Day of the Daleks
Day of the Daleks was the first story of Season 9 of Doctor Who. It is notable for marking the return of the Daleks as ongoing adversaries of the Doctor, after they had been effectively retired five years earlier in The Evil of the Daleks.
Both Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning, though acknowledging the story as a fan favorite, have cited Day as the nadir of their Doctor Who experience. Chief amongst their complaints was the unreality of the Dalek attack on Auderly House, which they found to be a pathetic affair. The paltry number of Daleks for the attack, which Pertwee estimated at two, could not reasonably have launched a fearsome end battle. This part of the story apparently bothered 2 entertain as well, because they paid for it to be somewhat re-shot and enhanced for the 2011 DVD release.
A special edition of this serial was released to DVD containing remastered audio and video quality, with improved special effects, CGI inserts to enhance the story, and touch-ups on the special effects. The voices of all the Daleks have also been redubbed by the revival-era voice actor of most Daleks, Nicholas Briggs. Having refined his portrayal of the Daleks to a degree of high confidence with his performance, his renditions of their voices are much smoother, harsher, and pronounced than the somewhat stiff, awkward and sometimes even uncomfortably nervous-sounding lines delivered by the original voice actors, Oliver Gilbert and Peter Messaline. As this was the first episode in several years to feature the Daleks, they were new to the role of voices for the Daleks and had difficulty cementing their portrayals. Later in Pertwee’s tenure, Roy Skelton, the person who provided the voice for the Daleks in their last appearance, would return to become their main voice actor for the rest of the classic series.
Next to The Five Doctors and Revenge of the Cybermen, it is the one serial which has enjoyed the most varied home video release, having appeared in multiple versions on VHS, DVD and laser disc. It’s unique amongst LD releases in that it was released in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Indeed, it is the only Jon Pertwee story, aside from The Five Doctors, to be made available on LD. Moreover, it’s the only Pertwee story, full stop, to be made available on British LD.
Late at night, Sir Reginald Styles, organizer of the Second World Peace Conference at Auderly House, narrowly survives an assassination attempt by a combat-uniformed guerrilla who vanishes like a ghost. UNIT is called in to guarantee the safety of the delegates. Later the guerrilla is attacked by huge, ape-like creatures called Ogrons and found unconscious by UNIT troops in the grounds of the house. The Third Doctor deduces that he comes from about two hundred years in the future and that a device found with him is actually a portable time machine.
While Styles is away, the Doctor and Jo keep watch. Three guerrillas, Anat,Boaz and Shura, arrive from the future via a tunnel. They shoot two UNIT men, then head for the house. The Doctor switches on the time machine, and a signal is sent to the Controller in the 22nd century. The guerrillas want the Doctor to switch off the machine. In the future, the Controller’s masters, the Daleks, plan to exterminate whoever is at the other end of the signal.
The guerrillas have Jo as a hostage, and, mistaking the Doctor for Styles, prepare to kill him. The Time Lord convinces them that he is not Styles. They take them down to the basement and leave them bound and gagged, though the Doctor frees his mouth. The Doctor deduces that the guerrillas are trying to change their past. The guerrillas bring the Doctor and Jo to answer a call from the Brigadier. Though the Doctor appears to tell the Brigadier that everything is fine, he covertly slips a duress code (“tell it to the marines!”) into the conversation, and the Brigadier immediately sets out for Auderly House.
Jo grabs the time device and accidentally activates it. She is transported to the 22nd century. The Controller treats her kindly and tells her the guerrillas are criminals. She tells him exactly where and when the Doctor is.
Ogrons arrive at the Auderly House and engage in a firefight with the guerrillas. The Doctor runs away and takes the jeep the Brigadier has just arrived in. He heads for the tunnel and sees a Dalek in it.
The Doctor flees from the Dalek and meets up with Anat and Boaz just as they teleport back to their time. The Doctor is taken to the future with them. There, he tells guerrillas that the Daleks are his enemies, and that he came here to find Jo Grant. Before he can get any useful information out of them, Dalek and Ogron patrols arrive, forcing the trio to scatter. The Doctor evades the patrols and makes his way to the surface.
Back at Dalek HQ, the Daleks criticize the Controller for failing to capture the rebels. The Controller protests that the Ogrons are too stupid and unsuited to fight the guerrillas. He argues that they should use other humans instead. The Daleks refuse, stating that humans are treacherous and unreliable, despite the Controller pointing out that he himself has served the Daleks loyally all his life. The Controller then informs the Daleks about the Doctor’s presence in this time period. The Daleks recognize the name and declare that the Doctor is an enemy of the Daleks and must be exterminated.
The Doctor finds that the world is covered in factories, where the workers are pushed to the breaking point. He sees one of the factories and decides to infiltrate it. His presence is detected by a security camera. Back at Dalek HQ, the Daleks and the Controller make preparations for the Doctor’s arrest. The Daleks then demand that the Controller improve work production figures by ten percent. The Controller protests that the workers will die if they are pushed any further, but the Daleks declare that only the weak will die. The Controller reluctantly agrees.
Meanwhile the guerrillas meet with their leader, Monia, who knows where Jo is being held. They argue about what to do next.
At work camp 117, the Doctor is captured by Ogrons and questioned by the Lead guard. A work manager, who is secretly a rebel, sends everyone else away, but before he can talk with the Doctor, the Controller arrives and threatens the manager if the work quotas are not met. The Controller then apologizes to the Doctor for his treatment, and takes him away. After they leave, the manager contacts the other rebels and informs them about the Doctor. However, before he can tell them much more, he is caught and attacked by an Ogron.
The Doctor is brought to HQ, where he is reunited with Jo. The Controller tries to convince the Doctor that the rebels are the real enemy, and that life on Earth in this time period is good. The Doctor, however, being fully aware that the Daleks are really in control, angrily questions the Controller about the work camps and prisoners, as well as the need to use Ogrons as guards. Unable to persuade the Doctor, the Controller leaves. The Doctor then informs a confused Jo about the Dalek occupation of Earth.
Meanwhile the Daleks note that the Doctor’s appearance does not match their known records of him, and speculate that he has changed his appearance again. They decide to use their mind analysis machinery to determine if he is in fact the Doctor. The Doctor and Jo knock out their Ogron guard and attempt to escape on a motorized tricycle but are quickly recaptured.
Back at the guerrillas’ hideout, Monia decides the Doctor must be rescued, as he is the sworn enemy of the Daleks.
Meanwhile, the Daleks use their mind analysis machine on the Doctor to determine if he is the Doctor they have met before. In his mind they see images of the First and Second Doctors. They declare that he is the Doctor – an enemy of the Daleks – and that he will be exterminated.
The Daleks are about to execute the Doctor when the Controller interrupts, insisting that they not kill the Doctor. He reminds the Daleks that the Doctor was in contact with the traitorous manager of Work Camp 117, and therefore could have valuable information on the guerrillas. The Daleks want to continue using the Mind Analysis Machine, but the Controller argues that he can get the information himself. He convinces the Daleks to release both the Doctor and Jo into his custody.
Elsewhere, the rebels finalize their plans to rescue the Doctor
At Dalek HQ, the Controller tries to convince the Doctor to give him information on the rebels. The Doctor insists he has no information and instead berates the Controller, calling him a “quisling.” The Controller retorts that the Doctor doesn’t understand the situation. He explains that in the late 20th century, the world was devastated by a series of terrible wars that wiped out most of the population. When the Daleks arrived, they easily conquered the planet and enslaved humanity. While most humans were sent to work in the mines and factories, a few were given positions of power in exchange for serving the Daleks. He further explains that his family has served the Daleks for many generations, and that his collaborating with the Daleks has saved numerous lives. The Doctor tells him he could save more lives by fighting the Daleks instead, but the Controller insists that Daleks can’t be defeated.
At the same time, the rebels, led by Monia, Anat, and Boaz, attack the complex and kill the guards. Boaz sacrifices himself to destroy a Dalek. When the others reach the Doctor, Monia wants to kill the Controller but the Doctor will not let him. The Doctor, Jo, and the rebels then escape, leaving the Controller unharmed.
Back in the 20th century, UNIT prepares for the arrival of the delegates. The rebel who remained behind, Shura, hides a bomb in the basement of Auderly House.
In the future, the rebels tell the Doctor that Styles blew up the peace delegation, which led to war. The Daleks came soon after and easily conquered the ruined planet. Even though their original plan failed, the rebels want the Doctor to complete the mission for them. The Doctor, however, remains convinced that Styles is innocent, and that someone else is responsible for the explosion. After learning that the rebels brought explosives with them to the 20th century, he realizes the truth: The rebels themselves – specifically their missing operative Shura – caused the explosion that started the wars, becoming trapped in a temporal paradox.
Back at Dalek HQ, the furious Daleks demand that the Controller find and destroy the Doctor. They threaten him with death if he fails. The Controller promises to find the Doctor. He then speaks with the Lead Guard and arranges an ambush in the tunnels.
The rebels give Jo and the Doctor a time machine and lead them back to the underground tunnels. Inside the tunnels, the Doctor and Jo are ambushed by the Controller and the Ogrons. The Doctor, however, tells the Controller that he can prevent the war and stop the Daleks from ever invading. Finally convinced that the Daleks can be beaten, the Controller orders the Ogrons to leave, then allows the Doctor and Jo to escape. Unknown to him, the Lead Guard witnesses all this.
Upon returning to Dalek HQ, the Controller tries to blame the Ogrons for the Doctor’s escape. However, the Daleks are already aware of his betrayal, having been informed by the Lead Guard. The Daleks declare the Controller to be a traitor and that he must be exterminated. The Controller retorts that he may have helped to exterminate them. The Daleks execute him moments later, and appoint the Lead Guard as the new Controller. The Daleks then decide to follow the Doctor to the 20th century to ensure the Dalek conquest of Earth is not reversed.
Returning to the 20th century with Jo, the Doctor orders Auderly House to be evacuated, despite Styles’ protests. Daleks and Ogrons arrive in pursuit, intent on destroying both the Doctor and the peace conference. UNIT forces try to stop them, but can do little more than slow their advance. Back at the house, the Brigadier forces Styles and the other delegates to leave. In the basement, the Doctor finds Shura with a Dalekanium bomb. He warns the guerrilla that the Daleks are coming. Shura tells the Doctor to leave the Daleks to him, as only Dalekanium can kill the Daleks.
The Doctor tells the Brigadier to have his remaining troops fall back and let the Daleks and Ogrons enter the house. Everyone but Shura flees the house, and the Daleks enter. Shura then detonates his bomb, sacrificing himself to destroy the Daleks. The Doctor informs Styles that his peace conference has been saved, and now it’s up to him and the other delegates to make sure it succeeds. Styles assures him he knows what will happen if they fail. The Doctor and Jo agree, saying that they’ve seen it already.