The Chase was the eighth story of season 2 of Doctor Who. As well as featuring the first use of time travel by the Daleks, it saw the departures of original companions Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, played by William Russell and Jacqueline Hill respectively, and the first appearance of new companion Steven Taylor, portrayed by Peter Purves. Peter Purves further did “double-duty” in this story, by appearing earlier in the serial as an incidental character. The story also featured the first instance where a doppelgänger counterpart of the Doctor appeared, a narrative repeated with other incarnations in future stories.
It saw the same story style as Nation’s The Keys of Marinus, with the TARDIS crew in different locations nearly every episode. A similar style would later be used in The Daleks’ Master Plan and The Infinite Quest. The Chase also saw characters from other works of fiction making appearances, albeit as robotic duplicates in this story. Similar appearances would occur elsewhere in the program’s history. It also saw the program’s take on the mystery of the Mary Celeste, a story that would be contradicted by other media.
Episode 1: The Executioners
As the Daleks place the Doctor’s position in time and space, the Doctor and his companions are busy in the TARDIS. The Doctor is spending all his time fixing the Time-Space Visualizer, Barbara is making a dress, Ian is reading, and Vicki is at something of a loose end. Eventually this peace is broken by an ear-splitting shriek from the Time and Space Visualizer. The Doctor explains to his companions that the machine is something like a Time Television, which allows one to see any event that has happened in the past. They each choose an event to witness: Ian picks Abraham Lincoln giving his Gettysburg Address, Barbara elects to look into Elizabeth I’s court and sees the genesis of William Shakespeare’s plays The Merry Wives of Windsor and Hamlet; and Vicki sees the Beatles performing “Ticket to Ride”, but is surprised to learn that they played “classical music”. This experimentation is interrupted when the TARDIS begins to materialize. The four travelers find themselves on an arid and desolate planet which possesses two suns that move quickly across the firmament. The Doctor suggests that days and nights must be very short here. Ian and Vicki head into the desert wilderness, the former entrusted with the TARDIS magnet in case they should get lost. Vicki investigates some formations in the shape of humans similar to seaweed, which Ian knows is impossible. They find a trail of what appears to be blood in the sand, which Vicki runs off to follow. As they move off, they do not notice a tentacle rise up from the sand where they were.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Barbara sunbathe. Barbara is distracted by the sound of the Visualizer, which has not been shut off. She sees a “broadcast” of the Daleks preparing a report. The Doctor enters and hears to his horror the Daleks’ plan to follow “the enemy time machine” (the TARDIS) to the Sagarro Desert on the planet Aridius which is where the Doctor has found himself. The Dalek assassins plan to use their time machine, find the Doctor and his companions, and exterminate them due to the fact that the Doctor is the only person that stands in the way of their ambitions to take over Earth. The Doctor and Barbara watch a group of Daleks embark into the machine and dematerialize. The Doctor informs Barbara that these events must have happened in the past for the Time and Space visualizer to be able to show it which means that the Daleks are already on their way. The Doctor and Barbara agree they need to find Ian and Vicki and leave the planet immediately.
Tiring from their walk, Ian and Vicki take a rest as the “blood” trail ends; by this time night has fallen very quickly. They find a large metal ring. At first, Vicki is reluctant to disturb it for fear of what might happen (due in no small part to a myth from her childhood wherein pulling a ring in a field would lead to a drawbridge on a mysterious castle to open and something awful to come out). However, they decide they should pull it loose. At first, nothing happens and they prepare to leave, but an ancient trap door creaks open in the sand. They enter the newly-opened cavern to have a look. Once inside, the door closes behind them — they are trapped — and another tentacle looms out of the darkness. As they turn they see a mysterious figure looming in the darkness.
The Doctor and Barbara have had no luck finding their friends, night has fallen, it becomes cold, and the wind has begun to pick up, covering all tracks, including their own. They decide to return to the TARDIS, not entirely certain of the direction. A sandstorm breaks out, and the Doctor and Barbara fall to the ground. When the suns come back up again they look around for the TARDIS but to no avail. They speculate that it has been covered in sand. They are about to leave when the Doctor tells Barbara to get down, and they see a Dalek, buried by the sandstorm, emerging from the sand.
Episode 2: The Death of Time
As Barbara and the Doctor duck out of the way two more Daleks appear, but cannot find the time travellers. As the two Daleks leave to look for the time travelers the Doctor and Barbara get up to go. As they mount the crest under which they have been hiding, they are faced by a group of bipedal lizard-like creatures. One of the creatures is sensed by the Daleks and exterminated.
Meanwhile, under the surface of Aridius, Ian and Vicki escape the oncoming horde of lizard-like creatures that pursue them through the labyrinthine passageways — often having to attack the creatures with rocks in order to escape their clutches.
Back on the surface the creatures introduce themselves as Aridians. They explain that the whole of Aridius used to be under water, but as the two suns got closer to the planet the water evaporated leaving only the Aridians and the Mire Beasts. The Aridians explain that the Mire Beasts have taken over the Aridians’ underground cities and left them to die out in the harsh sunlight. When the Doctor deduces that Ian and Vicki must be in the subterranean Aridian cities, the Aridians state that they cannot go there, as the Aridians are launching an assault on the Mire Beasts, blowing up some of their underground strongholds. The Doctor and Barbara are insistent, so the Aridians try to get them to the entrance before the explosion. However, they do not make it in time.
The explosion proves a mixed blessing for Vicki and Ian. Just as the explosion resonates throughout the tunnels, Vicki is grabbed by a Mire Beast. The beast is instantly killed by the explosion but a rock lands on Ian’s head, knocking him unconscious. Vicki goes to find the Doctor, leaving Ian prone in the tunnel network.
The Daleks search for the time travelers. They use a horde of Aridian slaves to dig out the TARDIS, which they have located using a seismic resonator. Once they have released the TARDIS, the Daleks kill the Aridian work force and try to destroy the TARDIS, but it is impervious to their weapons. They guard the machine, waiting for the Doctor to return to his ship.
Meanwhile the Doctor and Barbara are being protected from the Daleks in one of the Aridian subterranean strongholds, but one of the Aridians comes to the Doctor to inform him that the leader of the Daleks has made contact with them and has vowed that they will stop killing the Aridians if they hand over the Doctor. The Aridians tell the Doctor they can stall for half a sun but will then have to hand him over. The Aridians refuse to let the Doctor go free, saying the Elders are making a decision.
In another part of the cave system Vicki searches for a way out. She finds an opening and clambers through it only to see the Dalek guarding the TARDIS. The Aridians then say the Elders have decreed the travelers must be handed over by sunset; the Daleks have claimed when they are executed they will leave Aridius unharmed. The Doctor says they have two hours before the sun sets. Vicki meanwhile finds the Doctor, but the Aridians then come to hand them over. At this moment a Mire Creature breaks through a walled off section of the cave and seizes one of the Aridians. The trio of travelers use this opportunity to escape. Vicki leads the Doctor and Barbara back to Ian, who is now conscious. He has located the TARDIS but it is guarded. The Daleks decide they will give the Aridians an hour to recapture the travelers, after which they will destroy the city. Ian finds the others and has come up with a plan as to how to get to it. He covers a hole with Barbara’s cardigan and the Doctor’s jacket. The travelers then tempt the guard Dalek towards them by calling and hiding. The Dalek falls down the hole into the Aridian cave network. The Doctor and his companions rush into the TARDIS just as the Daleks fire at them. As the TARDIS dematerializes, the Daleks vow to follow their enemy across eternity in order to destroy him.
Part 3: Flight Through Eternity
The Doctor and his companions celebrate getting the better of the Daleks and set off for their next destination. Their celebrations are short-lived when they discover that they are being pursued by another time machine.
The Daleks on their machine have managed to track the Doctor’s TARDIS and can follow him wherever in time and space he may be; however, to the Doctor’s advantage the Daleks are fifteen minutes behind the TARDIS.
Back on the TARDIS the Doctor notices that it is landing. He checks the scanners and discovers that they are inNew York City.
Atop the Empire State Building a group of sightseers are being informed of the scenic panorama of New York when a young man from Alabama, Morton Dill, becomes separated from the group. Whilst his back is turned the TARDIS materializes. He informs Barbara and Vicki that the year is 1966 on their emergence from the TARDIS. When the Doctor and Ian also come out of the TARDIS, he assumes that the police box is part of a film set and assumes that the travelers are actors. As he goes to fetch his camera to take a photo the companions re-enter the TARDIS and dematerialize. No sooner have the Doctor and his companions left and Morton has seen this, than the Dalek time machine materializes. Morton takes the Daleks to also be props from the film and interacts with them very brazenly. He informs the Daleks that the other machine has just left. As he goes to take a photo again the Dalek time machine disappears. Eager to discover the mystery of the “film set”, Morton looks for a trapdoor in the floor only to be discovered grovelling on the floor by a suspicious tour guide, who hurries away to fetch a policeman.
In the TARDIS the Doctor is making allowances for what will happen if the Daleks were to catch up with them. He begins to tinker with a machine that Ian and Barbara bring to him when the ship starts to materialize again. Ian and Barbara go out to explore and find themselves on an old sailing ship. Barbara is fascinated by sea travel and goes to look around; Ian, feeling queasy, returns to the TARDIS. Whilst Barbara looks around she is discovered by a sailor, who takes her to be a stowaway. He accosts her and refuses to let her go. However, Vicki leaves the TARDIS and sees Barbara in distress. She sneaks up on the sailor and knocks him unconscious. By this time the Doctor has readied the TARDIS to carry on and Ian is sent to collect the girls. As Ian approaches, Barbara warns Vicki another sailor is coming. As Ian rounds the corner Vicki knocks him unconscious too. Feeling guilty, the two girls take Ian back to the ship, which dematerializes just in time for the sailor to come to and witness the disappearance of the ship. The sailor alerts the rest of the crew that there is a stowaway on the ship and that he was hit over the head, and they fan out to find Barbara. As they search for Barbara the Dalek ship lands. The sight of the Daleks, combined with the fact that they are desperately seeking information from the crew, causes the terrified sailors to jump ship. The Daleks discover that the travelers have left and return to their craft in pursuit of the Doctor, leaving the ship silent and empty. It is the legendary Mary Celeste.
Back in the TARDIS the Doctor breaks the news to his companions that the gap between the TARDIS and the Dalek ship has lessened to eight minutes and that with every stop the Daleks get closer and closer to catching them.
Episode 4: Journey Into Terror
The TARDIS lands in a mysterious old house. Each traveler is scared by the creepy appearance of the house but tries to hide it from the others. The Doctor and Ian go upstairs to explore while Barbara and Vicki remain downstairs. As they explore, they notice that the fireplace has eyes that follow them around the room, and there are bats that mysteriously fly down from the rafters and skeletons that drop from the ceiling.
Upstairs the Doctor and Ian are making similar discoveries. Ian sees a ghostly figure. The Doctor stumbles upon a laboratory and, as he explores, Frankenstein’s monster rises up from the slab as if to grab at the Doctor and Ian. The Doctor runs away in terror, followed by Ian. As they retreat, the monster quietly returns to his slab.
A similar apparition appears to Barbara and Vicki downstairs also. As they are exploring, a vampire appears to them and introduces himself as Dracula before disappearing again. Barbara investigates the patch of wall from which Dracula appeared to find out how it might have been achieved, but when she turns back Vicki has disappeared. A woman from the upper balcony of the house screams at Barbara, and as Barbara backs up in shock the wall rotates, taking her with it.
Upstairs, the Doctor has rationalized where they have landed. He speculates that the house and its contents are so much like what one would expect from a creepy house that they have landed within a world of dreams — where terrors and thoughts have been magnified into a tangible place. Ian asks whether this means that the Daleks cannot chase them here, to which the Doctor agrees due to the fact that they are safe from time and space as they reside in the psyche. This gives them new hope, but as they return downstairs they find Barbara and Vicki have disappeared and are not in the TARDIS. They go back upstairs to look for them.
However, the Doctor is wrong. The Daleks have zoned in on the Doctor’s whereabouts and are preparing to materialize. They state that he is still on Earth and has just changed the year and the geographical location. The Daleks materialize in the house and a search party disembarks, but one remains in case they return.
The Doctor and Ian cannot find Barbara and Vicki anywhere and, in their desperation, they go back into the room with Frankenstein’s monster. As they go down into the room they are met with the dual terrors of the approaching monster coupled with the arrival of a Dalek. Thinking quickly, Ian traps the Dalek in a cage in the laboratory, and he and the Doctor escape. With the two men gone, the monster continues to approach the Dalek, which tries to exterminate him — only for the monster to be immune from the Dalek’s weaponry. The monster opens the cage and destroys the Dalek, immune to the fact that it insists that it is indestructible.
As the Doctor and Ian return downstairs they discover Barbara and Vicki, who have reunited. The travelers’ joy is short-lived when a Dalek corners them. When it looks like the travelers have no chances left, Dracula reappears and distracts the Dalek that was about to kill them. The travelers run for the TARDIS, but Vicki is stopped as two other Daleks appear. As they do, Frankenstein’s monster reappears and begins to destroy the Daleks. Vicki does not make it into the TARDIS. Unsure of what to do and panicking, she sneaks into the Daleks’ time machine.
In the TARDIS, the Doctor and Ian tinker with the weapon they plan to use on the Daleks whilst they discuss the planet they have just been on. The Doctor speculates that they shall never know quite when it was. While talking, they discover that they were actually in an advanced form of a haunted house from the Festival of Ghana in 1996 which had been cancelled by Peking. It is only when Barbara joins them that they realize that Vicki has been left behind.
On the Dalek time machine, the Daleks further track the Doctor’s progress through time and space — they state he is headed towards the planet Mechanus. Skaro is contacted for a report on Mechanus. It is also revealed that the Daleks have a secret plan. The Daleks have been building a machine that they refer to as a “reproducer” and they plan to “reproduce” the Doctor, claiming it will be finished by the time they get to Mechanus. As the Daleks disperse, Vicki emerges from her hiding place. She tries to contact the TARDIS using some radio equipment that she discovers, but it doesn’t work. Curious as to how the reproducer works, she sneaks up to it and is shocked when she sees what appears to be the Doctor standing inside the machine.
Back aboard the TARDIS, the Doctor is blaming himself for the disappearance of Vicki, but states that there is nothing that he can do about it due to the fact that the TARDIS cannot interrupt its own timestream and visit the same place twice — even if the time mechanism allowed them to pinpoint where they could go. Ian says they could fix the time mechanism but the Doctor says it could take months or years. Eventually Ian hatches a plan. If they were to seize the Daleks’ time machine, they could use that to return and rescue Vicki. The Doctor agrees and states that the next place they land will be the area of the inevitable battle that must take place. When they land they discover that they are on a largely swampy planet with dense undergrowth. They decide to go and explore so as to best use their time to destroy the Daleks.
As the Daleks approach Mechanus, the Daleks decide to animate the robot. They power up the reproduction machine and the simulated version of the Doctor comes to life. The Daleks ask the simulated version of the Doctor whether it knows its mission. The robot responds with, “To infiltrate and kill.”
Episode 5: The Death of Doctor Who
The Doctor, Ian and Barbara are exploring the planet Mechanus. They soon discover that the dense undergrowth of the planet is made up of living plants called Fungoids that are constantly trying to attack them. They are soon cornered by the Fungoids, and as it looks like they might finish off second, some lights flash on which cause the Fungoids to vanish away. Ian investigates the lights and discovers they form a corridor through the jungle. The travelers follow the pathway.
Meanwhile the Daleks have landed on Mechanus, where they say all life must be treated as hostile, and have fanned out in search of the Doctor, not before releasing their deadly doppelganger to “infiltrate, divide and kill.” Vicki leaves the Dalek time machine and attempts to seek out the Doctor, but is attacked by a Fungoid.
As the Doctor, Ian and Barbara make their way through Mechanus, they are being stalked by the robot Doctor who never lets them far out of its sight. They soon reach the end of the corridor of lights and find themselves in a cave. Unsure as to why the complex system of lights leads to such an innocuous locale, they begin to look around, hoping they will either discover the significance of the cave or find a way of turning off the lights so as to allow the Fungoids to destroy the Daleks. In their exploration, they discover a weapon for keeping the Fungoids at bay. Barbara is confident that, with the combination of their newly-found weapon and the bomb that the Doctor has been working on, the Daleks are done for. The Doctor warns her that the bomb can’t be used under cover so they’ll need to think of another tactic.
Meanwhile, Vicki is desperately searching for the Doctor. She comes across the TARDIS, but finds herself almost being crushed by one of the Fungoids. She screams out, which alerts the Doctor and Ian, who rush out to rescue her. The robot Doctor uses this to swoop in and take advantage of Barbara’s isolation. The robot Doctor informs Barbara that Ian has been killed by the Fungoids, and that he needs her help out in the jungle. Confused and worried, she complies.
The Doctor and Ian find Vicki, who has fainted from the shock of her near escape with the Fungoids. Ian deduces that she must have hitched a ride with the Daleks in order to catch up with her friends. They carry her back to the cave and discover Barbara missing. Ian goes back out to look for her. Whilst Ian is gone, Vicki regains consciousness but, on seeing the Doctor, reacts wildly, suspecting him to be the robot version. When Ian returns, she calms down and apologizes to the Doctor before explaining about the robot clone and his plans to kill them. Ian deduces that this is why Barbara must have left the cave. The three friends go out and look for her in a panic.
As they walk through the jungle, Barbara hears Ian calling her name. This leads to the robot Doctor attacking her. It knocks her to the ground before Ian arrives and fights the robot off her, but it is able to break free of him and escape. Ian explains the situation to a confused Barbara. Ian and Barbara meet up with Vicki — the humans are then shocked by the appearance of two Doctors, each of whom tries to convince them that he is the true Doctor. Ian makes his mind up and attacks one of the Doctors when it tries to get past him to destroy the other. They grapple wildly whilst the other Doctor gives Ian tips on how to finish off his adversary. However, the Doctor with Vicki and Barbara slips up and calls Vicki “Susan”, revealing himself to be the robot. Barbara informs Ian that he has the wrong version, and the four unite in battle against the robot. Eventually the robot Doctor battles the real Doctor, who destroys it. An exhausted Doctor and his companions return to the cave where they sleep. Little do they know, whilst they sleep, a camera falls from the roof of the cave and observes their slumber.
Meanwhile, the Daleks have seized the Doctor’s TARDIS and intend on keeping it hostage as an insurance policy for them not killing him. They head off to the area in which they suspect the Doctor to be.
Come morning, the travelers are shocked to see a large city risen up across the jungle that they missed due to last night’s darkness. They leave to investigate it. They have not gone far when they spy some Daleks heading right for them. The travelers run back into the cave and suggest ways of escaping their certain doom. Ian suggests that the Doctor try to convince the Daleks that he is the robot version, but Vicki and Barbara say that this is too risky. Ignoring their advice, the Doctor sneaks away in order to try this plan. The Daleks take positions and are ordered to take no prisoners. However it is unsuccessful, and the Daleks try to exterminate the Doctor. He dives back in the cave as the Daleks make directly towards them. In their panic they try to find somewhere in the cave where they can hide. They are shocked when one of the walls slides back to reveal a large multi-sided robot that calls itself a Mechonoid and bids them enter. The travelers have no choice but to accompany the robot.
Episode 6: The Planet of Decision
As the travelers escape into the lift, the Daleks enter the cave and find that their enemies have disappeared. They soon discover that they disappeared behind the hollow wall and begin the process of opening the lift door.
Inside the lift, the Doctor tries to get information from the machine as to where they are going; however, it gives them none. The lift soon opens its doors and the travelers find themselves in the Mechonoid City. They are led to a large room, and the door behind them is closed and locked. Once in the room, they discover a disheveled human survivor named Steven Taylor, who asks them who won the wars. In his period of solitary confinement, he appears to have gone slightly mad with only his “mascot” Hi-Fi, a small stuffed panda, for company. He is an astronaut from Earth who crash-landed on the planet two years earlier, and has been kept as a prisoner by the Mechonoids. He explains to them that about fifty years ago humans began a process of colonizing the planet and that the robots were originally devised to clear the area. However, Earth got caught up in an interplanetary war and the planet was forgotten. Ever since the crash, he has been held captive by the robots because he did not know the proper computer access codes that would identify him as one of the now never coming colonists; they keep him in this room as a kind of experiment.
The Daleks have opened the lift door and received a report from Skaro on the Mechonoids. They claim they have weapons and may damage them.
Steven shows his guests round his cell, and takes the Doctor and Ian to the top of the roof. When questioned as to why he has never escaped using the roof, he states that it is too high to survive the drop, being 1500 feet. He also shares an experience whereby he escaped once before and was nearly killed by the Fungoids; he was soon recaptured by the Mechonoids and returned to his cell. Ian and the Doctor examine the roof and find a large drum with cabling wrapped round it, deciding that this could be used as a way of scaling the roof of the building. Steven states that he has tried this before, but wasn’t strong enough to pull the wire on his own, though it could work with all five of them. The Doctor is doubtful, and goes to talk it through with the girls. However, his decision is made for him when the window onto the corridor is opened and he sees a Dalek exterminating a Mechonoid when it doesn’t reveal where the travelers are. The humans all run up to the roof to escape; however, just before scaling to the roof, the Doctor leaves his device on the floor of the cell. As the Doctor escapes, two Daleks enter the room. Seeing that the humans have escaped to the roof, more Daleks are ordered to cut them off. One of the Daleks knocks the Doctor’s weapon, which explodes instantly, immobilizing the two Daleks and setting the building on fire.
Atop the city, Ian and Steven are preparing the wire. However, Vicki is unsure as to whether she can do it due to her fear of heights. This phobia is so debilitating that at one point she faints. Much against her protests, she is blindfolded and tied to the wire whereby she is lowered down the side of the building. The smoke from the building begins to billow up out of the gap in the roof. Seeing this, Steven drops the wire in order to go back and save Hi-Fi. This causes Vicki to drop wildly until Ian and the Doctor catch the wire.
Steven scales back down into the cell and begins to make his way through the building amidst a full out-and-out battle between the Daleks and the Mechonoids that seems fairly evenly pitted.
Outside, the four travelers have all made it down the side of the building. They are unsure as to what to do about Steven when the cable starts to burn, leaving Steven trapped. As they flee back to the TARDIS, the city is consumed by flames and collapses. Steven, however, has survived the city’s destruction and is stumbling around the forest, avoiding Fungoids and looking for the Doctor.
En route to the TARDIS, the companions and the Doctor stumble across the Dalek time machine. They are reticent to explore, but Ian lightens the mood by imitating a Dalek. Vicki shows the Doctor round the machine while Ian and Barbara realize that the machine is fully functioning and could return them home. They rush in to explain this to the Doctor. The Doctor is initially flabbergasted at the humans’ stupidity, refusing to even contemplate the idea due to its dangers. However, Vicki convinces the Doctor that it is only fair to allow them to try if they know the risks that they are undertaking. Reluctantly, the Doctor leads them back into the machine to explain what they need to do.
The Dalek time machine materializes in a disused garage in London, 1965. Ian finds out the date from a car’s tax disc; they are two years out. Ian and Barbara activate the ship’s auto-destruct mechanism on leaving, as the Doctor had instructed them to do. Ian and Barbara, while sad at having to leave the Doctor, enjoy being back at home again and go sight seeing where they visit Trafalgar Square and the Embankment and even encounter a police box; however, this time it’s a real one.
Ian and Barbara then catch a bus, where they discover that the fares have gone up during their absence. The bus conductor asks whether they’ve been on the Moon, and can’t understand it when the pair start laughing at this comment.
Back on the TARDIS, the Doctor and Vicki witness a conversation between Ian and Barbara on the Time-Space Visualizer, with a mixture of joy at their safe arrival and sadness for having lost them. The two depart in the TARDIS.