January 24: "The Daleks" / "Day of Reckoning"

(The Dalek Invasion of Earth episodes 2 & 3)

"We are the masters of Earth!  We are the masters of Earth!" a Dalek chants at the beginning of "The Daleks" (the second of Doctor Who's potentially confusing episode titles11).  It's a neat approach, showing not the Daleks attempting to invade Earth but having already succeeded.  It sets up the Daleks as an already unbeatable force, even if we hadn't met them before.

Of course, the fact is that we have in fact met the Daleks before, but that's what makes the choices so canny.  Here in 2014, we're so used to Daleks chanting and conquering and invading and such that we don't really notice how Terry Nation is recrafting the Daleks under our noses.  Remember, this isn't at all how the Daleks behaved in their debut serial.  There they were city-bound, paranoid, and concerned with survival, leaving their city, and destroying the Thals.  But here they've taken the desire to exterminate others (although, it's worth noting that "exterminate" still isn't their battle cry, as they exclaim "kill him!" when surrounding a helpless man) and made that the driving force, adding in conquest and subjugation into the mix.  Yes, the Daleks have become the Nazis.

The Daleks under attack by the rebels. ("The Daleks") ©BBC
Still, it's impressive how well they succeed with this change.  The Daleks may not be as interesting as they were the first time, but they do seem more powerful.  This leads to some great shots in "Day of Reckoning", as we see Daleks gliding around an apparently deserted London, waving their sucker arms up and down and generally acting like they own the place. This matched with scenes of Barbara and Jenny trying to get the wheelchair-bound Dortmun to safety while dodging Dalek patrols makes for some exciting viewing.

There are also some hints from Susan that she's starting to grow up: we had the argument with her grandfather during The Sensorites, and now she's questioning his judgment, favoring decisions made by resistance fighter David Campbell.  But ultimately, these two episodes are about the Daleks, and their triumphant return to Doctor Who.

11 In case you've forgotten, the first was episode 7 of The Daleks: "The Rescue".