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Your ideas are too narrow, too crippled. I am a citizen of the Universe, and a gentleman to boot.—The Doctor
A 12-episode monster, which begins with the TARDIS arriving on the planet Kembel and meeting Bret Vyon of the Space Security Service. Vyon is looking for Marc Cory, one of the men killed in the teaser "Mission to the Unknown". Together, they discover that the Daleks plan to use the "Time Destructor" to conquer the Solar System.
They report this to Mavic Chen, "Guardian of the Solar System" but it turns out he's in league with the Daleks and he sends SSS agent Sara Kingdom after Vyon and the travellers. The Doctor has meanwhile managed to steal the Taranium core of the Time Destructor, putting a spanner in the works.
Katarina is killed early in episode 4, blowing herself out of an airlock along with her captor in order that the Doctor should not be forced to give in to his demands, while Sara Kingdom shoots Bret Vyon (her brother) before herself dying as the Doctor turns the Time Destructor on the Daleks.
En route, we also revisit the Meddling Monk, and the Doctor "borrows" another bit from his TARDIS to help his own function more predictably.
The action is interrupted for the Christmas Day episode, in which the TARDIS materialises on a film set, the cue for much silent comedy with Chaplin and the Keystone Kops, before Steven points out that they missed Christmas. The Doctor produces a bottle of champagne and Steven wishes him a Merry Christmas - the Doctor then shatters the Fourth Wall by looking straight out of the camera and wishing "a Happy Christmas to all of you at home".
Incidentally, Bret Vyon was played by Nicholas Courtney, who would become rather better known as The Brigadier, while his sister Sara Kingdom was Jean Marsh. They would be reunited in the 1989 serial Battlefield... where Jean Marsh's character boasted to Nicholas Courtney's character that "the next time we meet, I shall kill you." Considering that this story was probably set after Battlefield...
It holds several records: longest serial ever (except for Trial of a Time Lord), most companions ever (not all at once), and first almost-companion with Bret Vyon.
- Action Girl - Agent Sara Kingdom.
- Always Save the Girl - Painfully subverted in part 4, hilariously subverted in part 7
- Anyone Can Die - Sara, Katarina and Bret along with most of the minor characters.
- Apocalypse How - Kembel suffers a Class 6, being reduced to a lifeless dustball by the effects of the Time Destructor.
- Applied Phlebotinum - Cactic power
- Badass Family - Implied, since Sara and Bret are siblings.
- Batman Gambit - The Doctor saves Steven from a dangerous forcefield by tricking the Daleks into shooting him only once. He even lampshades that it was fortunate they didn't get a second clean hit.
- BLAM Episode - The Feast of Steven, a Christmas Special in the middle of this grim twelve-parter, is a Big Lipped Alligator Episode complete with a fourth wall breach that is never mentioned again.
- The Blind Leading the Blind: The Doctor is rather disoriented by 20th-21st century events without his Genre Savvy companions regarding history; it does allow for an easier way to introduce comedic situations, especially in "The Feast Of Steven".
- Blooper - The Doctor, Sara, and Steven are responsible for a few in various silent films.
- Character Development: This serial basically established the Daleks to what they are today.
- Chewing the Scenery - Chen's actor in the last episode he appears.
- Cool Ship: The SPAR, both TARDISes, the Dalek time ship
- Conveniently Close Planet: Desperus just happens to be on the Kembel - Earth route.
- Darker and Edgier - This is a very dark story compared to the previous Dalek serial. In fact, with the arguable exception of the following story, it may well be the darkest story of the entire Hartnell era.
- Death by Irony - Mavic Chen.
- Don't Touch It, You Idiot! - Katarina, as described above.
- Downer Ending - The Daleks' defeat does little to brighten the mood. The Solar System is saved, but nearly everyone except the Doctor and Steven died, including two of the Doctor's companions and the entire planet of Kembel.
The Doctor: "The waste...What a terrible waste."
- Evil vs. Evil: Of the Unholy Alliance to take over the Universe, at least the Daleks, Chen and his adviser are all suffering from Chronic Backstabbing Disorder and are all ready to take over the others as well to rule the Universe alone. Anyone else involved and not chronic backstabbers (which the Daleks seem to equivalent and/or confuse with power-hungry) and with enough power to seem like a hindrance in one of the bigger schemer's way will risk a quick death.
- In "Counter-Plot", Daleks vs. Monsters (which are strongly said to be not Gentle Giants but ferocious creatures) Daleks wipe out all who dare approach them, not without their moments of panic.
- Fakin' MacGuffin - At one point, the Doctor manages to get away from the Daleks by handing over a fake version of the taranium core they're chasing him for.
- Forgotten Fallen Friend - Katarina. After her death in episode 4, the only time she's mentioned again is at the very end of episode 12.
- God Guise: Katarina thinks the Doctor is the god Zeus and the strange worlds they travel through are the Afterlife. The Doctor is not happy and neither were the writers -- given the difficulty of writing a character who fails to have at least a basic understanding of her situation (not to mention a healthy skeptism about the Doctor) she was quickly bumped off -- the first companion to get killed and the last for some time.
- Heroic Sacrifice - Katarina, Bret, Sara
- Hey, It's That Guy! - Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, 'sans' mustache, is apparently a futuristic cop. And his sister is Queen Bavmorda
- Hostage Situation - Happens three times, and the Doctor only manages to save the situation once.
- Hostage for Macguffin - Twice, but the first time is a subversion.
- I Don't Like the Sound of That Place - Desperus
- I Surrender, Suckers - The Doctor pulls this twice over the Daleks, first time probably knowing that the natives will distract the Daleks, and the second time as a Batman Gambit to free Steven from the choking shield.
- Insane Troll Logic - Chen thinking the Doctor just wants his place next to the Daleks. Hey, after his Villainous Breakdown, he went insane, so that's a bit of an excuse.
- I Will Only Slow You Down - Kert Gantry. He's absolutely insistent on the point.
- Kill'Em All - Most of the principal guest cast bite it.
- Large Ham - Mavic Chen slowly descends into this as his grip on sanity loosens.
- Legion of Doom - The Daleks and the Galactic Council.
- MacGuffin - The Time Destructor's core.
- Misapplied Phlebotinum - Discussed and dismissed when Steven does something stupid that traps him in a force field that incidentally wards off one Dalek shot. He quickly wishes to turn this to cover the entire TARDIS, to which the Doctor tells him it's a stupid and dangerous idea.
- Missing Episode - Most notably, "The Feast Of Steven" is the only Doctor Who episode confirmed to be Lost Forever - the BBC destroyed the only existing copy.
- No One Gets Left Behind - Bret tries this with Kert Gantry, who refuses to go along with it.
- Oh Crap - Everyone at some point or other
- Out-Gambitted - Mavic Chen.
- Penal Colony - Desperus. The Earth authorities don't even bother with niceties such as cells or guards - they just dump the prisoners on the surface and let them fend for themselves.
- Putting on the Reich: Space Security (SS) -- black uniformed soldiers who kill without questioning their orders.
- Racist Grandpa: The Doctor in the Feast of Steven.
The Doctor: "We must get back to the TARDIS. This is a madhouse. It's all full of Arabs"
- Rock Beats Laser: Ancient Egyptians trap the Red Dalek with rocks.
- Round Robin: Episodes 5-8 are written by alternating authors (Terry Nation, Dennis Spooner, Nation, Spooner).
- Shoot the Hostage - More accurately, The Hostage Shoots Herself.
- Smug Snake - Delegate Zephon.
- The whole crukking council, to various extents.
- Stupid Sacrifice, with flavors of Senseless Sacrifice (Katarina) and Yet Another Stupid Death (Sara). There were rather easy ways to avoid these deaths: they could have taken the prisoner to wherever he wanted or to where they wanted without much trouble or delay and even take him along in their quest; Bret almost made things worse by getting himself killed - and this mostly by his fault too, apparently going for Sara's gun, which means The Good Dog Kicked First and she was just defending her position; Sara herself going to rescue the Doctor was reckless and useless. Of course, each had their motivations (Katarina saw the Doctor as a sort of God and would do anything for him, Bret was fighting for bigger things than his family - that is his race and the Universe, and Sara probably wanted to save the man that helped her brother she didn't believe and killed) and it all ended in saving the Universe (this time, at least) from the Daleks, but it could have worked with fewer or no deaths.
The Doctor: "The waste...What a terrible waste."
- Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: Played straight, but quickly subverted. An Egyptian thinks the Daleks' voices are from the Gods, but a sort of leader reasons that Gods would only talk for humans to understand, and as such are not Gods but invaders with metal armors.
- The Starscream: The way Karlton says he'd be "the highest, next to you [Chen]" suggests that he would be this.
- Stern Chase - Most of the middle episodes.
- Thicker Than Water - Not this time.
- Thrown Out the Airlock - How the hostage shoots herself.
- Unwitting Pawn - The Council delegates.
- Villainous Breakdown - Chen goes insane at the realization that the Daleks don't need him either and his mind concupts the paranoid idea that the Doctor doesn't want to destroy the Daleks, but wants to hand them over the McGuffin and rule in Chen's place, followed by...
- We Hardly Knew Ye - Katarina, Bret, Sara
- Weirdness Censor - Sara. Getting inside a ship bigger on the inside? No reason to mention it, or wonder about it. 1066? Question the reference of a later year, but pretend it didn't happen. Random people trying to dress you up in weird clothes for unspecified reasons? Pyramids and Egyptians? Sure why not. All it matters is getting where they're supposed to and finishing the mission. It was foreshadowed by Chen that she was unquestioning loyal, but it becomes ridiculous as the series progresses.
- The expanded universe novels subsequently did an Author's Saving Throw and established a gap of several months between episodes six and eight, so Sara presumably had time to acclimatise herself to the Doctor's lifestyle.
- Wham! Episode - The Traitors and The Destruction of Time, which featured Katarina and Sara's deaths respectively.
- What Could Have Been: A spin-off series featuring Space Security vs the Daleks was contemplated. Bret Vyon was intended to be in it, meaning that someone else would have ended up playing The Brigadier.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: The Council members tend to think they're in a series where they're the Big Bad and not the Daleks, that if the Daleks have their way, the Daleks keep their word, and eventually, that the Daleks are naive enough to just let one of them stroll around enough to take power from the Daleks. That's of course assuming that there's no group of heroes ready to stop them, or who would have any chance to.
- Xanatos Gambit - It's hinted that Mavic Chen is trying this against the Daleks.
- You Fail Physics Forever: Bret Vyon is restrained in a magnetic chair. As Mystery Science Theater 3000 said about another movie: "And if your hands were metal that would mean something."
- You Have Failed Me - The Daleks on the pursuit ship.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness - The Galactic Council. In a twist, the Daleks imply that they still intend to have the Council members' battle fleets attack alongside them, presumably explaining why they kept the members alive and imprisoned rather than just exterminating them.
- You Look Familiar - The Doctor actually says this, to an extra who was also an incidental character in "The Crusade". However, he completely fails to notice that he's also seen Sara Kingdom before, also in "The Crusade", where she was Joanna.