Dr. Who & the Daleks

DVD NTSC
Region 1
in a 3 feature
boxed set

DVD PAL
Region 2
3 feature
boxed set
A
B
Blu-ray
Region B/2
for the U.K.

NEW for
May 27, 2013.
(See bottom of page for more options)
(Theatrical remake of Doctor Who Story No. 2, starring Peter Cushing)
  • screenplay by Milton Subotsky,
    from the original BBC-TV serial by Terry Nation
  • directed by Gordon Flemyng
  • produced by Milton Subotsky and Max J. Rosenberg
  • music by Malcolm Lockyer and Barry Gray
  • approximately 80 minutes, colour
Story: Dr. Who demonstrates his latest invention - TARDIS - to his two granddaughters Barbara and Susan, and Barbara's boyfriend Ian. The machine takes them to a petrified forest on a post-apocalyptic alien planet. Is the nearby city as deserted and lifeless as it appears? Or should Dr. Who and his friends be more afraid of the new creatures approaching through the forest?

DVD Extras include:

  • Audio commentary by actresses Roberta Tovey (Susan) and Jennie Linden (Barbara), and Cushing film historian Jonathan Southcote.
  • "Dalekmania" documentary (57 min.) chronicling the making of this film and its sequel (box sets only!)
  • Photo Gallery
  • Trailer
  • Peter Cushing biography

Blu-ray Extras include:

  • Audio commentary by actresses Roberta Tovey (Susan) and Jennie Linden (Barbara), and Cushing film historian Jonathan Southcote.
  • "Dalekmania" documentary (57 min.) chronicling the making of this film and its sequel.
  • Restoring "Dr. Who and the Daleks"
  • interview with author (of what?) Gareth Owen
  • Photo Gallery
  • Trailer

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have already seen the program. To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide version instead.


The Daleks in colour. On the big screen. In the first plastic sets even. Whippee.

Well, I suppose it made good sense to capitalize on the Dalek-mania that swept through Britain with big feature films. Trouble is, this first one isn't that big. So much of the good, meaty dialogue of the TV version is missing, and it just doesn't manage to create the same creepy atmosphere for Skaro as its low-budget black and white television counterpart.


The four main characters are all slightly re-invented in this version. The Doctor, or should I say, Dr. Who, is less dramatically interesting as a dotty human scientist, but does fare better in the heroics department thanks to a bit of re-writing allowing him to take over some of Ian's role from the original TV story. Peter Cushing actually makes a fine Doctor.

Unfortunately, Ian's role was reduced a little too much, until he was not much more than a bumbling buffoon, although Roy Castle could at least put his "Carry On...." comedic talents to use in keeping his portrayal somewhat interesting. Barbara has also lost much of her charm, notably her sharp wit, although Jennie Linden does all right with the mediocre role. Susan gets the best improvements of all - she no longer drags herself desperately through the adventure, but applies her intelligence and masters her fears. No wonder they brought Roberta Tovey back for the sequel.

The TARDIS is introduced quite well, but like the other characters, she isn't quite herself either, and the interior room and lack of a proper dematerialization sound are both disappointments. For some strange reason, this film and its sequel are both reluctant to show the police box coming and going from the outside, apart from a single introductory dematerialization.

This film's orchestral-style music includes a number of memorable thematic pieces that have become nostalgic for me, but let's face it, the beloved Doctor Who theme song is missing, and Tristram Cary's music that gave Skaro much of its wonderful atmosphere has not been out-done or even matched by any stretch of the imagination.
Music by Malcolm Lockyer and Barry Gray
has been made available on:
Audio CD
Doctor Who - Music from the
Peter Cushing Dalek Feature Films

More info & buying options

A most notable disappointment on Skaro is the lack of a decent model of the Dalek city. The television version had a great model, and the audience was given a beautiful panoramic view of it via an inlay shot, as the four explorers look down into the valley at it from a high hill, not to mention an atmospheric `flight' towards it as though shot from an approaching anti-grav vehicle, as the Doctor contemplates exploring it. In the feature film though, we only get a blurred view of it through some gnarly old trees, and we have to look up to it, and we only see a short piece of it from fairly close, instead of a cool view of the whole thing. The big screen has not begun to scratch the surface of what it could be doing to improve on the TV story.

The Daleks are colourful. Yes. Actually, the inclusion of a red Dalek is good - indicating a rank between regular blue/grey Dalek and Supreme Black Dalek. In this regard, the feature films probably went a long way to introducing the idea of the Daleks using colour to display their rank. The speaking lights are bigger, which is better in this case; they no longer look like the last-minute additions that they were in the television versions. However, the reason for them being added at the last minute seems to have been forgotten. Instead of only having them flash when a Dalek speaks, to indicate which Dalek is speaking, someone with authority over the production now has to have them FLASHING ALL THE TIME! The uncredited vocal artists voicing the Daleks now have to put excruciatingly unnatural pauses in between every syllable to match up with-the-slow-but-stea-dy-bloo-dy-flash-ing!

The Thal portrayals are also much blander than their television counterparts, although Alydon is still generally okay. Temmosus has pretty much lost his own screen-presence altogether. The swamp also appears to be much poorer done, in set design and in directorial execution - the creepy atmosphere is once again missing. The totally different style of sound and music is also largely responsible.

The use of a gaseous foam spray for a Dalek's main weapon is an improvement over the dodgy TV negative effect, although its greater appropriateness will be more obvious in later stories, when the Daleks' battlecry of "Exterminate!" becomes more common.

Although the film cannot match the TV series for atmosphere or dramatic tension, it does improve on the action sequences - not too difficult since most of these were bumbled in the TV version. Shots of the underside of the lift are still unnaturally inverted however. The Doctor has much more to do towards the conclusion of the film, and his capture is made much more purposeful and heroic in the end: in the final moments he alone knows where the Thals should concentrate their attack, and quickly passing that information on, Ian finally rises above his bumbling to fake the Daleks out and trick them into blowing their own plans to smithereens and leaving themselves powerless. Well, it could have happened to any creature who gets caught up in the thrill of an exterminating moment. A nice one-two hero/sidekick finish for the Doctor and Ian, although which of them is which is still too uncertain.


This first film is not bad, but ultimately it is duplicate content using less exciting versions of the main characters and settings. Although it is nice to complement a viewing of the original TV version by watching this afterwards and seeing how some of the action and final dynamics were improved, it won't be until the film's sequel that we see a Peter Cushing Doctor Who feature outclassing its small screen counterpart.

Meanwhile, the television show continued to explore its variety and flexible format.....



This story has become available on DVD and VHS video, and is also on Blu-ray for Region 2 only.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

Single Story versions:
DVD NTSC Region 1
single feature
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
for the U.K.
Blu-ray Region B/2
for the U.K.

NEW for
May 27, 2013.
VHS Video
NTSC in the U.S.
NTSC in Canada
PAL for the U.K.

Peter Cushing feature film box sets:
(remakes of story nos. 2 & 10, plus "Dalekmania" documentary)
DVD NTSC Region 1
3 feature boxed set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
3 feature boxed set
A for the U.K.
B for the U.K.


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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next TV story: "The Edge of Destruction"



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