What would an eight-part Doctor Who story be without Daleks in there somewhere? The epitomal arch-villain of the Doctor, these metallic menaces had to show up here somewhere. And of course it's hard to have discourse with the pepperpots because all they really have to say is "Exterminate" and things like that. And for the most part, they really don't mean it. They are constantly yelling "Exterminate", and rarely actually kill anyone on-screen. Sure, sometimes, but never the Doctor or his companions, and they're the ones that are really a threat to Dalek supremecy.
In general they're really pretty bad at one-on-one extermination, if the episodes themselves are any indication. How did they ever become a major power in the universe? Well... Davros, of course.
Davros had to appear here, for reasons that become clear later in the story... the Key Segments all have some connection to gods and to the Daleks, Davros is god. Various factions of Dalek may differ on that, but the fact is that Davros created them and that makes him their god. The electronic eye Davros senses through seemed to be the perfect target for the next Key Segment.
The story is fairly simple. Davros is developing the next generation of Dalek based on information given to Davros in "Genesis of the Daleks". In that episode, Tom Baker is coerced into telling Davros everything he knew about the future defeats of the Daleks.
And what is one of the most often-mentioned limitations of Daleks? (Well, before the episode "Remembrance of the Daleks"?) Stairs. Of course Daleks can negotiate stairs. Again, how else could they become so powerful throughout the galaxy? But it's only in "Remembrance" that we actually see one hover up a staircase using a repulsor field, putting to rest a couple of decades of speculation.
But to me, a hovering Dalek makes perfect sense in the Doctor Who universe.
As usual, I created a storyboard for this story. It was hard to block out various corridor angles without a good storyboard to follow. Since I had only a few set walls I had to create all manner of corridor with just those few walls. So I had to make sure my storyboard reflected the corridors accurately. It would be bad to have the heroes taking a left but the next shot show them taking a right.
Click any image for a larger one.
So how did our companions survive? Surely the Daleks would have finished them off...
When Elannuir gets the shock of a nearby energy weapon, (note she didn't take a direct hit) she is knocked unconscious. Daleks have very poor aim when shooting at the Doctor or his companions... that's a known fact. But in this case, the shockwave from the weapon hitting the wall close to Elannuir knocked her out.
Then Sir Edmund steps in front of her in a very protective manner and challenges the Dalek to get past him. He is shot with the energy weapon.
But as the Doctor points out, this electrically charged weapon hits Edmund's sword, which is firmly planted on the metal floor, and the charge is grounded. With the help of his chainmail, forming an essential Faraday Cage around Sir Edmund, he survives the shock, but gets enough of a jolt to be knocked unconscious.
I can't tell you how overjoyed I was when this theory was borne out in the new series episode "Dalek". In that episode, the Dalek triggers an electrical weapon which zaps nearly everyone in the room, because there is water everywhere, and water conducts the electricity.
Yes, yes, yes, so much is made clear by the Doctor. But what then? Surely the Daleks would have cleaned up, no?
Well, although time travels strangely in comics and photo stories, at the exact moment Sir Edmund is knocked unconscious, the Doctor has removed Davros' eye. Davros then recalls all the Daleks to protect the laboratory. So they abandon the companions, who then take a few moments to recover, and to fight their way back to the Doctor.
Surely, though, these Daleks could not be defeated by these primitives...?
Well, the fact that Sir Edmund and Elannuir are primitives gives them an unexpected edge here. Daleks are much more used to tactics and weapons of modern people, people with laser blasters and energy weapons, rather than swords and knives. They soon find out that their superior defenses are completely inferior against a good hard piece of metal shoved into your grating. The Daleks have no defense against such completely unexpected low-tech attack.
Another lesson for Davros in his continuing effort to refine his Daleks, no?
Product Enterprises is an English company which has been creating Doctor Who merchandise for the past few years. I searched pretty high and low for reasonably priced Daleks at 1:6 scale, but none exist that I know. Product Enterprises makes Talking Daleks at about 6 inches tall or so. This is too small for 1:6 scale. So I had to pull some of my old forced perspective tricks.
The largest Dalek is a bit too tall and I didn't end up using
He's a Radio-Controlled Dalek also from Product Enterprises.
I did use the two smaller Daleks.
I was at a yard sale a couple of years ago and I found two things I was amazed at. One is an electronic Starship Troopers Warrior Bug, and the other was a War Planets toy from Trendmasters. Paid $.50 for both. I bought the War Planet knowing it would make a good prop, but I had no idea what I would do with it.
When I came to designing a floating Dalek, I was first thinking of using the upper neck and head portion of the Daleks I created for "Redemption". But I did't quite like the look. Then I came across the War Planet and found that almost without addition, it would make a perfect floating Dalek. I added the eye-stalk from the Dalek I created, and put a few clear plastic tabs on the lower part to mimic the sensor globes that Daleks have on their skirts.
And then I needed a bit of a twist ending. Putting Davros' head inside the Dalek Pod showed that while perhaps the new Daleks would never make it off the drawing board, it could provide Davros with his new form.
Of course after writing this and creating Davros (from a Hasbro Boris Karloff "The Mummy" head) I watched "Remembrance of the Daleks" again, and when Davros is revealed inside the Emperor Dalek's domed upper half, I was surprised to see that he was almost just a head in a Dalek shell. Which is a bit shocking considering that's almost exactly what I did, and the last time I saw "Remembrance" was the late 1980s. I guess things stick in memory that you just don't expect.
As for Davros' head, it's a painted Mummy head with a shiny blue bead on the forehead. I filed the spherical bead down until it looked like Davros' eye, and glued it to the head. I painted eyelids on and used fine wire for the various wires around his head. In the final shot he has another eye, a different color. One was purple, the other more blue. Though that probably doesn't come across well in the shot.
One friend of mine made a great joke: (Paraphrased)
Here we were all thinking Davros was the father of the Daleks, and instead it turns out he's their Mummy.
Davros' transport body is cut from the black Dalek I created for "Redemption". Instead of silver, the sensor globes are gold because I didn't want to repaint them. Plus, hey, this is Davros at a time other than when he's seen in any of the TV episodes.
I used the body and outfit of Dylan Hunt (a BBI figure from the TV series "Andromeda") for Davros, with the Mummy head, altered and painted. I painted the one hand to have the same tone as the head.
Hasbro's Mummy figure
For his backboard I used clear plastic (for a variant) which I heated in the oven and bent. Once bent, I put it in cold water to "temper" the plastic. It almost worked perfectly, but it bent too far and there's a fold you can see at the back, along with a plastic heat mark where it was on the pan. Close enough for my purposes.
As I wrote, I lost the Doctor's Locator at the end of Segment Three, down a drain in Boston.
Yep. It's down there somewhere to this day.
So I fish through my daughter's Lego box to replace it. After all, I know she has more posts and clear circles.
I found several red and yellow clear circles, with one clear, and a green, I think. Not as many as I had hoped. And I found several posts: A few yellow ones, a clear yellow one, and a clear red one. No white.
I scoured my local toy stores for a mini Lego set (less than $7.00 or so) and could not find a single Lego set that had a white post that cost less than $19.00.
But I eventually found one of those capsule Lego sets that looked to me, from the photo, to have a white post. $4.00. Turns out it was gray. In the picture it was clearly white.
I thought I could get away with a gray one. I even asked a Legomaniacal co-worker if he could search his parts for a white post. Nope. He came up with a substitute, but it wasn't the same.
So I thought, "wouldn't it be funny if it just changed half-way through the story with absolutely no explanation?" I had planned to replace it with the clear red one, but I figured it would be too different. I thought the gray might be fine, and that was what I was going to go with until I went to KB Outlet on December 12. I found a Lego Womens' Soccer Team set. Six Soccer players, a ball launcher, and a goal with goalie. It had four white posts in it, and it cost $4.88. Before discount. I think the whole thing cost about $4.50 total. I gave everything to my 9-year-old soccer-playing daughter, who had a ball (well, two, really) with it.
So the Doctor will have a locator that will be virtually indistinguishable from the original before shooting starts on Segment Four. Not sure if the clear circles are all the same colors or not, but that never mattered. I bet most people didn't even notice that I swapped those colors around a lot. Even between shots... to simulate the colors scrolling and such. Did you spot that little detail?
I needed a break.
The frantic pace of pre-production for Segment Three took the wind out of my sails. Making those sets took all of my off-work time, and just proved to me that I could not keep up this mad pace.
So I decided to cool down for a while. During the month of November and early December I touched up the script and drew up the storyboard. I was highly satisfied with the resulting work and decided not to begin pre-production until after the Christmas holidays.
Partly this was due to the fact that our car cost us $1500.00 to fix. This took most of my money so I couldn't even buy styrofoam for sets.
In my notes at the time, I wrote: In an example of Life Irritating Art, I have been without extra fundage for building sets and so I halted production during December and January. No choice, I'm afraid. But starting on the last weekend of January, I'm getting styrofoam sheets for the Lab bunker and will begin work again.
And I did.
I wanted the set for this bunker to look old and decrepit. I originally planned to use a soldering iron to etch cinder-blocks into the styrofoam, but I thought cinderblocks looked too - Earthly. I wanted it to be dark, and I wanted it to be different.
A few months before, I found on sale at Toys R Us, the Mezzco Toys Captain Nemo playset from their version of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". It was a small bridge playset made of aged copper with blue/green patina. I so liked the look of the playset that I declared "Eureka!" That's it!"
The Captain Nemo set is made up of three plastic wall panels and a cool design on the right, sitting on a nice grid floor. All of these elements are used in my set.
So I redesigned my set a bit and I immediately knew how I wanted it to look. Old, dark, brown, with copper patina. I did some paint tests that turned out fairly well.
Early Wall Concept - Note the pipes the bottom and top skirts remained part of the final design, but I lost the cinder-block brick pattern.
I used many images of patina'd copper to get the idea. Like this one.
Real copper patina
So I went ahead and began construction. I painted four flats black, first, then brown over the black, then I used a natural sponge to dab aquamarine on it. Then I dry-brushed it in streaks to give the impression that the patina (copper rust) ran. Then to accentuate that I used some metallic colors (silver, gold, copper) to dab on metallic areas.
The final result, I thought, was pretty good.
Painting Patina on the Sets
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Then one day as I was having a good look at the Nemo set, I thought, "Hey, I want some kind of bubble window leading into Davros' lab." And it hit me -- I could use two of the panels glued together as the actual door to Davros's lab.
What amazed me when I put the door onto the set I had painted, was how closely the professionally coppered playset matched what I had created. Perhaps too close. The door wouldn't stand out enough. But once I cut the door-aperture into the styrofoam and did some repainting, I realized it was as close to perfect as I ever could have hoped.
The Door to Davros' Lab
Click for larger image
As I didn't want the door to open outward into the corridor (which I planned to be fairly narrow) I had to make room on the door's wall for the door to slide. I hadn't originally planned on that, so I had to cut more of the styrofoam baseboard off than I had anticipated, and that meant I had to paint the bottom of the wall (as I had only painted the styrofoam wall to the point where the borders covered) to match the upper wall somewhat. To hide the join and to make the door look like it slid on some bracket, I put two thin strips of riveted metal stripping next to the door. I hope I achieved the look I was going for.
To achieve the inside of the same wall, I just painted the back-side of that flat. This is the only flat I've painted on both sides in all of my stories. You'll notice that the wall going into the lab has none of the base-board bevelling because that was an afterthought.
Obviously I used various plastic forms to place on walls randomly to make each corridor look a little different from previous ones, even though I'm just using the same three walls. (Plus one with the door in it.)
The stuff I strewed about the lab came from all kinds of sources. The table is the floor of the Nemo set propped up with two triangles of foam-core and long screws. On the table is gear from the Muppets Pigs in Space playset as well as stuff from various Sideshow Toy Universal monsters. Other odds and ends adorn the surface. Underneath is the musical robot from the Muppets Dr. Link Hogthrob figure. On the floor in front of that table are three cryogenic chambers from McFarlane X-Files figures. Near the door are two small Micro-Machine Borg Cubes, and the map case from the Captain Nemo set. Also, you'll find a Burger King toy version of the Omnidroid from The Incredibles, which shows up on the Dalek Concept Sketch on the wall.
On the other side of the door is another cryo chamber resting on a wheeled dolly. Sitting atop is a small Micro-Machines Deep Space Nine space station. Then along that wall are several silver posts meant to be racks for small finger bikes. Next to that is the stage from the 1930s King Kong movie. Sitting atop that are two pieces from various Trendmasters Bugs playsets. These make a great operating table, which would later reveal itself as the place Davros finaly ditches his mangled body.
But of course you've probably noticed the blueprints.
Transport Body Progression. Here, we see the Dalek go from a variant of the Travel Body Mark IV, to a floating Dalek, to a version that greatly resembles the Omnidroid from The Incredibles, and finally, the floating War Planets pod.
This is a universal joke among fans of Doctor Who. How can Daleks rule the universe if they can't get up stairs? I play on that a bit for fun.
The development of the Time Cop increases a little in this episode. In Segment Two we see a red-headed woman staring at a monitor screen. In Segment Three she appears, has a quick look-round and leaves before she's noticed. In this episode she has a look around Davros' lab, notices Davros's headless body and has a shoot-out with Davros in his new floating transport body.
But we still don't know much about her. We do find that she knows about Daleks. Could she be a Time Lord? Sent to catch the Doctor and drag his heiny back to Gallifrey?
We will have to wait to find out more.
Here, you can see how the four wall pieces formed various corridor formats.
And there's me setting up Sir Edmund.