“The Chase” is the eighth episode of the second season of Doctor Who (the 16th over all). It features William Hartnell as the Doctor, and is the final episode for Jacqueline Hill and William Russell as Barbara and Ian. It also introduces Peter Purves as the Doctor’s new companion.
The end of “The Space Museum” sets up the premise for this story. Due to their previous encounters, the Daleks have deemed the travelers enemies. They have constructed a time machine for the purpose for tracking down the TARDIS and “exterminating” the time travelers. The episode consists of a chase through space and time.
The story begins with the Doctor fixing the time-space visualizer, which he explains is like “time television.” Each member of the group enjoys choosing an important event to watch on their new television. However, they soon land on a desert planet, with no signs of life in sight. Ian and Vicki go off to explore, while the Doctor and Barbara stay with the TARDIS and sunbathe. Ian and Vicki begin following a trail (of what looks like it could be blood), which leads them to a trap door in the ground. They enter it, but are soon trapped inside with a strange tentacled creature.
However, the time-space visualizer has not been turned off and Barbara and the Doctor witness the Daleks setting their plan to destroy the TARDIS and exterminate the travelers into motion. The visualizer only shows past events, so they know that the Daleks are on their way to find them on the planet Aridius, but they have no way of alerting Ian and Vicki to return to the TARDIS. They try to find them, but it soon gets dark and a sandstorm strikes, leaving them completely lost. When morning comes, they awake to find that the Daleks have arrived.
There are many locations in this story. The first two episodes take place on Aridius, where the travelers learn that the desert where they find themselves used to be an ocean. They meet the fish-like Aridians, who are losing their city to the tentacled mire beasts. The Aridians almost hand them over to the Daleks, but a mire beast attack provides the travelers with a chance to escape.
The next episode sees the chase begin. The travelers have only a few minutes of a lead on the Daleks, and are looking for a place where they can stop and fight. However, they materialize first on the Empire State Building, then on the Marie Celeste, so they keep on going with the Daleks getting closer each time. Really, I could have done without 3 episode altogether. It doesn’t move the plot forward, nor did I find it that engaging.
Episode four begins with the travelers finding themselves in a mysterious house, later determined to be a “futuristic attraction from the Festival of Ghana (all the way in 1996!). This segment was more interesting to me than the previous experiences, but I was a bit confused about what the creatures in the house actually were that the Daleks could not destroy them. I did, however, enjoy the evil robot Doctor that was created at the end of this episode. I thought that was a clever idea.
As for the rest of the story, which takes place on Mechanus, I was a bit disappointed. The battle between the Mechanoids and the Daleks was a bit anticlimactic since the travelers were going to escape either way, so there was really nothing at stake.
I did enjoy the ending of the episode. I was sad to see Barbara and Ian go, but I felt they got a good send off. The scenes that Vicki and the Doctor watch on the time-space visualizer showed how happy they were to return home, and I thought that the Doctor’s speech about how he would miss them was a nice touch. It gave the two a happy ending to their adventures with the Doctor, while still acknowledging their importance to the series.
Overall, I was disappointed in “The Chase.” I felt that this episode suffered from too much filler in the story, the way that most of the early Dalek episodes do. It takes more than just a Dalek on the screen to create an engaging story. I also felt that some of the ridiculous ways that Daleks a defeated make them a bit more comical and less scary. For example, a Dalek falls overboard, off of the Marie Celeste, plus the Doctor and Ian trick one into falling into the pit on Aridius. It just made them seem like less formidable opponents. Still, I did feel that Ian and Barbara’s departure was done well, I just didn’t feel the concept of the Daleks chasing the Doctor throughout time and space was developed as well as it could have been.