‘The Dominators’ (TV)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Recharge and Equalise


‘The Dominators’ is the first story of Season 6 in the original series of ‘Doctor Who’. It was originally conceived by writers Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, who previously wrote the two Yeti stories, ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ and ‘The Web of Fear’. This tale had a troubled production throughout.

The story was inspired by the youthful hippy movement that was going on during the late 1960s with the slogan, ‘Make Love, Not War’. Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln wanted to address the dangers of a world of pacifism invaded by a domineering species wanting to enslave the population.

Whilst intriguing as an approach to writing a ‘Doctor Who’ story, Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln encountered problems upon delivering it. ‘The Dominators’ was originally meant to be a six-part adventure. But script editor Derrick Sherwin was so unhappy with the scripts being delivered to him.

As a result, ‘The Dominators’ was reduced to a five-part adventure instead of a six-parter. Also, there were a sizeable amount of changes made to the story and Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln weren’t pleased with these changes. Thus they took their names off the tale and gave it a penname.

The two writers had ‘The Dominators’ penned under the pseudonym of ‘Norman Ashby’, based on their respective fathers-in-law. But the disagreements over the scripting stages of ‘The Dominators’ were the start. After this story, Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln never wrote for the series again.

Now me personally, I have a certain fondness for ‘The Dominators’ as a story. I know there are problems with it, but I can see some merit in what the two writers were trying to deliver with this tale. I even gained inspiration from ‘The Dominators’ to help me with creating my villains, the Dwaxi.

Yeah! As well as the Jem’Hadar from ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ and the Bannermen from ‘Delta and the Bannermen’, I looked to ‘The Dominators’ themselves for inspiration in creating and developing the Dwaxi for my ‘Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley’ series. The Dominators can be formidable.

When the Dominators come to invade the planet Dulkis, they seek to take control of whatever resources they can find and use the Dulcians as their slave labour. They can be pretty cruel and heartless when mistreating the Dulcians. They may be flawed villains, but they’re still very effective.

The downfall of the Dominators however is their robot servants, the Quarks. For me, the Quarks are what made the Dominators flawed as villains. For most of the story, the Dominators use the Quarks to do their dirty work. They rely on the Quarks a lot when they could easily do the work themselves.

Why couldn’t the Dominators have an army of troops to conduct the hard-going tasks they wanted done with drilling bore-holes into the planet’s crust? That would be more effective and very threatening for the Dulcian people instead of using squat robots to conduct most of the slave work.

The Quarks of course were meant to be merchandisable replacements for the Daleks in ‘Doctor Who’ by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln. This resulted in merchandising quarrels between the two writers and the BBC, involving toy merchandise and some ‘TV Comic’ appearances in the late 60s.

Because of the quarrelling over the ownership of the Quarks between the two writers and the BBC, Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln weren’t allowed to write for ‘Doctor Who’ again. This is a shame as the planned season finale ‘Laird of the McCrimmon’ was aborted. I would like to have seen that. 🙂

Another thing regarding the Quarks is that they didn’t work as replacements for the Daleks as ‘Doctor Who’ monsters. It’s easy to see why, as the Quarks are rather cute-looking as robots. They also have these high-pitched electronic voices by Sheila Grant which cannot be taken very seriously.

The Quarks were also played by three little boys including John Hicks, Gary Smith and Freddie Wilson. So that’s three little boys inside boxes. I’ve read that these three little boys were delighted to play ‘Doctor Who’ monsters, but it must have been pretty uncomfortable to be Quarks.

Another flaw regarding the Dominators, albeit it’s a minor one, is the two Dominators themselves – Ronald Allen as Navigator Rago and Kenneth Ives as Probationer Toba. I appreciate the character traits and clashes between these two, but most of the time they spent a lot of arguing to each other.

Rago is clearly the chief leader of the Dominator group (albeit there is only two of them on one Dominator ship). Toba is pretty blood-thirsty; wants to see a lot of destruction and has his catchphrases of “Quarks, destroy!” It gets on Rago’s nerves when his orders get disobeyed by Toba.

Now I’m not saying that arguing between two aggressive characters is a bad thing. I’ve used an approach similar to this when writing dialogue for Dwaxi characters in my stories. But the issue here is that it can get repetitive and it can also become grating on the ears when you see these two guys.

Also why are there only two Dominators aboard their ship when they land on Dulkis? Why aren’t there more of them? It’s mentioned the Dominators are the Masters of the Ten Galaxies. What does that mean? What are these Ten Galaxies they master? Why do they call themselves the Dominators?

So many questions I know and I suppose if more time was spent on developing the Dominators’ background as characters, we might have a stronger and coherent story than what we’re given. We can of course speculate on the Dominators. Ian Marter’s novelization might also provide something.

Patrick Troughton as ever delivers a superb performance as the Doctor. I like how he balances both comedy and drama in his performance, despite working on a flawed story as this. I love it when he tries to act stupid in front of the Dominators and how he works out what’s going on with their plans.

Frazer Hines equally delivers a superb performance as Jamie. Very often, Jamie can be seen as a dopey character alongside the Doctor. But in this story, he comes across as very resourceful despite being headstrong. This is especially when he teams up with Cully and they’re destroying the Quarks.

Wendy Padbury is lovely as Zoe in this ‘Doctor Who’ story. I loved that moment when Zoe defies Toba barking orders when she and other Dulcians are forced to work as slaves. Zoe also gets a change of outfit and looks sexy in her Dulcian clothes. However she soon ends up grubby at the end.

The Dulcians as characters and an alien species are very peculiar. They’re described as having ‘two hearts and no curiosity’. They’re clearly pacifists and aren’t ready for the mistreatment by the Dominators. Some Dulcians come out strong in this tale while some others remain weak and feeble.

Also, what are the Dulcians wearing in this story?! I know I said Zoe looked sexy in her Dulcian outfit, but that’s no excuse for what the Dulcian population are wearing. Most of the Dulcians look impractical in their costumes. I like the ladies being bare-armed and sexy. Not sure about the men. 😀 A lot of the Dulcian male council members are wearing dresses which don’t add to their masculinity.

Arthur Cox guest stars as Cully, the son of the Director of Dulkis. Cully comes across as being unlike most of the Dulcian population. He’s pretty brash and fed up of the traditional Dulcian ways of pacifism. When the Dominators come, he’s willing to help the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe to defeat them.

Felicity Gibson guest stars as Kando, a young female Dulcian working as part of Educator Balan’s survey team on the Dulcian island the Dominators’ ship land on. Kando is a typical pacifist Dulcian who refuses to acknowledge violence. She has a tough time in being mistreated by the Dominators.

Giles Block guest stars as Teel, a young male Dulcian also working as part of Educator Balan’s survey team on the Dulcian island. Like Kando, Teel is unwilling to acknowledge violence and gets submitted to work for the Dominators. Fortunately, Teel has moments of being defiant against Toba in the tale.

Johnson Bayly guest stars as Educator Balan, the leader of the survey team including Teel and Kando on the Dulcian island. Balan is a frail old man who seems to acknowledge the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe as off-worlders well. He keeps calling robots ‘ro-berts’ for some strange reason and sadly gets killed.

The guest cast also includes Walter Fitzgerald as Director Senex; Alan Gerrard as Bovem and Brian Cant as Chairman Tensa. There’s also Phillip Voss as Wahed; Nicolette Pendrell as Tolata and Malcolm Terris (who would later guest star in ‘The Horns of Nimon’) as Etnin, who get killed early on.

The DVD special features are as follows. There’s the making-of documentary ‘Recharge and Equalise’ with behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews; ‘Tomorrow’s Times – The Second Doctor’, presented by Caroline John and a photo gallery of the story.

There’s also a commentary with Frazer Hines, Wendy Padbury, Giles Block, Arthur Cox and make-up supervisor Sylvia James, moderated by Toby Hadoke. There’s also an info-text commentary option to enjoy and a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story to be accessed on a PC.

There’s a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ with Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen and Ian Marter and ‘Silver Nemesis’ with Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred. There’s also an ‘Easter Egg’ to look out for on this DVD.

‘The Dominators’ was a troubled production resulting in a flawed ‘Doctor Who’ story. It’s not the best ‘Doctor Who’ story ever made, but I hold a certain fondness for it. It helped me with inspiration to write my ‘Doctor Who’ stories in creating the Dwaxi and it was fun and intriguing to watch on DVD.

‘The Dominators’ rating – 7/10

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2 thoughts on “‘The Dominators’ (TV)

  1. Timelord 007

    Great review Tim, not as bad a story as some claim but i felt 5 episodes was padding, this only needed 4 episodes to tell it’s story & made more sense give Mind Robber a additional episode.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Yeah four episodes for this story would have been better. I can tell by the third episode that things were dragging out a bit. Otherwise yes. Not as bad a story as others make it out to be. Glad you enjoyed my review on this. Tim. 🙂



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