Classic Doctor Who: “Death to the Daleks” (1972)

This is the first episode of Doctor Who I’ve watched that featured Jon Pertwee as the lead Doctor. I’m mostly a T. Baker and Davison fan (and Eccleston as well, of course), and have only seen Pertwee before either in film clips or as one of the "Five Doctors" from that wonderful episode. So it was fun to watch Pertwee as the lead actor in action against his greatest enemies.
In some ways, this is not a typical Pertwee episode, as he spent most of his run as the Doctor exiled on earth. Pertwee’s Doctor was a lot like John Steed from The Avengers, a rousing man’s man of an adventurer, teamed with beautiful women and defending England from nefarious evil creatures. But by the time of this episode, late in his run, Pertwee’s Doctor was back wandering space and time in his TARDIS.
In this episode the Doctor and his companion Sarah Jane Smith are on their way to a vacation on a resort planet when they find themselves instead on an odd alien planet where all the energy from electrically powered devices won’t work. The TARDIS falls victim to that problem, even though, as the Doctor says, the TARDIS is alive. This leads the pair to wander outside of then ship, where they encounter some Earth explorers, an amazing city ("one of the 700 wonders of the galaxy", as the Doctor calls it, and, of course, the evil Daleks.
It’s a fun and diverting adventure from the early ’70s. The Daleks are suitably evil in their sort of cheesy way, and the inevitable bizarre alien creatures are suitably bizarre. Sarah Jane gets to scream a lot – she would deepen when teamed with Baker’s Doctor so that she would become much more interesting, and there are some nice mysteries. Pertwee’s Doctor is fine in this story as a solid and thoughtful adventurer. It’s striking in some episodes how tall and commanding a figure Pertwee is – he’s clearly a person (Time Lord?) who’s used to be in charge. Even when he’s facing adversity, the Doctor is a fighter, determined that he will be able to conquer anything in his way. From this first story I’ve seen with him, the 3rd Doctor seems much more self-assured than the 4th or 5th Doctors, without any of the personal second-guessing that the 5th Doctor, in particular, displayed.
This is a nice story. I’m looking forward to watching this Doctor again.

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