Doctor Who: Day Of The
Daleks (Story No.
Sound: B- Extras: A+ Episodes: A
A unique parallel exists between the story of “Day of the Daleks” and the BBC’s
release of the 2-disc set re-presenting it.
In the four episode story, John Pertwee’s Doctor must prevent a group of
guerrilla fighters from the 22nd century from meddling with their own past and
causing the rise of the Dalek empire that they seek to destroy. In this 2 disc set, the BBC goes back into
the past and “fixes” some of the most niggling shortcomings of this otherwise
brilliant and much loved tale.
While the Doctor manages to show the fighters the error of
their ways, the folks at the BBC get to have it both ways, with disc one
containing the unedited episodes as they originally aired, and disc two
contained a spruced up version that tastefully addresses some of the story’s
larger continuity and action issues. For
example, in the original version, there were simply not enough Daleks and
Ogrons (their bestial alien servitors) to make the climactic battle scenes
convincing. The edited version fixes
this. Additionally, the energy weapons
and Dalek blasters get their own visual effects makeover. Although beyond the scope of what might have
been possible in 1972, these updated effects are adroitly integrated and fit
seamlessly into the action.
And oh what action!
The return of the Daleks challenges the Doctor and companion Jo Grant
(Katy Manning), and involves a cadre of UNIT soldiers and officers as well. Pertwee’s 4th Doctor gets to engage in some
Venusian Karate action, while also taking part in a questionable blaster battle
where he actually blasts an oncoming Ogron!
This story also directly addresses some of the issues plaguing time
travel. Can one go into the past to
change one’s future? Will the resulting
paradoxes and discontinuities only muck things up further? These questions and more take center stage
amidst a hail of blasters and bullets.
Each disc also contains a treasure trove of extras. Disc One includes a making of featurette, a Blue Peter excerpt (a hit TV show of
the time), and a wonderful bit of footage from a 1970’s English middle school
where the kids have won a contest to get their own miniaturized Dalek in their
classroom. The interviews with the
children are priceless! Disc two
includes a feature on the special edition of “Day of the Daleks” which discusses the new footage and how it was
shot, and also touches on the improved voice acting for the Daleks. Part Two of the “UNIT Family” might be the
best extra from both discs, as it goes in depth into the wonderful
relationships between the cast members, and how the Pertwee years coalesced
around the concept of UNIT as a home base for the Doctor, and its operatives as
his pseudo family. The cast and
producers also discuss Roger Delgado and his Master character, and the raw
emotion displayed when they speak of his
untimely passing at the hands of a car accident in Turkey is touching.
This two disc set honors this wonderful story and really
highlights why the Pertwee years were a highpoint in the history of the
show. Being able to watch both the
normal and special editions of the story will provide fans a renewed
perspective on the challenges the show’s producers and cast faced during this
period. They’re also just plain
exhilarating television viewing.
- Scott Pyle