Retro TV decided to skip right over “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” for some reason, which will be very jarring for unschooled viewers as that is the story where Susan leaves the TARDIS, and we also find out that all the Daleks didn’t perish in the previous story they appeared in. Oh well, so much for continuity.
The next story is “The Rescue” which is another 2 parter that you can easily breeze through in an hour. This story is mainly notable for introducing Susan’s replacement, Vicki, whom I immediately liked better.
There’s not much of a plot. Basically Vicki is living in a crashed spaceship on a planet called Dido with an older man named Bennett. Supposedly the rest of the passengers and crew were slaughtered by the planet’s natives upon arrival, and a native named Koquillion is keeping the rest of the natives from killing Bennett and Vicki for his own mysterious reasons. Koquillion is a goofy looking thing that looks like some kind of an Aztec god.
Later on, we find out that “Koquillion” is really just some guy in a ceremonial costume, so the fact that even the story acknowledges that this is just a man in a costume makes his goofy look a bit more forgivable. There is also a goofy looking monster that is supposedly menacing Ian and the Doctor at one point, only for us eventually find out that the monster is not only a vegetarian, but is in fact Vicki’s pet. Barbara kills her pet, which understandably, pisses Vicki off. In the end, it is revealed who really killed the rest of people from the spaceship (it’s not too hard to figure out, the planet isn’t exactly awash with suspects), and the Doctor has an atmospheric and rather satisfying confrontation with the killer.
Hartnell’s Doctor is at his peak here and has really evolved quite a bit from what he was in his first few stories into a Doctor much more like what we are used to. In the end, Vicki is convinced to leave in the TARDIS to act as a surrogate Susan.
Many people over the years have commented on how the fact that Bennett keeps Vicki (who is supposed to be a teenager) around hints at some sort of an inappropriate sexual thing going on between them, but honestly those people must’ve not been paying much attention to the story, as Bennett gives a perfectly valid and non-kinky explanation for not bumping her off. “The Rescue” isn’t Doctor Who at its best, but it has some good performances and ably serves its purpose of introducing the first new companion well enough.