The Dalek Invasion of the Earth
The Evil of the Daleks
Day of the Daleks
|Dates||Jan. 1, 1972 -
Jan. 22, 1971
With Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning,
Nicolas Courtney, Richard Franklin, John Levene.
Written by Louis Marks. Script-edited by Terrance Dicks.
Directed by Paul Bernard. Produced by Barry Letts.
|Synopsis: Soldiers travel back in time to prevent the Daleks from conquering 22nd century Earth.|
Interesting SF premise, but not quite a classic by Michael Hickerson Updated 12/3/03
What a difference ten or more years can make in the “classic” status of a Dr. Who serial. When the BBC started releasing Who on VHS all those years ago, one of the first Pertwee stories to see the light of day was Day of the Daleks. I remember that when it came out, it was heralded as just a great story, a classic, one that every fan had been dying to own for years. Fast forward about ten or so years to the days of DVD when the entire series is being released again on DVD and Day of the Daleks hasn’t even shown up on the radar, nor has its name even been thrown about as a possible future DVD release. Has a story that was once considered a classic fallen so far in the fan estimation, simply by making it readily accessible to the fan community through the wonder of VHS?
It appears so.
Certainly, when I reviewed this story several years ago, I stated that while it was a good Pertwee story, I didn’t necessarily find it to be the classic that a lot of other fans found it to be. And years later, as I dust off my old copy and watch it again, I have to admit that while the story has grown on me in some ways, I still have a lot of the same problems with it that I did back when it first saw the light of day on VHS. Does this mean I wouldn’t buy it on DVD? Absolutely not. I’d love to have an episodic copy of the story, but you can chalk that up to my obsessive nature as a Who fan and not the classic status of the story.
Day of the Daleks certainly starts well enough. The premise of ghosts coming from the future to kill a current political leader who may just send the world spiraling into the third world war is an intriguing one. With the world events of today, the references to a possible war and there being one last chance for peace are hauntingly familiar and a bit eerie. There is something very disconcerting about the scenes of the Brigadier listening as the world situation deteriorates seemingly moment to moment to the brink of utter destruction. And it’s interesting to see that the world will in fact, go to the point, thus allowing the Daleks a chance to come in and conquer Earth, as they failed to do during the Hartnell years. (Thankfully, none of the absurdity of making the Earth into a giant spaceship to travel the cosmos is brought up here)
Day of the Daleks is one of Who’s most serious examinations of time travel and its possible consequences. Surprisingly enough, the script does a good job with this, creating a future that is a temporal paradox and having the Doctor set about making it right. It almost makes one wish that a hero such as the Doctor existed in reality to see the future of where world events are taking us and then give us a nudge in the right direction to keep history on its correct course. There is something reassuring about seeing the Doctor not only be able to defeat his greatest enemies, but also have to deal with the possibility and the ramifications of a time-paradox and being caught up in one. One of the greatest themes of the Pertwee years is that humanity is it’s own worst enemy and that theme shows up here time and again.
We even see the Doctor get a chance to make some impassioned speeches about the role of conquers and aggressors. The scenes in the Dalek command center as he debates the Controller are strikingly well done. And it’s also interesting to see Jo so easily persuaded that the Controller is doing the right thing and is actually one of the good guys. That little bit of conflict between the Doctor and Jo is surprisingly refreshing and well done. It was rare in the Pertwee era to Jo openly disagree with the Doctor and while it’s not quite as open as Ace or Sarah Jane would be, seeing her argue with the Doctor is a nice touch.
And the first two episodes do set up an intriguing premise for the story. And the first two episodes seem to go by at quite a good clip, easily flowing from one scene to the next.
It’s once the focus shifts to the future and the Daleks step up and become more of the catalyst for the action that the story begins to fall apart a good deal.
The final two episodes just don’t have the fun factor or the intensity the first two do. Part of it is that a lot of episode three is meant to show us the terrible future and then have Pertwee get a chance to ride around on a giant go-cart (an embarrassingly bad scene since it requires the Ogrons to basically pace after the car menacingly in an attempt to make it seem as if the machine is going faster than five miles per hour). Because of this, episode four is packed with trying to figure out what went wrong, overthrowing the Daleks, fixing history and saving the day. That’s a lot of material to pack into 25 minutes of screen-time and the final episode suffers a good deal because of it.
Also, another problem with the story is the inclusion of the Daleks themselves. After a five-year absence from the program, I was honestly expecting more from their return visit than we got here. Part of this I think is because the original script didn’t include them. The production staff felt the story needed an extra spark and the maybe the metallic pepperpots could provide that. But the Daleks are so limited in what they do on-screen (mainly screaming and threatening the Controller) that they because a bit of a parody of themselves. They don’t feel like they’re really all that menacing or an integral part of the plot.
I will, however, admit that I do like the Ogrons and find them some of the more effective and intriguing Doctor Who monsters from the Pertwee era. The costume, the make-up and the design of the Ogrons is nicely done and it’s easy to see why they’re brought back later in the Pertwee years for a second visit.
I will have to admit that I think part of my disappointment with Day of the Daleks stems from the fact that I read the superb Terrance Dicks novelization of the story first. Terrance takes the story and expands it, giving us backstory and characterization that just simply can’t be realized on screen. This was before he was turned into a novelization machine by Target and the dedication, effort and work show in the novel. I always wonder if my reading the book put unrealistic expectations of the story in my head and that no matter what happens a four part story could never live up to them. I’m not sure, but that may be part of what keeps me from enjoying this story as much as some of my fellow Who fans. If you’re looking for a good Dr. Who novel read, I recommend this one highly, if you can find it.
A Review by Leo Vance 21/1/98
This story is important to the series as the first appearance of the Daleks in five years, and the first appearance of them in colour. Let me say that I don't like it very much.
On the top side, there is a superb performance from Aubrey Woods as the Controller, the best character in the story. The Daleks make a return, though they are far less menacing than they're 60s counterparts. The Ogrons are superb monsters, perhaps the best new creations since the Autons in season seven (Silurians and Bok are the only challengers). Nicholas Courtney is excellent as the Brigadier (as usual) while John Levene and Richard Franklin are as usual believable. The disentegrator guns are well thought out, the script is an intriguing and well-plotted one, and the effects, direction and sets can be bundled up as good. The idea that the whole plot is a temporal paradox is superb.
However, on the lower side are important sections: Except for Shura, the guerrilas are a little characterless and boring, and they're performances are awful. The Controllers Deputy and the girls in his office are less than interesting as well. Jon Pertwee doesn't provide even his usual believable performance, but not because of bad acting. Louis Marks simply hadn't written for the show since 1964, so this can be excused.
Katy Manning is awful as Jo Grant, and the Daleks unfortunately are rather boring. This is bad, because in The Daleks, a less interesting script than this, they were one of the best elements. The agent (ZV10) is a well thought out and interesting character. This incident is a good demonstration of the World War II elements of the 22nd Century section (episodes three and four). This is a little like The Dalek Invasion of Earth, but it is well used.
All in all, a reasonable tale, but it could have done without the Daleks or a fourth episode. 6/10
Close, but no banana by Joseph Nunweek 23/2/98
I've never been entirely happy with the Dalek stories after Evil of the Daleks. I feel it was a brilliant conclusion to the Dalek saga, and though many of the stories afterwards were good, even terrific, it does seem like a cop-out. But Day of the Daleks isn't terrific, just good.
Good points first, as usual: Unlike previous reviews, I was interested by the way the story didn't centre on the Daleks. Instead of the great armies of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, there are fewer, so they sit back and manipulate the events instead of being in them. I don't like the voices though. They change from a dull, low moan to a more grating, loud Roy Skelton voice. Especially with the Gold Dalek.
On other races: The Ogrons, as others have said, are great, and I'm glad they were further developed in Frontier In Space and The New Adventures. Aubrey Woods steals the scene as the Controller, going from arrogant to manipulative to finally realising the true extent of what he has done, and paying with his life. The main plot, the time paradox is brilliant and tense, like the atmosphere as international war looms, made more realistic by the news report with the delegates. The battle scenes range from average to bad (it can be explained, as the Oggies are poor shots, yet the Daleks still use them. The reason? They're loyal and they're too dumb to queston orders.)
On the bad side: Styles was awful and annoying. UNIT is beginning to get old and becoming a used plot device. The Brigadier is showing signs of becoming the silly old buffoon army commander that ruined Battlefield for me. (But the cute scene with Benton and Yates coming to the house to scrounge for food is funny and well done.)
The guerillas are trying to be good, but only Shura truly shines. The dirt bike scene? BAAAAAAAAAD! But the ending is good, as Shura grins and blows himself and the Daleks to smithereens. But the Daleks don't end there...
A Review by Guy Thompson 8/12/98
This is a great story, with perhaps only one weakness. The story could have stood up very well on its own without the presence of the Daleks (the same thing would happen in Revelation of the Daleks), who really only act as framing for the major plot involving a time paradox created by a guerilla taskforce from the twenty-second century who have travelled back to our time to execute the man they believe to be responsible for starting a Third World War. The Daleks could have been replaced by several other (more mobile) villains, but they fit in comfortably enough alongside the far more exciting Ogrons (perhaps the first convincing Who monster?).
All the UNIT regulars are on show (Katy Manning looking particularly foxy) and seem relieved to be fighting someone other than the Master for a change. The acting is of the highest calibre (especially Aubrey Woods as the Daleks' human Controller in the 22nd century) and most of the scenes (especially the film sequences) are superbly shot and convincingly staged, excepting the dirt-bike chase when the Ogrons are running at a rather suspiciously slow pace to cope with the faulty prop they're following. Even the music is for once reasonably unintrusive. The time loop created by the guerillas is superbly structured, with motivations and thought behind the actions involved, just don't try and think too hard about how future events occur after the destruction of Stiles's house (bearing in ind that it has become an accepted part of Who continuity that the Daleks captured Earth in the twenty-second century, however at the conclusion of this story that has been prevented... hasn't it?)
A bit of a triumph all round then, really. This story might just sneak into my all time Top 10, it's certainly one of the top three Pertwee stories, along with Spearhead from Space and Inferno. If you're lucky enough to own a laserdisc player, this story has recently been released on that format, so I would advise a quick trip down to HMV and treat yourself four episodes of classic Doctor Who.
Dull Daleks by Therese Drippe 4/4/99
All right, I confess it. I bought Day of the Daleks simply because it had a Dalek on the cover. And the Brigadier on the back. I paid for my indiscretion however (besides the twenty bucks), in having to sit through one of the most incredibly dull Dalek adventures I have ever seen (if it could even be called a "Dalek" adventure, since the Daleks were not really very important or interesting). They just kind of lurked in the background looking rather Dalek-ful. And as for being the most intellectual... I find it rather frightening to think that some people find it so. The time paradox is absolutely ridiculous, and is a case of the script writers insisting that two plus two is five. If you think logically: "but what caused that" you'll see what I mean. Of course as this is typical of most Doctor Who science, and quite funny, one can forgive them.
What is harder to forgive is the dullness of this story. Jon Pertwee, though an admirable and pleasant Doctor, hardly does anything memorable here, with the possible exception of the scene where he is sampling wine and waiting for the "ghost". Jo Grant is rather silly, unusually gullible even for her, and appears to be wearing red underwear. But the fight for the prevention of World War III and the inner moral crisis of the Dalek's human "slaves" simply drags on and on. I think the scene with the Doctor and Jo on the dirt bike sums it up: slowly they ride, slowly the Ogrons catch up, and then in weary chagrin the Doctor surrenders. I hope it was not intended to be an "exciting chase scene" because it was such a dismal failure.
The story was fairly unmemorable on the whole, or when it is remembered is remembered as the "time paradox one" with a handful of Daleks and some nice Ogrons thrown in. Normally Daleks can make a dull story fun, but in this case the dull story makes for dull Daleks. Of course as usual, another grand old British manor bites the dust, and as usual the Doctor helps to save planet Earth by letting the U.N. do their wonderful work. Whew! 5/10
A Day like no other by Andrew Wixon 5/11/01
Normal people, bless 'em, have a few misconceptions about our series. The most obvious one is that it's spoofy rubbish, of course, but following close behind are the ideas that it's got the Daleks in it every other week, and that it's in some way about 'time travel'. Which it's not. No, honestly: DW uses time travel to tell its stories but it isn't usually about the philosophy and consequences of time travel in same way as (to pick a very relevant example) The Terminator. There are far more time-paradox themed episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation than there are of Doctor Who.
Day of the Daleks is, obviously, the exception to the general rule. It lives up to regular folks' expectations: there are Daleks in it, and it's about a time paradox. (Possibly for this reason, no less a luminary than Fandom Missionary Extraordinaire Paul Cornell recently nominated it as the most representative DW story of the lot to show a newcomer to the series. Me, I'd've gone for The Sun Makers or State of Decay, but then I don't even watch Casualty...) But is it spoofy rubbish?
Well, no: it's not exactly great, but it's a solid piece of work in many ways. The central paradox hangs together pretty well as these things go and the script is competently written too (if Styles is 'vain to the point of arrogance, obstinate, but basically a good man', then the guerillas getting him mixed up with the third Doctor is entirely forgivable). Solid performances from the regulars, although Jo doesn't get much to do. Aubrey Woods and Anna Barry are particularly good in guest roles. The direction is fine, but the editing's a bit hair-trigger in places. The Ogrons are nice, but the realisation of the rest of the future world leaves a bit to be desired.
The story really falls down in two main areas: the action sequences and the Daleks. The studio fights are fine, but the location work is not up to the usual standard. The tricycle chase is risible (Barry should've learned to say no to his star's requests) and the climactic battle, which should've been one of the most memorable in the history of the series (UNIT vs. the Daleks!) is just too slow and static. And as for the Daleks - well, here's another paradox for you. They're the main reason this isn't another 'forgotten story' - without them this would be a worthy but dull SF tale. However, they've clearly been imposed on the script at a relatively late stage: they really do very, very little before episode four. And that's disappointing in so many different ways. It's not the triumphant return to the series one might have hoped for - perhaps Off-day of the Daleks would've been a better title?
Suddenly dated by Tim Roll-Pickering 11/5/02
Until recently, Day of the Daleks would not generally have been considered to have dated significantly. However in light of recent international events the story now seems extraordinarily naive in its main plot point: that the history of the 22nd century believe that an insane Sir Reginald Styles was responsible for the destruction of the peace conference, rather than either a terrorist organisation or a belligerent state. Consequently the logic of the story now fails to work as well as it did previously.
Otherwise Day of the Daleks contains many strong ideas and is an excellent opening story for Doctor Who's 9th season. At its heart is the idea of using time travel to change the course of history, which has hitherto only been touched upon in The Space Museum. It also makes a reasonable attempt to explain why this device has not been used in many other episodes of the series. Equally strong is the idea of the world being on the brink of a catastrophic world war that only an alien invader can benefit from. Less successful is the portrayal of the Daleks themselves, being confined to a control room for most of the story and unable to mount a full scale assault by themselves. which shows all too clearly how few actual Dalek casings were used in production.
The Ogrons are an interesting addition to the series, helping to fill in the gaps left by the limited numbers and manoeuvrability of the Daleks but are not as well developed as they might be. Of far more interest are the humans serving the Daleks. Aubrey Woods gives a brilliant performance as the Controller, seeking to serve his masters whilst at the same time trying to overcome his doubts about whether there is any alternative. The guerillas are more stereotyped and show little sign of having thought through the possibility that they may have a distorted version of history that will undermine their efforts to change it.
Of the regulars Jon Pertwee has by now fully settled into the role and gives a strong performance as the Doctor that is only let down by the scenes in the first episode when he seems far more concerned with the wine cellar than the guerillas. Katy Manning gives one of her best performances yet as Jo, but UNIT is increasingly portrayed as far weaker than it should be and almost reaches caricature at times.
The direction is reasonable although not particular spectacular and often fails to cover up the switch between location and studio work or the limited number of Daleks available. Design wise the story has good sets for the twentieth century sections (other than the yellow CSO backdrop that can still be seen in the scene where the Doctor and Jo briefly meet their alternate selves) but the twenty-second century is less spectacular and looks rather mundane at times.
For its time Day of the Daleks is a good story, but now a major plot hole has been exposed and so the story does not work as well as it once did. 6/10
Baby Joe's story... by Joe Ford 19/6/02
Since I was four years old I have been writing stories. You know the sort, explosions, spaceships, beautiful companions… all wrapped up in school text books when you’re supposed to be concentrating on school work. I loved the idea of time travel. I loved the Daleks (although at the time they were known as garlics!). I loved scary monsters with big guns. I loved the Doctor fighting all the monsters. But most of all I LOVED explosions.
And this the reason Day of the Daleks is just so damn PERFECT. Of course at twenty one years of age I can now also appreciate the production and acting but all of the things I loved most as a kid turn up in this story and I’m somewhat mortified to discover practically everybody think it’s ‘predictable’, ‘standard’ and ‘average’. Well I am here to announce I’m batting for the other side (no pun intended). Everything Doctor Who does really well turns up here.
Jon Pertwee is not my favourite Doctor, although I think I like him a lot more than others. I do agree that he did turn in some bland performances later on in the era but I think he quite successfully continued the legacy left by Hartnell and Troughton and definitely stamped his own mark on the part. I cannot see any other actor getting away with the frilly shirts and venusian karate… somehow Pertwee pulled this off with his usual charisma. Pertwee is on top form in Day of the Daleks highlighting some of his prime characteristics… his arrogance and vanity is great when he practically takes over Styles’ house, his name dropping (“Boney I said…”), his belief in justice and freedom for all (“Do you run all your factories like that Controller?”) and of course he dashes into the action scenes with the usual aplomb. Truly I think one of the best scenes of the entire era is Pertwee’s excellent moment of realization of the guerrillas causing the paradox.
The plot is actually quite complicated but told at a simple pace with enough explanations given so you never get confused. I love the the time paradox idea and genuinely think this is the best use of it I have ever seen (simply because it is so unexpected). The scenes with Shura and the Dalek bomb in episode four carry a lot of dramatic weight and tension right up to the climax. The first episode is an enjoyable connection of mysteries which I feel is quite important for any story (Why try and kill Styles? Why did the attacker disappear? Who is controlling the Controller?).
The Daleks come in for a lot of criticism for this story and in some respects I can understand why. They are a little depleted in numbers and menace and don’t really contribute a whole lot. And yet they provide that wonderful cliffhanger in the tunnels and look utterly FAB when emerging from the tunnels in episode four as they head to attack the house. They would have been a real let down if it wasn’t for one character: The Controller. This is a ‘villan’ who is given unexpected depth (“They would have always found someone else”, “Who knows I might have helped to exterminate you”) and is played to perfection by Aubrey Woods. He really steals the show, sympathetic and yet still creepy. Ben Aaronovitch was right, the whole who is the puppet and who is the master situation is compelling.
The Ogrons were a fine innovation. Great direction (lots of low angles) make them terrifyingly fierce.
Even the guerillas are wonderful. Anat, Boaz and Shura make a good team and at first seem genuinely menacing but as things develop it appears they are not quite what they seem. This was more moments of surprise and depth that is frequently missing from others stories.
The direction is glossy throughout and the action scenes are especially well done. The Ogron attack on the house is wonderful and the final battle looks great all shrouded in mist as the monsters approach. To see the Daleks glide across a field exterminating is one of my childhood dreams (especially during sports so they can exterminate the horrible teacher!) so that was marvelous to finally get my wish.
The music is great considering it’s Dudley Simpson and adds a lot of excitement.
I suppose the greatest compliment I can give is the fact that I really wanted to write a story after I finished watching this. Of course being my age I realized Doctor Who books were just childish and silly (until I discovered the excellent EDA range) and gave up writing them at about fifteen. Watching this has made me want to write a really exciting Doctor Who novel with lots of traditional elements but in a more up to date setting. Proof readers, anybody?
Back in Black (or gold) by Mike Jenkins 27/6/02
I always have and always will adore this story. Timeloop-oriented plot holes aside, this is one of the few Doctor Who stories you can honestly sit down, watch and say 'that only felt as though it were 15 minutes'. Easily Pertwee's strongest Dalek story and next to Mutants, the most enjoyable fare of this season. The imperial leader playing second fiddle to the Daleks is an interesting take on the 'political puppet' syndrome. True, I could name about half a dozen contemporary science fiction novels with the very same concept of alienesque machines controlling a planet behind the shadows of what is deemed an 'acceptable' figurehead. Many of you see the parallels between this and Dalek Invasion of Earth, I'm sure, yet by re-directing the focus away from the Hartnell story (shortening the length, altering the time period of the Daleks invasion, a script geared toward action and pace instead of characterization) an original work is created in the process.
All performances are top notch. Styles' effeminate air of diplomatic arrogance and authority is quite enjoyable, particularly in the prescence of the no-nonsense straight arrow level headed down to earth Brigadier. The fast pace makes it feel as though The Doctor and Jo are just two other characters in this non stop action masterpiece. The scenery and filming are breathtaking, not an adjective often set aside for camerawork in a Doctor Who production. Styles' safehouse has an undoubtable haunted feel about it. So effectively portrayed that the premise of the whole story could've been a source of evil in the house as opposed to Daleks.
Now onto the Daleks themselves. Is it a triumphant return in every way shape and form? Well, many might say 'not entirely' or indeed, 'not at all'. However, when compared to other long-awaited Dalek comebacks it is either far superior (Resurrection of the Daleks) or of equal merit (Destiny of the Daleks). The importance of tolerance and understanding between nations is much more successfully characterized here then in the previous season (The Mind of Evil), perhaps because that plotline is much more fundamentaly pertained to the main story line in Day of the Daleks. A near faultless story and a strong start to the season.
A Review by Terrence Keenan 7/5/03
There are only two Dalek stories where the pepperpots can be removed from the plot with no discernable change -- except in the title of the serial.
Day of the Daleks is one of them.
Now, I'm not all that enamored of the infamous pepperpots. I like them in the background. So, despite being a last minute addition to a tale about a big temporal paradox, they work in the early episodes. it's only in episode 4, where the Daleks come off as bad, especially in their rationale for as to why they have to kill off the members of the conference. I like them making threats to Aubrey Woods (the Controller) and manipulating events form the sidelines.
For the record, I haven't seen the Whitaker Dalek stories, so I can?t comment on how better their manipulative sides are in Power and Evil. It works well enough in Day.
Now, the main storyline is the guerrilas travelling back in time to kill Reginald Styles in order to prevent the Dalek invasion that happens after Styles allegedly murders the delegates at a peace conference and causes World War 3. It's the series first proper look at paradoxes, and works well.
I think, however, what drags down Day of the Daleks, are cringeworthy performances (most of the cast), and some set pieces that should have been rethought -- the tricycle chase is the big offender. On the acting side of things, the guerrillas are one-note functionals. UNIT is general is used for comedy fodder, except for the Brig. Nick Courtney is quite good in the crisis scenes at UNIT HQ. Katy Manning is okay in this one. Jon Pertwee phones in most of his performance, except for a couple of good moral indignation scenes with the controller and the guerrillas when he figures out the paradox that occurred. Bets of the lot is Woods, who is a weasel, a coward, a bully, and in the end, very sympathetic. Unlike a lot of Who villains, the Controller has a rationale for his actions, and Aubrey Woods does an excellent job of showing all sides of this character.
Of the three Dalek stories during Pertwee's era, Day of the Daleks is the strongest, if only because the Daleks aren't really needed. The story about paradoxes is strong enough to maintain interest. Shame the acting couldn't have been better.
Oh, the Ogrons. Very cool.
One of DW's finest by Daniel Clarke 6/7/03
Let me get one thing straight: I hate the Tom Baker serial Terror of the Zygons. This may seem a bizarre thing to say at the beginning of a review of Day of the Daleks. Nevertheless I believe it to be a vital comment because the difference between the two stories represents the different views regarding the phrase "adult television". The former serial is pure B-movie stuff; It's a simple, bog-standard alien invasion in which a comic book, one dimensional alien race attempt to wrest the planet Earth from one dimensional, stereotypical Scotsman. Everything is portrayed in black and white with, of course, the one dimensional, stereotypical Scotsmen being firmly in the white. To make matters worse the cast do not take the (admittedly laughable) situation seriously, Tom Baker's Doctor in particularly taking the mick out of the dearth of Zygon invaders. The cast's lack of conviction is such that the audience cannot be expected to take the situation seriously either and the result is a story without a credible threat. Despite the story's obvious shortcomings, fandom labels this story as both a "classic" and even more inexplicably as "adult television". If "adult" connotes the presence of blood and guts then sure this story is "adult". If "adult" connotes references to drugs and prostitution then sure the Hincliffe era as a whole is "adult". Yet in my opinion "adult television" is nothing to do with gratuitous violence; Indeed given Doctor Who's large child audience the inclusion of such violence by Hincliffe was nothing short of irresponsible. Instead I am of the opinion that "adult television" is television which explores complex human characters and their reactions to events in a mature (yet entertaining) way, possibly giving the audience food for thought in the process, Against such criteria Day of the Daleks is an astonishingly adult piece of television which thirty years on is as compelling and (given the present international climate) as relevant as it has always been.
Editor's note: You can read the rest of this article in Time, Unincorporated, Volume 2, published by Mad Norwegian Press. For copyright reasons, we are unable to display the online version simultaneously.
A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 29/8/03
Day Of The Daleks is a middle of the road story being neither too bad or too good. The return of the Daleks is handled well although their impact is slightly lessened, as for the most part they are barking orders at the Controller; similairly their voices are less harsh too. Jon Pertwee is on fine form, being more lighthearted yet still able to command authority when the situation calls for it. Likewise both Jo and the Brigadier seem more mature as characters.
Of the supporting cast Aubrey Wood`s Controllor impresses the most as a character merely acting for himself rather than any compulsion to obey the Daleks. Also the addition of the Ogrons is inspired, as visually they are as striking as the Autons and Silurians before them. The other thing notable about the story is that it is the first to use time paradoxes as part of its plot (although this was hinted at in The Space Museum). The only thing that really lets the tale down is the pacing of the final two parts, but this is a small complaint in what is otherwise a very average yet highly enjoyable Pertwee tale.
A Review by Brian May 16/12/03
Day of the Daleks is a stylish, fast-paced action adventure, very much a definitive Pertwee story. There's the Earth-based scenario (albeit split into two time zones), the strong presence of UNIT, lots of oppression of the weak for the Doctor to rail against, with stunts and bravado galore on the side. Add to this a clever script and you have a very engaging tale.
The opening story of Season 9 is more hard-edged than the previous year's offerings, which cemented the "UNIT family" and overloaded on the Master. Well, now he's safely behind bars (after the events of The Daemons), it's a fairly wise move to keep him out of the proceedings, for a little while at least, which the production team accordingly did. It's more like Season 7 than anything else, with some distinct similarities: the TARDIS console is once more removed and a freak time disruption occurs as the Doctor is working on it (The Ambassadors of Death); the Doctor once again travels to a different Earth (Inferno). There's also a grim and gritty atmosphere that is more suited to Jon Pertwee's first year. While the Master dealt with convoluted schemes to dominate and conquer, in Day of the Daleks the conquest has already happened - and it is in 22nd century Earth, ruled by the Daleks, into which the Doctor is thrust.
The first two episodes get the story off to a great start, with a good blend of mystery, suspense and action. The grim tone is established early, with the world poised on the brink of war. This is best realised in the scene when the Brigadier and UNIT staff listen to the announcement on the radio, instilling in the viewer a sense of the knife-edge situation. The Discontinuity Guide refers to the international politics as "moronic", but remember when this story was made! The references to China would have been quite relevant in 1971. The "ghost story" concerning the attempts to murder an important politician is intriguing, as are all the appearances and disappearances of the guerrillas and Ogrons, the two time zones, and the case of mistaken identity as the Doctor is believed to be Sir Reginald Styles. What's also good is how the Doctor doesn't realise that he's up against the Daleks until the end of episode two - exactly halfway through.
Part three shows us the Daleks' Earth. The location filming is used to good extent in its portrayal of a barren world. The scenes of the slave workers in the factory are quite effective, however it's what you don't see, but what you hear, that makes the greatest impact... the Daleks informing the Controller of their production quotas at the expense of human life; the Controller's account of the Dalek invasion. Budgetary restrictions have always forced Doctor Who's writers to?describe great, calamitous events rather than actually showing them. In this case, it works. (The same can be said for the political situation outlined in the previous paragraph.)
The concept of the time paradox is ingenious and thought provoking. Although not an original idea in the annals of science-fiction, it's the first time Doctor Who has looked at the intricacies of time travel, and it's done quite well (and more than a decade before Hollywood cottoned on to the idea with The Terminator and Back to the Future series of films.) The final episode has a good blend of tension and action that keeps it going to the end. While some scenes are less satisfactory than others (mainly the Daleks' advance on Auderly House - but more on this shortly), the ending is satisfying, with no real padding.
I mentioned before that Day of the Daleks is an archetypal Pertwee tale - well, it's certainly a definitive Pertwee performance. He's suave and cultured (all that wine and cheese!); he bops a few guerrillas on the head - although the Ogrons are a match for him in terms of physical strength, but so were all those henchmen that James Bond had to grapple with (for, really, Ian Fleming's spy is essentially the basis for Pertwee's Doctor!) But that trike chase is extremely silly and should have been left on the cutting room floor. Pertwee's best scenes are when he verbally cuts down the Controller, and also when he implores the guerrillas to spare his life.
Aubrey Woods puts in a terrific performance as the Controller. It's only near the end of the story that we realise what a tortured soul he is - the Doctor's accusation of "quisling" genuinely hurts him. His finest moment is undoubtedly his final, defiant words to the Daleks: "Who knows? I may have helped to exterminate you!" Many Dalek stories have a martyr character - it's both fitting and sad that it is the Controller. Anna Barry as Anat is also very good, revealing both a desperate freedom fighter but also a sympathetic, kind-hearted human being, while that senior guard (he's never given a name) is one of the most sadistic characters encountered in Doctor Who. There are no real bad performances in this story, but unfortunately, Katy Manning as Jo is (once again) reduced to helpless companion who has to be rescued by the Doctor.
It is interesting to note that the Daleks were a last minute addition to the story. It's certainly true that it could have worked without them, but I can't think of any other (established) alien that would have worked better in their place. The best option, in my opinion, would have been a human enemy, i.e. a fascist dictatorship, but at the time would have been too reminiscent of Inferno. But, after a long absence, the Daleks would no doubt have been welcomed back onto the screen. They work well in some areas - they are back to their menacing ways and are treated seriously. On the downside however, their voices aren't as good - they're just not the same as Peter Hawkins or David Graham. And it's blatantly obvious there are just three working models, as evidenced in the final battle.
Nevertheless, Day of the Daleks works. It could simply have been a rehashing of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, resulting in a poor sequel. But this is not the case. It's a completely new take on the invasion theme and is an adventure in its own right. Add to this an examination of the foibles of time travel, with a gritty, well-paced script and you have a fine story. 8.5/10
A Review by Brett Walther 30/3/04
A night in a haunted house... A devastated future Earth ruled by the Daleks... UNIT desperately struggling to facilitate negotiations on what appears to be the eve of World War Three...
Day of the Daleks is one of my favourite adventures of the Pertwee years. It starts off as a ghost story, and becomes so much more with each passing episode, the momentum building until the Daleks, who are orchestrating events behind-the-scenes throughout the story, leave their headquarters and travel back in time to join the final attack. It's also infused with a tangible atmosphere of desperation and oppression -- somewhat of a rarity in the Barry Letts era.
Louis Marks' script is nothing short of brilliant. Absolutely every scene has relevance and builds on the previous scenes in a natural way. Even the charming scene in the first episode in which the Doctor and Jo meet future versions of themselves contributes to the storyline, with the Doctor explaining the doppelgangers as a sort of "ghost", much like the time travelling guerilla who threatens Sir Reginald Styles in the opening moments of the serial. The ghost-theme is continued as the Doctor and Jo spend the night at Auderly House. It was during this sequence in particular that I fell in love with Day of the Daleks. The creepy sets -- just look at all those gorgeously detailed tapestries! A real rarity for early seventies set design in Who! -- combined with an impressive location for the exterior shots and an eerie incidental score provide the chills.
I've always found it downright bizarre that Jon Pertwee often cited Day of the Daleks as one of his least favourite stories, because he's absolutely on fire here. Just look at the power with which he delivers the great lines Marks serves up. My all-time favourite is the "You did it yourselves!" moment of truth in part four (a real goosebumps moment!), although his "Who really rules this planet of yours?" to the Controller is just as memorable. In fact, the exchange between the Controller and the Doctor is crackling with energy. Pertwee delivers his sharp, biting dialogue with absolute conviction, and Aubrey Woods proves a worthy sparring partner.
Although some would say the rot sets in with UNIT later on in the Pertwee era, I think Day of the Daleks is the organization's final grasp at greatness. It's great to see UNIT playing such a believable role in the proceedings -- the Brigadier's duty is to ensure the security of the one man who can bring the world leaders to a peaceful accord, and there's a palpable sense of tension hanging over the Brig that makes him more believable as a military man than at any other point in the series after Season Seven. The scene in which the Brigadier and the communcations personnel at UNIT HQ receive the emergency radio transmission warning that World War Three is imminent sends shivers up the spine. The combination of the eerie siren wail heralding the news bulletin and the look on Nicholas Courtney's face drive home the terror of the situation.
The time travelling guerillas are a fantastic bunch, and Marks' script cleverly disguises whether they're the goodies or the baddies until part two. They're also tremendously acted and convincing, all edgy and nervous, with Anna Barry's Anat coming across as particularly sympathetic. It's easy to understand how the Doctor comes to admire them -- their goal of ensuring their timeline never comes to exist necessarily means they themselves will never have existed. This kind of self-sacrifice is simply beautiful, and perhaps not enough is made of it. Then again, maybe this would be maudlin in a story that thrives on its gritty atmosphere.
Just take a look at the Doctor's interrogation in the factory in part three. It's one of the most convincing and brutal moments of the era, with Pertwee playing to the hilt. Even though he's been roughed up and looks at the point of collapse, his defiance in the face of the guard is positively cheer-worthy -- you can see it's taking all he has to keep his fury from bubbling over. Following this scene is the chilling moment when the Factory foreman is confronted by the Controller for being "too soft" on his workers.
This man is absolutely terrified, and it's impossible not to feel for this good man in a horribly cruel world as he's trembling and watery-eyed. As I've mentioned above, every scene has relevance in Day of the Daleks, and little moments like this serve to drive home the importance of the guerilla's mission: to prevent this nightmare future from ever occurring.
Paul Bernard's direction is absolutely first-rate -- miles apart from his less impressive follow-ups in The Time Monster and Frontier in Space. The wipes used between scenes lend an air of class to the production, and the large amount of outdoor filming make Day of the Daleks look as though a great deal of money was spent on it.
Without a doubt, one of the best Pertwee stories outside Season Seven.
Start at the Top and Work Your way Down by Joe Briggs-Ritchie 4/5/07
Day of the Daleks, by far the best story of Season Nine and arguably the first story to use Doctor Who's time travel concept in such a sinister way. I'm sure you've all noticed the similarities with The Terminator. Perhaps this was an inspiration for that film. Who can tell? The Daleks are kept to a minimum, nicely seasoning the story instead of over-egging it. Unfortunately if you start the season at your absolute peak then the only left to go is down. And by God, does Season Nine go down. Jokes about sinking ships are leaping rather enthusiastically to mind. I'm just not a lover of The Curse of Peladon, despite the fact that nine-tenths of fandom seem to adore it. Then there is a brief resurge of quality with The Sea Devils. And finally we reach the absolute nadir of the season and of Jon Pertwee's entire Doctorship. You can peruse my reviews of The Mutants and The Time Monster if you wish but be warned, it's not pretty.
Day of the Daleks must have made quite an impression back in 1972. After the somewhat more lighthearted Season Eight, this gritty temporal thriller must have seemed very fresh. And what with the return of the Daleks after five years, viewers must have been drooling with anticipation. Jon Pertwee is once again absolutely on peak form. Spiffing,what? I think I've mentioned in all my reviews of his stories that he is elegance personified. And I'm going to say it again. I cannot expound enough the standard this man sets for suave, classy, arrogant self conduct. His "cheese and wine society" routine is wonderful, totally in character for the Third Doctor. And while some people may tire of his namedropping, I certainly don't.
One of the finest moments in this story is when the Doctor coolly downs Shura without breaking into a sweat, casually stopping to take a sip of his whisky/brandy. Actually he's quite the alcoholic in this story, downing a fair amount of booze in the space of four episodes. And why exactly is he drinking whisky/brandy first thing in the morning? He was up all night fiddling with the guerilla's time machine and he probably spent most of that time drinking wine. Clearly his exile is causing him to hit the bottle.
The Daleks do sometimes come in for some flack where this story is concerned. Many criticisms often revolve around their lack of mobility or their new voices. I have always loved their voices in this one. Since the voice artists never graced the Daleks with their vocal talents after this, it gives them a truly unique distinctive quality. They seem far more metallic and threatening than usual and anything which makes the Daleks seems nastier is thoroughly welcomed as far as I'm concerned. As a small child, there were three stories in which I found the Daleks to be truly threatening: The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Day of the Daleks and Remembrance of the Daleks. I don't know why. There's just something about them in these three stories that seems to be missing from all their other appearances. A big thumbs up for the new colour scheme as well. It's actually a benefit to the story that they are kept to a minimum as the less desirable aspects of their nature become less obvious.
Another criticism that is often directed at this story is that there is no need for the Daleks to be in it at all, that it isn't really about them. Rubbish. This story is most definitely about the Daleks, they just don't happen to be in it very much. Similar in a way to the Triffids in Day of the Triffids or the Cenobites in Hellraiser. Though quite what the deal with that space-time Magnetron is, I don't know. It looks like a piece of modern art.
On the design front, I think that Day of the Daleks comes off very well. Even future Earth is quite convincing, if somewhat limited. The bleak, dystopian future world once again smacks of Terminator. Or rather Terminator smacks of this. Yes, ha. We got there first Mr Cameron. Has anyone else noticed that all the people in the future Earth control centre have shiny faces. Particularly the women. Perhaps it was deliberate. Or perhaps the makeup and the studio lights were just not getting along. We just don't know. And despite his shiny face, Aubrey Woods practically steals the show with his superb, subtle performance. He starts off as a villain yet by the end you actually start to sympathise with and even feel sorry for him. We know his number's up when we see the guard captain hiding behind the wall after he's just let the Doctor and Jo escape. And sure enough, two minutes later the Daleks turn him negative.
Jo is perfectly acceptable in this. By this point she's well and truly into the role of being patronised by the Doctor and treating him like he's some kind higher power. And I'm afraid it's only going to get worse as time goes on. Oh well, at least she's not too bad here. I may be wrong but I believe I once read somewhere that Jo is dressed like a porn star in this. It's not a wholly unfounded accusation.
The band of guerillas are all nicely acted and Scott Fredericks will turn up as even more of a psycho in Image of the Fendahl. The music is a very refreshing change from the wall-to-wall EMS Synthi-100 in the previous season, having a distinctly military beat to it at times. And how could I forget? That news report from then-real-life news reporter Alex MacIntosh. How wonderfully postmodern.
Day of the Daleks does, of course, have its flaws. Why oh why does the Doctor's lab keep changing. It's practically a different set every story. Hello? Consistency, anyone? Continuity? Oh well. Sir Reginald Styles is an arrogant pompous oaf. In an era of arrogant pompous oafs from the Ministry, he isn't too bad. But he'll probably instill in you a desire to steam him to death. Jon Pertwee drops a line about the Blinovitch Limitation Effect but is interrupted before he can explain what it actually is, thereby setting off a fan favourite throwaway line for evermore. It is never explained quite why there is a network of tunnels under the railway bridge and I for one find this quite irritating. They're not the sewers surely? The Ogrons are a serviceable alien race but no more than that. Why is there a "mini dematerialisation circuit" in the guerilla's time machine? It's a product of Gallifreyan technology. Not something that would be kicking around on 22nd century Earth. And even if they did have such a device, surely it wouldn't look like what we see on screen. Laziness, I'm sure.
Speaking of the time machine, pay close attention to John Levene when he brings the device out of the tunnel to show the Doctor and the Brig. We all know that Levene was originally from the West Country. If you listen very carefully when he says "it was hidden about fifty feet inside the tunnel", you just hear his accent. Then there is Dalekenium. Wasn't it supposed to be a constituent of their armour shells in The Dalek Invasion of Earth? Well, here it's an explosive. There goes consistency again. And quite frankly, that motor trike is risible. We all know that Jon Pertwee liked his vehicles but this is one vehicle too far in my opinion. And is it just me or does the accompanying music begin in an ever so 007-like fashion?
The ending does seem a bit rushed. Auderly House blows up, we get a quick cut to Style, the Doc and Jo and then it's cue the theme music. But then again this is a very economical story. There isn't really much padding in it. I have to say that the scene of the Daleks emerging from the tunnel and their subsequent attack on Auderly House is superb. Iconic even. So what if there are only three Daleks. Who cares? I don't. There you have it a wonderful, powerful start to a season which is going to rapidly go downhill.
"Don't they like being happy and prosperous?" by Neil Clarke 7/7/10
I love Doctor Who's capacity for undermining my expectations. Though (if I'm honest) it is a huge part of my life, there are still areas of the show I expect to enjoy in only a 'humouring' sense; the majority of Pertwee's era - which seems to me one of the flimsiest periods of the show - being one of them.
I'm not hugely into this era, but I was in the mood tonight (partly because of recently finishing Who Killed Kennedy, which fired my appreciation for the period). The grainy VHS copy I watched it on actually added to the strange pre-natal nostalgia of it; that I did so late at night, under a blanket, while eating birthday cake during a relaxed weekend at my parents' probably helped.
However, only a little way in, after the clumsy introductory scene involving the Doctor and Jo's doubles (which is a rehash of the similar scene from The Ambassadors of Death anyway), I found myself surprised by how decent this story is. As I say, I love Doctor Who, so I should know this! But I still found myself expecting something enjoyable in an ironic, dated way, and then being surprised by finding it pretty decent, once the scene is set.
True, I stand by my comments about this period's flimsiness, but it's a question of looking at things in context. Yes, the colour is garish and diffuse; yes, people swim in and out of focus; and, yes, the editing is ponderous by today's standards, but all these are unavoidable elements of its age.
However (and perhaps I can be too swayed by these things), there are several handsome visual touches, especially on location around the railway bridge, which are conversely pleasing (the train noise as the Ogrons depart for the first time is an inspired touch, suggesting a world beyond the story). There are lots of lovely shots though the sunlit grass on the wasteland, though maybe a few too many lovingly uplit moustaches! The Controller's set is also comparable with, say, The Long Game, aside from some smears and scuffs.
Being more of a season-seven fancier, Pertwee's costume here (red velvet and purple silk) really couldn't be more garish. I'm not sure if we're really still within that Pertwee-backlash thing, but this is a story that's often held up by critics of his 'Establishment arrogance' (etc, etc). Actually, I prefer this Doctor's louche confrontationality to his (slightly forced) urbane jocularity earlier on in the story. However, the line, "A most good-humoured wine; a touch sardonic, perhaps, but not cynical," is genius. The classiness of defeating someone in hand-to-hand combat whilst holding a glass of wine is fantastic too.
I love his short-tempered weariness under interrogation, and the, "Do you run all your factories like that?" scene is great. Yes, it seems unfair, as we've been allowed to see the Controller in a less-negative light from Jo's PoV, and, yes, the Doctor comes across as bullying ("You, sir, are a traitor"), but... Given that the classic series didn't investigate the Doctor's emotional side in the way we're used to now, I think it's ambiguous moments like this - the difficult bits - which make him most interesting in the past series.
As part of this, the Doctor can seem excessively patronising to Jo. But then, she is a moron. I actually have something of a soft-spot for her... but I also can't stand her either. She's the archetypal 'Doctor Who girl', in the sense of an even more braindead Bond girl: wide-eyed, fashionable in an all-too-easily dated way, 'kooky', with a heart of gold and a tendency to repeat everything with added incomprehension. Though she's likeable in spite of her drippiness, she still gets on my tits, frankly. "That's right, Jo; I mean a ray gun."
Day of the Daleks does seem like it was made for morons (children?), so perhaps Jo - as the audience-identification figure - is just pitched at the audience Barry Letts was aiming at. (Behold: comedy disappearance sound effects! Overly-accessible explanations of really-not-too-taxing concepts! And all the ghost stuff and incomprehension of basic things like people disappearing should be bread and butter to UNIT.)
As for the Daleks... because of their ubiquity, it's hard to judge them objectively. In fact, I don't really feel much about them either way. They certainly look shit here, with their horrible gloss paintjobs; they're much neater and more precise in their sixties appearances, and, to be honest, they only look really good again in Remembrance (in the classic series; I was reserving judgement on the bulkier, more fiddly new series 'bling' models... until the bubblebath/dodgem/Renault Megane/Mighty Morphin iDaleks came along).
It's quite typical for people to bemoan the fact that, despite being 'popular' recurring creations, the Cybermen are rarely - if ever - used to their full potential. I can't help wondering if the same is true of the Daleks. I don't want to seem hopelessly biased toward the sixties, but that was the Daleks' decade, during which they were genuinely nasty and scheming in a way that's never quite been matched since - as well as balancing their pulpiness so they didn't become too cartoonish (which I feel is true of some of their most recent appearances). This story is an insubstantial dribble of nothing compared to Evil of the Daleks, their preceding story. Here, they are static, weedily-voiced and flimsy, and disappointingly unemotional; they aren't unhinged or machiavellian as in Master Plan, Evil, or Power.
In fact, all their sixties stories are cracking (and yes, I'm including The Chase in that - albeit in a different way). The Dalek Invasion of Earth seems the ropiest and most disjointed to me these days, which is possibly Joe Ford's fault, because I couldn't help but find myself agreeing with his review last time I watched the story.
Beyond the sixties, though there are good Dalek stories, it often doesn't follow that they're particularly well used within them (ie, in Genesis and Revelation they are almost irrelevant in themselves). Dalek is great, in its unique approach, but then the series one and two 'finales' put them back to square one.
However, even in drearier stories like Destiny and Resurrection, their innate appeal always pulls through: they are another of DW's inadvertently everlasting nuggets of genius (along with the endless freedom of structure afforded by the TARDIS/time travel structure and the concept of regeneration). They are one of those marriages of various elements - concept, design, realisation, vocals - that are somehow unbeatable. Even when there are only three of them staging an 'attack', wobbling through a field with some Planet of the Apes rejects in tow.
Went The Day Well? by Matthew Kresal 23/7/11
When I discovered that one of my local public libraries had a massive collection of Doctor Who on VHS over three years ago, this was the first story I checked out. After all, it had my then-favorite Doctor and the Daleks in it, plus it had what looked like an intriguing story. So having seen it many times since, I find myself asking the question (which is also the title of a very good 1942 World War II film incidentally): Went the day well?
Well let's start by looking at the main cast members. Jon Pertwee gives as good a performance as the third Doctor as any other story, especially with some nice character moments in episode one. Katy Manning gives a nice if not adequate performance, though she seems to fall rather too easily into the traps and machinations of the Controller. Nicholas Courtney, Richard Franklin and John Levene all give adequate performances but nothing special about them here. In fact, that could easily summarize the main cast members: adequate but nothing special.
The supporting cast favors much better. In particular, the performance of Aubrey Woods as the Controller stands outs as his character makes a fascinating journey thanks to a crisis of conscience. Anna Barry, Scott Frederick and Jimmy Watson give believable performances as the guerrillas on a desperate mission to change history. Wilfrid Carter gives a fine but sadly underused performance as Sir Reginald Styles, the diplomat at the center of the story. There's also a nice cameo from real-life BBC reporter Alex MacIntosh in the final episode which adds some realism to the story. This story is one of the rare occasions where the supporting cast is better then the main cast.
The story is perhaps known as the return story of the Daleks after their apparent extinction in The Evil Of The Daleks back in 1967. Sadly though, this was far from a grand return. The problem really is that the script wasn't written for the Daleks originally and it shows. For the first three episodes of the story, the Daleks do little else but sit in a room issuing orders and when they finally move in episode four the results are less then great, particularly in the finale. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that the Dalek operation seems limited and unimpressive as a result. Worse yet is the voice work. The Dalek voices of Oliver Gilbert and Peter Messaline are by far the worst of the entire original series. I'm sure I'm not the only person who was overjoyed when it was announced there would be new voices for them in the special edition version for the DVD release. This story wasn't the Daleks' finest hour and the story is hurt by that fact significantly.
Also other aspects of the production don't help. Dudley Simpson's music for the story becomes almost unbearable to listen to at times, due to its volume and overuse of electronic elements in it. The editing of the story is a mixed affair with some really slow segments going on for too long (especially the sequence with the Doctor and Jo at Styles' house). The story's biggest problem is direction of Paul Bernard which comes across as the director being uninterested most of the time. These elements all hurt the story and it never really recovers from these faults.
There are good aspects to the production, though. The Ogrons are not only well-designed but well-acted too, making them strangely more effective then the Daleks in this story. The design work of David Myerscough-Jones makes for nice sets which are complemented nicely. Then there's the script by Louis Marks.
If anything can be said about Day Of The Daleks, it is that it has a fine script behind it. Marks deals with the issues of time-travel paradoxes intelligently years in advance of other science fiction shows and blends them well into a story about the world on the brink of World War III. When the story moves to the 22nd Century, it becomes a familiar tale of a handful of people fighting to free themselves from oppression. While this has some echoes of The Dalek Invasion Of Earth in it and lacks the depth of that story, it still makes for some intriguing viewing. The script does have two problems: the Daleks (discussed above) and the fact that the ending leaves a few interesting strands of the plot loose. Those flaws aside, Day Of The Daleks has one of the finest scripts of the Pertwee era.
With adequate performances from the leads, a nice supporting cast, poor Dalek usage, an overly loud score, slow pacing and uninspired direction, plus well-used Ogrons, well-designed/lit sets and one of the best scripts of the Pertwee era, we return to the question at the start of this review. So went the day well? The answer is average, yet it should have been better.
It wasn't their day, that's for sure... by Nathan Mullins 23/10/11
Season Nine has a mix of gems: The Curse of Peladon perhaps, and most definitely The Sea Devils, and then stories such as The Mutants and The Time Monster being stories I wouldn't go searching for on DVD if I had any time to spare. However, that's from what I've heard from other fans, and can't really judge them as I have never actually seen; or, at best, at a very young age. Then of course, I find Day of the Daleks would sit in the middle of the four stories mentioned already, thus making up the whole season.
I actually am quite fond of this story, however, though I wouldn't say it was one of the best of Jon Pertwee's era, but then up against say for instance Carnival of Monsters, which I recently bought and viewed, it is far superior. The Daleks are under threat from a resistance force, out to kill a man called Styles and want to bring the rule of the Daleks crashing down. Now, what I'm a about to bring up has been spoken of many times before, but really it has to be addressed. The Daleks voices are horrendous! Seriously, that is a major dislike of mine, and of many other people also. But moving away from that subject, I like their scenes when they discover the Doctor is about, questioning one another and hatching ways of kidnapping him.
The Controller reminds me, for some reason, of Nick Clegg, his voice, and in appearance also. But he probably has the views of say Gordon Brown, stuck in change, thinking there's no way out of a dictatorship brought about by the Daleks.
The Doctor and Jo are a good team, who work well together, and their relationship is at ease and never on muddled terms, unlike the relationships the Doctor shares with his companion these days. All this romance, and whatnot. Jon Pertwee seems very fit here, chasing the resistance force and defeating an Ogron with kicks and quick hand movements. The Ogrons are a good way of establishing right from the get go that the Daleks are somehow involved. Jo is her usual silly self, and the UNIT team are also doing something other than their usual sipping of tea and larking about.
But the story overall is quickly paced, taking off in all sorts of directions: a couple of escapes, chases, fights, deaths and even the Daleks being blown to smithereens. It just wasn't their day, the Daleks!
Overall, I give this six and a half, because, for me, it didn't have as much drive as The Sea Devils, which was full blown adventure in its simplest!
An original plotline has its privileges by Richard Evans 5/3/12
How many times have you taken "freedom of thought" for granted? It's a fundamental ingredient in a democratic society, but we don't seem to take full advantage of it. I am a particularly bad culprit: after watching a special feature on the Genesis of the Daleks DVD, in which the Third Doctor Dalek stories are said to have provided "nothing new to Dalek mythology", I made a great effort to avoid those stories. (I was also led to believe that Victory of the Daleks would be utterly fantastic - and was definitely proven wrong.) Having taken the time to watch Day of the Daleks, I again find myself eating my words, for this saga is an unforgettable one.
This conclusion mainly lies in the observation that Day of the Daleks is not a typical UNIT story, a typical Dalek story, a typical time-travel story or a typical Cold War satire. Compared to a rather large number of other UNIT serials, it has a very great sense of urgency about it. World politics appear to be at a crucial crunchtime, and this strongly benefits the story, because it is fair to believe that every small on-screen detail could easily have a major impact on events. The Brigadier's phone call, for example, is a masterclass in tension, ensuring that Day of the Daleks does not drag. Things are made even more frightening by the use of the contemporary East-West Cold War, which allows for a greater emotional engagement than does one of the many futuristic Cold War analogies (take Frontier in Space or Warriors of the Deep).
Then, out of the blue, Anat and her two friends emerge, and are depicted as uncompromising thugs. If I'd only exercised my freedom of thought, I might have seen through this neat misdirection. We're immediately told that they want to assassinate Reginald Styles, but aren't treated to an explanation. Louis Marks deviously dispenses with this plotline until the story's climax, leaving Anat and the guerrillas partially undefined for most of the time. We only get the answer after seeing the effects that they hope to prevent, with Styles' personal connection to things being the very last thing to be revealed. Suddenly, a beautiful twist throws this explanation out and adds a whole new momentum to the energetic proceedings. In short, if there were a Nobel Prize for Intelligent, Mindblowing and Revolutionary Scriptwriting, Marks would be a serious contender for the accolade.
The main element that originally put me off watching Day of the Daleks was the overwhelmingly irritatingly bad Dalek voice acting. "Ex-ter-min-ate them!" whispers a somewhat bored actor. Therefore, it is no surprise that Nick Briggs' recreation of the voices for the DVD release was a major pull factor for me. "EX-TER-MIN-ATE THEM!" is much more like it, keeping up with the Daleks' reputation as ranting destroyers. The distinction is akin to having Nick Clegg as world dictator until Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini or Mao comes along to replace him.
Speaking of world dictators, that's exactly what the Daleks are in the 22nd century, and it's a perfectly sensible use for them. They're largely withdrawn from the main goings-on of the story, dictating things from behind the scenes. Instead of playing an insufficient role in proceedings (as one reviewer has suggested), they draw parallels with the unreachable despotism of Hitler, or the invisible menace of Pol Pot in Cambodia, while the Ogrons - their own version of the SS - go out to do their deeds. This chilling juxtaposition is an interesting success, partly because it allows Day of the Daleks to build to a truly thrilling climax at Auderly House. Predictably, with not many props to play with, the original story is unable to depict a massive army; once again, the 2011 remake is one to watch to see the improvements.
With this massive grievance out of the way, I am still annoyed by something else in Day of the Daleks: the repetitive leniency shown by the normally intolerant Daleks towards Aubrey Woods. He keeps pleading for mercy after his many mistakes, and they always give him what he wants, until he becomes disposable within the story. For a tale of such innovation, a textbook approach like this is very frustrating.
Hang on a minute… I've just been reprimanded by my friend, who has asked me an extremely irritating question. "If the Daleks don't do very much in Day of the Daleks, just like they don't do very much in Victory of the Daleks, why don't you hate them both?" Taken at face value, this seems to be a reasonable query, but on closer examination, it completely disintegrates. The key difference between Day and Victory is that one is very innovative and mysterious, and the other feels more like a bland revisiting of previous Dalek attacks. Both Day and Victory are the first appearances for the Daleks since their "final ends", but while The Evil of the Daleks does not explicitly kill off every single Dalek left in the universe, Journey's End does exactly that. This allows Day of the Daleks to get away with bringing them back after a five-year rest. Victory of the Daleks comes just 21 months after Journey's End, and it tries to explain the return of the Daleks, but only manages to do so in a cheap, tired throwaway line. In Day of the Daleks, they mount a massive assault on present-day Earth, just like the Battle of Stalingrad was a massive assault by Nazi Germany on its enemies in Soviet Russia. By contrast, Victory of the Daleks smells of 2011's Battle of Tripoli, where Gaddafi's loyalists were apparently holed up in a shrinking area and not offering much resistance, only for them to escape to other parts of Libya, just as those Daleks abruptly escape from the year 1941.
One of those climaxes is memorable, but one is infuriatingly old-hat. I think I know which is which.
Day of the Daleks is the first UNIT story that I have watched since Nicholas Courtney's death, and I will now never be able to watch any of his stories in quite the same light as before. We all know how charismatic and gentlemanly he was both on-screen and off, so it's impossible to enjoy the Brigadier's finest moments without feeling deeply nostalgic. I salute you, sir; there will never be another man quite like you.
The idiot's guide to Day of the Daleks would be that it is a story that seems far ahead of its time - and it's all the better for that.
"Activate the Magnetron!" by Hugh Sturgess 1/9/12
A strange one, but a good 'un. It's lodged in my memory as the archetypal Pertwee story, probably because it was the first one I saw, way back when in the distant mists of at least 1996. It's remembered as one of the - umm, two? three? - Doctor Who stories before wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey Moffat came along to actually be ABOUT time-travel rather than just a man WITH a time machine. I still have the original VHS, with its striking cover image of Daleks staring down the potential buyer, and personally I find it rather touching. But it's actually pretty weird. For a Dalek story, it's bizarre (not in a bad way) and its direction is probably the oddest in the entire series (it's not the normal kind we got in Old Skool Who, nor the more cinematic direction of the New Series). I still liked it though.
Firstly, that direction. This was Paul Bernard's first and last foray into Doctor Who, and I don't know what he was trying to do here, but he produced possibly the most distinctive direction in Paleo-Who. No, seriously. It isn't as out-and-out weird as The Daleks or something like that, but it's odder for that. There's barely any music, which gives the whole thing a slightly verite feel, even before we have Alex Macintosh and faux-news footage of the diplomats arriving. I'm thinking particularly of the early filmed bits of UNIT and the Doctor discovering the dead/dying guerilla by the canal and later the same guerilla being put in an ambulance. The lack of music leaves background sound effects to become apparent, with the chattering of ticker-tape in UNIT HQ and the practically roaring hum in the Doctor's laboratory. And when music does show up, it's the electronic-kazoo-type stuff we got a lot of in the '70s. A lot of people hate it, but I personally like it, at least here.
The hideous day-for-night (made more obvious by Anat saying "we'll wait here til it's light" when they have sunlight reflecting off the canal water into their faces) leaves much to be desired, but I really liked most of the location footage in this story. There are also little touches that I appreciated. The mix between the disintegrator gun in the Doctor's lab and a light source in the twenty-second century, the framing of the beginning of the second scene with Styles (where the Brigadier scares him with the disintegrator), even the cuts in the scenes in which the Controller speaks to his masters, the end of episode three (in which the use of the title sequence for the mind-analysis device "merges" into the title sequence proper)... they're not unique in Doctor Who but they're odd, nevertheless.
The whole story feels slightly unusual for Doctor Who. For once, here is a scenario that UNIT would plausibly be involved in, and the story treats the Brig, Benton and Yates with a bit more realism (and respect) than you remember of the UNIT era. Benton actually acts like Yates's inferior rather than a comedy working-class lad to Yates's upper-class twit, but the story abandons them to take us two hundred years into the future. Despite Daleks, Ogrons and time-travel, the threat and the stakes seem very human. The Doctor and Jo are trying to make sure a peace conference can go ahead. UNIT stories are surprisingly small in scale, with minor menaces in isolated locations, and it's only later UNIT (book) adventures that are Tom Clancy techno-thrillers. To have a global peace-keeping role (similar to but more effective than The Mind of Evil) is good.
As I've already said, that makes the UNIT regulars realistic soldiers rather than comic foils for the Doctor and Jo. The Brigadier isn't the pompous fool he'll have degenerated into by The Time Monster, and he is, as a result, Made of Awesome. He's a competent, respectable soldier, albeit with a light touch when it comes to the Doctor and Miss Grant. Benton I've already mentioned, though I thought the scene with Jo was very nice. I'm sure slash fiction authors have mined that for its potential for some Lady Chatterly's Lover style rudeness between a "posh girl" and a "working man". Yates is also much more than people normally see him. He's as camp as ever, but he has a clear military function this week and that's to the better.
For the wrong reasons, I also liked his response to learning that the "last chance for mankind" conference is going ahead as planned: "Oh, when's it on for?" He might as well have said "lovely". The Brig looks understandably impatient with this degree of upper-lip-stiffness.
'70s Doctor Who tried to reflect the concerns of its times, with stories about environmentalism (The Green Death, Invasion of the Dinosaurs), alternative energy (Inferno, Doctor Who and the Silurians), the space programme (The Ambassadors of Death) and here world conflict and nuclear arms. They were probably just being swept along in the zeitgeist, providing parables and explorations of the issues rather than realistically depicting the world around them, but they inadvertently created a picture of a modern world different enough from ours to be a parallel universe. Before Paul Cornell and Keith Topping started the whole "alternative Beatles" thing, the UNIT era had already given us a world with a British space programme making regular trips to Mars, nuclear energy supplying large amounts of the National Grid, widespread political concern for the environment (witness The Green Death's "Minister of Ecology", which must be a dedicated portfolio and is currently filled by either a former Defence Secretary or ambassador to the UN) and much greater world status for both Britain and China.
China is the Big Bad of both this story and The Mind of Evil, and it is the "Peking" delegation's intransigence that puts the conference in its most immediate danger. As with The Mind of Evil, it is Britain that is hosting the peace conference. And note that in Robot, the Brigadier describes both Britain and China as "superpowers", in either 1975, 1980 or 1985 (depending on when you set the UNIT stories). That is both a dramatic acceleration of China's rise as a great power - and Mao seems to be alive in The Mind of Evil (set either in 1971, 1977 or 1981; he died in our world in 1976) - and a dramatic improvement of Britain's fortunes on the world stage. Some people might see that as just a parochial goof, but I like it. Presumably British governments have made better decisions (and had better luck) since the war. All that alien technology wouldn't hurt Britain's profile either, and maybe "Jeremy's" government's focus on a space programme (which would bring a whole new industry, satellites, foreign launch stations nearer the Equator than South London...) and pioneering "green" technology let Britain punch above its weight in the Doctor's twentieth century.
Anyway, here the conflicting players are Russia and China. Armies are "massing" on their frontiers, and they seem to have antagonistic client-states in South Asia and South America, where fighting briefly breaks out. I thought that was much more interesting than a bog-standard Yanks-vs.-Ivan punch-up, and given China's greater power in the Doctor Who universe I wondered what side the Americans (and Britain) were taking the dispute. I also boggled at the Africans arriving at the conference in traditional dress. That might tie in with the "Azanian ceasefire" mentioned in a scene cut from Battlefield, and with the New Adventures' depiction of a twenty-first century with lots of rich, powerful African corporations.
Although the word "nuclear" isn't actually used anywhere in the script, reference is made to "seven-eighths of the world's population" being wiped out, with the remainder in "holes in the ground, starving, reduced to the level of animals". While much Cold War literature emphasises the inability of individuals to affect the outcome of events, here tiny events can have colossal impacts. The causes of the Third World War have become a lot more "human" than in earlier decades. The world is hanging by a thread not because something terrible is bearing down on us (even the Daleks themselves are just opportunists, ready to take over the world after humanity has blown most of it up) but because of the actions of a handful of diplomats. If one moustache-wielding Englishman fails to appear, then it'll mean disaster for us all. No wonder the last scene, with the Doctor imploring Sir Reginald to make sure the delegates work out their problems, looks so much like a plea from the heart. You can almost hear the voice of the writer saying "For God's sake, what's wrong with you people?" The Doctor's casual insult in the middle of the Dalek crisis - "try to use your intelligence, man, even if you are a politician" - looks perfectly normal now, but ten years earlier a man like Sir Reginald would have received far more respect, even in a work of fiction.
The Daleks are actually a very good choice of monster for this story, which is amazing considering that it was originally intended as a non-Dalek story called The Ghost Hunters. It's not really set up for Dalek themes (like racism, fascism, purity, etc.), but it's playing off something else: familiarity. This was the first time that the Daleks had appeared since Evil of the Daleks (in 1967!); they'd become mythological creatures for a generation. Louis Marx wants to establish the potential twenty-second century as the worst place imaginable, as hell on Earth - so bad that the guerillas would rather abort that history (and thus effectively kill everyone in their world) than continue living in it - and having a devastated and depopulated Earth under the thumb of the Daleks ("we are the Bastards of Earth!") is an easy way of doing that. If Marx had created a whole new alien race, he would have had to go to a lot more effort to establish them as vile monsters. With the Daleks in charge, we KNOW what this world's like.
Marx also makes a great choice by having them kept off-stage for most of the story. They're also few in number. It's the difference between Parting of the Ways and Daleks in Manhattan: in the former, they're mobile artillery, unstoppable and utterly without personality, in the latter, they're patient, devious, scheming scientists. In Day of the Daleks, they actually feel like characters. They have discussions between themselves, they have a relationship with the Controller. Admittedly, their new voices are hideous (though, that said, they do sound a lot like Lord Haw-Haw), but I genuinely think that this is one of their most effective outings. The emphasis is on them as ruthless controllers, as genuinely superior to humans, rather than just hard-arse pillboxes on wheels. I even like the infamous "Doc-tor?! Did you say Doc-tor?!"
Their relationship with the Controller is interesting. There's a lovely understated moment in episode two when the Controller turns to leave and a Dalek tells him that he hasn't been dismissed. That is, of course, exactly what the Controller said to the two Ogrons in episode one, and there's a look on his face when he gets the same treatment that shows the regular humiliation he receives from his masters. They openly tell him that humans are untrustworthy (and you can tell his protest that he is an exception goes over like a lead balloon) and say that "the function of the human is to obey". I imagine they make him clean their casings too. Unlike plenty of other "baddie's henchman turns good" moments, the Controller's change of heart seems believable. They basically bully and belittle him into betraying them. He copies his masters word-for-word when issuing orders: he snaps at the silver-faced girls for not being as efficient as he'd like, he threatens the factory commandant's family when he objects to the change in quota (when the Controller had raised exactly the same issues with the Daleks); as the Doctor says, he doesn't "control" anything, he's just a puppet.
Pertwee has got a lot of flak in recent years, and some of it has come from me (but not enough to make it impossible for me to deny it later, ha ha!), but he's really great here. When he's called an authoritarian, that forgets that he's immensely anti-Establishment. "I simply don't happen to have a pass. Because I don't believe in them." "Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms." When you think about it, he's William Hartnell's second replacement. Patrick Troughton was an effort at a completely different Doctor to Hartnell, and this is the second go at it. The whole set-up's still new. The third Doctor is rather odd, not having any of the "wackiness" or a lot of the humour of the other incarnations, but that makes him rather distinctive. Just because he isn't dressed like a tramp doesn't make him any less of an outsider.
In fact, his fancy dress is far more a reflection of his contempt for human authority than his acceptance of it; as the first incarnation to be introduced as a Time Lord, he dresses like a aristocrat, and treats the humans who act as though they have "noble blood" (look at his mention of "Tubby" Rowlands in Terror of the Autons) with a professional's contempt of the self-appointed amateur. His wine-and-cheese affair in Episode One is almost parodic, but it's nice anyway. Jo's persistent terror at metaphorical cats leaping through windows (jumping at a clock chiming, indeed) does nothing for her as a character beyond making her look like a moron, but the Doctor's casual "night in a haunted house" is good characterisation for him. Too much TV and cinema depicts paranormal sceptics and atheists as almost pathologically deluded individuals who refuse to accept the evidence of their own eyes (witness how many years it takes Scully to accept that, yes, maybe aliens do exist). Here, the Doctor doesn't believe in ghosts, and won't be scared by something he knows doesn't exist. This is one atheist who won't even half-believe in God at midnight.
The time paradox is vanilla, compared to today's wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey obsession. It's a textbook predestination paradox, nothing that should surprise us now, but this is actually the first time Doctor Who examined this, and I still think it's a nice twist. What's interesting is that they don't go to much effort to explain what a "temporal paradox" is. Considering how dumb Jo's been throughout, you'd expect her to say "but I still don't understand, Doctor..." and facilitate some quality exposition, complete with complex Pertwee Hand Gestures (TM) to explain the concept of a closed time loop. Instead, Marx assumes a certain level of either extracurricular knowledge or just intelligence to understand the concept. I'm slightly stunned by signs that the concept of a paradox is still beyond some people's ken to this day: Therese Dripp's review above thinks the entire paradox is "absolutely ridiculous", as it doesn't make logical sense. Yes, that's because it's a paradox. If it made logical sense, if it wasn't self-contradictory, it wouldn't be a paradox. I've never had a problem with paradoxes, so I have no sympathy with those that do. The guerillas essentially created themselves; can't be that difficult to understand.
(And let us also remember Kevin O'Sullivan's driveling review of The Impossible Astronaut that asked the pressing question: "How can the Doctor be dead and then alive in the next scene?" When Mr. O'Sullivan realises that Doctor Who is a show about time-travel he will feel so embarrassed.)
Apparently Paul Cornell said that this was the best story with which to introduce a new viewer to the show. I sort of agree. It's charming, it has Daleks in it, and it plays to the series' use of time-travel rather than just using it as a plot-facilitator. That sounds underwhelming, but I really like it, actually. And any piece of television that has Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning escaping from uniformed gorillas on a tricycle that makes sci-fi "bibble" noises has to be watched. It's the law.