The Chase (Doctor Who)
The Chase is the eighth serial of the second season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in six weekly parts from 22 May to 26 June 1965. The story is set on multiple locations including the Mary Celeste, the Empire State Building, and the planet Aridius. The serial marks the last appearance of William Russell and Jacqueline Hill as companions Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright and the introduction of Peter Purves as new companion Steven Taylor.
In the TARDIS, the four travellers are huddling around the Time-Space Visualiser, a television-like souvenir from their recent adventure at the Space Museum, which can pick up on any past event in the whole of time and space. The TARDIS then lands, and the Doctor confirms that the conditions are hospitable. Ian and Vicki leave to explore the desert wilderness. They find an ancient trap door in the sand. Inside, they are trapped — and become haunted by hostile tentacle creatures called Mire Beasts.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Barbara are sunbathing. But they see on the 'Visualiser' a "broadcast" of the Daleks preparing to give a report. The Daleks' plan to follow "the enemy time machine" (the TARDIS) to the Sagarro Desert on the planet Aridius. The Daleks plan to take the TARDIS, find the Doctor and his companions, and exterminate them. The Doctor and Barbara watch the Incursion Squad embark and dematerialise. The Doctor immediately realises that these events happened in the past — the Daleks may already be here. They must find Ian and Vicki and leave immediately.
After a sandstormy night the Doctor and Barbara see the Daleks emerging from the sands. The Daleks cannot find the time travellers, but they do locate the TARDIS under the sand and begin to have it dug out by a group of native Aridians, whom they have enslaved. The slave force is exterminated when they are of no further value. The Doctor and Barbara are saved by other amphibious humanoid Aridians. The Aridians also find Vicki and Ian, who were injured when a wall collapsed in an explosion used to kill the Mire Beasts that were threatening them. The Mire Beasts soon reappear, killing the Aridian Malsan who was holding the party prisoner in preparation for the handover. The Doctor and his friends flee in the confusion and manage to evade a Dalek scout and get back to the TARDIS.
There now follows a chase through time and space, with the Dalek vessel determined to track down and exterminate the Doctor and his friends. The Daleks are but fifteen minutes behind and the gap is closing. The first stop is the top of the Empire State Building in New York in 1966. The Doctor then reaches the Atlantic Ocean and boards the sailing ship Mary Celeste. The crew ventures outside and are mistaken for stowaways. They sneak away in the TARDIS as the crew searches the ship for them. Soon the Daleks arrive and the frightened crew abandons ship, all jumping overboard. The next point of landing is a mysterious old house where both Dracula and Frankenstein's monster have come alive. These terrors stalk the building but also attack the Incursion Squad when they arrive. In the confusion to depart, the Doctor, Ian and Barbara leave Vicki behind, never realising they have simply been visiting a futuristic theme attraction called the Festival of Ghana, in 1996. The Daleks are repelled back into their vessel by the monsters (who are in fact robots), and Vicki stows away aboard the Dalek ship. She travels in it to the jungle world of Mechanus, where the Doctor's TARDIS has already landed.
On the Dalek ship, Vicki witnesses the Daleks' Replicator machine in action: an android replica of the Doctor is produced and is programmed to kill the original Doctor and his companions. When the Dalek ship arrives on Mechanus, the robot killer is dispatched. The jungle is also hostile, with large fungoid plants, which attack humans and only retreat when exposed to light. After a while the four travellers are reunited and the real Doctor unmasks the robot counterpart, disabling it with his stick.
The next morning, the Doctor notices that there is a vast metal city over the jungle, and they all decide to venture into the structure. Within moments, robot Mechonoids arrive and capture rather than invite them into the city. There they are locked in a cage-like room with a dishevelled man named Steven Taylor, an astronaut from Earth who crash-landed on the planet two years earlier and has been kept as a prisoner by the Mechonoids since then. The Daleks now attack the city, so it is time for action. The Doctor and his party and Steven manage to escape from the city down some cables, while the Mechonoids and Daleks become involved in a pitched battle which devastates both sides as well as the building. The four companions flee to safety but are separated from Steven, whom they presume to have been killed.
They find the deserted Dalek time machine and persuade the Doctor to show Ian how to operate it. After a tearful farewell, Ian and Barbara return to their own planet at last — and almost to their own time, being two years out in London of 1965. The machine is destroyed using the auto-destruct mechanism once Barbara and Ian are out of it.
It is not explained how, in this story, the Daleks know of the Doctor, his companions, and the TARDIS, nor the specific reason for the execution mission. However, their robot duplicate believes the Doctor's companions to be Ian, Barbara and Susan, indicating that they have knowledge of the events of the previous story, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, but not subsequent stories (such as The Daleks' Master Plan). This is the first story in which Daleks sport solar panels around their midsections, thus making them energy-independent; this feature would remain throughout the rest of the show's history until the New Paradigm Daleks introduced in "Victory of the Daleks". In The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the Daleks used dishes to receive energy from a central antenna, and in The Daleks, they drew static electricity from the metal floors of their city. It is strongly implied in this story that the Daleks have the power of flight; they are seen moving on two levels of the Mary Celeste, and the cliffhanger to the first episode shows a Dalek that has been buried in sand free itself by rising vertically. It would not be until Revelation of the Daleks in 1985 that a Dalek would actually be shown airborne.
This is one of the few Dalek stories to incorporate humour, and is the only story to attempt comical performances from the Daleks, including a Dalek coughing as it emerges from the sand on Aridius, a stammering Dalek who cannot do simple mental arithmetic, three Daleks using their eyestalks to nod in agreement, a Dalek shouting 'Yarrgh!' as it tumbles off the Mary Celeste, and a Dalek getting annoyed with its subordinate. When Ian asks to use Barbara's cardigan in Episode 2, she sighs and says, "Not again." The companions had unravelled another of her cardigans in The Space Museum.
William Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth I both reappear in the Tenth Doctor episode "The Shakespeare Code". The Daleks return to the Empire State Building in the Tenth Doctor episodes "Daleks in Manhattan"/"Evolution of the Daleks". In Doctor Who Confidential, Russell T Davies comments that he likes to imagine that they stored the Empire State Building in their memory banks and returned there deliberately as a result.
The Big Finish Productions Bernice Summerfield audio adventure, The Grel Escape, is a spoof of this story. Another Big Finish story, The Juggernauts features the Sixth Doctor having to deal with resurrected Mechanoids. This story also features the Daleks.
Terry Nation's original title for this story was The Pursuers. There were several changes made from his original proposal in the finished serial. In the original storyline, the TARDIS crew would witness on the visualiser Shakespeare discussing with his wife the possibility of allowing Francis Bacon to use his name on Bacon's plays, as well as a speech by Winston Churchill; Ian and Vicki would see through the sands the vast underground Aridian city; and Ian and Barbara would not return home to Earth at the end of the serial.
Some of the Daleks appearing in this serial were created by Shawcraft Models for the Dr. Who and the Daleks film in 1965. Although the plan had been to refurbish them to resemble the television Daleks, this proved to be impractical, and the three hired Daleks were used only in the background of shots. As The Chase was broadcast before the movie was released, this marks the first appearance of the movie Daleks.
The clip of The Beatles singing "Ticket to Ride" is from the 15 April 1965 episode of Top of the Pops. In subsequent years the recording of the original performance was junked, along with many complete episodes of Top of the Pops and Doctor Who itself. The Chase avoided the BBC's archive purge, and as a consequence the short extract of "Ticket to Ride" remains the only footage of The Beatles performing on Top of the Pops.
Hugh Walters later played Runcible in The Deadly Assassin and Vogel in Revelation of the Daleks. He also played Roderick Allingham in the audio play The Fearmonger. Dennis Chinnery later played Gharman in Genesis of the Daleks and Sylvest in The Twin Dilemma. Roger Hammond later played Dr. Runciman in Mawdryn Undead and Harold Withers in the audio play The Eternal Summer.
Morton Dill, the young man from Alabama whom the travellers meet at the top of the Empire State Building, was played by Peter Purves, who would appear in the last episode as Steven Taylor. Earlier drafts of the story used the names "Bruck" and "Michael" for the character of the captured astronaut, before settling on "Steven". The story also features The Beatles in a film clip. It was originally planned for the band to appear as themselves, but under heavy "aging" make-up, to represent themselves in the future. However their manager, Brian Epstein, objected to them appearing on the programme. Thus, footage from the BBC pop music chart programme Top of the Pops of the group performing "Ticket to Ride" was used instead.
Broadcast and reception
|Episode||Broadcast date||Run time||Viewers
|"The Executioners"||22 May 1965||25:25||10.0||16mm t/r|
|"The Death of Time"||29 May 1965||23:32||9.5||16mm t/r|
|"Flight Through Eternity"||5 June 1965||25:23||9.0||16mm t/r|
|"Journey into Terror"||12 June 1965||23:49||9.5||16mm t/r|
|"The Death of Doctor Who"||19 June 1965||23:27||9.0||16mm t/r|
|"The Planet of Decision"||26 June 1965||26:29||9.5||16mm t/r|
According to the BBC's Audience Research Report, contemporary reception of this serial was mostly positive. Though a significant minority found the "haunted house" action of the episode "Journey into Terror" ludicrous, most reported finding the episode very entertaining. The battle between the Daleks and Mechonoids in the final episode of the serial, "The Planet of Decision", was particularly well-received, with viewers describing it as "dramatic" and "full of adventure".
In 2009, Radio Times reviewer Patrick Mulkern described The Chase as "unashamedly childish and comic-strip in tone and pace", finding that the various contents of the episode were a mixed bag. He praised the Daleks and the first, second, and sixth episodes, but felt middle episodes were mixed, with "Journey into Terror" particularly disappointing. Nick Setchfield of SFX was critical of the serial, finding it better than The Space Museum "only because it's powered by a demented, ramshackle energy that never allows for boredom... or much in the way of logic or good taste". He acknowledged the "tacky entertainment" but wrote that "it's crushing to realise that this is the show that gave us the masterly "An Unearthly Child" a mere two years before. Writing for Doctor Who Magazine, Graham Kibble-White disagreed with Mulkern's opinion of the Daleks, believing that the comedy undermined them. He also wrote that the serial "suffers from structural oddities", as well as the unconvincing double Doctor. However, Kibble-White praised the Mechanoids and the TARDIS crew, feeling that Ian and Barbara's departure "positively negates the preceding six episodes of tom-guffery". Both the premise of "Journey into Terror" and the Doctor duplicate were listed in SFX's "Doctor Who's 25 Silliest Moments".
The Chase has received some positive reviews. DVD Talk's John Sinnott praised the serial, writing that the story's unusual structure was to its benefit. Jonathan Wilkins of Dreamwatch likened the serial to pop art and felt that "only an utter grouch could dislike a Doctor Who story as zany and iconic as The Chase". He highlighted the character work concerning Ian and Barbara and the "sense of epic science fiction that is only slightly betrayed by the ever-present problems of budget". In 2012, SFX's Will Salmon listed the departure of Ian and Barbara as the eighth best companion departure.
|Doctor Who book|
|Cover artist||Alister Pearson|
|Release date||20 July 1989|
A novelisation of this serial, written by John Peel, was published by Target Books in July 1989. It was the first of several Dalek story novelisations Peel would write after Target came to an agreement with Terry Nation's agent.
Because many of the changes made to Nation's original proposal were for timing and budgetary reasons, rather than artistic ones, Peel restored most of Nation's original ideas in his novelisation.
In 1966, audio of the final episode was edited together with new narration (provided by David Graham) and released on a 33 r.p.m. vinyl album by Century 21 Records in the UK and by Astor Records in Australia.
This story was released alongside Remembrance of the Daleks in a special Dalek tin set titled The Daleks: Limited Edition Boxed Set on VHS in 1993 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Doctor Who. It was released in a DVD box set with The Space Museum on 1 March 2010. It is notable for having one shot regraded from "day" to "night" to match the surrounding footage by the Doctor Who Restoration Team. The Beatles' clip is not included in the Region 1 DVD. This serial is scheduled to be released as part of the Doctor Who DVD Files in Issue 138 on 16 April 2014.
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- McGinlay, Richard. "Audio Drama: Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Grel Escape". Sci-Fi Online. Retrieved 2007-08-24. "However, the Dalek presence can still be felt, albeit indirectly, due to the fact that this story is a pastiche of the extremely silly William Hartnell Doctor Who serial, The Chase."[dead link]
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- Howe, Walker, p. 86
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- Sinnott, John (21 August 2010). "Doctor Who: The Space Museum/The Chase". DVD Talk. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- Wilkins, Jonathan (2 March 2010). "Doctor Who: The Space Museum/The Chase". Dreamwatch. Archived from the original on 23 December 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- Salmon, Will (26 September 2012). "10 Best Doctor Who Companion Departures (And 5 Worst)". SFX. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- Peel, John (January 1989). "Production Notes: The Chase". Doctor Who Magazine (144): 11.
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- Howe, David J & Walker, Stephen James (2003). The Television Companion: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to DOCTOR WHO (2nd ed.). Surrey, UK: Telos Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-903889-51-0.
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- The Chase at BBC Online
- The Chase at Doctor Who: A Brief History Of Time (Travel)
- The Chase at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- Doctor Who Locations - The Chase