The Doctor (Tom Baker) encounters the Daleks, once again, but in a completely new way, in this landmark, six-part story written by Terry Nation that aired from 8 March to 12 April, 1975.
When the transmat beam from Earth back to the Ark is intercepted, the Doctor, Sarah (Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry (Ian Marter) find themselves on Skaro, The Time Lords have a specific mission for the Doctor. Stop the creation of the Daleks, or, failing that find away to stop them from being such a threat to the universe.
Armed with a ‘time-ring’ that will return them to the TARDIS when their mission is complete, they set out, discovering that Skaro is a war zone with the Thals at war with the Kaleds, and a number of mutants caught in the middle.
It’s rather easy to tell that the Kaleds are meant to be seen as sort of the villains of the piece, there are Nazi overtones to both their uniforms and salutes, but even amongst them, there are good souls, and a number of them help a captured Doctor and Harry escape with a list of names to help.
But we also see the introduction of one of the leading minds, and commanders of the Kaled forces, Davros (Michael Wisher). It seems the genius, confined to a motorized wheelchair and life support system, and strange third eye has created a machine, and tampered with the evolution of the Kaled form, ‘perfecting’ them in a combined form he refers to as a Dalek.
As Sarah, captured by the Thals, is forced to work on a super-weapon that will penetrate the Kaled’s protective surface dome, the Doctor and Harry, try to figure out what to do, with help from Kaled scientists and the ruling party.
But it seems world destruction is looming as the super-weapon is readied for launch and the Dalek factories are churning out more and more of the creatures. There is lots going on, and as the story progresses, it seems that everything about the last stages of the war, including the decimation of both sides has been designed by Davros, to make the Daleks the dominant species on the planet.
Through the course of the story, the Doctor confronts Davros a couple of times, once, with his friends’ lives hanging in the balance, reveals future history of the Daleks, something Davros wants to learn so that he can prepare his Daleks, and change the outcome of a number of engagements. But the Doctor eventually recovers the recorded information from the interrogation, and is left with the question of whether or not he has the right to effect a genocide upon the Daleks. Would he be any better than they? And does he have the right to do such a thing?
This was a great story, and a unique Dalek tale as well. A high-point not only of for the season, but for the Doctor and the series as well.
Nest week, the Doctor confronts another old enemy in the final story of the season… Revenge of the Cybermen!