In many aspects, The Dalek Invasion of Earth is the first, proper, Dalek story. It’s also the first, proper, modern Who story, after the success of Season One, Season Two continues with the modern-then-Dalek formula so popular at the show’s genesis.
Make no mistake that this is a new, different type of adventure. Despite the scale of Marco Polo and The Keys of Marinus, and the lushness of The Aztecs and The Reign of Terror, The Dalek Invasion of Earth has intent, a footprint, a gravitas never seen before on the programme. It allows our heroes to be heroes, and, settled into their ways, be the crusaders we now automatically think they are. This is the episode that cemented in the psyche the reflex that when the Doctor is here we’ll be ok, and when the Daleks see him, they know they are in trouble. THIS is the story when they become his arch enemies.
And in what style. The first invasion story gives us a fully blasted and broken Earth, and Terry Nation gives us a rich bouquet of characters who are as human as the Daleks are alien. And how. These Daleks are nasty and bonkers, they are audacious and arrogant and they are everything you know of the Daleks today.
A top class cast is directed with aplomb by Richard Martin, who allowed a sprawling and ambitious script to shine. The leads do what they do well, by now, and Hartnell has really found his Doctor. The only quibble is his leaving of Susan at the end, which could probably have been handled better and, with hindsight, makes very little sense, but it’s a small qualm in one of the ultimate Dalek stories of all time (along with two others, which we’ll get to, in time).
The Dalek Invasion of Earth is one of those stories you should sit a newbie down with when they ask “so, show me why you love Doctor Who”.
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