March 25: The Evil of the Daleks Episodes 3 & 4

So.  The Evil of the Daleks is a seven episode serial for some reason35, and the upshot of this is that episodes 3 and 4 seem to be largely padding.  Of course, this being a David Whitaker story, it's at least largely entertaining padding, but padding nevertheless.

The best bits of episode 3 involve the Doctor manipulating Jamie into rescuing Victoria Waterfield from the Daleks so that he can be studied and the Human Factor derived from his actions.  We've never seen the Doctor be this devious before, and especially not with his friends, so it's an interesting development.  The Doctor is apparently only cooperating with the Daleks because they have his TARDIS in their custody, and he's willing to place his TARDIS above all else, even though his actions will lead to the creation of a race of super Daleks.  There's also a moment where the Doctor tries to have himself used for the tests instead of Jamie, only to be told by the Daleks, "You have traveled too much through time.  You are more than human", which is a fascinating spin on the Doctor.

The rest of the episode primarily involves Maxtible bringing in a mute Turk named Kemel to be opposed to Jamie during his rescue effort, and an odd subplot with a man named Arthur Terrall, who apparently paid Toby to kidnap Jamie but then remembers nothing about it.  The implication seems to be that he's under the control of the Daleks but is fighting it, but it's handled so oddly that we're never certain what Terrall's motivations are.

The Doctor programs the Human Factor while a Dalek looks on.
(The Evil of the Daleks Episode 4 - from Doctor Who Photonovels:
The Evil of the Daleks - Episode Four
) ©BBC
If episode 3 was fairly padded, episode 4 is basically pure padding.  Jamie spends most of the episode playing Victorian Gladiators with Kemel, who initially starts out as an opponent but joins Jamie's side after Jamie saves his life.  The two of them then slowly make their way through the house, dodging lethal traps on their way to Victoria.  (And it's been mentioned before, but the Daleks want to isolate the Human Factor by subjecting Jamie to deadly surprise traps -- as if leaping out of the way is somehow an innate human quality.)  This means there's a lot of fighting and action going on, but as this episode only exists on audio this is a bit of a drawback -- although the telesnaps do make it seem like it was at least interestingly directed.

There's also a bit of stuff with Waterfield and Maxtible as they remove Toby's body from the house (exterminated last episode while looking for things to steal), where Waterfield announces his intention to "confess my part in all that has happened" once Victoria is safe.  It helps humanize Waterfield and also show that Maxtible is a bit of a snake, as he's ready to kill Waterfield until Terrall prevents him.  And we learn why Maxtible is going along with the Daleks: not because they have some hold over him as they do Waterfield, but because of simple greed; the Daleks are apparently going to tell him how to transmute metal into gold.

But yes, episode 4 is mainly about Jamie and Kemel's slow journey through Maxtible's house of horrors (and just how big is this house anyway?), with occasional prefilmed inserts of the Doctor deciding what parts of Jamie's reactions should make up the Human Factor (prefilmed because Troughton's on vacation this week).  These two episodes could have been condensed down into one without any problems, but as it is, we get a  journey that was probably a lot more tense and dramatic when seen rather than when heard.

35 Actually, is there a satisfying answer as to why season 4 has an odd number of episodes?  Season 2 had an odd number because of the Planet of Giants incident, and season 3 has an odd number as a result of needing to make up that "lost" episode.  But season 4 seems to have an odd number just because the last two seasons did, rather than for any specific production-related reason.