Thoughts on The Wheel in Space

“The Wheel in Space” is a decent episode; it’s not great, but it’s not terrible either.  There’s quite a few things wrong with it, but it does a few things perfectly.   It was written by David Whitaker, who wrote some great episodes for both Hartnell and Troughton (and one for Pertwee, but we’re not there yet).  This, however, is Whitaker’s only story featuring the Cybermen (he adapted it from a story by their creator, Kit Pedler), and it’s not one of his best efforts.  Considering that Whitaker wrote two of my favorite Troughton stories, “The Power of the Daleks” and “The Enemy of the World” perhaps I was hoping for too much.

Zoe is hard at work as some Cybermen dance behind her...okay, that's really their menacing pose.

Zoe is hard at work as some Cybermen dance behind her…well, at least that’s what it looks like to me..

After the Doctor and Jamie say goodbye to Victoria, the TARDIS materializes on a rocket drifting through space.  The TARDIS’s fluid link is malfunctioning, and vaporizing mercury forces them to leave the TARDIS; the Doctor grabs a small rod, the vector generator, on his way out.  Much like in “The Daleks” the TARDIS need mercury before she can continue on her way.

Jamie and the Doctor carry the entire first episode, as it is just them and a non-speaking robot.  They do not interact with the crew of the wheel until they are rescued from the rocket in the second episode.  Well, the Doctor doesn’t interact with them in episode 2, since Patrick Troughton was on vacation, but Jamie does.  The commander of the wheel is Jarvis, a man who seems incredibly ill-suited to running a space station.  He can’t accept that there are unknown elements to life, things that might require him to go beyond his training.  He is exactly the wrong kind of man to run a space station, especially one that is part of an elaborate plan by the Cybermen to take over the earth and exploit its mineral wealth.  One of the most interesting parts of the story was watching how he slipped further and further into denial as the evidence for a Cyberman attack mounted.  He even seized on the idea of Jamie and the Doctor being saboteurs/terrorists early in the story since that was the only possibility he could understand; I wished more had been made of the storyline of Jamie essentially becoming a saboteur to stop the wheel crew from destroying the TARDIS.  Of course the story had to move on to focus on the Cybermen and their evil plot…

The story starts out well.  I enjoy the chemistry between the Doctor and Jamie, so I didn’t mind the first episode containing just the two of them, and it ends with a nice cliffhanger as the wheel crew are about to blow up the rocket.  The rest of the story basically held my interest, but it did drag on a bit too long for me; there was a lot of padding in the story that slowed it down.

The main reason that I felt the story was slow-moving was that I didn’t really care about the people on the wheel.  It felt like each crew member was assigned a trait or two and that was it.  Basically, until I learned their names this is how I thought of them: there was condescending, chauvinistic guy (Leo), alert but ignored Russian woman (Tanya), woman who clearly should be in charge of the wheel (Gemma), plant-loving guy (Bill), and feisty Irish guy (Flannigan).  Their characters weren’t developed beyond that.  I know this is true of other stories as well, but a good episode at least introduces some interesting dynamics or conflicts between the supporting cast.  Except for Jarvis’ mental collapse, there wasn’t much going on with the crew besides simply doing their jobs.  This was disappointing since Whitaker had done a great job at keeping the supporting cast interesting in stories like “The Crusades,” “The Power [and ‘The Evil’] of the Daleks,” and “The Enemy of the World.”

My biggest problem with an individual chaacter was with the character of Leo.  He was so chauvinistic and condescending that I kept hoping he would get killed by the Cybermen.  When the women were against blowing up the rocket FOR NO GOOD REASON, without making sure there was no one on board, he basically said they were being a stick-in-the-mud.  When Tanya cautioned him, he said, “if you get scared, I’ll let you hold my hand.”  How condescending is that?  And did his attitude towards them change when they were proved right time and time again? No.  I know “The Wheel in Space” was written in the 1960’s, but come on.

Leo probably making some condescending, sexist comment to Tanya.

Leo probably making some condescending, sexist comment to Tanya.

Of course Leo was not the only character having problems with women in this episode.  Jamie begins the story missing Victoria and spends the rest of it sparring with Zoe.  I did like the touch of having Jamie mention Victoria several times in the first episode, since they were very close.  He and Zoe, however, get off on the wrong foot when Zoe basically says that he is wearing female clothing.  He then threatens to spank her (really, Jamie, you should know better by now) and they spend the rest of the story trying to one-up the other.

Of course, Zoe’s introduction as a companion is what makes this episode notable and is the best thing about it.  I have to admit that watching this episode gave me a great deal more insight into and appreciation of Zoe’s character.  It was easy to see why she ended up trying to sneak aboard the Doctor’s TARDIS.  She is a “librarian” on the wheel.  She is a parapsychologist and essentially seems to be used as a walking computer; she provides information and does difficult calculations in her head.  She never seems to interact with the others in a human way.  Leo even calls her a robot and says she’s “all brain and no heart.”  After getting into a debate with the Doctor about pure logic being the best solution for everything (the Doctor argues for common sense and says, “logic merely enables one to be wrong with authority”), she begins to question her role on the wheel.  Her training has tried to eliminate emotional reactions, but Zoe realizes that she wants to experience emotions as well.  All this provides her with a clear motivation for wanting new experiences with the Doctor and Jamie.

What I haven’t spent much time on is the actual plot.  As usual, the plan of the Cybermen is rather convoluted.  Their speech was also still a bit difficult to understand; there were a few times I had to play a scene multiple times and I’m still not sure I understood everything that the cybermen said.

As far as I could tell, their plan was to use the rocket to get near the wheel and send the cybermats aboard (I have to admit that I’m not entirely sure how they got on the ship, but I’m not going to dwell on that).  The cybermats would then corrode the Bernalium needed to run the x-ray laser.  The cybermen had also managed to make a star go nova, ensuring that the wheel crew would need to use the laser to protect themselves from meteors; therefore, they would have to send crew members to the rocket to look for extra Bernalium.  This allowed the cybermen to control the mind of the men and sneak aboard in the box containing the Bernalium.  Once they were on board, they disabled the transmitting portion of the radio and let the crew protect the wheel from the meteors using the laser. After this they were going to kill the crew and use the radio signal transmitted to the wheel from earth to enter earth’s atmosphere and invade the planet.

It was nice of the Cybermen to politely wait for an invitation to enter the room and kill the Doctor.

It was nice of the Cybermen to politely wait for an invitation to enter the room and kill the Doctor.

Overall, however, “The Wheel in Space” is not a bad episode.  As I mentioned, it does a good job of introducing the viewer to Zoe, which is its main purpose.  My main complaint would be that Troughton’s Doctor just felt a bit off for me in this one.   Perhaps if I could actually see more of the episodes I would feel differently, but he just felt rather subdued in this one.  At times, I saw shades of the first Doctor in him; he seemed to spend most of the episode sitting on the sidelines, out of the main action.  I also wasn’t thrilled with how callously he seemed to send Jamie out into space to return to the rocket.  For all the people complaining about Capaldi’s Doctor’s unfeeling nature, all the Doctors have always been willing to make sacrifices.  The Doctor here states that it is worth risking the lives of Jamie and Zoe to save the lives of many.  In this case, unfortunately, the scene plays as if the Doctor is avoiding going himself which doesn’t match with the second Doctor’s personality.  The story felt a bit like it was leftover from Hartnell’s time on the show, which doesn’t make it a bad episode, just a poor fit for the Troughton era.

A Rediscovered Gem: The Enemy of the World

I had always hoped that another random episode or two of Doctor Who might be discovered, but the return of a full story…that seemed incredibly improbable.  However, fans can now watch “The Enemy of the World” in its entirety, one of only two completely intact stories from Troughton’s first two seasons.  I was very excited by the news of its return, but I wondered if the story would live up to the hype.  However, the story more than lived up to my expectations for it.   “The Enemy of the World” stands as one of my favorite stories.  This story which features companions Jamie and Victoria, as well as Troughton in a double role, is a clever well-paced story that keeps you guessing until the end.

It's a Troughton face off!

It’s a Troughton face off!

“The Enemy of the World” is an unusual story.  It’s set on Earth in 2018 and contains no alien threat.  Nestled in the heart of what is known as “the monster season,” this story contains no monsters (unless you count Salamander, the man who is trying to become dictator of the world, as one).  It is also the only story of the season that is not a version of the “base under siege” plot.

After a light-hearted opening involving the Doctor going swimming (and who wouldn’t believe that, underneath his clothes, Troughton’s Doctor is always prepared to take a dip?), some men attack the Doctor and his companions.  Fortunately, a woman named Astrid arrives just in time to save them.  She also enlightens them as to why they were attacked; it’s because of the Doctor’s striking similarity to a man named Salamander. It seems that there has been a spate of natural disasters in the world.  Salamander is a scientist and philanthropist, and has been helping the world cope by using his scientific knowledge to bring food production back to areas that were struck by disaster. His aid has given him a great deal of power, and there are some who believe that he hopes to become the dictator of the world.

Salamander, or maybe the Doctor posing as Salamander...

Salamander, or maybe the Doctor posing as Salamander…

Astrid and her commander, Giles Kent (who was deputy security adviser before Salamander discredited him), want the Doctor to impersonate Salamander.  They believe that Salamander is an evil man who must be stopped.  The Doctor does not want to get involved, since he does not feel that Astrid and Giles have enough proof that Salamander is a truly evil man. However, before the Doctor can refuse, events are set in motion that result in him getting drawn into a world of intrigue and danger.  Can he stop Salamander from taking over the world? And should he even try?

Overall, this story was excellent.  The story has great pacing and, even though it is six episodes long, the events never feel like filler; each episode added more to the story instead of just maintaining some kind of stasis to fill time.  The first episode introduces the idea that the Doctor and Salamander look almost identical, in the second we meet Salamander and enter his world (leaving us with little doubt that he is an evil man), and the third focuses on the attempt to provide the Doctor with proof of Salamander’s evilness.  Then, just when you are getting settled with the political intrigue, episode 4 brings the introduction of the underground base that Salamander is using to creating the natural disasters.  New mysteries and conflicts are added at every point so that when one is resolved, another stems from that resolution.  This keeps the story suspenseful until its final moments.

The ending is also quite unique (major spoilers ahead).  Unlike many episodes, where you have some idea how the story is going to wrap up, this story kept me guessing.  A weakness in the ending is that it doesn’t offer much resolution for the people who have been living in the bunker for the past five years, but there’s still so much going on in the final episode there’s not much time to dwell on it.  The revelation that Giles knew all about Salamander’s plan and was, in fact, trying to have him killed so that he could take his place, caught me by surprise.  The fact that the story as a whole ended on a cliffhanger was also an interesting touch.

Fariah and Astrid

Fariah and Astrid

Along with the strong plot, the characters are engaging.  Giles Kent and Donald Bruce make for interesting characters,  as our feelings about each one shift throughout the story.  For me, the story is especially notable for its female characters.  Mary Peach does a great job as Astrid.  While Victoria, once again, has little to do, Astrid is, in many ways, the action hero of the story.  She rescues the Doctor and his companions in her helicopter, overpowers guards, and is generally the active one in this story.  Plus, she’s not the only interesting female character, which is a bit unusual for the series.  Fariah, the woman who Salamander forces to work as his food taster is another interesting character.  What makes her even more unusual is that she is the first black, female character that I remember seeing in the series to this point. We don’t know what material Salamander was using to blackmail Fariah, but her story is an interesting one.  I wish we could have seen more of her, rather than seeing her killed off halfway through.

Of course with all focus on the new characters, the companions once again have a limited role.  Jamie and Victoria play a role in the story until episode 3, but they’re not in episode 4 at all and make limited appearances in the final two episodes. However. in most of their scenes they are together which is a vast improvement on “The Ice Warriors,” since we get to see their chemistry together.  They’re even in matching outfits, as Victoria’s skirt is almost identical to Jamie’s kilt.  While on a panel at Gally, Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling said that they tried to play scenes as if Victoria and Jamie were more than just friends, and that subtext does appear to exist throughout this story.  From the way Victoria clings to Jamie in the helicopter to Jamie’s withstanding of Benik’s torture for about 5 seconds (until he pulls Victoria’s hair) they do seem very…close.

Jamie and Victoria in the helicopter.  Doesn't this look like something more than friendship?

Jamie and Victoria in the helicopter. Doesn’t this look like something more than friendship?

Of course I haven’t touched on the most important character introduced in this story, Salamander.  The relative absence of the companions isn’t felt too strongly since this episode really is a showcase for Patrick Troughton.  He does an excellent job of distinguishing the Doctor and Salamander. Physically, Salamander is just the Doctor with a slightly swarthy complexion and a different part in his hair (and with a slightly questionable Mexican accent), but Troughton makes him feel like a completely different character.  He lacks the Doctor’s mannerisms and trademark facial expressions.  There are also some clear parallels drawn between Salamander and Napoleon, especially in his wardrobe.  It’s clear that Troughton relished the chance to play the antagonist for once, and his Salamander is a cold, calculating, and evil man. It’s a nice contrast to the Doctor in this episode, since his desire for nonviolence and proof before taking action is set up in stark contrast to the ruthless Salamander’s unquenchable desire for power.

Overall, “The Enemy of the World” is quite enjoyable.  David Whitaker wrote the story, and he is one of my favorite writers for classic Who.  His scripts generally focus more on the people and their motivations than some of the other writers and his script for “The Enemy of the World” might be his best.  It is filled with memorable characters and interesting plot twists.  Add to that script some great casting and performances, and you’ve got something special.  Even without all the other factors, Troughton’s performance alone would make this story stand out.  After all, two Troughtons are better than one.

A Temporary Goodbye: The Evil of the Daleks

Imagine what Doctor Who would look like if “The Evil of the Daleks” had been the Daleks’ swan song.  Terry Nation was hoping to sell the idea of a Dalek television show to U.S. broadcasters, and, if he had been successful, “The Evil of the Daleks” would have been the final appearance of the Doctor’s most iconic enemy.  Of course, audiences today know that this was not the case, and the Daleks would return to the program five seasons later to face Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, but if this had truly been the final story for the Daleks, they would have gone out with a bang.  This story was written by David Whitaker, and he knew how to use the Daleks well.  He wrote both of Troughton’s encounters with them, and created two of the best Dalek stories in Doctor Who history.

The Doctor watches as Maxtible speaks to Victoria's father, Edward Waterfield.

The Doctor watches as Maxtible speaks to Victoria’s father, Edward Waterfield.

The epic story of “The Evil of the Daleks” starts in 1966 London where the previous story, “The Faceless Ones,” left off.  The Doctor and Jamie, having just said goodbye to Polly and Ben, set off to find their missing TARDIS.  They finally track it to the shop of an antique dealer, Edward Waterfield, whose antiques, while authentic, look a bit too new.  Unwittingly, they walk into a trap and find themselves 100 years in the past.

It turns out that the Daleks have kidnapped Waterfield’s daughter, Victoria, and forced him to trap the travelers, since they need the Doctor’s help.  The Daleks have decided to improve their race.  Since humans have always been able to defeat the Daleks, they want the Doctor to isolate the “human factor” for them; they will then implant it into the Daleks to make them impossible to defeat. They have taken over the house of a wealthy scientist, Maxtible, and have everything prepared for the Doctor to conduct his experiment for them.   They force Jamie to complete a risky test (which involves attempting to rescue the captive Victoria) to provide the imprint of the “human factor” to be used in three test Daleks.  Is the Doctor actually collaborating with the Daleks, as Jamie worries? Of course not, but the story does take some interesting turns after the test, all leading up to the Doctor’s first return trip to Skaro for the big finale.

This story has a great structure and premise.  Even at seven episodes long, it never drags.  The story builds slowly, with the Daleks hardly involved in the early episodes.  There is a great mysterious air in the beginning, even though the title betrays who the real enemies are to the viewer.  The first few episodes introduce many characters, almost of whom could be the main human antagonist.  As characters are gradually left behind or killed off, it becomes clear that the man in control (or, at least, the man who thinks he’s in control) is not Waterfield, but Maxtible.  Once the viewer learns just what is going on, the action really picks up.  I actually wouldn’t have minded a bit more time on Skaro at the end, since the ending feels like it has to happen a bit quickly, but I really can’t complain.

The Emperor Dalek on Skaro

The Emperor Dalek on Skaro

Once the Dalek plan is revealed, Whitaker uses them in a way that really shows off how clever they are.  This is the first appearance of the Emperor Dalek, who shows cleverness that rivals the Doctor’s.  The idea that he has tricked the Doctor into isolating the “Dalek factor” when the Doctor thought that they were looking for the “human factor” was a nice twist.  It was also curious that the main difference between the Dalek and human factors was that Daleks are unfailingly obedient, while humans question.  It was an interesting choice to see this as the fundamental difference between the two species, as opposed to the Daleks lack of compassion or friendship.  I wish that this idea could have been explored a bit more, but that would have taken the children’s show into deeper philosophical issues than its audience would have wanted.

As in “The Power of the Daleks,” a lot of the strength of the story come from the human characters that the Doctor must deal with.  While I found some of them to be a bit underdeveloped and, perhaps, unnecessary (I’m thinking of Ruth and Terrall), on the whole they were engaging.  Again, as in “The Power of the Daleks” (although slightly less effectively in my opinion) Whitaker keeps the story moving with conflicts between the humans.  There is a great deal of intrigue surrounding Waterfield’s antique store, and, once the action shifts to 1866, there is the mysterious plot of Maxtible, Terrall, and the Daleks.   Maxtible’s collaboration with the Daleks is nicely explained by his greed; the Daleks have promised to provided him with the ability sought by many alchemists: the ability to turn other metals into gold.  I also really enjoyed the character of Kemel.  While the character is an example of the 60’s racism that, unfortunately, was present on the show, the character of Kemel gets more development that Toberman from “Tomb of the Cybermen.”  Sonny Caldinez, more famous for his roles as Ice Warriors, made what could have been a very one note character come alive.  He added a bit of humor to episode, and I enjoyed Kemel’s partnership with Jamie.  I almost would have preferred it if he had joined the TARDIS team, rather than Victoria.

Jamie attempts to protect Victoria from her Dalek captor

Jamie attempts to protect Victoria from her Dalek captor

Which, of course, leads me to Victoria.  She is, perhaps, one of the dullest characters in the story, but this is not the fault of Deborah Watling.  Victoria is not given much to do in this story except be the damsel in distress.  The producers originally hoped that character of Samantha from “The Faceless Ones” would become the new companion (but Pauline Collins turned the opportunity down), and she received a better introduction.  She showed spirit and determination in that story (as well as a stubborn streak), while Victoria is basically left to show fear and a bit of kindness in her first appearance.  Since her father died saving the life of the Doctor, he feels that he must take care of the newly orphaned Victoria, leading to her addition to the cast as the new companion.

As for Jamie and the Doctor, they continue to show great chemistry in their first adventure without Polly and Ben.  The Doctor continues to be clever and always hiding something up his sleeve.  His recorder makes its first appearance in several stories, but his love of hats is still a thing of the past.  Jamie once again proves himself to be brave and heroic, but there is an interesting wrinkle in this story.  To get Jamie to demonstrate the “human factor” the Doctor must manipulate Jamie into saving Victoria.  This actually requires testing Jamie’s loyalty to the Doctor.  Although his faith is quickly restored, it was interesting to see Jamie question his usually unwavering loyalty. This is also the first time that I remember hearing Jamie utter his trademark line, “Would you look at the size of that one, Doctor!”

Jamie and Kemel work together to rescue the captive Victoria

Jamie and Kemel work together to rescue the captive Victoria

Overall, “The Evil of the Daleks” deserves its reputation as a lost classic.  It’s a strong story that contains enough twists to keep the audience guessing for its seven episodes.  Since I am writing this on a day when the BBC has announced that 9 previously lost Troughton episodes were returned to the archives, I must admit that “The Evil of the Daleks” would be high on my wish list of stories I would like to see recovered.  On a more trivial note, I would love to see the recovery of episodes five and six, so that I could see the Doctor’s Dalek friends, Alpha, Beta, and Omega playing trains and roundabouts with him.  David Whitaker was able to pull off a feat that no writer has really been able to pull off since: he managed to make some Daleks comical without making the entire species into a joke.  Who could turn down the opportunity to see playful, childlike Daleks? Definitely not me!

Entering the Troughton Era: The Power of the Daleks

The era of the “renewed” Doctor (the term regeneration was not yet in use) begins with a bang.  Patrick Troughton’s first adventure as the Doctor, “The Power of the Daleks,” is better than any Hartnell era Dalek story.  With the challenge of introducing a new lead actor to the audience, the show fell on the Doctor’s oldest and most familiar adversary, the Daleks, to help the audience with the transition.

power8

After the Doctor regenerates, greatly confusing Polly and Ben, he dematerializes the TARDIS.  They find themselves in an earth colony on the planet Vulcan (a name that was developed at the same time as, yet independently of, Star Trek) where an examiner from Earth has just been murdered.  The Doctor stumbles upon the scene, and has the dead man’s credentials in his hand when he is attacked and knocked unconscious.  When he comes to, he realizes that he can pass for the examiner and chooses to do so for the time being.

As he investigates at the colony, he soon discovers that the colony’s problems are twofold.  On the one hand, a group of rebels are plotting to overthrow the governor.  They are led by the power-hungry head of security Bragen and the scientist Janley.  The main threat to the colony, however, comes from the mysterious capsule that has been found in the mercury swamps.  Lesterson, who seems to be the chief scientist, and Janley have been studying it.  They open the capsule to find three dormant Daleks inside.

Lesterson cannot destroy the creatures as the Doctor orders, and works to find a way to reanimate them.  He believes that they are controllable and will be useful to the colony.  The Daleks, who still need assistance to regain their power, play along at being the servants of the humans.  Of course, things do not go as planned with the Dalek “servants,” and the two story lines become intertwined as the story progresses.

The Troughton era definitely opens up with a strong episode.  Even at 6 episodes long, “The Power of the Daleks” never drags.  It is peopled with interesting characters, who all have different motives for wanting the Daleks to be “repaired.” The machinations of the different groups keeps you guessing as to what will happen next.  There are enough secret plots to keep you guessing at just who is going to come out on top.

many daleks

What makes this story particularly memorable, however, is the way that David Whitaker uses the Daleks in this story.  I know this is a bit heretical, but I have never been a huge fan of the Daleks.  While certainly iconic, they are often a one-dimensional foe that is simply bent on exterminating others.  They are a powerful enemy, but they are often rather single-minded.  “The Power of the Daleks” features devious, intelligent Daleks.   The viewer knows that the Doctor is right, that the Daleks must be destroyed, but just what their plan is is not immediately evident to the Doctor or the viewer.  Ultimately, this makes the Daleks menacing once again.  They display great intelligence in the way that they exploit the divisions in the colony.  The fact that the Daleks keep reiterating that, “I am your servant,” is unsettling, because the audience knows that the Daleks are anything but the servant of any race. It’s interesting that this story brings back the idea of Daleks needing static electricity for power.  This was a major issue in “The Daleks,” but it didn’t really factor into the other Hartnell era Dalek stories after “The Dalek Invasion of Earth.”

It is a shame that all the episodes to this story were lost because the few clips that remain show some striking images.  The clips that survive of the Dalek assembly line, as well as the congregation of Daleks are both memorable images.  They might rank among the iconic images of the series, if they were ready available.

As I mentioned earlier, this was Patrick Troughton’s first story as the Doctor.  At this point, the Doctor is even more eccentric than he is further into the season.  The Doctor is constantly playing his recorder and wears a rather strange tall hat.  Immediately after the regeneration (sorry, “renewal”), he even refers to himself in the third person, as if he might not actually be the Doctor anymore.  Besides his hobbies and fashion sense, his personality is completely different from Hartnell’s.  The air of superiority and the imposing manner are gone, making him seem like much less of an authority figure.  One can’t help but wonder if the colonists on Vulcan might have taken the warnings of William Hartnell’s Doctor a bit more seriously than the seemingly unfounded panic of Troughton’s Doctor.  He is also far more impulsive and playful.  He gives the impression of enjoying his adventure far more than Hartnell’s Doctor ever did.  Unfortunately, he also appears to have absolutely no idea what he is doing. Of course, that is the big question about Troughton’s Doctor: does he really have no idea what he’s doing or is it all an act? I tend to lean towards the latter, since he always manages to save the day in the end.

The Doctor reads from his 500 year diary.

The Doctor reads from his 500 year diary wearing a rather ridiculous hat.

When it comes to the companions, Ben and Polly, there’s not much to report.  Each is missing from one episode in this story (Polly from the 4th episode and Ben from the 5th), and their characters are still not terribly well-defined.  Ben is very protective of Polly and always up for a fight.  Polly appears intelligent and is a persuasive talker, but she gets herself kidnapped yet again.  Neither she nor Ben (who manages to get kidnapped eventually himself) contribute a great deal to the outcome of the story.

Overall, “The Power of the Daleks” is an excellent story.  It’s engaging and, for once, uses the Daleks in a truly menacing way.  It’s also clear that it was a big influence on Mark Gatiss’ “Victory of the Daleks” in the new series.  They both share the conceit of having Daleks pretending to be working for humans.  Instead of “I am your servant,” the Dalek in “Victory of the Daleks” says, “I am your soldier” with almost the same inflections.  However, “The Power of the Daleks” is superior to the more recent story (and most other Dalek stories).  It conveys an actual sense of danger; you know the Doctor has to save the day somehow, but you have no idea how he is going to do so.  The title even works on many levels.  The Daleks are working to create a power supply, but they are also the ones who are in control (and hence, have the power).  After all, what could be scarier than a devious, calculating Dalek?