“The Dalek Invasion of Earth” surprisingly does not show the invasion, but rather the following occupation. The still randomly traveling TARDIS lands in London in the 22nd century, which turns out to be a post-apocalyptic wasteland under the control of “the Masters of Earth” and their mentally enslaved “Robomen.” The Doctor and his companions fall in with the local band of rebels, who explain how the Daleks very methodically and intelligently conquered the planet. I was surprised by how well this Dalek strategy from the 60’s stands up against standard movie alien invasions. Compare to Cracked: 6 Giant Blind Spots In Every Movie Alien’s Invasion Strategy.
The Daleks, according to the rebels, began by bombarding the Earth with meteorites. This is an attack I remember being recommended by the Bad Astronomer:
Infantry? Really? Is that the best this advanced civilization can do?
I have a better plan. Take all those honking huge ships, go behind a mile-wide asteroid, and push it so it drops onto the planet. Massing over a billion tons and impacting at 10 kilometers per second or so, I guarantee it’ll end the battle quickly. In fact, the explosive yield of such an impact is about 65,000 megatons. That’s way, way more than every nuclear weapon on Earth. Bang! End of battle.
Oh, you want the planet to be usable when you’re done? Picky, picky. But OK, then drop several hundred smaller asteroids. Same thing, but you can maybe aim them better, and target smaller battles. Once the smoke clears the planet will be in somewhat better shape.
The Daleks’ second stage of attack was biological warfare. Their “plague” wiped out most of humanity and resulted in the collapse of all governments worldwide, along with any chance of organized defense against the Daleks. Only after this did the Daleks actually arrive in their saucers. Very smart!
Here is where it reverts to 60’s TV sci-fi: it turns out that the Daleks’ plan (I don’t think this is a big deal as a spoiler) is actually to remove Earth’s “magnetic core” and replace it with an interstellar drive, turning the planet into some kind of Dalek death star. They only keep humans around in order to carry this out, by constructing a mine shaft to deliver a bomb that will somehow remove the magnetic core, killing all life on earth in the process while the Daleks hover above in their ships. Okay, I’m going to assume the reason why they couldn’t put the engine at the surface was that the engine they wanted to build would somehow utilize looped gravity arcs as accelerators, SCIENCE FANTASY BABY! WITH IMAGINATION YOU CAN PRETEND ANYTHING MAKES SENSE
This serial was pretty good, very good compared to the five other First Doctor stories I’ve seen. Nice use of locations, actually decent pacing over six episodes, and a surprisingly dark, gritty and despairing tone which was pulled off well. I must admit though that I am getting a little tired of the Daleks at this point, and if I weren’t a longtime fan of them by osmosis, I’d say that only the final part, Flashpoint, is really worth watching.
It wraps the Dalek plot up in a hurry, with a great moment echoed recently in The Wedding of River Song, followed by amusing shots of people trashing their Dalek masters, and then the denouement, which is given time to breathe as Susan tries to decide between the Doctor and the young man she’s fallen for. It follows this great little scene from Part 3 (watch through 3:10), in which David asserts that “Things aren’t made better by running away.” Susan then becomes, not by her will, the Doctor’s first companion ever to leave behind life on the TARDIS.
And yeah, even though she’s probably dead, for the Doctor to see Susan again for next year’s 50th anniversary would be absolutely great. Apparently he previously did in The Five Doctors, which was already in my to-watch list because come on, anything with multiple Doctors has to be worth seeing. They should pull that stunt in the revival series too, why not? At least get Tennant on, Eccleston if he’s willing, what about Paul McGann, doesn’t he deserve more screen time?