Doctor Who News Doctor Who: The Daemons on DVD

Published on March 26th, 2012 | by James Whittington

The Dæmons DVD Review

Of all the classic Doctor Who run of adventures the final one from Season 8 seems to always rank high in people’s list of Top 10 favourites. The Dæmons is often hailed as Doctor Who at its best, but to me it was too reliant on the U.N.I.T. family, the Master is too melodramatic, the effects even for its time were crude and the whole thing seems stretched to cover 5 instead of 4 episodes.

Am I being too picky? I know this is an anticipated release by many, the “Coming Soon” trailer seen on The Face Of Evil did a really good job but it just doesn’t work for me.

Trouble with Morris Dancers in Doctor Who: The Daemons

In the peaceful village of Devil’s End something very strange is happening. A professor is preparing to open a nearby burial mound and a local white has foresees death and disaster. Meanwhile, the new vicar looks suspiciously like the Master and he is using black magic to conjure up an ancient Dæmon. Can the Doctor, Jo and U.N.I.T. stop their old enemy before he succeeds?

OK, apart from the often quoted catchphrases that pop up here and there I found it hard to sit through this DVD. The cast seem slightly embarrassed with what’s going on being given Carry On style place names to use, the script is stretched to breaking point and a Doctor who seems bored with it all. Don’t get me wrong it does have the odd highlight and a couple of creepy moments but I felt it all seemed a bit blurred, a mish-mash of ideas with a pay-off signposted well in advance. The mix of Pagan ritual and science fiction doesn’t blend at all and is more Scooby Doo style than exciting television.

Jo Grant is given little to do here; OK never really an issue but here seems a tad superfluous and the good old Brig is reduced to a stiff-upper lipped Englishman on holiday. This could have easily become the Doctor Who equivalent to The Whicker Man, instead it comes across as The Bored Time Lord. Christopher Barry does his best with a tired script and manages to get some decent performances from the star that is Damaris Hayman but everyone else hits the pantomime button.

Extras – Disc 1

Commentary - Director Christopher Barry and actors Katy Manning, Damaris Hayman and Richard Franklin are on hand to give us a light-hearted and at times very fun gag-track. Though not exactly bursting with information it is nice to drop in and listen to the gang reminisce about the time they spent on this adventure.

Doctor Who: The Daemons on DVD, released March 2012Information Text – Well worth displaying whilst viewing, always the most reliable extra.

Extras – Disc 2

The Devil Rides Out – This fresh look at the making of the serial covers much ground seen in the classic Reeltime release, Return To Devil’s End. Now from what I gather Pertwee made this shoot a tad harder than it could have been, his argument with director Barry which lead to him missing a family wedding and the infamous Pertwee diva moment are well documented. It’s when the ever charming Damaris Hayman talks about being the sort of on-set expert on the occult that really gets the viewer watching!

Remembering Barry Letts – An affectionate tribute to one of the show’s most charming producers and writers. I met this fine man once and was bowled over by his wit and love for the show. This is a wonderful but fat too short celebration of his whole working career.

Colourisation Test – As it says, the tests to see if the colourisation technique worked and what these tests looked like.

Tomorrow’s World – The irony here is that this show which looked to the future looks so dated. This is a segment which covered how the black and white footage at the time was restored to its (almost) full colour glory. Fun if slightly condescending, it just shows how Doctor Who still had a negative image at that time.

Location Film – Silent 8mm fan footage take at the location at the time of filming.

Photo Gallery – Shots taken from the production of the serial accompanied by some of the score.

PDF Materials – Pop this into your PC or Mac and read at your leisure the original Radio Times listings for the serial.

Coming Soon
– A cracking trailer for Nightmare Of Eden.

So then, one of my least favourite adventures is given a rather mediocre release with lackluster extras (apart from the Barry Letts piece).

Classic serial (which I know most of you adore) The Dæmons is out today and you can purchase from Amazon for just £12.99!

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About the Author

James has been a Doctor Who fan for as long as he can recall. A child of the 70s and 80s, he weathered all the storms and controversies the show encountered, though he didn’t buy the “Doctor In Distress” single.




4 Responses to The Dæmons DVD Review

  1. Paddy says:

    I completely disagree with almost everything you’ve said – but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

    The Daemons was the first Who story I ever saw. So I owe it a lot. It’s a bit quaint and 70s, sure, but I still love it.

  2. Gavin Noble says:

    I think your review is a tad harsh, but like Paddy before me I acknowledge your right to voice your opinion honestly. For me the story falls into the category of a good Pertwee story yet is nowhere near the classic status some sections of Who fandom place the story into.

    Having said that I was really looking forward to its release on DVD to see how much better the story would like as compared to its VHS release and like the Silurians and Terror of the Autons before it, which also used the same re-colurisation technique I believe, it looks stunning.

    The extras are perhaps middle of the road but given there’s a lot of the main players no longer with us that’s to be expected I guess. Glad to finally have this on DVD – though I have to say I’m looking forward more to the upcoming Death to the Daleks as that’s always been a favourite of mine and the release next week of Nightmare of Eden, which I think is an always under-rated gem from the Tom Baker era.

  3. Castellan Spandrel says:

    I’m a Pertwee nut and find it impossible not to love the Daemons, so I can’t agree with the review above in general.

    However, having started to watch the DVD today, I do think it has dated more than most of its contemporaries. Some of it looks like it could’ve been made in the 50s rather than 1971, though I’m not sure why.

    I love this story for the setpieces: the policeman about to attack Ms Hawthorne with the rock, the chaotic cliffhanger to part 1, Bok attacking the Dr and Jo in the cavern and countless others.

    The interplay between the characters is great fun: the Brian Cloughish Prof Horner being rude to the simpering Alistair Fergus is a highlight, as is any scene featuring Ms Hawthorne.

    “Information Text – Well worth displaying whilst viewing, always the most reliable extra.” – Yes, these are always great, aren’t they?

  4. Castellan Spandrel says:

    Re: the Dr’s apparent boredom: he does seem ‘off’ at times in this one, very snippy toward Jo in particular, but I’d argue his ‘boredom’ is simply Pertwee’s style – very minimal, not running around and shouting like recent Drs, but often defaulting to his tics – rubbing the back of his neck, stroking his chin thoughtfully, etc. The script perhaps pitches his arrogance too high on this occasion, making him less charming than usual.

    The resolution still doesn’t make sense, either, as Terrance Dicks points out in the accompanying feature, but I’ve always forgiven this as the rest of the story is so good.

    It isn’t for everyone, but am worried that anyone who hasn’t watched this – younger fans in particular – may waver on buying the DVD and be put off a story they might really enjoy, so to create a balance, here’s a more positive review of the Daemons from Radio Times: http://www.radiotimes.com/blog/2009-11-07/doctor-who-the-dmons

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