DOCTOR WHO: THE DALEK INVASION OF EARTH

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Review By Paul Mount, 4.5 out of 5

“One day I shall come backT

Reviewed by Paul Mount

The old doc’s fortieth anniversary is shaping up quite well so far. Whilst the Beeb smile patronisingly and mutter platitudes about how they’d really like to make a new series if only they could get those pesky rights issues sorted out the money comes rolling in from the continual re-packaging of DOCTOR WHO’s long television heritage. Here’s the latest two-disc release from the Archives and it’s another triumph from the boys at the Restoration Team. This six-part 1964 yarn, which saw a rapid return to the screen for Terry Nation’s Daleks, the creatures which saw the series turn overnight from a cheerful newkid’s show into a genuine phenomenon, is one of the early greats of the series. Only the BBC could attempt to depict an invasion of the Earth on a budget of about two thousand quid per episode but hey, this was the 1960s and TV still had its wit and its invention and itsintegrity ?three qualities long since missing from British television. This shoestring invasion is excellent stuff. The Doctor and his companions ?granddaughter Susan and spacenapped teachers Ian and Barbara ?materialise in what appears to be contemporary London. But the city’s deserted and in ruins. Zombified humans roam the desolation and flying saucers patrol the skies. Then they discover the terrible truth ?their dreadful enemies the Daleks have razed the Earth to the ground and turned humankind into vermin scrabbling in the rubble. “We must pit out wits against them and defeat them,”says the Doctor and before long battle is joined and the very future of the human race is at stake as the Doctor and his pals uncover the true extent of the Daleks’ terrible schemes.

‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ is an incredible thirty-nine years old and even though the Restoration Team’s remarkable work makes it look fresh and newish, the production is still dated and stagey, despite the groundbreaking location work in and around many of London’s most famous landmarks. If you’ve seen the Peter Cushing movie you know the story but this is still very much the definitive version. The Daleks themselves, modified from their first appearance, are still powerful symbols of evil and the original TARDIS team is at its best here. The rest of the acting is variable but adequate and the effects raise a smile. But it’s a ripping yarn, six fast-paced episodes which rush by in a wave of nostaligia and a curious yearning for more innocent days long gone. A vital purchase in this Anniversary year.

THE DISCS: An embarrassment of riches on offer across these two well-presented discs. There’s a slew of new documentary features about the making of the show ?many of the supporting players, now wizened thespians, reminisce about the making of the serial and there are several amusing anecdotes and revelations. Nicholas Smith (Wells) remarks on how impractical the Daleks were ?if you run upstairs they can’t follow you! Never thought of that one, Nick! Designer Spencer Chapman recalls his work on the serial, there’s a brief but fascinating featurette revisiting some of the story’s location, an amusing BLUE PETER extracting featuring Val Singleton making hopeless Dalek cakes, photo gallery, info text, a well-moderated commentary track which is a vast improvement on some of the pointless meandering tracks featured on earlier discs. Best of all are the new CGI sequences ?a retro-style Dalek saucer replaces the laughable cake-tin on strings from the original. There’s an option to watch the new footage on its own or view the episodes as originally broadcast or with the new stuff seamlessly edited in. All in all, a marvellous disc and yet more proof that the DOCTOR WHO discs are the best TV DVDs out there.

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