Who Review – The Chase

Posted by Richo On March 31, 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Welcome to the Thirteenth instalment of Who Review, my ongoing quest to watch and review all available episodes of SF’s longest running television series, Doctor Who. This week, the Doctor confronts his arch nemeses in a mad dash through time and space in The Chase.


The Chase (6 Episodes)


22 May – 26 June1965


William Hartnell



Barbara Wright

Ian Chesterton


Having left Xeron at the end of The Space Museum, the TARDIS crew study their newly acquired Time-Space Visualiser, a device that can show them any time or place throughout history. They view different periods in history, including Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, William Shakespeare at the court of Queen Elizabeth I, and the Beatles performing “Ticket to Ride.”

Interestingly, the Beatles were apparently originally meant to appear in this storyline as old men performing in the 21st century, but the idea was vetoed by their manager Brian Epstein. I would have loved to have seen that performance, from the world’s most popular band at the height of their success. It would have been an incredible coup for Doctor Who.

While the doctor and his companions are watching the Visualiser, the TARDIS lands in the Sagarro Desert on the planet Aridius, and once the Doctor has confirmed that the environment is hospitable, the crew leave their time machine to explore.

While the Doctor and Barbara take in some sunbathing, Vicki and Ian go exploring. They find an ancient trap door in the sand and pass through it into the tunnels below. Unfortunately, they become trapped inside and must fend off a hostile tentacle creature called a mire beast.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Barbara see an ominous vision on the Time Space Visualiser, a broadcast of a team of Daleks who have created a time machine they plan to use to hunt down the Doctor and exterminate him. Already, they have tracked the TARDIS to Aridius. As the Daleks dematerialise in their time machine, the Doctor realises that they may already be on the planet, as the Visualiser is showing them events from the past. He and Barbara set out to find Ian and Vicki.

Unable to find them, the Doctor and Barbara must spend a night in the sandstorms of the desert. The next day, they see Daleks emerging from the sands, presumably having been buried in the evening’s sandstorm. The Doctor’s fears were accurate; the Daleks are indeed on the planet and have already enslaved the indigenous amphibian race that lives on Aridius.

The shot of the Dalek emerging from the sand invokes the image of the Dalek emerging from the Thames River in The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Although not as effective as that shot, due in part to the fact that the presence of the Daleks on Aridius has already been revealed to us, it’s still a great shot.

Although the Daleks cannot find the Doctor, they do manage to locate the TARDIS and force their Aridian slaves to dig the time machine out of the sandstorm.  The Doctor and Barbara manage to evade their pursuers before stumbling upon another group of Aridians, a group free from the oppression of the Daleks. This group leads them into underground caverns that serve as home to their race, where they learn that Aridius was once completely underwater, but as the two suns got closer to the planet the water evaporated, killing all life except the Aridians and the Mire Beasts. The Mire Beasts have since taken over the Aridians’ underground cities and left them to die out in the harsh sunlight. The Aridians are bombing their old subterranean tunnels in an attempt to destroy the Mire Beast.

Meanwhile, Vicki and Ian have spent the night in the underground caverns, fending off attacks from the Mire Beasts and other creatures that haunt the subterranean environment. Ian is caught in an Aridian explosion and is injured. Vicki goes off in search of help, hoping to find the Doctor. She manages to find the Doctor and his amphibian hosts, and together they help Ian.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t save them from the Daleks, as the Aridians decide to hand the TARDIS crew over to the invaders in the hope that they will leave the planet forever. Before the exchange can occur, however, a Mire Beast attacks the subterranean city the crew are held in and they use the ensuing chaos to escape. Evading Dalek scouts, they manage to make it to the TARDIS and escape through time.

The Aridius story once again highlights writer Terry Nation’s mastery at creating new and interesting planets and races for the Doctor Who mythos. Here we find a fully-fledged society suffering from environmental disaster and potentially on the verge of extinction. The desire for survival is a strong and relatable concept that even lends weight to the decision by the Aridians to hand over the Doctor to the Daleks. In the face of extinction, you do whatever you can to survive.

The story then continues with a chase through space and time, as the Doctor and his companions try to stay one step ahead of the Daleks. Their first stop is the Empire State Building in New York in 1966, followed by a short stop on the doomed Mary Celeste in 1872. Here we learn the reasons for the mysterious disappearance of the crew from that vessel; they fled in fear of the Daleks! Their final stop is a haunted house occupied by various Universal monsters, most notably Frankenstein’s Monster and Dracula. It is soon revealed that the haunted house is actually a futuristic amusement park attraction called the Festival of Ghana in the year 1996, and the monsters are actually robots.

Each of these stopovers in time is littered with comedic moments that don’t really benefit the story in any way. I can understand the need to include comedy at times, but the Daleks are meant to be an imposing threat to the Doctor, one that threatens to destroy him completely. His escape through time to avoid extermination is a compelling story point, but the humorous approach detracts from the tension of the moment.

Fleeing once again as the Daleks arrive and battle the robot monsters, the TARDIS crew make their way to the jungle world of Mechanus, a hostile environment with killer fungoid plants that only retreat when exposed to light. Unfortunately, Vicki is left behind at the amusement park by mistake and must stowaway on the Dalek time machine. Inside, she witnesses the Dalek creation of a robot double of the Doctor, one that is programmed to kill him and his companions.

When the Dalek ship arrives on Mechanus, the Doctor’s robotic double is released to find and kill his targets. Vicki manages to escape the Dalek time machine and is reunited with the others. The robot Doctor manages to track them down but is deactivated in a confrontation with the real Doctor.

I don’t know why, but I’ve always loved “evil double” stories, and this aspect of The Chase is no different. It’s a small but enjoyable part of the story. There’s also an excellent moment of continuity in these scenes when the robot Doctor refers to Vicki as “Susan.” This makes perfect sense: the Daleks have not met Vicki before and do not realise Susan left the Doctor at the end of The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

After resting for the night, the doctor and his companions discover a metal city overlooking the jungle. They make their way to the structure, where they are captured and imprisoned by the robot inhabitants of the city, the Mechanoids. They are locked in a large cage-like room where they meet Steven Taylor, an astronaut from Earth who crash-landed on the planet two years prior and has been a prisoner ever since.

Steven Taylor is quickly established as a charismatic man of action and is a welcome addition to the series. He has many of the qualities that Ian possesses but is already showing greater complexity of character.

When the Daleks invade the city, the Doctor and his companions use the ensuing chaos to escape their imprisonment. The Mechanoids and the Daleks engage in a pitched battle that devastates both sides and destroys the city. The TARDIS crew manage to avoid the destruction but are separated from Steven, who they believe was killed in the battle.

They manage to find the abandoned Dalek time machine and Ian and Barbara make a fateful decision: they will use the vehicle to travel back to their own time. After the Doctor shows them how to control the time machine, they say a tearful farewell to the Doctor and Vicki and depart. They arrive back in London two years after their departure. They activate the time machine’s self-destruct mechanisms and head off to begin their lives once more, their journey with the Doctor finally at an end.

While not quite the emotional send-off that Susan received at the end of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, this is still a solid departure for Ian and Barbara.


The strongest moment for the Doctor comes in his confrontation with his robot double. Doubles are an effective tool in showcasing what characteristics make a character who he is, and this is no exception. The robot is cold and calculating, possessing none of the heart of the true Doctor.


The timing was right for the departure of Ian and Barbara, as both characters were beginning to grow a little stale. Their tenure on the series was solid and both fulfilled their roles admirably, but it was definitely time for both to depart the series. With their departure and the arrival of Steven Taylor, I imagine we’ll see an end to the family structure that the Doctor – Ian – Susan/Vicki – Barbara relationships established.

Steven Taylor’s first appearance is a memorable one and he is definitely a strong replacement for both Ian and Barbara. I’m already interested in the character, which bodes well for future episodes.


This is the weakest showing from the Daleks to date, mainly due to the attempts at comedy that were infused into the script. The Doctor is terrified of the Daleks, so much so that he flees through space and time to avoid them, yet the Daleks he is battling often seem more like a vaudeville comedy act than a genuine threat.

Still, the addition of time travel to the Dalek’s abilities is an excellent idea, one that now solidifies them as the Doctor’s primary nemeses. They can now wage their war with the Doctor across the space-time continuum.


While not quite the masterpiece that The Dalek Invasion of Earth was, The Chase is still a strong Dalek story that is hindered only by the failed attempts at comedy. Fortunately, the strong plot and interesting alien locations combined with the genuine threat posed by the Daleks helps to offset the comedy.

3 Lukes


The Doctor finds himself in England during the Norman invasion in The Time Meddler.

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