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Back to the 1970s - With Added Daleks!
Doctor Who - Day of the Daleks (DVD)
Member Name: karenuk
Doctor Who - Day of the Daleks (DVD)
Advantages: Great story, Ogrons, Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning, new special effects .
Disadvantages: None for me.
As many of you know, I am a big Doctor Who fan. In fact, I have seen every existing episode from the show's start in 1963 to the current 2011 series. I am a huge fan of Matt Smith and think he makes an excellent Doctor, but I also love Jon Pertwee, so I was excited to hear about Day of the Daleks being released and this is the only Doctor Who DVD I have pre-ordered this year!
Jon Pertwee was the third actor to play the Doctor, which he did from 1970 to 1974. As I was born in 1969, Tom Baker was the Doctor I grew up watching, though I do have vague memories of Jon Pertwee in the role. Day of the Daleks was broadcast in January 1972 and features one of my all-time favourite companions - Katy Manning as Jo Grant. It also features UNIT and the wonderful Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, who sadly died earlier this year.
The story begins on Earth in the 20th Century. In a gorgeous stately home called Auderly House, the important politician Sir Reginald Styles (played by Wilfred Carter) suddenly sees a man in combat gear appear, try to kill him, then apparently disappear into thin air. The Doctor, Jo and UNIT move into the house to see if they can sort things out and they soon uncover an ambitious plot which takes them into the 22nd Century, where the Daleks are in power...
The story is a good one and a memorable one, especially as it features the Ogrons (who made an impact on me in childhood) - chimp-like creatures in uniform who act as a security force for the Daleks. The Daleks themselves were not something I seemed to find especially frightening as a child (always preferring the more menacing Cybermen), but the Ogrons were tall, scary looking, strong, powerful and could run fast.
The pairing of Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning is one of the best ever created in Doctor Who and they really work well together, so you believe they would truly risk their lives for each other. (Having met Katy many times, she often talks of how well they got on and how much she still misses him.) Jo Grant is often thought of as a dumb blonde, but in this story, she comes across as more naive than ignorant, which is when Jo is at her best.
The cast as a whole is very good. The three stalwarts of UNIT are here - the Brigadier, Captain Mike Yates (Richard Franklin) and Sergeant Benton (John Levene) - alongside some impressive guest stars too. Aubrey Woods is particularly memorable as the Controller in the future, as well as the rebel guerrillas led by Anat (Anna Barry). Although Doctor Who in the 1970s has been accused of re-enforcing gender stereotypes, here we have a strong (and feminine-looking) female character who is in charge, brave and resourceful.
When this story was made in 1971, the special effects were obviously limited compared to what is available these days. Therefore, I was thrilled to hear that this DVD edition was going to include a new Special Edition version of Day of the Daleks. It has new sequences added, brand new state-of-the-art special effects and the Dalek voices have been re-done by Nick Briggs who voices the Daleks and Cybermen in the current Matt Smith series.
My fiancé and I watched this Special Edition and both of us loved it. It looks much better quality and more realistic, especially the way the guns disintegrate their victims. While viewing pleasure may have been reduced slightly if you become distracted by the slightly dodgy SFX of the 1970s, these new effects really enhance the story and I am sure modern kids and teens watching this version will be impressed.
For those who like things just as they were, don't worry, you'll be happy too as the original version is also on this DVD. The original version broadcast in four episodes in 1972 is on Disc One and you can also listen to the commentary by Anna Barry (Anat), Jimmy Winston (who played the rebel Shura), Barry Letts (producer - since deceased), Terrance Dicks (script editor) and Mike Catherwood (vision mixer).
DAY OF THE DALEKS - DISC ONE
Disc One also includes a whole load of extras - Blasting the Past (documentary), A View From the Gallery (Barry Letts and Mike Catherwood revisit the BBC TV Studios), Nationwide (a vintage clip of a primary school which gets a visit from a tiny Dalek!), Blue Peter (a nice clip from the Valerie Singleton/John Noakes/Peter Purves era where Former Doctor Who companion Peter Purves meets some Daleks in the studio), plus a Photo Gallery, Production Notes, Radio Times Billings and Coming Soon. Plus the story itself has been digitally remastered.
DAY OF THE DALEKS - DISC TWO
Disc Two features the Special Edition version of the story plus The Making of Day of the Daleks - Special Edition, The UNIT Family - Part Two, Now and Then (revisiting the locations used in Day of the Daleks), The UNIT Dating Conundrum (What years are the UNIT stories set in?), The Cheating Memory (which basically covers the question "Why isn't Day of the Daleks as effective now, as we are adults, compared to how we viewed it as children, years ago?") and a Teaser Trailer (not worth watching).
THE BEST OF THE EXTRAS
I am not going to review all of these extras individually, as that would become very dull for all of us, but I will mention a few of them I watched and particularly enjoyed.
Blasting the Past was my favourite of the extras on Disc One. It is a documentary about the story Day of the Daleks and the background to it. It includes interviews with Barry Letts, Terrance Dicks, Nicholas Briggs, Anna Barry, Jimmy Winston and Katy Manning and lasts thirty minutes.
I especially liked finding out how the Ogrons were created, named and realised. It was also interesting hearing the discussion about the controversial killing of an Ogron by the Doctor, who is usually seen as rather a pacifist. My fiancé and I both noticed that seemed out of character when we watched it.
Disc Two has some good extras. The Cheating Memory has a few interesting bits and some nice humour, but is a bit heavy at times.
I hadn't seen Part One of the UNIT Family, but Part Two is still watchable. In fact, it is probably my favourite extra on this disc. It lasts around half an hour and includes interviews with Terrance Dicks, Barry Letts, Katy Manning (who has strange teeth here!), the eccentric John Levene (and that's putting it kindly!), Richard Franklin and the much missed Nicholas Courtney. These interviews were done at a different time to the other ones on the extras and presumably this UNIT one was recorded earlier, as Barry Letts (who died in 2009) looks much healthier here. It is good to hear their memories of their time working on the series and especially about the actor Roger Delgado, who played such a memorable Master.
The Making of Day of the Daleks - Special Edition is a documentary explaining how the story was updated for the new DVD release. Steve Broster explains why he wanted to work on the new version and the improvements he was able to make. It is quite short (thirteen minutes) but worth watching.
They were able to return to the 'Auderly House' location with another Dalek, an Ogron and a UNIT soldier to film scenes which could then be slotted into the original story. Personally, I think they have done a brilliant job, as the finished product is excellent! One of the least convincing aspects of the story is the final invasion scenes which only feature three Daleks! It looks much more threatening in the Special Edition.
Mark Ayres and Nick Briggs explain why the Dalek voices were changed and how this was achieved. It is interesting to see clips of the original version alongside the Special Edition, as you can really see it is an improvement.
Doctor Who - Day of the Daleks (Special Edition) was released on September 12th 2011 and can be bought from the usual outlets. I pre-ordered mine from Amazon UK for £12.93. It is rated PG.
Overall, I definitely recommend this DVD. It was great to be able to watch this wonderful story again with one of the greatest Doctor Who teams starring in it and I really love the new version of Day of the Daleks.
9 out of 10
Summary: A great example of classic Doctor Who.
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