This edition presents the story in the original four parts. Meanwhile there are more than the usual number of name guest stars, including Rodney Bewes, Rula Lenska, and Lesley Grantham. The tale also marks Janet Fielding's final appearance as Tegan. In every respect this is a key adventure in the history of Doctor Who, even if the tense, incident-packed story is ultimately weighed down by too many elements to resolve them all satisfactorily. --Gary S. Dalkin
In 1984, a series of mysterious cylinders have been found in a London warehouse and are under investigation by Colonel Archer of the Bomb Disposal Squad. This was also the same scene where a pair of policemen gun down all but two of a group of escaping fugitives. The survivor, the cowardly and wounded Stien, meets the Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough, who have been dragged down to Earth by a time corridor.
In space, a group of commandos led by Lytton and some Daleks lead an attack on a space station holding Davros prisoner. It's not too difficult, as the low morale and a lackadaisical attitude observed by recently-arrived Lieutenant Mercer lead to nearly all the crew being killed.
The seeds for the Dalek schism that would plague both remaining Dalek stories are set here, as Davros, who has been freed to help the Daleks develop an antidote to a virus that led to their defeat in a war against their foes the Movellans (q.v. Destiny Of The Daleks), has decided to create some new Daleks obedient to him and not to the Supreme Dalek. He gains followers in his circle, including human troops, whom he conditions. Yet, he rants and raves throughout most of this story, and at times, his dialogue is unintelligible, maybe because of microphone troubles beneath the mask or it being drowned by the music.
Interesting effects in this story is a scary scene of someone's whose face is rotting away, and the way the Daleks succumb to the virus.
Maurice Colbourne (Lytton) and his two bodyguards would reappear in Attack of the Cybermen where they would be killed off. The character of Lytton, the ruthless and no-nonsense mercenary unafraid to tell the Daleks off, is one of the few interesting ones. Same with Stien, a cowardly, uncertain, and later on, divided personality, and Rodney Bewes does a good portrayal to that effect. All the other characters seem unimportant, as many are unnamed or unidentified until later episodes.
As this is Tegan's departure story, Janet Fielding has a good emotional leaving scene, where her character is sickened by the carnage that has taken place. Indeed, only three humanoid characters survive in this extremely high body count story.
This story has been compared to Earthshock, which was also written by Eric Saward and featured the Cybermen, and has been criticized for being all gloss and no substance. While the action sequences and regular characters are good, the lack of strong characters, and maybe too many characters who just fill up the story and get killed off.
Materializing on Earth, the Doctor discovers that one end of the time corridor is located in the warehouse and the other end is on the space cruiser which belongs to the Daleks and is being used in an attempt to free Davros so that he can work on an antidote to a virus which is killing them off. As the episode progresses the Doctor is horrified to find out that he has walked into a trap and that the Daleks intend to replicate him and his companions so that their doubles can travel to Galifrey and assassinate the High Council of the Timelords. A frantic battle for survival takes place with the surviving space station crew fighting for their lives while the Daleks and their evil replicant soldiers attempt to complete their dastardly plan. By the time the smoke clears only the Doctor and his companions are left alive with the exception of the leader of the Dalek's replicant troops who manages to slip quietly away with two of his men (later to return in Attack of the Cybermen). Disgusted by the slaughter, Tegan decides to leave the TARDIS and runs from the warehouse in tears...
As Dalek stories go, this is one of the best and considering the budget it comes across as an extremely enjoyable and polished piece of classic science fiction. The acting is excellent despite the use of certain actors in roles you would never expect to see them in (Rodney Bewes as Stien is particularly worthy of note as he was known as a comedy actor but managed to play the part of the Dalek double agent remarkably well). Also worth mentioning is the wonderful commentary track with Peter Davidson (Doctor), Janet Fielding (Tegan) and Mat Robinson (Director) who enjoy themselves throughout and give us a real insight into the making of the story. The ending where Tegan makes her tearful goodbyes lingers in the mind for long after the final credits have rolled...
In this DVD, some visual and audio fx are missing in part 4 where people are apparently shot by... Read more