An aptly named episode this. The Ordeal is the point where the wheels start to come off as the story begins to splutter to a conclusion which will continue in the following episode. The main problem with episode six is that the bulk is taken up with the efforts of Ian, Barbara and the Thals to break into the Dalek City – and this is very, very dull.
It can’t help but feel very padded out – had there not been seven episodes to fill then no doubt it wouldn’t have taken so long to find a way in. Alas we have to follow them for almost the whole episode as they explore the very small cave sets very slowly.
There’s the odd moment of interest though. There seems to be something of a romantic spark between Barbara and Ganatus which Ian is oblivious to. Although Ganatus’ comment that they won’t use one of the customs of her planet – ladies first – is baffling (just how long have they had to discuss the Earth?) When David Whitaker novelised the story he elected to make Barbara very antongistic and distant to Ian as they attempted to breach the city – it was a surprise to me that this wasn’t a part of the television original. I mourn for the glass Dalek as well …..
Antodus continues to be the weak link in the group –
ANTODUS: Ganatus. I want to go back.
GANATUS: What for?
ANTODUS: I can’t go on any more.
GANATUS: You must.
ANTODUS: No. We’re going deeper, deeper all the time. We’ll be trapped in the mountain, I know we will. Please, Ganatus, let me go back.
GANATUS: You can’t.
ANTODUS: But you don’t really need me, not really. I could, well, I could go back and signal to the others that we’ve managed to get as far as we have.
GANATUS: Antodus, we go on together.
ANTODUS: Why? Why are you making me do all these things? Even if we do get through, we’ll never defeat the Daleks. Ganatus, we’re all going to be killed.
GANATUS: We can’t turn back now.
ANTODUS: The others can’t, but we could. Listen, they’re going to die anyway. We could just go back and tell the others that the Daleks killed them.
Alas, the next line is fluffed by Philip Bond (Ganatus) when he says that Antodus has to go back, rather than go on. But there’s nothing to do but press on, hope the audience hasn’t noticed and luckily an unconvincing rock-fall causes a distraction.
There’s not much Hartnell in this one, but he does have a lovely scene where he disables a control panel outside the city. He spends so much time crowing about this (“a superior brain”) rather than taking Susan’s advice that they should leave, that the pair end up getting caught by a group of Daleks!
The first time, but by no means the last, that the plot has to come to a virtual halt to fill the episode count. Often there’s enough decent character interaction to make it more bearable, but The Ordeal (with its sub 1940’s adventure serial atmosphere) doesn’t have a great deal going for it.