Doctor Who and the Daleks (1965/1966)
By: J.R. McNamara on October 12, 2012 | Comments
Universal | Region 4, PAL | 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 2.0 Mono | 159 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Gordon Flemyng
Starring: Peter Cushing, Roy Castle, Jennie Linden, Roberta Tovey, Bernard Cribbins, Ray Brooks, Andrew Keir
Screenplay: Milton Subotsky
Country: UK
External Links
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Doctor Who is a science fiction TV show about a human looking alien who travels through time and space that has blessed us with its presence on and off TV for almost 50 years. When it first came out in the sixties, the second adventure of this crotchety old man introduced us to an alien species that absolutely took the world by storm, and even if you haven't ever seen the show you will know their name: The Daleks.

For those few who are clueless about them, the Daleks are radiation malformed aliens who require pepperpot shaped vehicles in which to move around, and they are as nasty as a prostitute with a busted fanny. Maybe even nastier! They have a penchant for invasion, the subjugation of weaker races and an absolute hatred of the Doctor, his various companions and everything for which he stands.

In the sixties The Daleks were hotter than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Wars and Ben 10 combined, because let's face it: kids love the baddie, especially if he is a cool looking robot type! The popularity of these monsters soon leaked off the TV and onto the big screen, and film companies Aaru and Amicus, with a little financial help from breakfast cereal Sugar Puffs, combined to make two films based on the Doctor's TV adventures. These films, originally proposed as a trilogy, were Doctor Who and the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150AD. Hammer fans should take note that the Doctor in these films was not played by TV doctor William Hartnell, but was instead portrayed by horror legend Peter Cushing!

Doctor Who and the Daleks was their first adventure and tells of the Doctor, his two grand- daughters Susan and Barbara, and Barbara's boyfriend Ian, who accidentally activate Doctor Who's time machine and are sent on a trip across time and space to a planet called Skaro, where a horrible war has been waged between two races, the Thals and the Daleks. The Thals are a peace loving race, like the Eeloi from The Time Machine, and the Daleks dwell in a hidden city that they cannot leave (Actually, kind of like the Morlocks) as they are powered by metallic floors. Honestly the more I think about it, the similarities to George Pal's The Time Machine are more than passing. Anyway, Doctor Who and his motley crew get caught up in the war, but will they stop the Daleks genocide of the Thals? Let's hope not, because the Daleks are far cooler!

The second film, Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150AD., was based on the TV serial Doctor Who and the Dalek Invasion of Earth and sees Doctor Who, Granddaughter Susan, and random companion Louise travel to the future to show a policeman Tom (played by Bernard Cribbins who returned to Who 40 odd years later as Donna's Grandfather in David Tennant's run as the tenth TV Doctor) what the TARDIS can do, but what they find is the Daleks have invaded Earth! Of course, the standard Doctor Who shenanigans take place, which are: see problem, get separated by enemy, side with mysterious strangers, get terrorized by enemy, manage to find each other again and unite to face enemy for final showdown. If the previous film riffed The Time Machine, this one attempts War of the Worlds.

A few liberties were taken with Cushing's big screen Doctor: instead of being an alien known only as 'The Doctor', he was a human inventor whose name was 'Doctor Who', and the set up of his companions differs slightly (here he has two Granddaughters, one with a boyfriend, instead of on TV where he had one Granddaughter and two concerned teachers). Also, and this is extraordinarily pedantic, the time machine is known as 'TARDIS', rather than 'the TARDIS'. I don't known why the writers would do this, but there it is.

Pedantic Who fanatic gripes aside these films still play well today, although the occasional crap effect, costume malfunction or editing inconsistency stands out. They are very much a product of their time, and fans of Modern Who (post 2000 that is) or Classic Who (all the other TV stuff) may not appreciate them as much as dyed in the wool Who fans. Essentially these films weren't made for Doctor Who fans but were instead aimed at the kids who had gone nuts for the Daleks, which seemed to be every kid in the UK at the time.
Video
Presented in their theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratios both films are bright and vibrant. Film artifacts are occasionally evident, but these are minor and not unexpected considering the age of these productions.
Audio
Just plain old boring mono here, but it sounds great and was exactly how audiences experienced these features back in the day.
Extra Features
The disc opens with a menu where you can choose either Dalek movie, or the documentary Dalekmania. When you select either film, you are presented with another menu that offers the options to play the film, scene select, watch the original trailer or look at some... Yawn... Pictures from the film.

Truly one of the best extras ever on this disc, and if I am honest, I have watched this more than either of the features, Dalekmania is a documentary made in 1995 which acts not only as a making-of of the two films, but also acts as a look at just how popular the Daleks were in the 1960s. It has some interesting comments from some stalwarts of British cinema and occasionally from Hammer films, and features the trailers for the two films. The framing mechanism for the doco is presented as a bit of a story about two kids going to a cinema to see the Dalek films, and in a great piece of fun, Michael Wisher, who played Davros in the Doctor Who TV show plays an evil cinema usher.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
As individual features these two films are perhaps a little ho-hum at times, but they offer a fun variation for Doctor Who fans. The style and music of both films firmly sets them in the period in which they were made, but for me that kitschiness adds to the appeal. As a package, with the Dalekmania doco, and considering you can probably pick it up for about a tenner, this is a worthwhile collection. Especially if you are a Peter Cushing fan!!

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