Sunday 26 February 2012

The Daleks' Master Plan: The Traitors


Me:  So.  We’re currently a quarter of the way through and after this episode we’ll be a third.  Anything you’d like to say?

Him:  Third?  Oh – The Daleks’ Master Plan.  I thought you meant William Hartnell.  It’s a really long one, isn’t it?

Me:  Yes.

Him:  What made them make it in twelve parts?

Me:  Right.  Basically, The Dalek Invasion of Earth was really successful and ran over Christmas in six parts.  Therefore, it followed that running a Dalek story over Christmas would be a successful thing to do.  And doubling the length of said Dalek adventure would make it twice as successful.  You with me?

Him:  Uh-huh.

Me:  That’s if it wasn’t actually extended because Huw Wheldon’s mother-in-law wanted to see more Daleks.  That’s the explanation I prefer, which is why I flailed at a hint to it earlier on.

Me:  BBC Dalek Supremo.

At this piece of information, the Him starts spelling Ode to Joy ("E-E-F-G-G-F-E-D-C-C-D-E-E-D-D/E-E-F-G-G-F-E-D-C-C-D-E-D-C-C/D-D-E-C-D-EF-E-C-D-EF-E-D-C-D-G/E-E-F-G-G-F-E-D-C-C-D-E-D-C-C"), which, in fairness, I wasn’t expecting.

Me:  Lovely.

We recap.  Katarina’s in trouble.  Kirksen insists on heading to Kembel and not Earth.

The Doctor:  Kembel?!

I’m not expecting you to believe me, but this whole scene is really intense.  Even though it’s essentially a radio play with a slideshow it hooks us in and we’re really quiet.  Possibly because we know how it’s going to pan out, which of course the original viewers wouldn’t have.

And so, leaving Katarina in trouble, I hope you don’t mind if we detour for a moment.

Reading between the lines, it seems that The Traitors is the episode of The Daleks’ Master Plan that’s most likely to be recovered.  No-one seems willing to admit it, but it sounds like the full episode is the only one that can safely be said to have been ‘borrowed’ rather than destroyed.  Time will tell, I guess.

I really hope that more of the Wiles/Tosh episodes are recovered because I’ve personally been amazed by quite how thrilling they are.  I’m using that ‘thrilling’ in a very particular way there. 

I made an observation, on the page that no-one reads, about how childhood offers a different viewing experience of Doctor Who than you get when you become cobwebbed and jaded in your twenties.  Here’s a link.  You won’t follow it, and I don’t blame you. 

Anyway, it’s worth noting that a lot of Doctor Who is better than the rest of it is.  Which is a nice way of saying that we’ve started this journey at a point where it would be unfeasible to pretend that the Him’s watching these recons and stories in awestruck silence and not being rude.  Those days are gone the way of all flesh.  Consequently, the less we say, the more it’s grabbed us.  I’m also conscious that we’re expecting something from what’s essentially another culture to be able to play within today's televisual rules.  That’s only to a degree of course.  And now there’s an animated Dalek gliding across a control room.

Me:  That looked good.

The Dalek pursuit ships are back on the Spar’s course.  On the Spar, Bret Vyon pretends to change course.  Kirksen doesn’t believe anyone.  He drags Katarina into the airlock and locks it.  The picture begins to move…

Him:  Oh…

I’ve said it before, and here you go again: this seems like a really weird choice of scene to highlight how Peter Purves used to be in Doctor Who for the Blue Peter audience.  There’s a struggle in the airlock.

The Doctor:  Take him back to Kembel!  Take him back to Kembel!

Katarina reaches for a switch – it's either desperation, or she's the bravest and most unselfish companion that the Doctor has ever had the honour of travelling with.  Of course, it's more likely she's barking by this point and it's a total accident, but let's go with the Noble Sacrifice theory, shall we?  It's a Terry N tale after all.  Katarina opens the airlock, sucking herself and Kirksen into the vacuum of space.  Katarina’s gone.  

It’s really quiet.  Both on screen and here.

Me:  The Doctor’s losing people frequently now.

There’s a moment of quite tasteful animated drifting and William Hartnell knocks a speech out of the park.

Me:  That’s good.

Him:  Slowed down trampoline isn’t it?

Me:  That’s how they did it when they filmed it.  Really changes the mood of the story.  And seeing it in context makes a massive difference.  It’s quite powerful.

Him:  First of the TARDIS crew to be gone forever.  Maybe when the Doctor looked back on Katarina he did it before he met her.

Me:  Maybe.

The Daleks are quarrelling with Trantis, a runny-faced delegate, about the trustworthiness of Maaavic Chen.  The Daleks are convinced they’ve got this one licked.


Bret Vyon has a friend on Earth he thinks will help our hero fugitives.  

Meanwhile, Mavic Chen’s back on Earth, lying to anyone who’ll listen – especially his fan Lizan.  There’s a smug, bald, fellow named Karlton also in attendance.  Bret Vyon’s massive animated head floats around in the background.
Master of the Universe figure sold separately.

Me:  That’s pretty good as well.

Him:  The giant floating head?

Me:  That’s the one.
Blinded by Mavic Chen’s way with political rhetoric, Lizan sets the quest for Bret Vyon in motion.  Karlton slides up to Mavic Chen and oozes obsequiousness in his ear.

Mavic Chen:  You must do better than that.  I would hate to have to lose you.

The Spar is approaching Earth.  Mavic Chen awaits reports whilst sitting behind a most curious piece of furniture.

Him:  ‘A large rotating desk’.

Mavic Chen reveals that he wants to govern the universe next to the Daleks.  His grasp of how this situation’s going to play out is not great.  The only thing in his way (apart from being power-crazed right round the bend) is Trantis.  But the Daleks “don’t like Trantis”, so they’re bound to exterminate him and then…

Mavic Chen:  It will be me, Mavic Chen, who will be next in line.

Karlton reveals that the quest for Bret Vyon is being led by one of his very best agents: Kingdom.

Mavic Chen:  Kingdom!

Me:  ‘Kingdom’.

A call comes through.  Karlton takes it so Mavic Chen doesn’t damage a nail.  It turns out that the ‘traitors’ have arrived.  Or rather, crashed at the experimental station Bret Vyon mentioned earlier.  

We join our chums as they slink around apparently deserted corridors.  I say ‘apparently’ on account of there being a shadowy figure watching them slink.  

Mavic Chen is delighted when Kingdom arrives to meet him.

Him:  Sara Kingdom.

Me:  Well spotted.

Sara Kingdom offers her report.  Our heroes are trapped and she’s off to go get them.  However…

Mavic Chen:  Before you do that, there is something you have to know...

Back in the experimental station, our heroes are hanging around waiting for Bret Vyon’s chum.

The Doctor:  I think we’re just wasting valuable time sitting around here waiting for this man Baxter or Daxtar or whatever he calls himself.

The Doctor points out that they’ve landed in a bit of rum situation that may very well be nothing more than the setting for an ambush.  At that moment, or thereabouts, Daxtar arrives.  

Back with Mavic Chen and Sara Kingdom and the briefing’s wrapping up.  Sara has to recover the vital emm of taranium.  Sara leaves.

Mavic Chen:  A good security agent.

Back in the base.

Daxtar:  Mavic Chen?  The Daleks?  I can’t believe it!

Stuff happens and I notice that we’re both actually watching it again.  Suspicions aroused, the Doctor succeeds in exposing Daxtar (or Baxter, or whatever he calls himself) as a traitor.

The Doctor:  Long acquaintance is no guarantee for honesty.  Ask him!  Ask him how he came to know that the core of the time destructor was taranium!

Me:  Oh dear.

This exposure leads, as you might well imagine, to a tense confrontation and an odd observation, which you might well not imagine.

Me:  God, this is good.

Him:  “Tooooooby…”

Daxtar dies as a result of being shot by Bret Vyon.  This leads to another confrontation as the Doctor harangues Bet Vyon for cutting off their one line to finding out who can actually be trusted.  

Animated Daleks have a quick chat about how the story’s going for anyone who’d forgotten about them.  

Back on the experimental base things happen all at once.  Sara Kingdom arrives, demands the taranium and is attacked by Bret Vyon.  He tells the Doctor and Steven to run while he buys them time.  Bret Vyon and Sara Kingdom confront each other briefly, before she kills him with shooting.  That’s two companions in one episode failing basic ‘Escape to Danger’.  Tch.  It’s a bloodbath.

Him:  Oh.

Suddenly, there’s movement!  Sara strides to the front of the frame and delivers a fantastic cliff-hanger line, that’s almost as good as ‘and there’s blood on it’, namely:

Sara:  The others must be killed as well.  They will be shot on sight – but aim for the head.

Me:  Blimey!

Him:  There’s not many left – don’t take them away.  What’s the one after The Massacre?

Me:  The Ark.

Him:  And after that?

Me:  The Celestial Toymaker.

Him:  Then The Gunfighters and then The

To be continued…

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