A new year begins, and the Daleks are back – while the Doctor and friends were enjoying their Christmas bubbly, the Daleks were fitting the Taranium Core to their Time Destructor. As their allies wait nervously to see the results, they gossip between themselves. There’s a nice reminder that only the Daleks and their mysterious rivals have conquered the dimension of time:
‘Only the Daleks know how to break the time barrier’
‘And this other creature [the Doctor], from wherever he comes…’
Amusingly, Chen declares the Taranium core ‘came from Uranus’ – as if Spooner didn’t know exactly what he was doing.
Although they have a dawning awareness of the danger they’re in from a pursuing time machine, the TARDIS crew continue to muck about as though they’re in the Christmas Day episode – materialising in the middle of a cricket match. But it’s quite clear to the viewers that as the Daleks are still organising their pursuit, something else must be going on.
The truth emerges on the planet Tigus, the Doctor Who version of Mustafar, where the TARDIS and its pursuer have both landed. The Meddling Monk, last seen five months ago in 1066 England (Checkmate), is looking for revenge – only the second baddie to make a return appearance, this must have been a great surprise for Sixties viewers.
The twist of throwing in another, independent party with his own grudge against the Doctor adds another element to what might otherwise have become a sombre retread of The Chase. The humour of the Monk also makes the Daleks seem even more relentlessly diabolical by comparison.
Juxtaposing the Daleks’ launch countdown on Kembel with TARDIS arriving in Trafalgar Square to hear the chiming in of the 1966 New Year is a very clever touch – and offers the prospect of the Daleks arriving on the day of broadcast, which must have been fun for the kids watching. Much more fun – and dramatic – than the Christmas Day episode, this is a great way to launch into the second half of the serial.
Next episode: Golden Death