This story really is just a bit of a runaround. We get to see the Tardis crew have a bit of fun for a change, which I think is nice. I like that the idea that the Doctor and his companions actually get some time to relax and enjoy the fun sides of time travel in between the life threatening adventures. The Doctor is fixing up the Time Space Visualiser which he was given in the last story. It allows you to view anything that has ever happened all over time and space. This seems like such a useful tool that we’ll have to assume the Doctor loses it, otherwise it would create the problem of why doesn’t he use it all the time.
We also see clips of The Beatles playing ‘Ticket to Ride’ with some very dodgy dancing from Ian, and Queen Elizabeth I meeting with Shakespeare. The Tardis lands on the desert planet of Aridius, which used to be covered with water. The Visualiser then reveals that the Daleks are hot on their tails, and have already traveled to catch them on Aridius. The cliffhanger from part one is rather nice, because it is both really cool to see a Dalek rise out of the sand, and is a nice parallel to one rising out of the Thames in their last appearance.
The Doctor has to try and get everyone to regroup back at the Tardis. Luckily he gave Ian his Tardis magnet. This is something I don’t think has ever been mentioned before. I know Adric has something similar in The Visitation; but we’ll just assume the Doctor looses that too. Before they leave Aridius, they meet native Aridians, who are rather feeble and peaceful. I know the Daleks are supposed to be able to overcome most things, but we have only ever seen them against quite useless forces.
Once everyone gets back to the Tardis, a chase breaks out – hence the title. First they land at the top of the Empire State Building in New York in 1966. They get out for a bit, look around, bump into a tourist who was purely there for comedy I’m sure. He is played by Peter Purves, future Blue Peter presenter and upcoming companion, Steven Taylor. Steven appears at the tail end of this story before being a full time companion in the next story.
They then land on board the Mary Celeste; always a few minutes ahead of the Daleks’ time machine. When the Tardis leaves and the Daleks arrive, all of the ship’s crew jump overboard in fear. This attempts to explain how the real life ship was discovered completely empty. I love it when Doctor Who attempts to answer real historical mysteries.
The next stop is what appears to be the perfect haunted house, complete with bats, Frankenstein’s monster and Count Dracula. They accidentally leave Vicki behind in the rush. Fortunately Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster start to attack the Daleks before they retreat back into their own ship. It transpires that they had just been to a futuristic theme park attraction in 1996. I love that the writer, Terry Nation, had thought that by 1996, that kind of stuff would be possible – it was the far future back then.
When Barbara, Ian and the Doctor get reunited with Vicki on the planet Mechanus; she tells them that she saw a robot version of the Doctor, produced by the Daleks to kill them all. The robot Doctor and the real Doctor get into a fight which is rather entertaining.
After the Robot Doctor has been defeated, they discover a beautiful, futuristic city. It is owned by the Mechanoids. These robots are basically another attempt at making something as successful as the Daleks. They are large and spherical with little antennae at the top. It transpires that they are robots sent to make Mechanus habitable for the humans, but the humans never arrived. This is a similar idea to the Twelfth Doctor story, Smile.
The Mechanoids and the Daleks get into a fight and destroy each other, along with the city. The group encounter Steven Taylor, who has been held captive by the Mechanoids since his ship crashed. Barbara and Ian realise that they can go back to their own time using the Daleks abandoned time machine. The Doctor is very unhappy with the idea, and gets quite rude. I like that the Doctor doesn’t know how to tell them that he doesn’t want them to leave his life. It shows how alien he is, and that he really does enjoy their company. He eventually agrees to show them how to get back to London 1965.
The story ends with the Doctor and Vicki watching Ian and Barbara getting used to life in London again on the Time Space Visualiser.
For a story that contained a lot of filler, I found it a lot more enjoyable than I remember. I liked the fleeting visits to various time zones and planets. I wouldn’t enjoy it all the time, but it was nice to have an epic chase across time. It’s also nice how the production team want to make the Daleks feel important and powerful. The last time they appeared, Susan decided to leave the Doctor, and now Barbara and Ian have done the same thing. It gives the appearance of the Daleks a lot more impact.
Bus Conductor – Where have you two been, on the moon?
Ian – Well no, but you’re getting warm.
I absolutely adore that exchange between Ian, Barbara and the Bus conductor. Not only is it a very well delivered comic line; it just cements them as being happy together in my mind.
The Doctor and Vicki end the story being a little down, due to loosing two good friends. Little do they know that Steven managed to get his way on board the Tardis before they departed.
As I previously mentioned, I liked this story more than I had anticipated. Although lots of it was a runaround to fill time; there is some humour and some real heart. Six Time Space Visualisers out of ten.