The Doctor installs the Space Time Visualizer into the TARDIS, which allows him to view anything that happens in the past before the TARDIS’ current “location” in time, and demonstrates it to Vicki, Barbara, and Ian by showing Abraham Lincoln speaking the Gettysburg Address, Shakespeare meeting Queen Elizabeth I, and a performance by the Beatles (playing “Ticket to Ride”, by the way). Soon the TARDIS lands in the desert planet of Aridius. While exploring Vicki and Ian find some seaweed and a trail of blood. They also stumble across a ring in the ground that opens up a trapdoor leading into an underground passage. Meanwhile Barbara and the Doctor see the Daleks through the STV, who just happen to be plotting their revenge for thwarting their plans for Earth. After setting out to find and warn the others, Barbara and the Doctor are caught in a sandstorm that buries the TARDIS.
The natives of Aridius help Barbara and Ian and mention that the planet once had swamps, but drastic changes in the climate made those habitats dry up, leading to the native Mire Beasts invading the Aridians’ cities. Discovering one of the aforementioned underground cities, Ian and Vicki are attacked by the Mire Beasts. An explosion set up by the Aridians to kill the Mire Beasts injures Ian. Back at the TARDIS’s site, the Daleks enslave a group of Aridians and force them to dig up the TARDIS, slaughtering them when the work is done since they are now “worthless.” However, the Daleks find that they can’t even damage the TARDIS. The Aridians detain the Doctor and Barbara, telling them that the Daleks have threatened genocide unless the Doctor and the others are handed over. Vicki is likewise captured, but they escape when a Mire Beast attacks the Aridian guarding them and meet up with a recovered Ian. Getting around a Dalek patrol, the TARDIS’ crew escape. With a head start of 12 minutes, the TARDIS flees to the Empire State Building in 1966, and then to the Mary Celeste. After the TARDIS leaves, the Daleks arrive and force the crew and passengers to abandon ship.
Next the TARDIS winds up in what appears to be a classic haunted house, with every cliche from vampire bats to creaking doors to rotating walls coming to life. Ian encounters Frankenstein’s monster while Barbara and Vicki come across Count Dracula. When the Daleks arrive, the monsters successfully attack them and the TARDIS escapes again – but in the confusion Vicki is accidentally left behind. The monster siege drives away the Daleks, who also forget about Vicki, who stows away on the Daleks’ time machine. It turns out, unknown to the Doctor who clings to his theory, that the house they landed in was a horror-themed amusement park in 1996 and the monsters were really robots. On the TARDIS, the Doctor and the others assume that Vicki is in terrible danger. Ian proposes that they try to steal the Daleks’ time machine in order to both have a chance of rescuing Vicki and stopping the Daleks’ pursuit. On the Daleks’ time machine, Vicki watches as the Daleks unveil an android clone of the Doctor.
At the next planet, Mechanus, the crew is menaced by a mobile flesh-eating fungus, but they find that someone had set up electric lights that ward off the fungi and form a path. Ian proposes that the planet is the ideal place to finally confront the Daleks. After they head off, Vicki escapes the Daleks’ time machine but is injured by one of the fungi. While the Doctor and Ian help her, the faux-Doctor finds Barbara and tricks her into following it. Vicki warns them about the faux-Doctor, just in time to save Barbara. Of course, the faux-Doctor and the Doctor end up fighting each other, and the Doctor pulls off deactivating it after a duel of canes. Cornered by the Daleks, the TARDIS’ crew is taken up to a futuristic city populated by robots, the Mechanoids. They also meet a man named Steven Taylor, who is ecstatic to see other people. He explains that the Mechanoids were robots sent from Earth to prepare the planet for eventual colonization by humans, but the colony plan was forgotten and the Mechanoids developed their own society. Realizing that the TARDIS’ crew aren’t there to rescue them, Steven says that the Mechanoids have been keeping him as a specimen since his ship crashed on the planet two years ago and assumes the same will be done to the others. While the Daleks and Mechanoids fight, the Doctor and the others use a cable to scale down the city wall. Before they escape the Doctor activates a weapon of the Mechanoids that destroys a major part of the city. However, Steven is seemingly lost in the chaos.
Barbara and Ian ask the Doctor to use the Dalek time machine to go home, which causes him to explode in rage and refuse to help them. Reluctantly the Doctor agrees, after Vicki prods him along. Barbara and Ian do find themselves in 20th century London, two years too late, and following the Doctor’s instructions cause the Dalek time machine to self-destruct. The Doctor watches them celebrate their return using the STV and pronounces, “I shall miss them. Yes, I shall miss them. Silly old fusspots.”
Our Future History
Vicki considers the Beatles to be “classical music.”
She also mentions that New York City was destroyed in the Dalek invasion.
Almost two seasons in and it’s already the end of an era. Of the original cast, only William Hartnell is left by the end. It’s also the introduction of another new companion, Steven, although so far the audience is led to believe that he died.
We also learn that the Daleks have their own time travel technology, although there’s no explanation as to how or why the Doctor shouldn’t be worried that the Daleks might try to track him again. In fact, they seem better at time/space travel than the Doctor.
The First Doctor likes the Beatles and “Ticket to Ride” happens to be his favorite Beatles song (which raises the question, does taste in music change after regenerations?).
The Doctor theorizes that the haunted house they land is in “an area of human thought.” If you really want to tie this into later continuity, you might say that the Doctor thinks that he’s in the Land of Fiction or a similar dimension. At any rate, it’s the first suggestion that the TARDIS can even end up in places outside what we think of as space and time, even if the Doctor’s theory turns out to be way off.
The Doctor states that it’s impossible for the TARDIS to land in the same general place and time twice.
As a side note, the footage of the Beatles performing “Ticket to Ride” is actually the only known existing footage of that particular performance.
Damn, this is a weird one, and not entirely in a good way. It has a premise that taps into the full potential of the series, suitably enough for the last serial to feature the original companions Barbara and Ian, but unfortunately it winds up wasting most of it on having the Daleks chase the Doctor not through history but largely through a series of Terry Nation’s usual “planets with names that resemble what they’re like” (equivalent to George Lucas’ “villain character names that are just slightly reworked words for bad things”). I think it’s safe to say that Terry Nation didn’t know what else he could do with the Daleks beyond “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”, since so much – the disparate settings, the frequent comic relief (this marks one of the few times in the show’s history where the Daleks are used for comic relief, in this case a Dalek that struggles to do simple arithmetic), and the unfocused plot – all make it look like it was meant to keep his interest as well as the audience’s.
There are definite speedbumps in the script. The Mechanoids, who turn out to be giant, barely mobile globes with a barely comprehensible speech pattern, are a dud, a classic example of what happens when a writer who has one absolutely successful idea tries too hard to catch lightning a second time. The haunted house episode is filler of the most blatant kind, and worse it’s not nearly as much fun as it sounds. Fortunately, the smaller moments go a long way toward salvaging it. The android Doctor talking with its Dalek masters in the same jovial yet impatient way as the real Doctor is genuinely hilarious, and the design of the Mechanoids’ city is an example of how far a good model can go even in a low-budget show.
Then there’s Barbara and Ian’s departure. Like Susan’s, it’s pretty well-handled, with the Doctor reacting with childish anger, which he obviously pretends is prompted by fear over Ian and Barbara’s safety, and having to be talked down by Vicki, who can only calm him after she promises that she has no intention of leaving too. It all builds quite well on hints dropped from almost the very beginning of the series, that the Doctor’s constant travels have made him lonely and that he honestly liked having Barbara and Ian along despite their rocky beginning (that the question of whether or not the Doctor was deliberately not taking Barbara and Ian back to 1963’s London isn’t answered at all is another good step). There’s even a cute montage of Ian and Barbara happily visiting sites across London after they arrive. However, they’re also both nonchalant about the whole “Arriving two years after they left” thing. It goes to show how much of a new angle the 2005 series was exploring by actually showing the consequences the travels of the Doctor’s companions have for them and their loved ones; there’s certainly none of that here, unless you count Ian laughing about how they’re going to explain their two-year disappearance.