Over on The Doctor Who Companion, writer Rick Lundeen has put together a good piece on the (sadly almost entirely missing) First Doctor epic, The Daleks’ Masterplan. His title is: THE IMPORTANCE OF THE DALEKS’ MASTER PLAN IN DOCTOR WHO HISTORY. Reading it made me both peeved I hadn’t yet written about this story and thoughtful; what else could be said about this story…
The Daleks’ Masterplan considerations
There’s a sense in which The Daleks’ Masterplan has gravitas simply due to its age, subject and status as a mostly missing story. Rick Lunden’s piece talks about the prequel episode, the overall episode structure and the deaths of two companions. There are other angles that strike me as worth consideration.
Daleks aside, this story brought a returning villain the (Meddling) Monk. It’s an interesting change of tactic for a story already using Daleks and dastardly Earth leader Mavic Chen to tell challenge the Doctor. It might be a thread used to help take the overall story to the never before seen twelve episodes (plus Mission to the Unknown) but also makes us consider the overall writing credits for Masterplan.
Essentially (with debate over Feast of Steven – see the TARDIS wiki entry) it’s a two-hander with Terry Nation setting everything up (episodes 1-5 and 7) and Dennis Spooner (episodes 6 and 8-12) concluding everything. It’s very much the format of some Big Finish boxsets (that sometimes either go AABB or ABBA in terms of writers. Not Swedish super-groups). A quick pause reminds us the (Meddling) Monk was introduced by Dennis Spooner in The Time Meddler so his reuse here is understandable. Whatever the full reasons, he does create a secondary foe to deal with and nicely dovetails into the bigger story.
There’s plenty of dodgy science, and a lot of it is centred on the taranium (a fabulous MacGuffin) but not so as to interfere too much with the story, which after all has huge amounts of time travel and invisibility as well. The setup is also very much 1960s Terry Nation. If you’ve seen any of the Dalek Annuals or Doctor Who Annuals from the time (or heard any of the recent audios [late 2018]) you’ll realise the vision for the Daleks has changed between the original 1960s, through the Davros retconning and again now in the modern post-Time War era. There’s a proper blog post in here somewhere. For now it’s interesting to see how much political savvy these Daleks use and how the galaxy seems to be mostly centred on Earth’s solar system and a few planets here and there. It’s a different time and a less demanding audience I suspect and galactic scale is something rather difficult to get one’s mind behind.
The planet Kembel is also worth a mention and is almost a character in its own right. It gets its own journey from most dangerous planet in the universe (a claim worth revisiting) to desolate wasteland. It’s nice closure in terms of storytelling and a strong way to end the story.