Doctor Who – Day of the Daleks Review (or ‘A Dalek Story That Shouldn’t Have The Daleks In It’)

I wonder what would have happened if they’d never come back?

Well certainly I don’t think my brother would own a full size replica one, nor do I think we’d see a guy with a saucepan on his head in the live semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent.

But would the show still be on today if it wasn’t for the Daleks? Most probably, but you never know.

Yes, the Daleks are back despite having had their “Final End’ in Evil of the Daleks, and now they are in colour.

The countdown is on though, as in terms of the ‘classic’ series there are only three proper Dalek stories left before they become Davros stories, and this one – Day of the Daleks – is a story that doesn’t even need them in it.

Doctor Who – Day of the Daleks Review: What’s This One About

The World is on the brink of war and the only thing that can possibly prevent that is a summit put together by the esteemed British Peer, Sir Reginald Styles. But Guerilla fighters from the future have come back in time to try to kill him before it starts, because as far as they are

When that UNIT solider wakes up after a hard night on the tiles, he’s in for a shock.

concerned, he’s responsible for setting off the war by blowing the house – and all the delegates & himself – up.

The future they come from is one wrecked by over a century of world war. Most of the human race has been killed and the rest live as slaves to the opportunistic Daleks who have once again invaded Earth and are probably trying to redo what they attempted in their last invasion.

But as it turns out, it’s all a paradox. By going back in time and trying to kill Styles before he can blow up the house, one of the Guerilla fighters turns out to be the one responsible for blowing the house up and setting everything in motion in the first place.

Can the Doctor – who has been taken forward in time and been captured by the Daleks – stop him in time?

Thoughts – A Really Good Science Fiction Story That Doesn’t Need The Daleks

The main item of note when discussing the Day of the Daleks is that it’s a really good, solid science fiction plot that explores time travel, causality and paradoxes in a way not really ever before seen in the show, and it’s the only one to actually explore time travel as something more than a means of getting somewhere new since The Ark.

The idea of going back in time to try to stop something from happening is not unique in itself beyond Doctor Who (I’m sure there are some examples from before Day of the Daleks was broadcast, but probably one of the most famous examples from after it is The Terminator), but the plot twist that the Guerillas who caused the sequence of events that they have travelled back in time to prevent is a fantastic, clever and – and I say this without having done all that much investigative work into this so I could be dead wrong – a unique variation on the theme.

So it’s one of the better Doctor Who stories in theory, but there’s one big flaw to it, and that’s that the Daleks aren’t even remotely necessary.

One of the many Katy Manning ‘Upskirt’ moments in Day of the Daleks. I bet that gave The Dads a treat. Hey, it was the 70s.

That war has ravaged mankind as a result of the explosion at Auderly House is reason enough for the Guerillas to come back in time to try to stop it; having the Daleks there just over-eggs the pudding. The villains could have been some oppressive human regime that had employed the Ogrons to be their hired muscle or if they felt they needed to bring in an alien race to have profited on Earth’s problems it could have been some other new alien. It just didn’t have to be the Daleks.

As it turns out, the Daleks were shoe-horned into a story initially devised without them being in it, and so putting them in where they weren’t needed does nothing but dilute both the impact of the story and the impact of the Daleks, who end up just moping about in a back room trying to control things from the sidelines. It’s a very un-Dalek-like thing for them to do. It’s more like the Macra! Indeed, the scene where the Gold Dalek tells Aubrey Woods not to ‘Dispute with the Daleks’ has a very ‘There is no such thing as Macra’ feel about it.

Had it not involved them I’m sure the story would be remembered far more favourably than it is, because as it stands, they bring the whole thing down.

Indeed, it would have been better if it was the Macra rather than the Daleks

Did They Forget How To Do The Daleks?

I suppose the question is whether or not the programme makers had forgotten how to really ‘do’ the Daleks. As I say, they don’t act much like the Daleks and crucially, they don’t sound much like them either.

To be absolutely fair, they don’t sound great at all, especially in episode 1. In that first episode, the lead Dalek voice just…speaks…in…a….slow…mon…o…tone….style….while…a….poor….ring….mod….u….lay….tor….does….a….bad….job….of….cree…ate….ing….the….ee…..fect….of….a…Da…lek….voice.

And thus it just makes it seem a bit crap.

But it’s not just the voices, it is – as I’ve said above – their style. It just seems like these are the worst realised Daleks in the pre-Davros era.

The Arrogance of 2Entertain and Nicholas Briggs

Having said that though, for however poor you might consider the Dalek voices to be here, it shows the arrogance of the guys responsible for releasing the DVD that they decided to spunk money down the drain on a ‘special edition’ where Nick fucking Briggs does the voices. And

The Doctor finds some wine and decides to get tanked up…

you know what? Despite the fact that he does the voices in a far more ‘Daleky’ way, they are still not a patch on the original voices in the story.

Briggs’s voiceover sounds exactly like it is – someone speaking over what is already there. It seems incongruous and devoid of character. For all I’ve criticised the way the lead Dalek speaks in episode one, it improves a lot as the story goes on and its delivery of the cliffhanger of episode 3 is superb. There’s a real urgency-come-glee in its voice as it says ‘You are the Doctor. You are an enemy of the Daleks. You will be Exterminated’. I absolutely adore

that cliffhanger because of that as well as the look on Pertwee’s face and the fact that it’s the very first nod the show gives to its own history.

Briggs also fails to capture the unintentional humour of the other Dalek’s voice when it says “Doctorrrrrrrr?! Did you say Doctorrrrrrrr?!” in a rather odd accent.

For all that they say the ‘Special Edition’ of Day of the Daleks was to add special effects to that fight scene at the end, we all know that they did it because Briggs probably thought he could do a better job of the voices and his mates at 2Entertain agreed with him. Well sorry darlings, in my opinion you failed.

‘No Complications’

But the biggest crime of all in the special edition is that they got rid of the best bit in the whole story; the ‘No Complications’ bit. I’m sure you’ve seen it, but if you haven’t it’s when Aubrey Woods asks the Ogronswhat happened and the first one says in a very laboured and dumb

way ‘We…found….and…destroyed…the enemy’. When Woods asks the other one ‘Were there any complications’, it mutters in a rather formal way – without even a hint of trying to sound ‘Ogronish’ – ‘No Complications’.

A few glasses later and he’s certainly on the way

The attitude of 2Entertain is that that bit wasn’t becoming of the story and thus it was removed to make it better. But that’s just crap. I – like I’m sure everyone else – enjoys Doctor Who as much for the good bits as for the wonderfully crap bits. ‘No Complications’ is the bit that you want to rewind and watch again because it’s so crap that it’s funny. On the accompanying documentary one of the talking heads says his friend wanted to name a fanzine after the line, and yet the 2Entertain Fun Police take it out of their Special Edition. Bollocks to that!

And I know it’s a rant for another time, but it’s just the way there’s a select band of ‘Superfans’ who have absolute control of making these DVDs and documentaries and they are completely out of touch with what people want to see when they buy the DVDs. I really don’t care about some weirdo English lecturer talking about the history of gothic horror in literature, Mat Irvine telling us in laborious detail how he did Kroll or the most recent one on the Nightmare of Eden DVD where two blokes and Z list comedienne Jose Long talk about drugs.What has that got to do with anything?!

Stop spending your money on crap like that, as well as redoing Doctor Who stories that don’t need redone and spend it on making fucking animations of missing episodes. That’s what the people who buy the bloody DVDs want. Arrogant bastards.

Random Thoughts

  • As ‘bad’ as lines like ‘No Complications’ or ‘Did You Say Doctor’ are, the worst written – and perhaps worst delivered – line of the whole story is Mike Yates’s response to hearing that the global summit to prevent a Third World War is back on. When he’s told, he doesn’t react with any sort of relief or interest, but by rather nonchalantly asking ‘Oh, when’s it fixed for?’. That line and its delivery is more suited to finding out that a group of friends has decided to go down the pub, or an aborted trip to the cinema is back on. Dreadful, but again in an amusing way.
  • Usually the Doctor isn’t really portrayed as the drinking type, but here he boozes it up like a good ‘un. It’s very ‘Third Doctor’ to be a wine connoisseur and a cheese buff. But the best bit it where he stops to have a sip of his wine during a fight. Classic Pertwee.
  • The Doctor appears to have inexplicably removed the console from the TARDIS again for another pointless opening scene that is a carbon copy of the equally irrelevant one from Ambassadors of Death.
  • Jo is a bit naive is she not? How anyone could believe the story spun by the Controller (Aubrey Woods) is beyond me.
  • In fairness though, despite how ‘theatrical’ Woods is in his role, the conclusion to both his character and characterisation was good, and unusual for the show.
  • There’s one of those things that annoys me about TV again; The Doctor asks Jo if she remembers the last time they had a glass of wine together. OF COURSE SHE DOES! IT WAS THE NIGHT BEFORE! Actually…for a lot of people remembering what they drank the night

    Unfortunately for him, the owners of the wine found out. And that’s why you never steal wine.

    before it quite an achievement, so maybe I’ll let that slide.

  • I’ve never heard anyone being called a Quisling so aggressively before watching this.
  • One thing I don’t understand and may well have missed the point of is why they are so desperate to find out the time and location of where the Guerillas have gone. Surely the Controller could just ask the Ogrons who are there with them?
  • A problem I have with Day of the Daleks is that it’s not sure whether it wants to be a Dalek story or a UNIT story. UNIT are completely absent from Episode 3 and have no real part in the story beyond setting up the whole Styles thing. There’s barely any interaction between them and the Daleks either, which is a missed opportunity.
  • Another problem I have is that the Guerillas believe that Styles is to blame, despite him also perishing in the explosion. Surely the natural conclusion would be that someone else caused the explosion rather than him ‘not setting his timer right’?
  • Good old 1970s BBC. It doesn’t matter if you accidentally see right up Katy Manning’s skirt. No retakes necessary.
  •  The Grandfather Paradox is something I have been at odds with my brother and best mate over before. I think I may have mentioned it in these reviews too. According to that Grandfather Paradox (that you can’t go back in time and kill your own grandfather before you were born because if you did you wouldn’t be born in the first place to go back and kill him) how could Shura blow up Auderly House if by doing so it causes a set of circumstances where he’d never have come back in the first place to do it because there was never a war that needed to be stopped? Eh?! Answer me that!
  • On the subject of the Daleks; I guess we have to assume that these Daleks are from earlier in their own history than the ones from Evil of the Daleks considering they are trumpeting that they have discovered time travel (something they did as far back as The Chase).
  • Finally, the episode reprisals in Episodes Two and Three are absolutely terrible. How Barry Letts could allow the episodes to be broadcast with the ‘End of Episode Sting’ included at the start of those episodes is beyond me. Very very cheap, but again, not a reason to waste cash on 2Entertain’s Love Letter To Themselves.

Doctor Who – Day of the Daleks Review: Final Thoughts

Day of the Daleks was one of the very first Dr Who stories released on VHS back in the 80s. I didn’t like it as a child. The Daleks didn’t seem right, the plot was way over my head and it didn’t seem in any way exciting.

As an adult, I appreciate the story far more. The time paradox storyline is a very clever use of the Doctor Who format (ironically not including the TARDIS though I should add) and is something I’d like to see explored again. But this story does not need the Daleks.

Despite there being some amusing and quaint bits, the Daleks are a bit shit here.

Still, that’s no reason for the creation of that Special Edition.

I like Day of the Daleks as it is, and I recommend that if you buy the DVD you should watch it as it was originally broadcast, warts and all.

9 Responses to Doctor Who – Day of the Daleks Review (or ‘A Dalek Story That Shouldn’t Have The Daleks In It’)

  1. Rochelle says:

    Hi
    I really enjoy your reviews. I am doing the same thing you are and watching Dr. Who classic in chronological order, except that in my case I’m seeing them for the first time, having first encountered the doctor in “Rose”.

    I just caught up with you today, so I decided to ping you – I read several reviews after I finish each serial, and your’s is one of my favorites, even when I disagree with you.

    Here’s somebody who vehemently disagrees with your assessment of the special edition.

    • sgmilne says:

      Hi Rochelle,

      I’m glad you enjoy my reviews and I urge you to keep reading but also let me know when and why you don’t agree; maybe it’ll get some debate going with the other readers!

      As for that video review there; well, he’s certainly enthusiastic (It’s AWESOME) but I think he watches it for different reasons to me. You don’t watch 1970s Doctor Who for the CGI etc, you watch it (or at least you should) for the story, and despite him initially saying that the updates made the story make more sense (something he never actually explained) I don’t think it did. Yes, the special effects looked nice, but they also looked very much like someone in 2010 or 2011 decided to paint over someone else’s work.

      And as I say, I’m convinced the real reason for doing it was to update the voices, and they actually manage to do a worse job of them somehow.

      It’s money that could have been better spent elsewhere.

      Oh, and that guy in the video instantly loses all credibility at the end when he says the Sea Devils has a bad soundtrack!

      • Rochelle says:

        Who are you to denigrate “awesomeness” ;), or to set rules for watching classic Dr Who? Which probably wouldn’t have become classic in the first place without an awesomeness factor. All over YouTube there are reviews of Dr Who programs and DVDs, many of them by young boys. Most aren’t that good and I go elsewhere for in-depth analysis, but I think it’s marvelous that they exist, and if I’m in the right mood, I watch a couple now and then for the cuteness, and for what they bring to the table – enthusiasm.

        But I do agree with you about the BBC’s money machine, and the milking they do of the fans with all of their “Special Editions”. I’m searching for a good and not excorbantly expensive way to watch the old programs.

        As for the Sea Devils, haven’t seen it. Still in the middle of The Curse of Peladon.

  2. Lord Antares says:

    “Stop spending your money on crap like that…and spend it on making fucking animations of missing episodes.”

    Could not agree more. If I see Clayton Hickman in another documentary, I shall scream.

  3. Zaphod says:

    I watched ‘ Day of the Daleks’ recently and I enjoyed it, despite the awful voices of the Daleks. I did not really enjoy the CGI version though. Somehow it just didn’t seem right. I prefer the original version.
    The Ogrons were originally intended to more intelligent and articulate which is why that Ogron says ” No complications”.
    However, during production it was decided to change them into rather dim-witted goons.
    Best regards.

  4. Zaphod says:

    On reflection, I am not sure just how true the above story about the Ogrons character being changed during production is.
    I read this somewhere and it seemed to be plausible, but now I am not so sure.
    I agree with you about this ridiculous extras on the DVDs. Some of them are unnecessary.
    Somehow though, that Special Edition just doesn’t work for me.
    I don’t know why exactly.

    • sgmilne says:

      Yeah, I was going to comment on that. The other Ogron standing beside him was speaking in that slow dumb laboured way so it didn’t make much sense.

      In fairness to DVD extras, the one I watched last night about Politics on Dr Who on the Happiness Patrol DVD was really good.

  5. [...] Death Inferno Terror Of The Autons The Mind Of Evil The Claws Of Axos Colony In Space The Daemons Day Of The Daleks The Curse Of Peladon The Sea Devils The Mutants The Time Monster The Three Doctors Carnival Of [...]

  6. Hinchyc says:

    Oh come on, not one “Mon Then!” for the ogrons?!

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