Which One : The big budget version of Hartnell’s – The Daleks.
Cast : The Doctor : Peter Cushing
Ian : Roy Castle
Barbara : Jennie Linden
Susan : Roberta Tovey
Alydon : Barrie Ingham
Ganatus : Michael Coles
Dyoni : Yvonne Antrobus
Temmous : Geoffrey Toone
Antodus : John Bown
Elyon : Mark Petersen
Written By : Terry Nation (The Daleks)
Screenplay By : David Whittaker & Milton Subotsky
Release Date : 23 August 1965 (UK) – July 1966 (US).
Length : 1 hour 23 minutes.
Plot : The Doctor meets his grand-daughter Barbara’s boyfriend Ian and shows him his latest project – a working time machine. Ian clumsly sends the quartet (including other Grand-daughter Susan) into the far flung future to planet Skaro and a meeting with the Daleks.
Whats good : Big budget realised version of the classic Hartnell – The Daleks story. Very faithful to the series in places. Peter Cushing. The set design.
Whats bad : Roy Castle’s clown act soon grates. Some of the changes from the original show will leave the viewer scratching their head and asking why?
Review With Spoilers : Doctor Who & The Daleks is a big budget movie remake of the William Hartnell TV episode; The Daleks – 1964.
Hartnell was replaced in this by Peter Cushing, who takes over the role of the Doctor. The companions, although bearing the same name – have also been changed too.
Barbara is now an older teenage granddaughter of the Doctor and Ian is her new boyfriend. Susan is a lot younger than the teenage TV series Susan.
The Doctor himself, is not an alien in this, albeit a human inventor who happens to invent a time machine shaped police box. His second name is actually “Who” in this.
The Daleks themselves have undergone a punchy redesign in this, to be taller and more colourful. They now sport a retractable claw instead of the plunger and instead of their death ray, sport a gas gun.
The rest of the story pretty much parallels the events in the TV episode. The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan land the Tardis on planet Skaro (confirmed in the second movie Daleks – Invasion Of Earth : 2150 A.D.) many eons after a nuclear war has destroyed the surface.
The Doctor, keen to investigate the planets surface – claims he needs some mercury to recharge a supposedly failed Tardis component (he fibs) and the quartet travel to a city where they encounter both the Daleks and Thal’s and suffer from radiation poisoning.
Doctor Who & The Daleks is a oddity in the series as it isn’t actually canon to the TV show. Certain elements have been changed and others abandoned altogether. However, the basic plot of a blue-box time travelling old man is still present.
Made in response to the Dalekmania fad of 1964, the film attempted to bring a loved story from the TV series to the big screen.
Peter Cushing does an amiable job in his portrayal of the Doctor. He is completely different to Hartnell’s more crotchety take on the role, as he is alot more genteel and sweet – especially in his dealings with Granddaughter Barbara and Susan.
The strength of this is in the colourful and lavish production values. From the uber-shoulder 60’s modern look of the Daleks themselves, to the lavish Skaro city design and spooky fallout forests surrounding it.
The Thal’s in particular, take their look directly from their TV series counterparts; all blonde hair, fake eyelashes and androgynous looking. With a waxy pale turquoisey green tinge evident in their skin (original was in black and white so hard to tell!). If these guys didn’t in some small part, influence some of the New Romantics-era in the following 20 years – then something is wrong.
Doctor Who & The Daleks main strength is in that it doesn’t stray to far from the original classic story and much of the events which happen in the TV episode – happen here.
The Doctor’s lie about needing mercury to fix his Tardis component, the group contracting radiation sickness, the Dalek’s plan to mass produce the Thal anti-radiation medicine and the Thal’s plan to send a group through the Caves to a tack the Dalek city from the rear.
Some of its faults lie in small technicalities; the Daleks shooting CO2 gas due to the dangers of working with flame throwers on set. Movie Ian being a bumbling idiot comedy-relief character, not like the commanding Ian from the TV series – is a big miss.
These are small objections though to what in effect is a big budget Who and you don’t get many of those coming along very frequently.
Cushing is good and largely carries proceedings, although his companions are a bit paint-by-numbers. He is a nice alternative to the gruff and tough Hartnell character from the TV series – so it nice to be able to contrast and compare.
The Daleks look amazing but their weapons look really naff as they are basically just shooting fire extinguishers. They should have just gone for the death-ray effect from the TV series.
This and Daleks – Invasion Of Earth : 2150 A.D. sit best as non-canon oddities, in a welcome diversification from the main series.