Say Something Nice – Doctor Who: The Daleks’ Masterplan

In an effort to find something quick that can be written as part of Daily Doctor Who, we are continuing with Say Something Nice, where I look back at each of the Doctor Who stories and pull out one or two cool things about it.

(Daily Doctor Who #155)

Read the previous entry here. Today, we continue with the third season’s opening fourth story…

The Daleks’ Masterplan

The regular cast for this serial is a bit confusing. Certainly, it includes William Hartnell as the Doctor and Peter Purves as Steven Taylor. It starts with Adrienne Hill as Katarina as well (she having been introduced in the last episode of the previous story) but she only made it through the first four episodes of this serial before she blew herself out of an airlock. That same episode introduced Jean Marsh as Sara Kingdom, who served as a companoin for the rest of the serial, and is often treated as a regular character, even though she also died at the end of the story.

The serial is written by Terry Nation (episodes 1-5 & 7) and Dennis Spooner (episodes 6 & 8-12). Directed by Douglas Camfield.

Individual episodes are called The Nightmare Begins, Day of Armageddon, Devil’s Planet, The Traitors, Counter Plot, Coronas of the Sun, The Feast of Steven, Volcano, Golden Death, Escape Switch, The Abandoned Planet, and The Destruction of Time.

Say Something Nice…

(Named for Missy–aka the Master–and her catchphrase from her first full appearance in Dark Water).

The Daleks’ Masterplan is a legitimate epic–the longest cohesive story that Doctor Who ever told on TV. If you count Mission to the Unknown, you could say it’s 13 parts. But then if you omit the Christmas episode The Feast of Steven then it drops back to 12.

In addition to its length, the adventure features some pretty major concepts worthy of its “epic” status. The titular masterplan includes a weapon which ultimately lays waste to an entire planet by aging it rapidly. The story also includes the deaths of two of the Doctor’s (arguably regular) traveling companions, the first repeat appearance by a non-regular character (the Monk) and also some pretty big hints that the Doctor is very much not human, which is not something that had been strongly explored to that point.

But because we’re equal-opportunity fans here, we’re not going to only be sycophantically complimentary.

You craven-hearted spineless poltroon!

(Another cry from the Master, but not exactly a catch-phrase, this time from The Deadly Assassin)

The story also introduces (at least, on TV) the unfortunate trope of having the Daleks find some indigenous collaborators who think they can use them to their own ends–still fresh here, but quickly stale as the years wear on. The story also takes some odd swerves in the middle, with the Doctor and his friends accidentally being teleported to a planet of invisible aliens, which sounds like a cheap way to keep the story moving, both from a script and production point of view.

Catch you next time!

4 thoughts on “Say Something Nice – Doctor Who: The Daleks’ Masterplan

  1. I would love to see this strip recovered in its entirety, not that I’m betting money on that.
    According to some sources, Sara Kingdom was considered as an ongoing companion but Marsh wasn’t down with it so they eliminated her heroically.

  2. Jean Marsh was great as Sara Kingdom. She was also great as Joanna in The Crusade and as Morgaine in Battlefield.

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