My previous two posts feel a little harsher than I intended them. I wouldn’t say that “The Evil of the Daleks” is at all bad, but it is really slow and while certain discoveries or recreations from the Troughton years have more than exceeded expectations – such as “The Faceless Ones” and “The Enemy of the World” – this one is good, but it’s not the masterpiece that legend claims. Although, happily, this is among those very rare Who serials that gets better as it goes along. The first four parts are pretty good. The last three are very entertaining.
Our son mostly agrees with my thoughts on its pace, although he liked this far more than any of the other animations they have released recently. Part five ends with three newly-born Daleks, having received a “whatever, Dr. Science” injection of “the human factor,” curious and excited and rolling around like happy toddlers, and the kid just fell apart laughing. These carefree and fun Daleks continue to amuse throughout the story’s concluding parts, leading to my favorite bit in the whole shebang. One of the mean Daleks gets sick of this bunch having infected dozens of others into questioning authority and talking back. The mean Dalek exterminates one of a noisy pair. His friend slowly extends its sink plunger to sadly touch the dead shell, quietly disbelieving that his talkative buddy is gone.
I sometimes wonder about the pipe dream American Dalek TV series that Terry Nation had hoped would start production soon after this and get his merchandising money flowing again. Nation had hoped that some studio could land a deal with a network, and then sell a bigger-budgeted film series back to the UK, with a dashing hero or two trying to save the world of the future from a pending Dalek invasion, with treachery and danger at each new planet on the way back to Earth. Boomers have always had a lot of affection from even the shortest-lived American adventure series of the 1960s – Honey West or Land of the Giants or The Green Hornet – in part because even though most of these shows didn’t last long by the standards of the day, they were merchandised like crazy and made it to the full 26 episodes, whereas later generations would see their flash-in-the-pan flops over and done within a month or two, before word of mouth could get around.
I kind of see The Daleks! (or whatever it would have been called) as something like that, something that Irwin Allen fans or nostalgists who remember The Invaders fondly would have kept alive through tape trading until Nick at Nite or TV Land or meTV resurrected them. It’s good that “Evil” was not indeed “the final end” as it was intended, and everybody’s glad the Daleks returned five years later, but I’d still like to see what could’ve been.