Doctor Who (1963)

Season 1 Episode 5

The Dead Planet

Aired Saturday 5:15 PM Dec 21, 1963 on BBC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

The Dead Planet
Time Unknown, Planet Unknown. The TARDIS lands in an eerie petrified forest overlooking a magnificent steel city. The Doctor wants to explore the city – but what is waiting there?

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  • Terror On Skaro Written by Terry Nation Directed by Christopher Barry and Richard Martin

    The Doctor: "That's sheer murder!"

    Dalek: "No. Extermination".

    After a debut which settled for giving us a trip into time, the second serial would address the space part as well as the introduction to the biggest threat The Doctor would ever had to face in the series when himself, Ian, Barbara and Susan all land on a nice little place called Skaro.

    By nice, I mean the air is poisonous and nearly everyone is dead but compared to other things, this is almost the positive thing to say about Skaro. Ian and Barbara are desperate to go home but The Doctor is more eager to explore the mysterious planet they've landed on. It seems that sabotaging the TARDIS in order to do this isn't beneath The Doctor either when he claims that mercury is needed for the fluid link and they'd have to go to the city to get some. No wonder Ian can't seem to get along with him. The Doctor can be pretty infuriating when he puts his mind to it. I'm all for exploring planets but for an older Doctor, this is a pretty reckless way of going about it really.

    Of course by getting into the city, there's more trouble when Barbara is the first member to encounter the Daleks but soon enough, The Doctor, Susan and Ian also get to meet the deranged pepper pots when they're taken hostage by them. Worse still they're all getting bouts of radiation sickness and the Daleks are less than sympathetic over the dire consequences if they don't get some proper help in the next while.

    The Doctor is able to get some answers out of the Daleks when it's revealed that they're survivors of a neutronic war with a race called the Thals (whom the Daleks are plotting to complete wipe out). With static electricity they can move around the city and anyone who opposes them usually finds themselves killed. They do of course allow Susan to get some drugs to help the TARDIS gang but that's less out of goodness and more of need.

    Even when Susan does meet up with Thals and does faithfully come back with the drugs, the Daleks still aren't in a mad panic to let everyone go. Luckily Ian isn't exactly in the mood to wait for the Daleks to kill and thinks it's best to try and get out. You can't blame the man and his method of sneaking into the casing to aid everyone's escape is a nice trick. It's also perfect how he just fits inside the thing as well.

    Of course the Daleks aren't thrilled with their attempts to escape and make several attempts to stop them. Not only do the Daleks not want the gang to leave but their escape also coincides with their brilliant plot to rid themselves of the Thals in the process.

    The poor Thals were hoping to come up with a truce and feed themselves but the Daleks decided to use their hunger as a means of wiping them out as quickly as possible. Some Thals do get killed but thanks to Ian and company, not as many that could've been killed.

    Unfortunately there is a flipside and the dropping of the fluid link for the TARDIS back in Dalek city was one mistake that Ian should've avoided. With no fluid link they're stuck on Skaro and the gang (along with the Thals, including Alydon) have no choice but to go back if they want to go home.

    Getting back to the get that fluid is a bit stretched in terms of the plotting but there's a strong element of life and death attached to proceedings as well. Many of the Thals helping do ultimately meet their maker and even Ian and Barbara find their lives in peril as well. In a lot of ways, Ian is an effective leader but he can also be every bit as bullish as The Doctor too. Not that he would care to admit that I suppose.

    With differing teams heading back, the Daleks are quick in wanting to cover the rest of Skaro with radiation. The Doctor shows the necessary smarts in trying to stop the homicidal creatures but it's interesting that the Thal anti-radiation drug is the eventual defeat of the Daleks. Their debut here is nothing short of stunning and it's easy to see why they've lasted so long as the bane of The Doctor's existence.

    The ending is somewhat more resolute. One of the Thals had a brief crush on Barbara and gave her a nice parting gift and the gang walked away from one disaster, only to collapse into another. The joys of travelling with a grumpy old man and his granddaughter, huh?

    Also in "The Daleks"

    The seven episodes that make up this are The Dead Planet, The Survivors, The Escape, The Ambush, The Expedition, The Ordeal and The Rescue. Barbara: You think there's any danger?

    Ian: "Not necessarily".

    Barbara: "But don't be too complacent. No, you're right, I suppose. I just wish..."

    Ian: "We'll be all right".

    Episode 6 was made under the working title The Caves of Terror and episode 7 under the working title The Execution. Barbara (re The Doctor): "Yes. Well, I suppose we'd better make sure he doesn't fall down and break a leg. Don't you ever think he deserves something to happen to him?"

    Ian: "Yes". Ian: "No - it's time you faced up to your responsibilities. You got us here - now I'm going to make sure that you get us back!"

    The Doctor: "Chesterton, this is…"

    This story was originally scheduled to be designed by Ridley Scott, who later went on to direct films such as Alien and Blade Runner. Ian: "We're wasting time. We should be looking for Barbara".

    Susan: "He's right Grandfather. We are wasting time".

    The Doctor: "Oh child, if only you'd think as an adult sometimes".

    Dalek: "Stop that noise!"

    Susan: "Well, it's… it's what I'm called. It's my name. Susan".

    This was released in January 2006 as part of a box set with "An Unearthly Child" and "The Edge Of Destruction" called "New Beginnings".

    Alydon: "But supposing…"

    Temmosus: "No Alydon! And you must throw off these suspicions. They're based on fear and fear breeds hatred…and war. I shall speak to them peacefully. They'll see that I'm unarmed. There is no better argument against war than that".

    There seems to be some general contradiction as to whether this story is based in either the past or the present.

    Ian: "Well don't worry about it now, Doctor. It's happened".

    The Doctor: "Yes. But at least you're not vindictive".

    Ian: "Well I will be if you don't get my name right. It's Chesterton".

    The Doctor: "Yes. Eh? Yes, I know that". It was Mervyn Pinfield who suggested that The Daleks use static electricity. It was Richard Martin who suggested that the Thal anti-radiation drug be lethal to the Daleks. Dalek: "The only interest we have in the Thals is their total extermination".

    Susan: "What do you mean?"

    This story replaced previous proposals including "Beyond The Sun" and "The Masters Of Luxor".

    First Dalek: "Now that we know of the machine, we can examine it for ourselves".

    The Doctor: "But you can't operate it without me!"

    First Dalek: "Every problem has a solution".

    The episodes were all recovered from negative film prints which were discovered at BBC Enterprises in 1978. For the debut of the nastiest creatures ever to darken the series, "The Daleks" is a great opening for the vicious pepper pots, although in 12 years time, the debut of their master would be far more powerful. I'm also liking this caustic TARDIS a little more with each instalment too.moreless
  • Doctor and the group land on dead planet which has the Daleks.

    Terry Nation shows why he was one of the brains behind Doctor Who's success with his script for the introduction of the Daleks.

    Terry was a great writer of which Doctor Who owes a lot of thanks for the creation of Daleks. Of course Terry didn't just write for British Scifi shows, he also wrote and produced for American television and Tv shows like Macgyver.

    The episode helps to serve all the introductory materials you need to understand the story. This episode is all about setting the mood and things to come with the radiation sickness, and impending doom to come.

    The only shot of the Daleks comes at the very end with mechanical hand. However, the episode is so well done that are you glued to what's happening even though not much is explained until later episodes.moreless
  • The Dead Planet- Daleks Part 1

    I'm starting to watch the old Doctor Who Series, and this was the first time that the Daleks appear on the show. The Dead Planet just sets the mood for the Daleks Saga. Although the Daleks don't physically appear on this one i consider The Dead Planet to be a pretty decent episode, unlike the previous three.

    I know that these episodes are almost 50 years old and it was the beginning but i have to say that I do not like this Doctor or Susan. For one this doctor is an irritating person and Susan is just hysterical little brat. The acting is so bad that i amuse myself just by watching it. But then again it was the 60's and it was very low budget.

    If you're a fan it's a saga worth watching.moreless
  • This is the episode that has made doctor who so popular today, it is the beggining of doctor who history.

    This is a classic episode I recomend if you are a doctor who fan that you watch this because it is brilliant, it is the beggining of doctor who it is just fantastic and I also think it is the best black and white episode of doctor who ever, It is anoying how it will never ever ever be shown on tv that just makes me mad!!!!!! but if you do want to see this episode I think that lots of these book and video stores up in london sell it infact it sells all the doctor who episode. I have got to say if you are into doctor classics you have just got to see this episode.moreless

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • Near the end of the episode, when everyone is wondering through the corridors you can clearly see that the "Endless" corridors behind them are just painted on.

    • Equipment Visible: Toward the end of the episode, when Ian is wondering where Barbara is, the shadow of a boom mike moves over the door behind him.

    • Revealing Mistakes: When Ian notices the breeze, a wide shot of the forest shows the background dropcloth is moving in the breeze.

    • Because the Dalek props were not ready in time for filming, the scene where Barbara is captured in the cliffhanger is shot from the viewpoint of the Dalek. All the audience sees is its plunger, building up suspense as to what this menace is. It caused droves of people to tune in for the next episode to see it. This amazing serendipity all but ensured the future of the series and made it and the Daleks worldwide icons.

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Barbara: Oh, Doctor, have you worked out yet how all this happened?
      The Doctor: No, not really, not really. Whatever it was destroyed everything that was living. But the planet is dead. Totally dead.

    • Barbara: Ian, where are we?
      Ian: I don't know.
      Barbara: Well, why doesn't he take us back?
      Ian: I'm not sure that he can.
      Barbara: What, ever?
      Ian: I hate it as much as you. I'm just as afraid. But what can we do?
      Barbara: Well, we could at least stay near the ship.
      Ian: Hmm. The ship's no good without him. We better keep an eye on him. He seems to have a knack of getting himself into trouble.
      Barbara: You think there's any danger?
      Ian: Not necessarily.
      Barbara: But don't be too complacent. No, you're right, I suppose. I just wish…Ian: We'll be all right.
      Barbara: Yes. Well, I suppose we'd better make sure he doesn't fall down and break a leg. Don't you ever think he deserves something to happen to him?
      Ian [ laughing ]: Yes.

  • NOTES (7)

    • Producers Donald Wilson and Sydney Newman originally wanted to spike this serial. Wilson thought it one of the worst scripts he'd ever read while Newman opposed having "Bug-Eyed Monsters" on the show. In the end, because the script "Doctor Who and the Robots" fell through, this seven-part serial was the only script available and was moved up four months in the shooting schedule only to become a massive hit.

    • Future Academy-Award-winning director Ridley Scott was originally slated to do the set design for this series. But it eventually fell to Ray Cusick to design the Daleks.

    • This episode had to be reshot two weeks before transmission. The original shooting suffered from audio problems – voices from the gallery were audible on the soundtrack – and had to be completely scrapped.

    • Novelisation: Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks by David Whitaker first published by Frederick Muller Ltd on 12 November 1964. Published as Doctor Who and the Daleks (ISBN 0 426 10110 3) by Universal-Tandem in 1973. Published as Doctor Who - The Daleks by Virgin Publishing Ltd in 1992.

      This was the first novelisation of a Doctor Who story, and it deviates significantly from the televised adventure, not least in having the Doctor meet Ian and Barbara for the first time. The Doctor's granddaughter is called Susan English, while Chesterton is an unemployed scientist. The novel was written in the first person, from Ian's perspective.

    • DVD: Doctor Who: The Daleks released as part of the Doctor Who: The Beginning box set (BBCDVD 1882) in January 2006. Released in U.S.A./Canada (Warner Home Video E2487) in March 2006.

      Video: Doctor Who: The Daleks: Part 1 Episodes 1-4: The Dead Planet/The Daleks: Part 2 Episodes 5-7: The Expedition (BBCV 4242), released in June 1989. This two-box set was the first Doctor Who video in episodic format, with beginning and (6/7) end credits intact: earlier video releases contained omnibus versions of the stories. The "next episode" caption was removed from The Rescue. Released in U.S.A./Canada as Doctor Who: The Daleks: The Dead Planet and The Expedition (Warner Home Video E1275) in October 1993.

      Doctor Who: The Daleks [Remastered] (BBCV 6960) released in February 2001.

    • This story was remade for the cinema in 1965 as Dr. Who and the Daleks, starring Peter Cushing as the Doctor.

    • Writer Terry Nation submitted a detailed storyline entitled "The Survivors" in early July 1963. He was commissioned to write a six-part story entitled "The Mutants" based on that storyline. By the time Nation submitted first draft scripts in August 1963, the working title had been changed to "Beyond the Sun" but it was "Dr. Who and the Mutants" by November 1963. The camera scripts, normally a reliable guide, refer to "Serial B".

      Overseas sales documents consistently refer to the serial as "Dr. Who and the Mutants". The story was novelised as Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks in 1965, and a film adaptation of that year was called Dr. Who and the Daleks. A tenth anniversary tribute magazine from the BBC's Radio Times in 1973 named each of the first 25 serials after its opening episode, so this serial was incorrectly renamed as The Dead Planet. A new paperback edition of the novel published that year simplified the original title to Doctor Who and the Daleks.

      A consensus has arisen that the "correct" title for the serial should be "The Mutants". Unfortunately, that name had subsequently been used for a Season 9 serial, so could not readily be applied to this one.

      The BBC Video release in 1989 (and the BBC DVD of 2006) had the legend Doctor Who: The Daleks. A script book published in 1989 was Doctor Who - The Daleks. This title also adorns the 1992 edition of the novel.