Sunday 25 September 2011

307 Day of the Daleks: Episode Four

EPISODE: Day of the Daleks: Episode Four
TRANSMITTED: 22 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

The Controller interrupts the Daleks' interrogation of the Doctor saving his life so that he can be questioned about the resistance. The Daleks, then the Controller relate how the Daleks invaded Earth and enslaved the population. The resistance storm the Dalek HQ with several casualties including Boaz who dies saving Anat from a Dalek. The Doctor & Jo are rescued, the Doctor persuading the resistance to spare the Controller. In our time Unit is still searching for Jo & The Doctor. The Resistance want the Doctor to return and kill Styles, who they believe killed everyone at the conference with explosives leading to world chaos. The Doctor works out that the explosion was caused by the missing resistance member Shura using the explosives the team took with them. The Controller sets an ambush up for the resistance in the tunnel, capturing the Doctor & Jo, but the Doctor talks his way to a release enabling them to return to the present day. The Controller is observed by his deputy who reports him to the Daleks causing his extermination. The Daleks travel themselves to the 20th century and attack Auderley House. Warned by the Doctor, the Brigadier evacuates the house. Once the Daleks are within the house Shura detonates his explosives killing him and destroying the Daleks & Ogrons and giving the peace conference the impetus to succeed.

There's a lot to get into in this episode: I'm pretty sure the Doctor's been asked before why if they don't succeed they can't go back and have another go. Well here the Daleks have done: following the failure of the Dalek Invasion of Earth they quite clearly state that they go back in time and invade again. Except.... The Dalek Invasion of Earth is a frequently referenced event in Earth's future history as it progresses down it's normal path. Somehow they must have ended up in an alternate future created by the resistance killing Styles, which is itself undone when The Doctor returns to the past. Doctor Who is always against altering established history yet here an entire future is changed: the get out clause allowing them to do it is that the future we see here isn't the correct one. As I'm writing this I have two other Doctor Who stories in mind, the McGann movie and the abhorrent Last of the Timelords where what we see on screen is undone. Here it feels OK. It doesn't in either of the other two.

This episode features one of the major short comings of the story: the Daleks attack on Austerley House. It's soooooooooooo slow! The Daleks are having obvious trouble moving over the grass and, once again, the Ogrons are having to amble as to not outpace them. It's also painfully obvious during this sequence that there are just three Dalek props available to film with, a position made worse by one of them, a third of what you can see on screen, being painted a different colour! Thankfully it appears as if this sequence has had some love & attention lavished on it for the special edition on the DVD in terms of CGI & newly filmed sequences. You can see a trailer for the special edition on YouTube while another is included on The Sun Makers DVD.

Like the Dæmons we get to see a BBC television reporter on screen & involved in the action in this story. However Alex MacIntosh was an actual BBC presenter as well as being the voice over on the first ever television advert !

So Day of the Daleks: good story, cracking in fact. Unfortunately it's not a triumphant return for the Daleks. All the story's problems surround them: they're confined to the background for the most part, sounding wrong and made to look ridiculous in the closing battle scenes. I think it would have worked perfectly well without them as the story was originally written. It's one of the better Pertwee stories, better than I remember it being. I'd not watched it for some years prior to viewing it for the Blog but I've seen it twice in the last week now and it was great both times. I'm really looking forward to the DVD release and improved special edition now!

What Day does do is give the Pertwee era another solid link with it's past. Apart from Unit and the occasional mention of the Tardis & the Time Lords, the Third Doctor's reign has felt like a different show to what has gone before. Now the Daleks are back, and will be back every year for the next three years, the show starts to play a little more with it's heritage. The next story involves Tardis travel & returning foes the Ice Warriors, we'll make two more trips in the Tardis after that this season and we won't see the Brigadier & Unit HQ again till the last story of the season. The show is starting to feel a bit more like old Doctor Who.

A little milestone with the end of this episode: the next 10 stories/52 episodes are all on DVD, and all (now) in colour. That will be our longest run watching on one format so far and by the time we'll be back on video it'll be 1974, Sarah-Jane Smith will be the companion and we'll be watching the last Pertwee episode to only exists in black & white. Now therein lies a story......

Day of the Daleks was repeated on BBC1 as a 60-minute compilation on 3 September 1973. It was novelised by Terrance Dicks and released in April 1974. The Day of the Daleks paperback was one of the first Doctor Who books I owned, being given a copy by my parents for my 9th birthday in 1982 along with Destiny of the Daleks and the first volume of the Programme Guide. Day of the Daleks was released as a compilation video in July 1986. It was the first Pertwee story to be released on video, initially costing £24.95 and was the last Doctor Who video to be released on Beta Max as well as VHS. An episodic version was released in April 1994 by which point Doctor Who videos were a much more palatable £9.99 each! Day of the Daleks is one of just six Doctor Who stories to be released on Laserdisc in the UK: The others are Revenge of the Cybermen, Brain of Morbius, The Five Doctor, The Ark in Space & Terror of the Zygons. It was released as a 2 disc special edition DVD on September 12th 2011 containing the restored original version of the story and a new special edition with enhanced effects, newly filmed footage and replacement Dalek voices provided by new series Dalek voice artist Nicholas Briggs. Oddly the DVD is released on the same day and month which Jo says she left earlier Time, and 40 years almost to the day since location work was started on the story.


  1. So what did you think of the Special Edition DVD version of the story?

  2. Fab, apart from the missing No Complications line.....