Spent most of this afternoon driving to the Ardennes and back, so finished listening to The Evil of the Daleks, the last story of Patrick Troughton’s first season as the Doctor, and the one voted the Best Ever Doctor Who Story by readers of Dreamwatch in 1993. Only one episode out of seven survives on video, and I haven’t seen it (yet).
I have to say that I was very unsatisfied with the plot of this classic story. The Daleks’ plan to manipulate the Doctor, and the Doctor’s attempts to manipulate Jamie, are both unrealistically convoluted as well as being very out of character. We never find out how the Daleks got photographs of the Second Doctor, whom they otherwise met only on the planet Vulcan, and of Jamie, whom they did not otherwise meet at all (unless you believe the Season 6B theory). (We also know that the first two episodes of Evil of the Daleks are contemporaneous with The War Machines, so the Daleks would have been better off trying to grab the First Doctor who was elsewhere in London at the same time.) When we hit the nineteenth century, Arthur Terrall’s presence is not very satisfactorily explained, and the fact that he is a robot is just left hanging (or rather, Ruth is told to take him as far away as possible, as if this will somehow cure him of being mechanical). And it seems difficult to imagine that the Daleks are so bad at keeping track of individual units, however de-personalised they may be, that they simply lose track of the first three humanised Daleks. (The Discontinuity Guide further asks, “Why not just kidnap the Doctor and Jamie? Why does Terrall get Toby to kidnap Jamie? Since Jamie is so essential to Dalek plans, why are the traps set for him so lethal?”)
Having said that, the acting is great, and it’s clear from the BBC photosnaps that the series looked fantastic (Maxtable’s beard!!!!!). It’s also a really great idea to return to the Dalek City on Skaro (apparently the first time the Doctor had ever been seen to return to any planet except Earth). And I loved the Victoriana; I especially liked Waterfield’s horror-filled explanation, “We had opened the way for them with our experiments. They forced me into the horror of time travel, Doctor” – sounded very HP Lovecraft! And the references to Poe were clear (and even at one point explicit). And Troughton is great, dominating every scene (and this partly accounts for the flagging pace of episode 4 when he was on holiday).
So anyway, more good than bad, but I’m very sorry not to have actually seen any of it.