>When I first discovered Doctor Who, my local PBS station was in the middle of two longer eras that didn’t feature an appearance by the Doctor’s greatest enemies, the Daleks.
My entry into to the Tom Baker years missed “Genesis of the Daleks” by two weeks and and I was in the middle of the Davison years and “Revelation of the Daleks” was still a good bit off. So, my first exposure to the Doctor’s greatest enemies came on the pages of a novelization–in this case “Day of the Daleks” by Terrance Dicks.
This Pertwee-era story was a bit confusing to me at the time. Being new to the show, I wondered at what point Jo Grant would travel with the fourth Doctor. (I was young and there was no Internet in those days. And I had yet to discover “The Programme Guide” at my local bookstore). If you were an American fan during this era, you may recall the Pinnacle published series. Basically it was a reprint of the Target novel with a different cover and an introduction by Harlan Ellison (in which he proclaimed Doctor Who the greatest sci-fi TV show ever made).
I recall being glued to this novelization. It’s one of the early entries from the line and Terrance Dicks was given time to expand the story. So much so that I was eventually disappointed when I finally saw it because it didn’t live up to the image I’d created in my mind for the story. And it was there I was hooked on the Daleks and couldn’t wait to see them.
I eventually did and I loved them. So much so that when I met Sylvester McCoy years later, my burning question was had he met the Daleks yet. At the time, he hadn’t, but he said he’d head back to the BBC and ask them to put a story into development since the American fans were demanding it. Weeks later, I heard “Remembrance of the Daleks” was headed our way for season 25…and some part of me imagined McCoy had gone back and asked for it to me made just for me.
I’ll admit it–I’m a sucker for the Daleks. But I like it when they’re used well in a story. And while they cast a giant shadow across all other monsters in Who history, there are a handful of stories that show us why they’re so memorable. They look truly alien and they have a fascinating history–both on-screen and behind the scenes. It’s also best when you try to ponder their chronology to not really think about it too much. There are gaping holes in it and things done because no one ever thought the series would be repeated at any point, much less scrutinized the detail that fans do today.
But good or bad, I still get a bit of a twinge of excitement when I hear the Daleks are coming back for an episode. They’re still my favorite monster and probably always will be. A superb creation and the thing that helped put the show on the map and catapulted Doctor Who to its long run. If not for the Daleks, Doctor Who would be this 13-week show that ran in 1963 and was forgotten.