor not only to escape with Vicki (and new companion Steven Taylor) but also to use the Daleks’ own time travel machine to send Ian and Barbara back to the 1960s. I had a much greater sense of loss coming to this serial afresh, having grown to know and love Ian and Barbara through their adventures to this point. With Susan I confess there was a slight element of being glad she was becoming her own person … but for Ian and Barbara it’s hard not too feel sorry that they left, even though it was absolutely what they deserved. The doctor speaks for all fans when he says with some emotion “I shall them. Yes, I shall miss them.”

At six episodes long, this is a story that you need to commit a block of time to, and is rather more disjointed than a Doctor Who story usually would be. For all of these quibbles, it is still a great adventure to watch. The Daleks are always good value for their menace (and even their comedic value in the Marie Celeste and Haunted House scenes), and the main crew are outstanding. I have to concede that watching the VHS, I wasn’t sold by my initial impressions of Steven Taylor – which is all the more reason it is a pity much of his era as companion has been lost – The Time Meddler alone demonstrates what he great companion he must have been.

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One thought on “65 – The Chase

  1. Pingback: 44 – The Dalek Invasion of Earth |

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