When I read that Day of the Daleks achieved 71st place in DWM’s Mighty 200, the 2009 survey to rank all 200 stories, I couldn’t believe it. I mean, c’mon! 17th, I could deal with… but 71st…?!
It’s ambitious, enticing, imaginative and fun, with the three leads (I’m counting the Brig alongside the Doctor and Jo) pitched perfectly. Yes, UNIT is side-lined for much of the tale, but the Brigadier, Benton and Yates all have their moments, whether it’s providing a bit of humour or firing at the nearest threat.
Everybody remembers the Brigadier’s “Fire Rounds Rapid” moment in The Daemons – which Courtney calls an “immortal line” in The UNIT Family – Part Two – and the Brigade Leader in Inferno demanding the Doctor save him, but Nick shines even in the quieter moments. One of my favourite scenes of the whole story is when he tells the Doctor to come back after the latter has stolen a jeep; a perfectly timed bit of exasperation that sums up their relationship.
Jo is there to act as the ‘Anti-Liz Shaw,’ but Katy Manning fleshes her out beautifully. She gets drawn in by the Controller’s (Aubrey Woods) lies, but it’s perhaps her enchanting air that changes his mood over the four episodes.
Jon Pertwee is excellent, as ever; a man of taste – funny, clever and every bit the action hero no other incarnation of the Time Lord really is. A poster for Day of the Daleks might say: “SEE Jon Pertwee fight DALEKS! OGRONS! AUTHORITY! And RIDE a TRICYCLE!” Yep, Pertwee liked his vehicles, and a silly tricycle thingy with a nearly-flat front tyre can be added to a list that includes Bessie and a hovercraft. This is possibly a reason why Day of the Daleks is ranked as 71st. Alongside the army of three Daleks.
The final fight is far from The Battle of Canary Wharf. No effort is made to cover up the fact that, yes, there are only three pepperpots. At least Planet of the Daleks has those models in ‘suspended animation’ or whatever. We all know now that even one Dalek can bring down the Earth – and defeat the Cybermen, apparently – but you just don’t believe it here.
Which is where the Special Edition comes in.
It really is fantastic. It’s what Day of the Daleks should’ve been. New Daleks, Ogrons, effects… and all for an RRP of £20.42, or as little as £12.93 on Amazon!
There’s extra footage of the terrorising of Auderly House, a very impressive transmit effect that honours the original really well, and a ray gun – - uhm, I mean, ultra-sonic disintegrator that treats victims like scraps of paper. The ‘burning-into-nothingness’ approach is much better than the original ‘where’s-he-got-to-now?’ effect. They’ve even added a natty establishing shot of 22nd Century Earth too, which looks pretty cool, albeit reminiscent of 1990s CGI.
But the best thing? NEW DALEK VOICES! THAT ACTUALLY SOUND LIKE DALEKS! Oh, Nick Briggs, you wonderful man. The original voices are – sorry to anyone involved – awful. I don’t care that the new voices don’t sound a product of the 1970s; they’re actually Daleks.
Thanks for this masterpiece must go to Steve Broster, who has his name all across the release. In The Cheating Memory, he says Day was the “best programme [he’d] ever seen” when he was six, but when he re-watched at the age of nineteen, it was “frankly rather average.” (Seems a bit harsh.) And so he set upon his quest which culminates in the Special Edition. In this short documentary, psychologist Dr. Sarita Robinson talks us through ‘infantile amnesia,’ ‘edited highlights’ and ‘blended memories,’ which is actually more interesting than it sounds. (And trust me; I’m not one for psychology.)
The Making of Day of the Daleks – Special Edition runs through many the things covered in DWM #438, but with some added interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. It’s definitely worth a watch if you enjoy the Special Edition… which you will, of course.
Forget 71st: thanks to the Special Edition, Day of the Daleks really should be in the top twenty. It’s a shame that this can’t be done on other stories… perhaps even all of them.
The commentary is only an option on the standard version; however, it’s essential listening. Barry Letts, Terrance Dicks, Anna Barry (Anat), Jimmy Winston (Shura), and vision mixer, Mike Catherwood make for an entertaining look at the serial, all interesting in their separate ways. They clearly love the show, have very good memories, and appreciate each other’s efforts throughout. As ever, Dicks tells some wonderfully witty tales, before Letts tells us what actually happened.
Letts’ in-depth talk with Catherwood in episode three is particularly interesting, and this is continued in A View from the Gallery, which takes the pair back to – aaah – Television Centre. It’s quite technical, but caters well for a mass audience, and appeals to the nostalgia locked not-that-deep within us all.
The UNIT Family – Part Two takes a look at “The Jo Grant Years,” from Terror of the Autons to The Green Death. Katy Manning is as lovely as ever, talking us through her audition process and a brilliant coincidence with Jon Pertwee, before the introduction of Captain Mike Yates – supposedly the ‘love interest’ for Jo – and Corporal Bell, who tells us that her “function was not to be a man.” There’s a bit of Pigbin Josh in there for you Axos fans, a look at that Auton/car stunt from Terror of the Autons, and talk of corpsing.
The Daemons is one of the best bits, though; Katy’s fondness of Jon is really touching; the double act of Richard Franklin and Nicholas Courtney is really funny, and John Levene tells of a mistake on-set that could’ve ended in tragedy. Levene is fantastic, in fact; his anecdotes are moving and funny, including lines like “I always fell well” and “I’m not very good at being naked.”
It’s tinged with sadness too, as Roger Delgado is remembered by the cast. All their reflections are touching, but Levene’s voice cracking really brings a tear to the eye.
On a much lighter note, Nationwide reports on the day a school received their prize of a Dalek after entering a Radio Times competition. It builds up quite nicely, but when a small – and very odd-looking – Dalek is pushed out of a taxi, it’s quite an anticlimax. Apparently, it’s this small because a six-foot replica would be too scary, but it’s not like the kids there were given a choice. Yes, we can now get cut-outs that are scarier than that, but it’s a nice inclusion – aimed at completists and anyone who went to school in the Seventies. Recipients of the Dalek will also be interested in this, though they might be asking themselves, ‘did I really say I thought Daleks were real… on national telly?!’
It could quite easily be an easter egg, as could the teaser (again, for completists) or the Blue Peter section, with Peter Purves briefly recalling his time on Doctor Who. (Should this really be included alongside Day of the Daleks?) Cue a clip from The Daleks’ Master Plan, which really is great to see; we need to cherish footage of ‘lost’ stories, especially ones with the ever-brilliant Nicholas Courtney as Bret Vyon. But we’re soon thrust back into the Blue Peter studio, as Purves is – uhm – “menaced” by three Daleks. (Maybe it is right for this release after all.) He then says that maybe the Daleks would be back in Doctor Who one day.
We conclude with the usual business: PDFs, Subtitles, Photo Galleries and a Coming Soon trailer that makes Colony in Space look pretty darn cool.
Yes, Day of the Daleks screams 1970s Who at the top of its voice, but with time travel, paradoxes, action and Daleks, it, essentially, just screams Doctor Who.
Day of the Daleks Special Edition was released on Monday, 12th September and you can order your copy now from Amazon for just £12.93!