The benefit of this video is that it’s more intellectual and thought-provoking than most television SF. The premise is a paradox, a time loop, and I find myself thinking if it existed before the Doctor got involved, and if so, did it continue to exist afterward? And when, pray tell, did it begin?
That said, the characterizations are well-done, building on existing character tropes without contradicting anything put forth in the past. There’s a certain continuity failure, as there is in this series when the future of Earth comes into question (how often can our world be destroyed, overrun, or conquered for the first time?), but we’ve come to accept that as part of the joy of time travel. The Daleks are as deliciously evil and as devoid of redeeming qualities as ever, and the tortured heros make the noble choice in the end, as they always will.
An enjoyable SF romp for a Friday night with the brain in neutral, or a thought-provoking, issue-oriented drama when that’s what you need. A little of something for everyone.
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Here is one of the top doctors (in my opinion) – Jon Pertwee – in his spendid mixture of impishness, imperiousness, seriousness and all at a slight remove from direct involvement in the ongoing situation. And with a very vivid script for Jo Grant, as well! This episode combines a number of real-life preoccupations with an invasion by Daleks allied with humans while subjugating humans. The good points are just packed in and make this a prize among Doctor episodes. And watch for a classic comment from the Brigadier “…all of them!”
I’m surprised that it took so long for “Day of the Daleks” – a pretty good Doctor Who story – to see the light of day on DVD. Perhaps the folks at BBC Worldwide and 2entertain were waiting for CGI technology to advance, to the point that they could produce a cheap but good-looking special edition (which is what you get on the second disc of this DVD two-pack).
Generally speaking, I don’t care for special editions; new special effects or new scenes that are shoehorned into old productions tend to look distractingly out-of-place, in my eyes. For example, like much of the world’s population, I dislike George Lucas’ special editions of the Star Wars movies, for their anachronistic use of computer effects and pointless tinkering with minor plot points (such as whether Han or Greedo “shot first”). And previous special edition Doctor Who DVDs have tended to look a bit … well, lame, as they featured often-primitive CGI that barely improved on the original special effects.
But with “Day of the Daleks,” the BBC has finally produced a special edition that looks really good, and is (somewhat) worthwhile. They have added many new special effects to this story, and even a handful of new shots, primarily to make the battle scenes more exciting. Wisely, the DVD producers decided to make the new special effects retro-looking, so they fit well into a 1970s production; for example, when the Daleks zap people in the special edition, their victims turn into skeletons, which is cool but also in the same pleasantly goofy vein as “Mars Attacks!”
While all this effort to “improve” the story is impressive, this is still “Day of the Daleks,” and if you’ve seen the original version you’ve basically seen the special edition as well. As a piece of Doctor Who, this holds up pretty well; Louis Marks’ script is a somewhat intelligent exploration of time paradoxes, and there is some good characterization of the human villain. Still, I’ve always regarded “Day of the Daleks” as a little *flat*. To be more specific, the direction lacks pizzazz, the music score stinks, and the political dimension of the story is underdeveloped. These are not the sort of problems that can be addressed by the addition of new ray beams.
Still, I kinda like this story, and I appreciate the work that went into the special edition. The DVD is also impressive on other levels, as it features a wide array of documentary features covering both this story and the Jon Pertwee era as a whole. Like all Doctor Who DVDs, this product is a labor (or should I say labour?) of love by a small group of dedicated fans, and it makes for a worthy addition to my Who library.