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   Plague of Death (AV05)
Plague of Death AV05

The sixth instalment of The Dalek Chronicles sees the Daleks returning to Skaro to combat a deadly cloud of rust that threatens to destroy their entire race. Not one of the better known stories in the sequence, and possibly one of the most underrated, this tale introduces us to the Dalek hoverbouts and shows us more of the Black Dalek, who was first introduced in Duel of the Daleks.

Below is a selection of images from our productionof this story which was released in 2005.

DVD and CD-style covers and disc labels for the production can be found here.

   Plague of Death: Gallery
Black Dalek. Obviously.
Big Dalek Device
Neighbourhood watch scheme goes awry
Dalek hoverbouts"Emergency! Emergency!"
Black Dalek in ruinsDalek demonstration
Very rusted Dalek
Rusted Daleks
Hoverbouts attack!Black Dalek gets freaky
Rusting minionA Dalek reflects
Eek! It's the Black Dalek!
Emperor in saucer lab
   Plague of Death: Reviews

Andy Smith writes:

Enjoyed the latest Dalek Chronicle. Some of it's very funny (unintentionally). "Of course! Magnetism!". And it was so sweet when the Emperor wouldn't let the Black Dalek die. Aaahhh!

The rust effect was smashing, and the shots from the dying Dalek's POV were mad. Only slight criticism (well, too much praise can be embarrassing can't it) is that the photographic backgrounds look a little too detailed and don't quite fit with the look of the cgi elements. I recommend Photoshop's "Smart Blur" filter, which can give pictures a bit of a painted look (I use it to death on my site).

Andy McDonald writes:

Thanks for sending me a copy of Plague Of Death. I think your productions just get better and better. The animation on this episode looks a little smoother than your earlier ones. Not that I'm suggesting that the earlier ones look amateurish. They don't, I just think that with each one you are obviously becoming more accomplished and professional.

I especially liked the scene where the Dalek saucers descend against the mountain background. Also, the actual Dalek movements look more fluid.

The sound, as always, is very impressive.

Paul Richmond writes:

Received the new Dalek Chronicles episode Plague of Death...

Absolutely superb as always!

Like the earlier reviewer I also found the end scene between the Emperor and the Black Dalek to be curiously touching... but there again I can remember thinking the same about the same scene in the comic strip. I remember thinking at the time that it was a shame we never actually got to see the rebuilding of the Black Dalek...

And there were some cheeky little in-jokes I noticed here that were lovely ("Do not fight in here..." indeed)...

Brilliant, brilliant stuff...

Bryan McCormack writes:

Plague of Death is the latest in Stuart Palmer's ongoing mission to adapt all of the TV21 Dalek strips from the 1960s.

Like its nearest counterpart, Duel of the Daleks there are no humans, just lots and lots of those loveable pepperpots. In many ways these human-less stories are the best ones as they let us focus on the Daleks themselves.

By now we're starting to get a little familiar with the Dalek city and it's fun to try and spot elements from previous stories being used again.

Voices and Visuals are once again spot on. The rust cloud effect is simple yet convincing and the sight of Daleks rusting to death is genuinely creepy. Stuart manages to make you almost feel sorry for them. Almost.

Duel is still the best of the series so far but this runs it a close second.

Dave Aldridge writes:

I just wanted to say thanks for sending Plague of Death so quickly, fantastic as always. Look forward to more!


Mark Carter writes:

The disc did indeed arrive about two days after I posted it. Excellent service!

It was easily as good as the previous ones - better, I'd say, but, then, the Daleks getting rusty was always a favourite of mine from way back when. My son Jamie also loved it.

I'm consistently impressed by the quality. How long, on average, does an episode take to produce? And when do you get time to sleep?

Roger (AKA Black Dalek) writes:

Just like to say that Plague of Death has always been one of my favourites stories and as usually you have done it proud.

The Black Dalek a real hero in this and maybe the Emperor Dalek show his support because the Black Dalek supported the Emperor Dalek in Duel of the Daleks..... Who knows...... I would like to think so.

Your vcd's just get better and better I cannot wait to see how Children of the Revolution comes out.

Please keep up the good work.

Steve Swales writes:

Another Dalek-only story and another very slick production. This is the story with the radioactive rust cloud that corrodes Daleks (dodgy science I know!) – as such the necessary particle effects must have been agony to render.

There are some highly imaginative effects here, such as when one of the Daleks catches the plague, and its eye stick view of the Black Dalek changes in focus and perspective.

The episode features plenty of Dalek hypochondria, lots of hoverbout action and an unsettlingly empathic insight into Dalek loyalty.

Nick Mellish writes:

I've always loved Plague Of Death; perhaps it was the way it was so melodramatic ("…the one thing the Daleks fear- rust!"), or the way that the Daleks spoke in a most un-Daleky way ("Magnets! Of course.") Whatever the subconscious attraction, Plague Of Death was sheer unadulterated fun and one of my favourite Episodes in The Dalek Chronicles. With this in mind, it is not surprising to say that I had felt that, as a viewer, a lot was riding on this one. Fortunately, it met and even exceeded my expectations.

The story itself concerns an accident involving radiation, rust and Daleks. At first it looks like everything is under control, but following a plot twist it turns out that the whole Dalek race is in danger because the rust has begun to germinate (or as it is put in the comic strip, "IT IS A PLAGUE!")

Thankfully, none of the melodrama has been lost in the transition from Strip to Screen. The Black Dalek's bizarre dialogue remains, sounding all the more odd when spoken in the grating modulated tones of the Daleks; the Emperor Dalek still comes across as Teacher-esque; the drama of seeing a giant cloud of rust is made all the more akin to a B-movie with the incidental music. What you see on screen is what you got on page.

Stuart Palmer's adaptations have thus far been consistently strong, and this is no exception. The brief additions made to the script are more than welcome; the break out of war amongst the Daleks is significantly expanded upon so that rather than just have a few frames informing us that the Daleks are killing one another, we are instead provided with a nice montage of scenes depicting the Daleks fighting to the death. Also nicely expanded is the confrontation between the Emperor Dalek and the Black Dalek near the end, with a nice twist added where the Black Dalek begs to be allowed to die. As faithful adaptations go, Palmer's scripts are hard to beat.

The Directing is again brilliant; the Dalek fighting is well handled as is the Black Dalek's descent into its suicidal persona. The highlight for me though occurs about seventeen minutes into the Episode; here we see a Dalek slowly becoming infected with the Rust Disease, its vision going in and out of focus slowly. It's a small touch to see this sort of thing, but a very welcome one. It would have been easy enough to just say they were dying, but in showing their dying senses, the scenario is made all the more captivating.

The music, by Empire 639 (a.k.a. Palmer himself), is very good again, with the mood of the pieces accenting the mood of the visuals. One nice moment comes after the Emperor Dalek has talked down the Black Dalek from the brink of death, and an excerpt from the 'Doctor Who' theme tune is played slowly, drawing bizarre parallels between the Doctor's actions and those of the Emperor Dalek!

The Dalek voices and the acting throughout is of the highest quality; the modulation is just right and in my opinion it was a wise decision to say the un-Daleky lines in the same way as the others, as it makes them seem less jarring. The Emperor Dalek in particular gets some great moments, and these lines are delivered with relish.

The VCD of Plague Of Death unfortunately contains no Special Features unlike the other VCDs (bar the two-part epic The Amaryll Challenge), but this was made up for in the following Episode to be made - The Pentaray Factor  - which had two extra features.

In all, Plague Of Death is once again a triumph for Altered Vistas productions and a real treat for all the fans of The Dalek Chronicles. At the end of this Episode, a mysterious Spaceship lands and we are informed that The Menace Of The Monstrons is coming soon. If it is anything like the first six Episodes of The Dalek Chronicles, then I can safely assure everyone that it will be fantastic.

David John Barker writes:

As always the Dalek voices are excellent with multiple distinctive styles which are each very reminiscent of the best vocals from Daleks in DOCTOR WHO. Also the echo present in larger rooms adds to the immersive experience.

The Black Dalek's impatient pacing back and forth before the Brain Machine gives an answer is a nice touch of characterisation and is well portrayed, especially considering the limited expressions available within the Dalek design. The narrowing of the Daleks' eye is also used effectively throughout. Also the pause just before the Dalek technician says "volunteer", followed by a shot of the un-armed (pun intended) Dalek shaking its eyestalk is very funny.

The Daleks fighting in the city is a delightful scene, much expanded from the comic. It also showcases many examples of the classic Dalek-gun effect. Speaking of effects, the sound of the doors on the Dalek saucers and their animation is always impressive. The Rusting is also done well with the Dalek screams particularly horrific.

The only real reduction in quality is the hoverbouts. They do not seem as 3-D as the rest of the Daleks for the majority of their scenes.

Overall, this is a wonderful episode second only to Duel of the Daleks in my opinion.

RetroRobot writes:

Prog.1: Plague Of Death (27:22)

< no 'bonus' (argh! grrr, bitey-bitey!!) >

Prog. 1 review: Plaque of Teeth

(apologies to Dalek denticians and Radioactive gum-bacteria!)

Originally published as an oral-hygiene allegory for young Daleks ("Use 'Magnetic Toothpaste'(regd)* – Guaranteed Protection Against Rust-Decay … always remember to properly brush your Casings – especially those hard-to-get-at grills** and slats-mesh – paying special attention to washing behind those Headlamps") this promo for Dalek-healthcare And The Consequences Of Failure became such a popular Dalek-Mutant tale that it was made into an epic (small "e" there) motion-picture adventure and retitled (for the stumpier audience) as Doktor Dalek And The Plug Of Dearth.

[* Copyright Infringers will be Exterminated]

[** ah, so That's what I've been doing wrong!]

Stuart Palmer's exploitation* of fragmented remnants from this Dalek Chronicles 'MolarityPlay' – captured from damaged Units that failed to self-destruct – has resulted in a (dust-)disturbing tale of Examination-&-Inquest and High Indenture.

[* for which, since it actually counts as promotion of Dalek interest(s), he will be slightly less exterminated than most when the Invasion comes ]

The (pre-titles) teaser opens with a good example of 'just-right' Titletext-period in "Dalek Inventions Factory": wherein a beautiful little SFX-arrival draws the eye from First Glance* at the scene to the above Textitle which lingers long enough for us to absorb the meaning clearly, then leaving long enough of the after-text imageview** for one's imagination to conjure up some inventive speculations and curiosity about what such might be like – Before being presented with the artist's 'Given'.

[* short glimpse before text for simple images : longer gaze for complex – would be my formula there]

[** again, according to 'formula']

(First Quibble) Um, the Rod-bending needed to match the ClawArm-plunging!

Cool Coincidence Report!: whilst Empire 639's superb IntroTheme is playing (on my ultra-fi speakers) at a good volume, a largish helicopter passes over my roof (L>R) and puts a SuperBass movie-quality 'ChopperFX' right through the middle! Yay!! Yowza!!!

(Next Quibble) A couple of strangely prolonged scenes with nothing significant happening (no dialogue, etc) –e.g., very slow exit from de-rusted chamber of the Factory (which leads on to first example of "jiggly" bits...)

Why are some of the Dalek-movement 'shots' so distinctively 'Jiggly' in this one? (esp. forward & away movement – e.g., Black Dalek and team exiting the damaged Dalatomic Research Factory; & Black Dalek exiting the Observation Platform after the neutralization of the Rust Cloud). I've not seen this problem (so overtly) before.

Really well-depicted Rust attack on 'DESERT STATION GX.YUR' and its Daleks. A truly hair-raising Dalek demise – a genuine moment of 'Sympathy for the Dalek'! ("the screams, the screams!" – well it really turned Black Dalek's insides, he had to switch it off!!)

Wahoo! At last!! Hoverbouts!!!*

[* none of that silly 'Transolar Disks' business!]

Would've been nice to have had a Textitle saying what aerial view of Skaro we were getting at the start of the first ('Arrival Of The')Hoverbouts sequence.

I must compliment Stuart on the 'microanimation' of those little black Dalek icons on the StormPath-Map! Did they come from an original computer game version of Daleks? (I've never seen the JavaApplet version of VidGame Daleks for e.g.) as inspiration at all? – or are they all your own invention? (you little ol' Yarvelling you!) [All my own inventoion! - Stuart]

Tragic Error Report! The original comic strip had it right, but unfortunately here the rule has been reversed, to: "Like Poles Attract / Unlike Poles Repel" when it's actually the other way around!

Pondering ponderous pronouncement pronunciation (makes for good echo-timing tho') still a tad Too slow – ok on first viewing, but definitely drags for the next (aspect of being too careful about pacing speech for the audience?). At worst this results in imparting a slightly lacklustre feel to delivery of lines by Black Dalek in "DO NOT PANIC" speech in the Testlab (esp. after all the other –panicking– Daleks have demonstrated great capacity for expression!)

Nice editorial reordering of original text so that speech which in the comic serves to alert (logic-link) the Emperor of who to suspect (which is bleedin' obvious to Us o'course) becomes a nicely timed dramatic moment of "Speak o't' Devil (and Himself appears)…"

Fun with FX: uses of classic BBC(type) sound-effects, like 'divebomb-planecrash' make for a combination of humour, nostalgia and a weird kind of historical authenticity to the soundtrack.

More lovely moments:

The EyeStalk-shadows on the grouped Dalek-domes as they first panic about the Rust*;

[* whoops – I've given it all away now, haven't I?]

The slow-reveal of the Dalek BetaGamma Ray-Machine behind the 'dissolving'metal**;

[** "Looked more like it stayed solid and was turned invisible – the bits didn't drop off as they became fragments did they?!" (Now, now, don't be mean Mr DalekSupremePedant)]

Some 'T-Shirtably'Cool hoverbout shots;

The way that Stuart's extra dialogue leaves more time for the first Dalek-infection to take place***;

[*** no giveaway this time!]

"Do Not Touch My Casing! (whod'yerthinkyouare) You May Be Infected! (keepyer'andsteryourself)";

"Do Not Fight In Here! Do Not Fight In Here!" (Resisting the temptation to add: "This Is Tha War Room!" must have been quite a struggle, and I don't know that I'd have had the strength – or taste – not to!!);

The nightmarish 'Cries & Screams Off(stage)' as the Golden Emperor's SpaceSombreros return during the Glorious Dalek Debacle***;

[*** 'Teaser' there]

That vertiginous moment when it looks like a descending Hoverbout is going to do a 'Wile E Coyote' on the canyon floor, right next to the Emperor!

"WARNING! The Spoiler" (next 4 paras):

Excellent use of 'fisheye'distortion on views of Black Dalek (initially from Infected Dalek p.o.v., but last shot of that scene is a closeup of BD from an angle Not related to I.D.) in an expressionistic moment of distorted perception / shock realisation = combined subjective/objective view! And more cool SFX (e.g. shattered-image effect) during breakdown of Dalek Order as Plague Fear sweeps through the Dalek City (reigning chaos).

First tantalizing hint of DalekMutant-form inside a blasted Casing (just a 'claw' – respectfully Trad. moment).

A superb moment of textural 'interpretation' by Stuart when the word "volunteer" – as used to refer to a test subject – is stressed in a humorously unexpected way.

This must surely be the first time a Dalek has been depicted ordering its own Extermination!*

(I can't speak for any such cleverness in books or audios as I've not yet "encounter(ed) [-consume(d)-&-digest"(ed)] any of those).

[* clearly this must be where the NewSeries stole the idea from!]


Good Grief! – I've been watching AV's 1 - 6 (for the 3rd time) and have only Now noticed that 'instruction' on the TV21 logo-block telling me I'm supposed to watch these "EVERY WEDNESDAY"!!! (hmmm… I imagine that treating them as a regular weekly episode – even with a roughly-set same timeslot – would work really well, adding to them the pleasurable psychology we get* from 'real' tv! But…) Why Wednesdays? I mean, I've experienced once being a “Bad'Mondays, but 'Thor'sday was good”, sort and now I'm an "I Do Like Mondays - but can't get the hang of Thursdays" type lately. With Wednesdays being the “Officially Ambivalent” day of the week, I suppose this could be Clever Scheduling? (Not related to Cunning Planning.)

[* and got vividly reminded of during the periodic materializations of The New Series just passed (weekend before last over here in Oz)]

Plague Of Death is my favourite Dalek Chronicles story (only slightly ahead of The Zeg Fiasco - as the Dalek Emperor's secret file labels it) and as usual the Altered Vistas version truly brings it all to life! (Now I'm setting my 'Fickleness' Dial to "Incipient Treachery" in anticipation of having my favour diverted to the next Episode: Menace Of the Monstrons!

Daniel Pegg writes:

Congratulations, Altered Vistas, I have a new favourite Dalek Chronicle - Plague of Death is just about as exciting as the Dalek Chronicles can surely get. There’s murder, mayhem, some great effects (especially the rust cloud spinning towards the city and the Daleks rusting, not to mention the Dalek point of view shot of the Black Dalek as it gets the plague) and a fantastic battle sequence together with those lovely in-jokes that I’m always banging on about. Then, of course, we also get our first sighting of the Dalek hoverbouts (where are they called trans solar discs?), even though they come to a spectacular end, crashing into the desert when the rust cloud eats away their antennae! Great stuff!

It’s a little disappointing that there are no extras on this disc, but a double helping on The Pentaray Factor more than makes up for this. Mind you, I hope all the future releases do have extras as I’m greedy for more Altered Vistas magic! Thanks!