...with a look at “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” - which aired from 21 November to 26 December in 1964. For good measure, we’ll also chew on DALEKS’ INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D. This is a big-screen saga released in 1966, and is essentially a licensed remake of the 1964 story.
BBC ONE / BBC AMERICA CONFIRM DOCTOR WHO CHRISTMAS SPECIAL AIRDATE
This is hardly surprising, but it never hurts to have such confirmation: BBC One and BBC America say that this year's DOCTOR WHO Christmas Special - "The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe" - will indeed air Christmas night in both the U.S. and U.K as previously anticipated.
All of this is grand because we are talking about a Christmas Special after all...and most Christmas Specials don't seem to air on Christmas at all...and sometimes they don't even air close to it. Which makes this news doubleplus cool...but also nifty because DOCTOR WHO is one of the best Christmas presents someone can receive. Win. Win.
BBC One will broadcast the Special at 7pm on Christmas night. On BBC America, "The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe" will air December 25th at 9pm ET/PT. In the days leading up to the broadcast, the network will air a marathon of previous DW Christmas Specials (beginning December 23 9pm ET/PT), along with a "Best of The Christmas Specials" show which hits December 24 at 8pm ET/PT . It is described thusly by BBCA:
A collection of fans from the celebrity, comedy, sci-fi and digital worlds discuss their favorite moments from Doctor Who Christmas specials as part of the countdown to this year’s main event.
Hmmm. I'll have to DVR this as to not intrude upon our family's long-established tradition of viewing beloved Christmas movies on Christmas Eve (A CHRISTMAS STORY and DIE HARD).
Find more about BBC America's ramp-up to the Special HERE.
AND THE RECIPIENT OF THE SEASON/SERIES FIVE AND SIX BLU-RAY BUNDLE IS...
The name of the game was to e-mail me at, or closest to, a randomly pre-selected time.
This time, randomly/arbitrarily selected by me before announcing the contest, was Saturday November 26, 2011 at 11:22 PM CST USA.
Going by the time stamps appearing at the top of each incoming contest submission, it seems PAUL H from California will receive one (1) set of DOCTOR WHO Series Five on Blu-Ray, and one (1) copy of DOCTOR WHO Series Six on Blu-Ray.
Paul's e-mail was received at 11:23 PM CST USA on Saturday November 26. Submissions were TREMENDOUSLY clustered for this particular contest - more so than I've ever seen when conducting other AICN contests. Had any number of other times been selected as a "winning" time, the contest would've been determined by ONE SECOND in many instances. In Paul's case, the next closest entries were both ten minutes or greater on either side of the chosen 11:22 PM time frame.
Paul's contact information has already been passed along to BBC - who is quite generously handling fulfillment for this contest. I'd like to express my heartfelt gratitude to BBC DVD for making this opportunity possible - there were a high number of submissions, and we're looking into bringing you further opportunities in the very near future. So, stay tuned...
WHOTININNIES PODCAST COMING
Ken and I have both had crazy, crazy weeks and haven'r recorded the next podcast yet. We're hoping to bring the next one online over the weekend.
In the meantime, if you missed last week's installment due to the Holiday weekend here in the U.S., you can find it HERE.
Keep an eye on this space for the next link.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR “THE DALEK INVASION OF EARTH” BELOW. NOTHING THAT ISN’T WIDELY KNOWN AND/OR ALREADY DISCUSSED ELSEWHERE ON THE INTERNET AT THIS POINT, BUT A TAD MORE DETAILED THAN I USUALLY INCORPORATE INTO MY EPISODIC WRITE-UPS. IF YOU WISH TO REMAIN COMPLETELY VIRGINAL UNTIL YOU’VE SEEN THIS STORY FOR YOURSELF, PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
“The Dalek Invasion of Earth” (Story # 10)
IAN: You know, Doctor...sometimes you astound me.
DOCTOR: Only sometimes, dear boy? What's happened to your memory?
"The Dalek Invasion of Earth" - Episode 6 - 'Flashpoint'
Welcome to 22nd Century London, where the future looks quite a bit like the 1960s, one wrong move can land you in big trouble with demented pepperpots, and slapping a girl in the face with a fish can bag you a cute Gallifreyan babe for life.
Scripted by Daleks creator Terry Nation (who previously wrote “The Daleks” for DOCTOR WHO and later went on to bring us the great "Genesis of the Daleks" (Baker, Story #78) as well as the BLAKE'S 7 television series ), the plot here is remarkably simple: The Doctor (William Hartnell) arrives in 22nd Century London with companions Barbara (Jacqueline Hill), Ian Chesterton (William Russell) and Susan (Carole Ann Ford). They find our world overrun by Daleks, join a human resistance against the scummy little bastards, and set out to thwart the Daleks' broader scheme - their plan to steal the Earth and drive it around in the cosmos towards nefarious ends. We later see this “stolen Earth” conceit revisited in a different way by writer Russell T. Davies in the Tennant Era episode called, well, "The Stolen Earth."
“Dalek Invasion” is an extremely effective story whose greatest weakness is that it...like many of its early WHO predecessors...is driven by too little material spread over too much time. Tedium does set in upon occasion, primarily rising from our inescapable realization that some of the story’s side plots simply don’t relate (or contribute significantly) to the whole of the adventure. This sometimes threatens to dilute the elements that do work about “Dalek Invasion,” but never fully undercuts the story’s better qualities. Because when "Dalek Invasion" does work, it’s generally shines brilliantly.
This story nicely propagates the Daleks-as-Nazis parables earlier implied by "The Daleks" and later borne out fully in "Genesis of the Daleks.” Humans are essentially brainwashed into cooperating the Daleks, there’s a resistance movement against a technologically superior and ruthless occupying force, Daleks use humans for violently enforced slave labor, there’s a “Fire Bomb” subplot, one Dalek cries our "final solution!" when it learns that it's time to purge Earth of human pestilence, etc. This is World War II with different names and set in a different time. It is violent (shootings and stabbings), it is scary (sequences of essentially deserted London are a tad unnerving in their imagery), and..even with the story’s limited budget and resources...it effectively illustrates the “mass” and dehumanizing nature of large-scale occupation.
All of this culminates in an action finale which works well enough - although one gets the strong sense that the installments’ makers may’ve been struggling to actualize some of Nation’s admittedly challenging set pieces. Fortunately, this sometimes floppy denouement is overshadowed by Susan’s blindsinding departure from the show. Her exit makes a bit of sense and is probably well-supported when taking her character, her relationship to The Doctor, and her overall history with him into consideration - but it’s presented somewhat unexpectedly, although handled quite powerfully.
"There must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs...” offers the Doctor after sealing the TARDIS doors so his "granddaughter" can’t get in. It’s a powerful crossroads for The Doctor, who...possibly for the first time in his existence...may be realizing the inherent injustice of playing to a captive audience. The Doctor is, essentially, cutting her umbilical and setting her free - while also severing his own dependence on her. In a very real sense she’s abandoned...yet left to a world where she can find a way to belong, with a new man who loves her and wants her. She’s lived and adventure far grander than most people will ever know. Yet, in this moment, The Doctor is acknowledging that she is also being deprived of the closeness and sense of belonging that every person deserves - no matter where they've been or what they've seen.
One might also argue that The Doctor is more or less making this decision for Susan - that he is forcing a change into her life without any prior discussion and with little time for rational evaluation. I.e. what appears to be decisions he made in her best interest could actually be Machivellian in nature, and yet another example of The Doctor doing what The Doctor wants to do...too bad if others get caught in the slipstream of his whimsy.
Either way, this is a potent moment for Susan. While many instances thus far have portended "modern" WHO, this is our first strong indication of the sometimes confounding complexity that would eventually characfterize later embodiments of The Doctor. The first ture sense that travelling with The Doctor is not always the right, or healthiest, thing to do. Our first acknowledgement that The Doctor may sense intuitively know this, but is afraid to let go. Perhaps he's afraid to be alone with himself.
The sequence is simple, quick, potent ,and is incredibly dense in undercurrent and subtext. It’s also our first substantial evidence of the unexpected emotional “gut punches” that would characterize later WHO - particularly the Tennant and Smith eras. Indeed, The Dalek Invasion of Earth” advances a number of firsts: it introduces a color-coded hierarchy for the Dalek command/social structure (in this case a black command Dalek), it represents the show’s first extensive use of location work (previously there were only there were only a few brief establishing/travelogue location shots featured in “Reign of Terror”), and it’s the first episode shot in Riverside Studios (after relocating from Lime Grove Studios). Riverside was a larger and more recently renovated studio than Lime Grove, allowing the production larger and more multi-faceted sets. For example: the Dalek ship was built as one continuous set, and is essentially seen/shot in cutaway. In other instances, multi-level sets were possible for the first time on the show, etc.
Design by the incoming Spencer Chapman is also notable across-the-board. The interior of the Dalek ship is populated with gadgets that actually feel like they may plausibly possess some level of functionality. Doorways in the Dalek ship slide or swing open or upward with smooth efficiency, accompanied by nifty swooshes akin to STAR TREK or STAR WARS. Even a rebel hideout - a relatively unremarkable room - feels more nuanced, solid, and textured. There's even a (probably inadvertent) J.J. Abrams-esque lens flare for good measure. All of these enhancements combine into a 1-2 punch that brings around a DOCTOR WHO which...while still clearly hamstrung be budgetary limitations...feels roundly embiggened, and often evokes the ambitious WHOs that we see today.
Location sequences are presented without sound and generally backed by a minimalist purcussive score that nicely accentuates the episode's sometimes desolate imagery and atmospheric tension. This sequence...
...in which Barbara and she-rebel Jenny (Ann Davis) must push a wheelchair-bound Dortmun (Alan Davis) down the street while avoiding detection by Daleks evokes some of the better bigscreen suspense pieces of the era.
Despite its occasional sag, "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" is a generally strong entry - and a must-see for anyone interested in DOCTOR WHOstory. It's a fascinating glimpse into the show's past, and a wonderful tease for what DW would become in later years. It's availabe of DVD HERE in the U.S. and HERE in the U.K.
DALEKS' INVASION EARTH: 2150 A.D.
What an awesome poster...
This theatrical film is more or less a licensed remake of the TV episode discussed above, released a few years after “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” first aired on BBC. Intended to capitalize on “Dalekmania” of the time, the picture stars Peter Cushing as a genial and eccentric scientist from Earth named (literally) Dr. Who. He travels though time and space in his TARDIS (still a blue Police Box), although his companions differ in this iteration. A hot niece named Louise (Jill Curzon)...
....replaces Jacqueline Hill's Barbara. Bernard Cribbins (Donna Noble's father Wilfred during the Tennant era) replaces William Russell's Ian with a not-entirely-effectual policeman named Tom. “Granddaughter” Susan does exist in this iteration, although she’s a bit younger than Carole Ann Ford’s TV counterpart - and played by Roberta Tovey this time around. Notably, little Susan is not jettisoned from this movie’s WHOverse.
This is very much a Bizarroverse version of both DOCTOR WHO in general and “The Dalek Invasion of Earth.” Like The big-screen adaptation of “The Daleks” before it (watch it HERE free and legallly), characterization here is paper thin...indeed, it’s almost non-existent. Our human protagonists exist solely as a entree into the movie’s Dalek-driven action, and the focus here is clearly on breezy entertainment instead of well-developed Science Fiction. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this dynamic...just noting the “apples and oranges” nature of this strangeness.
The film shares many identical events with its television predecessor, although occasionally a movement will come about via different characters (i.e. we frequently see almost exactly the same occurrences, instigated by different characters - perhaps in slightly different ways). These changes don’t always make a great deal of sense, and some feel like ‘change for the sake of change’ rather than legitimate alterations designed to accommodate plot mechanics and whatnot. Ultimately, however, the overall structure of Terry Nation’s tale remains readily identifiable throughout the movie.
Alas, when all is said and done, this “take” on his material is rarely as interesting or provocative as its televised progenitor. It’s fun for fun’s sake, but little more. Milton Subotsky’s screenplay greatly abbreviates the strong subtexts of Nation's progenitor story in favor of narrative brevity and action-centric propulsion. A very recognizable shell of “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” exists here, but only as a ghost. It’s hollow and gutless.
Interestingly, both iterations of this adventure possess qualities the other might’ve benefitted from - and neither perfectly achieve that difficult balance between decelerated allegory and frothy, high octane entertainment. Where Nation's take gets bogged down in subplots and maneuverings which emerge as more or less irrelevant to the ‘bigger picture,’ this movie could well have prospered from a bit more flavoring and substance. If we could magically mash up the two? We’d end up with one helluva production. As is, each version has its unique strengths and each has its readily shortcomings. But in terms of overall vibe, and emotional and intellectual resonance? The trophy goes to the television version.
Bill McGuffie’s 's propulsive and spy-like score stands in sharp contrast to Francis Chagrin's eerie, drum-strong music for the TV story - a few riffs here suggest AUSTIN POWERS more than alien-occupied atmospherics. SPACE: 1999’s Barry Gray is credited as composer of “Electronic Music” in the film’s opening - although I could never finger his exact contributions at any point in the proceedings. I’m wondering if they were so intertwined with McGuffie’s work as to be indistinguishable?
Action and corridor shenanigans on the Dalek saucer ship strongly evoke STAR WARS rompiness on a few occasions, and said ship...featuring two counter-rotating rings (the gold bands at the vessel's top and center, seen in the pic below) ...is pretty badass in a FLASH GORDONy sorta way.
Kudos to whomever conceived the alien weapon which...like the Weirding Module in David Lynch’s DUNE movie...appears to be gathering energy from the air around it before firing. Nicely conceived and well played, although not as spectacularly realized as it might’ve been.
As stated above, the overall tory structure here more or less follows the television version, but there are several deviations. One of the movie’s more agreeable augmentations finds Cribbins' non-brainwashed, in-disguise Tom becoming inadvertently swept up by a battalion of Dalek-controlled Robomen (zombified human Dalek operatives who are tuned in to some sort of master control frequency). He’s hustling to keep up with their unified moves (sitting, standing, walking in formation, etc.) - which is difficult given he's literally and figuratively not on their wavelength. Yes, the gag is dopey as hell, but it’s amusing and well executed from a conceptual and comedic perspective - and is indicative of the kind of clever vitality the film could’ve used much more of.
DALEKS’ INVASION seizes the color coded Dalek conceit suggested by the TV episode and takes it to next level by inserting golden and red Dalek models into the grey/silver and black hierarchy established previously. This broader color palette would feature later in the series proper - and (happenstantially, I’m sure) allowed for the production of many more toys variants.
A peculiar novelty for WHO fans, but definitely not a way to inDoctornate new or reticent viewers, DALEKS’ INVASION OF EARTH 2150 A.D. emerges as little more than harmless vapor. For my money it’s the better of the two theatrical WHO adventure to date (I found myself irrepressibly bored by DR. WHO AND THE DALEKS - and...man...should Thalls not be see in color), but it’s also the least successful of the two undertakings. So much so that a planned third Dalek film was eventually canned. So, what the hell do I know?
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. One word posts intended to bump-up any Docback's figures on AICN's "Top Talkbacks" sidebar will be considered actionable Spam - they not only complicate efforts to access Docbacks from mobile devices, but impede readers' abilities to follow or engage in flowing conversation.
In short, it's easy. Be excellent to each other. Now party on...