Scientist Dr. Who's new invention - TARDIS - transports him,
his grand-daughters Barbara and Susan, and Barbara's boyfriend
Ian to an alien planet devastated by nuclear war. There they
encounter mutated metal monsters: the Daleks! TARDIS's second
trip is no less terrifying, carrying Dr. Who, his niece Louise,
Susan and a hapless policeman called Tom Campbell to the year
2150, where the travellers find that the Earth has been invaded
that's not a typo. I really did abbreviate "Doctor Who" to
"Dr. Who"! That's because in these two theatrical movies from
1965 and 1966 respectively, Peter Cushing does not play the
alien Doctor of the famous BBC television series, whose real
name is still the subject of some debate, but an eccentric
human inventor whose surname really is Who.
The tone of both movies is considerably lighter than that
of the black-and-white William Hartnell serials upon which
they are based. Cushing plays a far less severe Doctor than
Hartnell, having more in common with later incarnations of
the Time Lord. Additional light relief is provided in Dr.
Who and the Daleks by Roy Castle as Ian, a pratfalling
clumsy coward who makes good. Inheriting his comedic mantle
in the second film, Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.
is another BBC children's television stalwart, Bernard Cribbins,
who earns a lot of audience sympathy as the personable PC
Tom Campbell. Even so, the latter movie, with its devastated
London and more murderous Daleks, is decidedly the bleaker
of the two.
screenplays are extensively condensed from their source material,
especially in the case of Dr. Who and the Daleks, which
is adapted from a seven-part (that is, 175 minute) serial,
The Daleks. The plots to the movies therefore unfold
at a cracking pace, although 2150 A.D. seems less rushed,
since it is based upon a rather sluggish six-parter, The
Dalek Invasion of Earth.
the high definition of Technicolor and Techniscope clearly
reveals just how un-futuristic 2150 looks, even when you bear
in mind that the planet has been ravaged by Daleks. Both the
fashions and the signs on the London Underground are unmistakably
of 1960s origin. One wonders why writer/co-producer Milton
Subotsky didn't just have the Daleks invade 1966, or some
less distant future. The "special" effects at the end of 2150
A.D. are also rather disappointing - the model of a burning
building is far too small, and the flames are therefore clearly
out of scale. Another design disaster was the decision to
put eye shadow and false eyelashes on the Thal males in Dr.
Who and the Daleks.
there are plenty of spectacular visuals to be enjoyed, from
the first movie's impressive metal city (the sets for which
were actually made from plastic) to dangerous-looking stunts
galore in the second film. The additional Dalekmania
documentary on the first disc reveals just how dangerous a
couple of those stunts actually were. The Daleks themselves
have never looked better on screen.
film prints retain a few marks and specks of dirt here and
there, but generally they look very good for their age, and
the conversion to DVD has retained an exceptional level of
fine detail. Unlike on the American disc the cool pre-titles
sequence of Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. is in
its correct position before the opening credits!
features include two exciting trailers, DVD-ROM presentations
of the original theatrical campaign brochures to both movies,
an audio commentary for Dr. Who and the Daleks by Jennie
Linden (Barbara) and Roberta Tovey (Susan), and the documentary
Dalekmania. Directed by Kevin Davies, who also gave
us the affectionate Thirty Years in the TARDIS, this
57-minute documentary truly captures the whimsical spirit
of the Dalek movies. Watch out for an appearance by Davros
himself - the late Michael Wisher - as a sinister cinema commissionaire.
is an excellent presentation of two enjoyable family movies.
As Cushing's Dr. Who might say, "highly advanced"!
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