It’s nearly impossible to have Doctor Who without the Daleks. In fact, the Doctor’s most infamous enemy first appeared in the show’s second serial in 1963. Dalekmania took hold as soon as the serial aired, ensuring the show’s survival. Between the first season, and the twelfth season, the Daleks appeared 12 different times before Genesis of the Daleks.
Even though the Doctor has regenerated from his third incarnation, the Time Lords still interfere. Without asking the Doctor, they send him and his companions, Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan, to Skaro when the Daleks were first created. The Doctor is tasked with finding the Daleks’ weaknesses, and either averting their creation or affecting their development so they are less evil and aggressive. No small feat when Skaro is in the midst of a thousand year long war between the Kaleds and the Thals.
The Doctor gets a crash course in Skaro politics when he and Harry are captured by the Kaled forces. Unfortunately Sarah Jane is mistaken for dead and is left behind. When she wakes up she encounters the mutos, or mutations from Kaled experiments that roam the Wasteland. Soon they are caught by the Thals, who need bodies to load radioactive fuel into a rocket meant to attack the Kaleds. This war on Skaro isn’t a good guys versus bad guys kind of fight, it’s just more evil versus less evil.
Inside the Kaled bunker, The Doctor and Harry are interrogated by the Elite Military and Scientists who are working to end the war in a Kaled victory. At first they do not believe the Doctor when he says he is from the future and that there is life on other planets. The Kaled Elite believe the only life in the universe is on Skaro and they are superior to everyone else. Davros says so.
Davros , the chief Kaled scientist, has been experimenting with the Kaled genetic code. He developed mutations that he believes the Kaleds will eventually evolve into. His failures are the mutos that were abandoned in the Wasteland. Davros introduces what he calls a “mark III travel machine” for his creatures which looks just like a Dalek. Interestingly, Davros’ wheelchair looks a lot like the Dalek casing as well.
Eventually the Doctor manages to make his way to the incubator room, where the baby Daleks are made. He lays some dynamite inside but despite a baby Dalek nearly strangling him, he still is hesitant to pull the trigger. What gives him the right to wipe out a species, just like the Daleks? Sarah tries to argue with him, viewing the malevolent creatures as nothing more than a disease that should be wiped out. But the Doctor doesn’t want to sink to their level and become like them. The scene is the highlight of the serial.
Throughout the serial, there are plenty of themes and imagery that evoke the Nazis. Davros and the Kaleds keep talking about genetic and racial superiority.The Elite Military’s black uniforms look a lot like the SS. In the first two episodes of the serial, they have a salute that looks very similar to the Nazi salute and Nyder, Davros’ right hand man, is wearing an Iron cross at his throat. From the third episode on, Nyder isn’t wearing his cross and they stopped using the salute, though they still snap their feet together for that distinctive sound.
Genesis of the Daleks is definitely a must watch. Even if Doctor Who fans haven’t seen any Classic serials before, this is still worthwhile to better understand the Doctor’s most infamous enemy. However it’s definitely a dark story. I enjoy dark Doctor Who but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. The body count in this episode is depressingly high.