Terry Nation returns to write this four-part story. I wasn’t expecting much from it and it didn’t deliver much either, so there’s not much to tell.
With the Tardis’ power drained, a Marine Space Corps ship’s power drained, and the Daleks’ power drained, it’s soon apparent that something on this planet is draining power. There’s a mysterious race of zealous inhabitants on the planet, protecting an equally mysterious temple. In fact, the Daleks play only a minor role in the story, serving as little more than motivation to get away more quickly.
Daleks being powerless and having to rely on others’ help could have been fascinating and dramatic, putting them in a new situation and forcing them to realise the benefits of mutual understanding and help. But that doesn’t happen here. They quickly replace their failed laser weapons with ballistic gun attachments and that’s it, they’re in charge again, ordering the natives and the marines around and threatening to destroy everything. What a wasted opportunity.
On the other hand, all the things about the natives and their temple are actually interesting concepts. The temple is a giant living city, a computer that gained self-awareness many generations ago and is now worshipped as their god. The natives, Exxilons, are well-designed creatures, with stone coloured faces and bodies that resemble rocks. The last couple of episodes feature the Doctor and his new Exxilon friend trying to outwit a series of trials and tests inside the temple, while Daleks give chase. These tests a bit pathetic, however, and include the world’s most simple maze puzzle and a tiny electrified hopscotch board.
Ultimately, the Doctor destroys the temple’s circuitry, while the humans outside blow it up with explosives. I would have thought one would have been enough. With the remaining explosives, the Space Corp captain brings death to the Daleks (ahh!) by blowing up their ship as they try to leave.
Another explosive finish, then, but a mediocre serial overall.