Issue: 35

Daleks Conquer & Destroy:
gaming with tinpot destroyers by Ashley Rachel Pollard (pt 2)

Daleks cannot be bargained with:
(flying saucers & other things)

 [Thumbnail image showing Miscellaneous Dalek hardware ]

We don't often get to see Dalek machinery; the BBC budget didn't run to it. For instance in Remembrance of the Daleks we were supposed to get to see a Dalek tank, instead we got the Special Weapons Dalek, a design so appallingly bad that I won't give it the time of day. Something best forgotten from an otherwise excellent Dalek story.

The first saucer appears in The Dalek Invasion of the Earth, wobbling its way over London. Next in Power of the Daleks we saw a conicular capsule like Dalek ship which if memory serves me right was larger on the inside. Actually this could just be a part of The Beeb's terrible continuity control. Difficult to confirm this as this is one of the 110 missing episodes of Doctor Who.

Death to the Daleks features a very crude saucer that even the budget conscious in house effects department should be ashamed of. However, in Planet of the Daleks we do see a slightly more sophisticated twin saucer design. Probably because this was a showcase story featuring the return of the tinpot monsters. Finally the TV series final Dalek ship appeared in Remembrance of the Daleks. We get to see glimpses of a deeply shadowed battlecruiser and assault shuttle with a geodesic like structure. It doesn't help even to watch its appearances in slo-mo either.

By far and away the flashiest Dalek saucer design was seen in the second Dalek film. A real stunning ship design, which for the time, added a credible gloss to an otherwise forgettable adaptation of the second TV story featuring the Daleks.

The TV 21 Dalek comic strip featured a classic saucer design that varied slightly from artist to artist in its exact configuration. A lot of other Dalek hardware is seen in the stories of which only the hoverbout gets a mention in the TV series (Planet...)

Daleks exterminate all who oppose them:
(Dalek stories in order of appearance)

The Daleks: The first Doctor helps the Thals to destroy the Daleks on Skaro. This was the now classic introduction to the Daleks and the story ending has created serious continuity problems ever since.

The Dalek Invasion of Earth: The first Doctor again manages to defeat the Daleks this time in 2164, where they have invaded the Earth. Their defeat does at least confine itself to the Dalek invasion force. We see in this story the use of Robomen by the Daleks that the Doctor uses against them in the end.

The Chase: Daleks chase the first Doctor in their own time machine that was referred to as the DARDIS. This is the first time we encounter Dalek time travel technology and unlike the usual time corridor methods they normally use we see a self-contained ship.

Mission to the Unknown: The Daleks create mischief on the planet Kembel. This was a production shortfall fill in episode that didn't feature any of the regular cast. It shows the decimation of a team sent from Earth to investigate Dalek activity. This episode has been lost apart from a short fragment.

The Daleks Masterplan: The first Doctor meets the Daleks again. This time he must prevent them from completing a time destructor. This story is set immediately after Mission... in the year 4000. Another story that suffered due to the BBC archive clear out. Only two episodes remain, which is doubly tragic, as this was a twelve-episode story whose plot swept across the galaxy.

Power of the Daleks: The first appearance of the second Doctor also saw the return of the Daleks. Set on the planet Vulcan in the year 2020, the Doctor prevents a group of Daleks from taking over the colony. Another lost story; just one clip of the Daleks about to invade the colony remain.

The Evil of the Daleks: The second Doctor lands in contemporary London only to be drawn back to the Victorian period by Dalek time corridor technology. This time he causes civil war on Skaro by creating a new Dalek faction that has emotions. It is suggested that all the Daleks are destroyed again on Skaro, which of course causes certain continuity problems. As before, this story has been all but lost except for one episode, which still exists.

Day of the Daleks: The third Doctor stops the Daleks from creating an alternative timeline in the year 2200. We see the use of Ogrons for the first time as Dalek underlings.

Planet of the Daleks: This story was preceded by Frontier in Space where the Master and the Daleks try to provoke a war between the Draconians and Earth. This was an attempt to hark back to the grandiose sweep of Masterplan... The third Doctor arrives on Spiradon and meets a Thal suicide squad who have discovered a Dalek presence on the planet. This turns out to be thousands of Daleks frozen in suspended animation. Fortunately, they remain in this state.

Death to the Daleks: The third Doctor's TARDIS is drawn to the planet Exxilon where a strange city drains the time machines power supply. An Earth mission is on the planet trying to get rare medical elements to cure a plague that is sweeping the Terran Empire. Daleks arrive to further complicate matters and interfere with the medical mission. The Daleks are destroyed and the medical supplies saved.

Genesis of the Daleks: The Time Lords of Gallifrey send the fourth Doctor to Skaro at the time of the war between the Thals and the Kaleds to prevent the Daleks from ever being created. This interference actually accelerates Dalek development, and for once the Daleks are only left in a slightly inconvenient state of being buried underground. Probably the best Dalek story ever.

Destiny of the Daleks: The Daleks return to Skaro to recover Davros. Presumed dead after Genesis..., but we are informed that his support chair protected him and put him into a state of suspended animation. The Daleks are in a war with the Movellans, which has turned into a stalemate. The Daleks want Davros to help them win the war. We are told that this story takes place at least six hundred years after Genesis... The Doctor prevents the Daleks from getting hold of Davros.

Resurrection of the Daleks: Davros has been put into suspended animation on a secret deep space base where for ninety years nothing happens until the Daleks find the location of the station. They are desperate to find their creator now as the Movellans have created a virus that kills Daleks. The fifth Doctor arrives on the scene and Davros again appears to die when the space station is destroyed.

Revelation of the Daleks: After his escape from the penal station, Davros has settled down to create a new Dalek race using the suspended bodies of the terminally ill. The sixth Doctor arrives on the planet but is unable to prevent Davros' capture by the Daleks who take him back to Skaro to be tried. Fortunately the army Davros had created is destroyed.

Remembrance of the Daleks: This ranks with Genesis... as being one of the all time great Dalek stories. In a homage to the origins of the series the story is set in sixties London. A Dalek task force is in orbit with the aim of controlling the Omega device. This is Time Lord instrument, which allows for the creation of Black Holes used to power time travel for Gallifrey. Davros has become the Emperor Dalek, but still faces some opposition from traditional Dalek forces that do not acknowledge his right to rule. The story ends with the destruction of Skaro and Davros making his escape.

Daleks are the supreme beings:
(trying to make sense of the timeline continuity)

I have seen over the years several attempts by the creators of Doctor Who and others to try and tie the disparate and often contradictory elements from the Dalek stories into one whole. None in my opinion work. Obviously the simple answer adopted by Terry Nation which boils down to ignoring the problems is one solution, however this is not an answer I like. Other interpretations bring in too many outside events to try and explain how the stories relate to each other.

I divide the Doctor Who canon of work into the gospel and the apocrypha. All the TV episodes are by definition gospel. They happen and we must reconcile the events as best we can without adding to the legend. Apocryphal material is everything that contradicts or attempts to create things that have no basis in the Who Canon. However, what about work, which was created by those, involved in the series, but which has appeared in another format.

By this I mean novelisations of the stories where often the TV scriptwriter is also the person novelising the story as a book. Often in this case the writer can include stuff that, because of costs, didn't make the screen. In addition several of the writers involved in the development of the Daleks have written for comics. I'm inclined again to include these stories where they do not contradict the TV series.

So is there a way of reconciling the stories to create a sensible timeline? Well I think so and it involves the use of an element in the Who universe which supported quite a few stories, and even appears as a device in the Day of the Daleks. Namely the existence of alternative timelines. Once one takes this concept on board then a rational timeline is quite easy to develop (summarised in the Timeline Chart).

Examination of the Dalek stories reveals a structure of sorts that I have broken down into four timelines. All the dates in the timelines refer to our Earth years and are either taken from the stories themselves, or they are an extrapolation from things said by the characters which allows us to work out a time when the story was set. For instance we know that the Daleks invade Earth about 2000 years after their creation. We also know that the Earth was invaded in 2164AD from the TV series. Other stories are set in the 25th and 26th centuries, where in the Doctor Who series, Earth is at the height of its power.

Timeline 1: On Skaro the Thal Kaled war has been going on for a 160 years. It results in the destruction of civilisation and the creation by Davros of the Daleks. Six hundred years after the war the Daleks have built a city and the Thal survivors have become radiation resistant and bred back to a pure humanoid form. The first Doctor arrives on Skaro and the events portrayed in The Daleks takes place. The Daleks are destroyed and never go on to menace the galaxy and life, as we know it.

Timeline 2: Everything develops as before except that the third Doctor is sent to Skaro to stop the development of the Daleks. The Time Lords have seen a time when they might completely dominate the universe. Unfortunately it is this very act which sends them out from Skaro after the destruction of the Kaled and Thal domed cities (after a slight interlude of being buried underground for a few centuries). The reason being that even though the Doctor's memories of Dalek defeats is erased, his very presence actually informs them that there are inferior beings waiting to be conquered in the universe.

From here we can then fit in some of the David Whitaker Dalek TV 21 stories which end with them about to invade Earth and of course this is The Dalek Invasion of Earth story.

After this we can fit in all the stories that feature Dalek time travel technology. Masterplan... features the use of a time destructor and I therefore assume it is at this point that the Daleks start to have time travel abilities. It is the use of their time travel technology that creates the third timeline as they try to alter time to their advantage.

Timeline 3: Since the Daleks now have time travel technology, with their quite frequent use of their time corridor device, I assume that this has created a new timeline. As usual the Doctor is again involved, this time in Destiny of the Daleks. This episode makes up a fairly closely inter-linked series of stories that starts with Genesis... and end with Remembrance..., and this can probably be taken as the point where the script writers were trying to come up with a cohesive Dalek continuity for the series.

I've placed Planet of the Daleks as taking place between Destiny... and Resurrection... This is a purely speculative placing, since it could almost take place anywhere after Power... It just so happens that the story mentions a plague that is sweeping the galaxy; the Daleks are supposed to be the cause. However, one could extrapolate that this is a mutation of the Movellan virus affecting all organic life forms. As an apocryphal confirmation of this as an idea I would like to point to the Terry Nation short story We are the Daleks which appeared in the Radio Times 10th Anniversary Special. Also of course is the plot where Davros starts to create a new Dalek army from the remains of dead humans as portrayed in Revelation...

However, the Third Doctor does mention that the Daleks having taken 600 years to come back for Davros, which would put the Destiny... at a time when Earth was still in the Dark Ages. We can consider this to be an error on the Doctors part since he could have been confusing himself with the memory that it took 600 years for Daleks to create the original city where he encountered them in his first incarnation. Certainly in Genesis... the Fourth Doctor does make the point that trapping the Daleks in their underground bunker will delay their expansion by several thousand years onto an unsuspecting galaxy. So my feeling is that the order I've given for this timeline works without causing too many anomalies.

Timeline three also goes a long way to explaining the story Power... time anomaly since we are told it's set in the year 2020 on the planet Vulcan, an Earth colony. Obviously for such an event to occur an extreme imbalance in the timelines must have been created to make such a set of events possible.

Timeline 4: I see this as a small closed timeloop, because no stories featuring the Daleks have expanded this plot thread (so far). The story has Davros going back in time to get the hand of Omega, which the Doctor had left on Earth in 1963. We also see the rebel Dalek faction opposing the Imperial Daleks of Davros. From this we can safely make the assumption the Davros got away from his trial on Skaro which took place at the end of Revelation...

We can also assume it's a loop because it ends with the destruction of Skaro, which is inferred in Evil..., a timeline 3 story, thereby linking two different destruction of the Dalek endings in one neat mutual point. I could also point out that Evil... featured the immobile Emperor Dalek that is obliquely mentioned by Davros in Remembrance...

Timeline Chart:

YearTimeline 1:
160Thal versus Kaled war
760The Daleks
YearTimeline 2:
160Thal versus Kaled war
Genesis of the Daleks (creation of second timeline by the Doctor)
TV 21 Stories
2164The Dalek Invasion of Earth
Death to the Daleks
4000Mission to the Unknown
The Daleks Masterplan
The Chase (Daleks acquire time travel technology and create third timeline)
YearTimeline 3:
160Thal versus Kaled war
Genesis of the Daleks (creation of second timeline by the Doctor)
Power of the Daleks
Destiny of the Daleks
Planet of the Daleks
Resurrection of the Daleks
Revelation of the Daleks (Davros taken to Skaro by Daleks for trial)
The Evil of the Daleks (Skaro Daleks are destroyed by revolution)
YearTimeline 4:
160Thal versus Kaled war
Genesis of the Daleks (creation of second timeline by the Doctor)
Remembrance of the Daleks (Davros travels back to get the Hand of Omega and creates fourth timeline. This story ends with the Dalek sun going Super Nova, thereby destroying Skaro)

Just remember though: Daleks are such boring conversationalists...

See also: