Doctor Who: Day of the Daleks
Directors - Paul Bernard
Cast - Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning
Country of Origin - U.K.
Discs - 2
MSRP - $ 34.98
Distributor - BBC Home Video
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Serial (4/5)
For Jon Pertwee's third year on Doctor Who producer Barry Letts wanted to start things off with a ratings bonanza. The way they decided to do this, bring back the Daleks! Now this may seem like a shock to the modern Doctor Who viewer who are used to seeing the Daleks on the screen once or twice a year these days, but at that point in time it had been a full five years since the last time the Daleks had made an on-screen appearance, so needless to say Letts was going to get his audience. The question remains was the serial good enough to back up the return?
I will answer this with a simply HELL YES!
I will admit there is a good deal of the Pertwee era I have yet to tap into having only seen about half of his available serials. However, of the 2 Daleks serials I have seen (the other being Planet of the Daleks) from his era, this is definitely the better of the 2. Day of the Daleks utilizes the Daleks as almost background villains in a very well done time paradox story, that tells the tale of a band of a rebel faction that have come to 1970's Earth to assassinate Sir Reginald Style's. A diplomat who is trying to setup a peace conference with China in order to prevent World War III.
It turns out that this Rebel Faction comes from a future where it is believed that Style's set off a bomb at set conference setting the course for World War III, and allowing the Earth to fall into a weakened state, which allowed it to be conquered by the Daleks, and their Ogron minions. It is up the Doctor, Jo Grant, and UNIT to set time back to it's proper course, and stop the Daleks from taking over the Earth.
The script by Louis Marks is absolutely phenomenal, and is one of the strong point of Day of the Daleks. Doctor Who tends to use time travel simply as a vehicle to take it to the setting of the week, but is always in top form when it utilizes it in stories such as this one that show the effect of time travel on various time lines.
The performances are uniformly excellent, and it should be said that this era of Who with the Doctor paired with Jo Grant and UNIT may be one of the finest cast of all 50 years of Doctor Who. Pertwee himself is in particularly fine work here, with his debonaire Doctor persona taking center stage in quite a lot of the time, but a nice surprise was Katy Manning's performance as Jo Grant, which showed much more depth this time. This may once again go back to the excellent script, which actually gives her more to do than scream and run.
I also liked the use of the Daleks as a background menace than an ever-present threat, this actually made them more menacing. The only negative I can really give Day of the Daleks is the direction courtesy of Paul Bernard. The script is so full of life and action, while the direction is fairly dull and lifeless. It feels more like a teleplay then a science fiction television show. That being said the material definitely stands above the direction, and creates a fine return to the screen for the Daleks.
The Doctor Who Restoration Team is up to their usual awesomeness with their impeccable work on Day of the Daleks. The transfer recreates the original 1:33:1 broadcast ratio. The level of detail is good, black levels are solid, colors are flesh tones are accurate. The only minor issue is that some exterior scenes have a minor softness, this of course, is more due to the nature of the production and not the restoration itself.
The audio is presented in a Dolby Digital English Mono track much like every other classic Who release. The track like the audio is completely solid. I could not pick up on any sort of audio imperfections on the track. The dialogue, sound effects, and music are mixed well. Day of the Daleks includes a subtitle trivia track, and English subtitles.
The BBC/2Entertain have decided to give Doctor Who - Day of the Daleks the special edition treatment on this DVD edition, and it shows. This set is loaded with extras. The main extra on the first disc is a series of commentary track with Barry Letts, Terrance Dicks, mixer Mike Catherwood, also actors Anna Barry, and Jimmy Winston. The track like most who tracks is definitely worth a listen, and is both entertaining and informative. There are also a couple of featurettes on the first disc including a 30 minute making of documentary called Blasting the Past, this like most Who docs is a ton of fun, and is pretty no holds barred with regards to the making of the serial. There is also a 20 minute short featurette called A View from the Gallery, that has Terrance Dicks, and Mike Catherwood visiting the mixing studio of the Pertwee episodes.
The 2nd disc kicks off with the Day of the Daleks special edition. A recut version of the original story with updated effects, and some newly shot parts using the same technology that was available at the time to add elements to the story that wasn't there to begin with. I used to be opposed to such fiddling, but since Ridley Scott's Blade Runner - Final Cut, have become more open to the idea, and the special edition of Day of the Daleks really does wonders for the final battle sequence to the story. The original director staged the battle horribly, and instead of a huge Dalek invasion it looked like there was just 3. A new director was assigned to shoot new footage, and re-edit the battle to appear, well, more battle-like, and it shows. There are also updated laser, and time travel effects that add to the story.
Following the special edtion is a 13 minute featurette discussing the making of the special edition version of Day of the Daleks. We then have a 5 minute docu piece entitled Now and Then which compares the 2 versions for those in the audience that didn't set through both disc like a good Whovian completist. There is also a short featurette called the Cheating Memory. Finally, we have 2 short featurettes, the Unit Dating Conundrum which attempts to place the time in which the Doctor worked for UNIT (I still say Mid 1970's), and the UNIT Family Part 2 which goes into detail about the actors who played UNIT members, and how they interacted behind the scenes. I believe a UNIT Family Part 3 will be included on either Android Invasion or Invasion of the Dinosaurs coming January 2012.
Another fantastic release, for a great classic Doctor Who story. The transfer and audio restoration work is fantastic, and the extras are Criterion worthy. Highly Recommended.