Thursday 22 September 2011

304 Day of the Daleks: Episode One

EPISODE: Day of the Daleks: Episode One
TRANSMITTED: 01 January 1972
WRITER: Louis Marks
DIRECTOR: Paul Bernard
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: I'm watching a VHS: Doctor Who - The Day of the Daleks but by the time you read this the DVD will be out!
Episode Format: 625 video

Sir Reginald Styles, organiser of the world peace conference, is working late at night when he's disturbed by a man dressed in combat gear who vanishes. The Doctor, working on the Tardis console with Jo, accidentally transports their future selves to this time for a brief while. The man returns hunting Styles but he is attacked by ape like Ogrons and left for dead. The Ogrons report back to their human controller in the future that the mission was a success. The injured man is taken to hospital by Unit but when the Doctor examines his gear he activates the time machine the man carried sending the man back to the future. This time transference is picked up by the controller's staff and he reports it to his masters.... As Styles leaves for China Jo & The Doctor elect to spend a night in his house. A squad of three humans from the future arrives to kill Styles. The Doctor works on the time machine activating it causing the squad to storm the house to try to get him to deactivate it. His use of the time machine is detected in the future by the rulers of Earth ...... The Daleks!

Wanting a big event to hook the viewers in for the start of the new series Barry Letts & Terrance Dicks elect to bring the Daleks back to Doctor Who for the first time since 1967. They take a back seat in this episode, manipulating events behind the scenes through their human and Ogron allies. It's really quite a fabulous atmospheric episode as the Doctor attempts to reactivate the time machine and Jo feeds the troops. The scene with the Doctor & Jo meeting their future selves should have had a nice little pay off at the end of episode 4 as the returning Doctor & Jo find their past selves working in the lab. The scene is still present in the book but had to be cut for time reason leaving the scene merely pre-empting some of the themes of the story. Oddly the Doctor refers to the scene occurring "a few moments ago" later in the episode after his trip to Auderley House - a rearrangement of the scene order? I do think there is one critical error in this episode: You see the Controller reporting to his masters halfway through the episode giving you a brief glimpse of them. I'd have saved the reveal of the Daleks until the end of the episode. It's tradition after all. Even then the reveal isn't really that dramatic. I'd have the voice appear earlier in the episode, perhaps distorted over an intercom, and then a big pull back and reveal at the end.

Liz laughed at the discontinuity between the two Ogrons who've been to the 20th century. One gives a slow monosyllabic report of their excursion, while the other dismisses enquiries as to if there were any problems with a quick No Complications! Did the director, first timer Paul Bernard, forget to tell one of them how they should be performing?

Some more firsts here: one from the episode at the time, one that history has granted it. This episode sees the first appearance of what will become the 70s Dalek theme as the soldier rematerialises in the 20th century. Looking at the BBC's archive holdings now, this whole story is the earliest to completely exist on it's original 625 line video.

Two stories exist about surrounding the Daleks return to the screens: Terrance Dicks' version has them forgetting to ask Terry Nation's permission to use them, having to go to see Terry to apologise and being given a very nice, mainly liquid, lunch by him. Barry Letts version is roughly the same accept they had the lunch when they went to see Terry Nation to ask permission to use the Daleks before work on the story started! Barry's version, while less of a good tale, is the one supported by the BBC paperwork.

Also returning to the series after a considerable absence is script writer Louis Marks, who wrote the Hartnell tale The Planet of Giants and isn't the toy company that made Daleks. This is his only Pertwee script but he'll be back for two more Tom Baker stories.

You may remember during Evil of the Daleks 5 I mention the controversy amongst fans as to whether the Doctor ate meat or drank alcohol. Well here he's knocking back the wine here in an attempt to drink Styles' cellar dry aided by Captain Yates & Sergeant Benton!

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