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It's 'Day Of The Daleks' For This Friday's DOCTOR WHO Docback!!





Merrick here...

...with our last Retro-WHO Docback before the Season/Series returns next week with 'Let's Kill Hitler!'

And, yes, we'll have a Friday Docback/Reader Reaction for the remainder of Season/Series Six...and for the Christmas episode (will a Christmas Day Docback work?  We'll find out...)...and so forth...with Retro-WHO Docbacks, news-round-ups, etc. peppered in-between, and beyond.  'Tis an institution, I say!  An INSTITUTION!  




"Day of the Daleks" (Pertwee, Story #60)

Available for preorder HERE in the U.S. and HERE in the U.K.

This is usually where I offer a relatively detailed sense of an episode's plot.  In this case, however, even a rough plot description would pretty much be a spoiler in itself.  So, suffice to say, "Day of the Daleks" is about what happens when The Doctor (Jon Pertwee), companion Jo Grant (Katty Manning)…



…and the gang from U.N.I.T are challenged by an assassination attempt that reaches from the future of our world into present day.  Commandos from the 22nd Century come back to snuff out an important figure (Sir Reginald Styles, played by Wilfred Carter) whose actions will someday have fateful consequences for our civilization.  Please keep in mind that this is a rather simplified and not an entirely just description.

Sound a bit like TERMINATOR?  It is, except "Day of the Daleks" preceded that film by 12 years.  This fact, and how both tales may've "dipped into the same pool" of established Science Fiction conceits, is discussed pointedly on the DVD's extras.  

Propulsively directed by Paul Bernard (he also directed WHO stories "The Time Monster" and "Frontier in Space") and tightly scripted by Louis Marks (WHO episodes "Planet of Evil," "The Masque of Mandragora," and "Planet of Giants"), "Day of the Daleks" is a fun romp which holds up nicely under repeated viewings (more on this below).  It is not bulletproof, and certainly not the epitome of thinking man's Science Fiction.  But it's fun, intriguing enough, and is in many ways a joy. 

This was my first Pertwee episode - I loved the hell out of both his characterization of The Doctor, and his performance of the role.  He's somewhere between James Bond and James T. Kirk, and it's hard not to be swayed by the charms of Pertwee casually sipping wine while throttling unknown intruders, or unnecessarily jumping onto a three wheeler with Jo to escape lumbering Ogrons (Klingons meet the original PLANET OF THE APES - they're enforcers sent to bag the assassin guerillas I mention above), when walking slowly away from the beasties probably would've done the trick.   


For all its energy, action, and compelling concept, "Day of the Daleks" is ultimately hamstrung by a breathtakingly inadequate finale - an "invasion" of sorts that is utterly lacking in scale, urgency, and spectacle.  An unfulfilling payoff to a conspiracy story which spans two centuries, and a roundly unsatisfying "make-or-break" moment for the human race.  Tragic to say the least.  And no, I'm not being "mean" here - even the episode's makers acknowledge the utter shame of this denouement.  HOWEVER, there's always the...

"Day of the Daleks" Special Edition

I don't feel the promotion of this fact has been anywhere close to satisfactory, but Producer Steve Broster has generated a "Special Edition" of this story that is included on a second DVD in this set (the original version of the episode is safely planted on its own disc -  each version features its own set of extras). 

What do I mean by "Special Edition"?  Check this out…

A number of tweaks - some large, some small - have been made throughout the episode.  Dalek voices, which sounded odd and a bit stilted in the broadcast version, have been replaced in the name of continuity/conformity (re-voiced by current Dalek voicer Nicholas Briggs - he worked to sound like Daleks of that era rather than 2005+ Daleks).  FX have been dramatically augmented via modern methodology, although a vast majority of them feel organic to the early 70s.  Attention was paid to film stock/textural appearance of film, new footage was shot using cameras native to the early '70s and then carefully married to the original film stock with surprising effectiveness.  

The result here is, on the whole, extremely impressive - creating a more fully realized, well-rounded DOCTOR WHO story that feels far truer to its original intent than the '72 broadcast iteration.  I rewatched the episode in full, and I'd argue that these changes made an already enjoyable story far more accessible than it used to be.  In general, these changes are not dramatic (a few are, though).  But, as the saying goes, "The Devil's in the details!"   

I know the idea of anyone enhancing, augmenting, or otherwise messing with DOCTOR WHO episodes might seem tremendously distasteful to longtime, impassioned WHOvians.  But I'll say this:  my wife was laughing at the closing battle/invasion of "Day of the Daleks" as I watched the original version.  She saw the Special Edition enhancements  - and she wasn't laughing anymore.  The newly embiggened climax  worked /felt that much better.  That's quite meaningful, and potentially a very significant weapon in helping DW reach new or skeptical audiences.  And important. 

We'll be exploring the "Day of the Daleks" Special Edition in much greater detail in the coming weeks. Until then, ponder in the Docback below a question:  IF the original versions of the episodes were given the exact same treatment they are now enjoying, should BBC & Co. target further episodes for similar augmentation?   Should this become a standard practice, and why/why not?  At the moment, base your response on principle…realizing that your answer may change for the positive or negative once you see this particualr Special Edition material for yourself. 

ORIGINAL VERSION DVD extras include...


Insight from...

-- Dave Owen (DOCTOR WHO Magazine)...

-- Barry Letts (Producer)...

-- Terrance Dicks (Script Editor)...

-- Nicholas Briggs (Dalek Voice 2005 -)...

-- Paul Cornell (Writer of DW novels and audio)...

-- Ben Aaronovitch (writer 1988-89)...

-- Anna Barry (Anat)...

-- Katy Manning (companion Jo Grant)...

-- Jimmy Winston (Shura)...

-- John Friedlander (monster maker)...

-- Ricky Newby (Dalek Operator), who talks about being forgotten on set while in costume...

-- Features an interesting discussion of adaptation of conceits in SF ("fishing from the same pool"), discusses similarities between this story, TERMINATOR, and Harlan Ellison's "Soldier." 

-- Evaluates whether or not Pertwee blasting an approaching Ogron with a ray gun was un-Doctorish...


Barry Letts (Producer) and Mike Catherwood  (Vision Mixer - described by Catherwood as a "live film editor") BBC Television Centre remembrances of working - in the "gallery" control room of Studio TC2, where much of DOCTOR WHO was made.  Fascinating insight to the making of vintage WHO, which was amazingly complex despite its relatively simplicity.  Includes control room footage of an episode being filmed.


Class 1M of Balgowan Primary School have been eagerly anticipating "an important person" for over a month.  The winners of the Radio Times Dalek Competition won a Dalek...


Dalek appearance with host Peter Purves (former Doctor companion Steven Taylor). 





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--- PREVIOUS DOCBACKS -------------------------------



"The Impossible Astronaut"

"Day of the Moon"

"The Curse of the Black Spot"

"The Doctor's Wife"

"The Rebel Flesh"

"The Almost People"

"A Good Man Goes To War"



"Time and the Rani"

"Merrick's Personal Journey With The Doctor / "Frontios"

"An Unearthly Child"

"The Gunfighters" / "The Edge Of Destruction"

"The Daleks," "The Awakening," "The Crash of the Elysium"

DOCTOR WHO Title Sequences & DW At Comic-Con 2011

Why Eccleston Left, Here Comes Caroline Skinner, And Season/Series Six Part 1 on Blu-Ray And DVD

"Paradise Towers" / New WHOvian Documentary / Newsbits

New Trailer For Season/Series Six Part 2

"Marco Polo" and "The Sun Makers"




AICN's Friday DOCTOR WHO Talkbacks - aka "Docbacks"  - operate on a different set of standards than other AICN Talkbacks.  These standards developed quickly and naturally, and we intend to preserve them.  Accordingly, please take a moment to note a few guidelines which should help proceedings move along smoothly and pleasantly:  
1) a Docback should be about completely open and free discourse regarding all things WHO (with, obviously, some variation on subject matter from time to time - the real world intervenes, discussions of other shows are inevitable, etc.)... 

2) matters of SPOILAGE should be handled with thoughtful consideration and sensitivity.  Posts containing SPOILERS should clearly state that a SPOILER exists in its topic/headline and should never state the spoiler itself . "** SPOILER ** Regarding Rory" is OK, for example.  "** SPOILER ** Battle of Zarathustra" is fine as well.  "**SPOILER** Why did everyone die?"  Is NOT good.  

And, above all... 

3) converse, agree, disagree, and question as much as you want - but the freedom to do so is NOT a license to be rude, crass, disrespectful, or uncivilized in any way.  Not remaining courteous and civil, as well as TROLLING or undertaking sensational efforts to ignite controversy, will result in banning.  Lack of courtesy may receive one (1) warning before a ban is instigated.  Obvious Trolling or Spamming will result in summary banning with no warning.  
In short, it's easy.  Be excellent to each other.  Now party on...

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