Set in 2164, the original TARDIS crew have finally returned to London. After a whole season of hoping, Barbara and Ian look like they might have just made it home. But it doesn't take long to realise that this isn't the London they remember. Something is a miss in London. Namely its inhabitants. The Doctor soon works out they have arrived too far in the future but is curious to know what has happened to the city. Why is it deserted? Ian is more concerned with not getting into more danger, worried that a plague may be involved. But fortunately the TARDIS is blocked off when a dilapidated bridge collapses on it. Forcing the crew to begin exploring the city to find help. Susan falls over. Susan hurts her ankle. The crew become separated with the Doctor and Ian finding the murdered body of someone wearing a massive set of headphones. Not being completely stupid the Doctor theorises that these must be some form of personal communication device. Susan and Barbara however are dragged off by some non headphone wearing humans. They lead them to a group of underground survivors who begin to explain that Earth has been invaded, having been decimated by a plague from space. Ian and the Doctor are soon cornered between the Themes and non murdered headphone wearing humans. This brings about one of the most memorable sequences in classic Who. A Dalek emerges from the Themes to complete the capture of the Doctor and Ian.
These opening scenes, indeed the opening episodes are the story's strength. Such a great strength it is to. The original tv production could never hope to achieve what the 1966 big screen adaptation did. That was all shiny and stuff. Yet to me it never reaches the same atmosphere that the non shiny non technocolour original achieves. Sure the Dalek saucer shots are a bit iffy. But its the desperate humans you meet, hoping to over turn the new Masters of Earth. Forced into hiding. This is what matters. The realisation that captured humans are forced to wear mind control headphones in order to become Dalek slaves, Robomen, who track down survivors to make them work in mines, are no longer human at all. Forcing the human race to fight effectively its own kind. It's pretty grim. The story and characters manage to feel of this place. This is helped greatly by the stunning location filming, producing iconic shot after iconic shot..
Unfortunatly the eventual uprising and over throwing of the Daleks is a bit of an anti-climax. One area where the Cushing movie does perform better. Its all there on paper but this is tv in 1964. Everyone is certainly giving it all they can, whilst its fair to say that they are still "exploring" the Daleks. With more on screen chatting away its clear they are trying to find new variants to the voices. Some simply dont work as well (although that black Dalek is seriously cool). Its easily over looked though as it truly is an epic story. Not only the first return of the metal dustbins, the first invasion earth story its the first time a companion leaves. Susan has grown to love a young Earth male over the course of the story. The Doctor, realising that his grand daughter can never walk away from him, decides to leave her behind with the promise that he will return. The closing moments are sublime and Hartnell, who typically stumbles his way through the odd line throughout the story, gives a perfect performance. Creating a moment worth watching over and over. And over and over. Again and again. Memorable.