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DVD Review

DVD cover

Doctor Who
The Monster Collection
The Daleks


Starring: William Hartnell and Matt Smith
Distributor: BBC DVD
RRP: £10.20
Certificate: PG
Release Date: 30 September 2013

The Monster Collection has been released, with each set concentrating on a particular villain. Honestly, I’m in two minds about these releases. On the one hand, any dedicated fan of the show would probably have collected these stories already and there are no new extras on any of the discs. On the other hand it’s a great way of introducing a newer audience to some of the older stories by piggy backing them on the more recent Doctors. If this were true then the producers of the discs appear to have lost their nerve somewhere along the way as the menus feature only the most recent iterations of the villains. Not so much of a problem with the Daleks, whose iconic shape has changed little in the last fifty years, it must come as bit of a disorientating shock to spin up Terror of the Autons expecting one actor, only to find someone you don’t even recognise is being called The Master.

The Monster Collection: The Daleks has two good Dalek stories. This set is presented across two DVDs with no extras.

The first is the William Hartnell story where the Daleks were first introduced. Trapped in their city amid a radioactive wasteland of their own making, the malevolent Daleks only become aware of the continued existence of the Thalls, their old foes, after the interference of The Doctor and his companions. Aware that the Daleks intend to finish the war once and for all by an act of genocide, The Doctor helps the Thalls to defeat the Daleks, with his own act of genocide, so much for being a moral compass.

The story still works well today and was made into a movie with Peter Cushing. Both the design and modulated voice were so perfect that only recently has anyone been brave enough to tinker with either and that was not met with universal approval.

The story was originally transmitted in 1963, with the companions being Susan, Barbara and Ian. At a time when several episode stories were not seen as unusual, today the individual episodes are longer, but they either contain one a single tale, or one split across two episodes.

Modern audience may find that the story drags at times and the evolution of CGI has made the Daleks even more impressive, but unlike some villains, which relied on make-up, the Daleks remain as scary now as they were the first time Barbara was menaced with a sink plunger.

By way of contrast, Asylum of the Daleks is a very recent show; the two are separated by nearly fifty years. We leave Hartnell behind and jump aboard with Matt Smith.

Travelling alone, The Doctor is kidnapped by The Daleks, as are Rory and Amy - whose marriage is going down the toilet - for what is the Doctor without his companions? Daleks, on their own, are dangerous enough, but when the barrier around their prison planet begins to fail, with the chance of every insane Dalek escaping, the Daleks are forced to turn to the Doctor for help.

It’s unfair to compare the two stories, both have their strengths, but the original story cannot compete on terms of visuals. Pacing is very different between the two, more modern stories concentrate much more on action, with a subsequently more frantic beat. This was also the first time we met the current Doctor's new companion, who dies, which confused everyone.

So, it’s a difficult one. We have two stories which, because of the passage of time, shouldn’t really be compared. Both have their strengths and both appealed to their contemporary audience. I can only presume that these are targeted at dads wanting to introduce their kids to older stories, but if that were the case, then all these have already been released. It seems exceptionally lazy not to pick up two box set you already own and go and buy the stories all over again just because they are in the same set.


Charles Packer

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