Friday, 27 January 2012

Dr. Who And The Daleks

When the script is finished, then we add the dialogue.
- Alfred Hitchcock

There’s been a long old lapse in January, and we’ve fallen a little bit further behind than we meant to – we’ll catch up, I’m sure.  In the meantime, there’s been a UNIT box set released (which, surely, would have been better titled as the Invasions box set?) and as we watched through the two stories in that – mostly because neither of us had ever seen them before – we’re left with having to start this one far-too-early on a Sunday morning.  Outside, there’s frost that looks like snow and a disgruntled cat that watches.  Inside, it’s toasty and warm and, seeing as the cat belongs to someone else, for us it’s onward to 1965 colour madness.

Me:  This is something you’ve been looking forward to.

Him:  That’s because it’s in colour.

Me:  No other reason?

Him:  Nope.

Me:  Okay.  Shall we?

Him:  Uh-huh.

Me:  It’s a bit odd having a different intro.

Him:  ‘Studio Canal’.  What’s the Lionsgate logo?

Me:  Cogs. Lots of ‘em.  Does that help?

Him:  Not really.

The Regal Films logo pops up with a bit of a fanfare.

Me:  It’s gone all classy.

Him:  If you say so.  I remember quite a bit about this.

Me:  Such as?

Him:  Colour!

Me:  And?

Him:  Daleks!

Me:  That’s about all you need to know, I guess.  Aaruuuuuu!

That bellow there needs a bit of an explanation if you haven’t seen the film.  Basically, Richard Nixon (cont. p. 94)

Me:  Jazz Daleks again – ties in with The Chase in another-  Oh, they’ve spelt the Doctor’s name wrong.

The Him sighs.

Him:  That’s how he’s listed in the main programme and you never complain about that.

Me:  Some of the Daleks we’re about to see cropped up in The Chase.  The BBC borrowed them and got them on the telly in your living room, before they appeared at the local fleapit.  Which says something about the turnaround of TV I suppose.

Him:  What?  ‘Fleapit’?

Me:  It’s the traditional name for the Kinematograph.

The credits groove across the shimmer.  Look – there’s Roberta Tovey.

Him:  “Grandfather!  I’m only seven!”

Me:  “Terry N”.

Him:  Really?

Me:  He gets a credit for the original dream-weaving but didn’t write the actual screenplay.  I didn’t see Ray Cusick get a mention.

The first shot is a pan across an everyday front room: posh china, triffid wallpaper and lots of well-polished, curly wood.  We begin our pan on the Big Book of Physics for Enquiring Minds – being read by an infant; then it’s on to The Science of Science – being read – reluctantly, it has to be said - by a young lady; we finish on a copy of the Eagle which is being read by Van Helsing. 

Him:  I thought the Doctor was Ian.

A clock chimes and the young lady cheerfully abandons her book and hurries off to prepare for the arrival of her suitor.  That’s right - Ian’s on the way, and we’ve just met Susan, Barbara and the Doctor.  Except two of them have slightly different names.

Him:  So, they’re all related?

This sets me off laughing.  I still don’t know why.

Me:  I was beginning to wonder.  So, Susan’s now Barbara’s little sister?

Him:  Yeah – they’ve kind of messed up the plot – because, doesn’t the Doctor build the TARDIS in this?  And everyone calls him ‘Doctor Who’?

Me:  I think Susan Who’s built the TARDIS and her grandfather just took the credit, which is the type of thing that’s never happened before in the production of Doctor Who.  And Barbara Who is going out with Ian Wright.

The door is knocked and ‘Suzie’ is sent to set up a gag while Barbara hides upstairs.  Suzie opens the door and Ian enters with a bash.  Roy Castle will make a big effort over the rest of the film, but he’s basically there as a mixture of audience identification figure, comic relief and tin dog.  His efforts were not acknowledged by the Academy.

Me:  I’d forgotten about the gentle, unforced moments of comedy.

The absent-minded Van Helsing is introduced to Ian.  Ian sits on the Whizzo Quality Assortment he’s brought for Barbara.  Van Helsing offers to show Ian the Thing In The Garden as a reward for not squashing his technobabble as well.

Suzie Who:  He wouldn’t understand.

Him:  “Yes.  Well, Barbara doesn’t understand either. All she keeps talking about is past, past, past.”

Me:  Barbara didn’t look like she was actually reading that big book earlier – just finding something to do while her hair cooled.

Him:  And turned blue.

Me:  Has she had a blue-rinse then?

Him:  She has in the Give-A-Show slides.

Me:  Maybe she’s really Superman’s mum.  And Ian’s actually Jor-El in disguise.  A very good disguise.

Continuing - though possibly not intentionally - the running gag of everyone who has ever lived getting Ian’s name wrong, Van Helsing calls him ‘Harold’.  Suzie Who rolls her eyes.  Ian responds by getting his name right, but making a schoolboy error with the Doctor’s.

Ian:  My name’s ‘Ian’, Doctor Who.

Me:  Ouch.  That actually hurt.

Him:  I thought the Doctor was Ian.

Me:  Ha!

Him:  Even if his last name is Who, you wouldn’t be always calling him ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Doctor Who’.  You don’t call your teachers by their full name all the time.

Me:  Susan Tennant certainly didn’t.

And in the garden is the TARDIS.  It looks pretty good.

Doctor Who:1  This is TARDIS.

Me:  Aaaargh!  So much so wrong so fast!

Suzie Who gets the acronym right at least.  Ian goes inside for a look.  This takes a bit longer than he expected.

Him:  It looks like a studio.

Me:  I don’t think there’s much location work in this film.  Having said that, the TARDIS here is quite close to the overhaul they gave the Matt Smith one.  And the door actually opens outwards.

Him:  To be fair, they’re not paying much attention to the story.  They’ve got Susan’s age all wrong.

Me:  She’s more annoying than unearthly in this.  ‘An Precocious Child’.

Him:  I’m looking forward to the end of Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 AD – “Just go forward in all your beliefs, and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine.”
“Grandfather!  I’m only seven!”

Me:  Suzie Who’s foreshadowing Adric a bit.

The Him sighs again.

Him:  You used to love Adric.

Me:  That was before video recorders.

Him:  Can you imagine if they turned every Dalek story into a film?

Me:  I think films are quite expensive to make.  Even with invisible Daleks.

Him:  We’ve only watched this once.  Well, once when we got it and now.  Why haven’t we watched it since then?

Me:  I’ll let it explain by itself.  Would you like to do the honours, 'Doctor Who'?  If that is your real name.

Ian’s still reacting to TARDIS.  Antibiotics required, perhaps?

Me:  It looks a bit messy.

Through a sequence of events, each more hilarious than the last, Ian causes a take-off and the ship lands on Skaro.  In about the time it took you to read that last sentence.

Him:  That was a bit quick.

Me:  Skaro looks alright though.

Ian sets about destroying Skaro, one branch at a time.

Me:  Aaargh!  He breaks everything he comes in contact with.  It’s a far cry from the hero of the TV series.  And Peter Cushing’s chosen to play the part as some kind of duck.  Just give him a hunch, a lisp, a claw and-

I have no idea where that thought was going, but it’s interrupted as a flower gets smushed, earning Ms Tovey a bonus.  An old favourite makes a reappearance of sorts.
Giggling, Nedry fled.
Him:  “I call it, the Metaltron!”

Me:  Don’t worry, Ian’ll break it.

Ian breaks it and Suzie Who spots a city.

Him:  “It’s only a model.”

Me:  I think it looks good.

Doctor Who and Suzie Who want to have a look at the City – even though it hasn’t been properly risk assessed.  Barbara (and Ian) would rather go to the Kinematograph instead of having a look around.  Doctor Who decides that maybe they’d be better off staying and offers Suzie a wink.  Suzie Who picks another flower and gets a hefty thump on the shoulder.

Him:  In the series that was just a gentle tap.

Me:  I’m not saying anything.

Following a quick panic, everyone (and Ian) decamps to TARDIS, where they have a big chat rather than leaving immediately – so, in this way at least, it’s true to the series.  There’s a knock at the door.  Doctor Who uses the scanner to see who’s there.  As security cameras go, it leaves a little to be desired.

Him:  He didn’t look very far.

Ian tries to prat-fall another take-off, but it doesn’t work.  Doctor Who uses the fault locater to work out what bit of Suzie Who’s science project he’s deliberately broken.

Me:  It’s got echoes of the series running through it, but it really feels like someone shadowy and overweight, with a massive cigar, has said:  “Son, that ain’t gonna play in Ohio.”  I think that’s probably happened more than once in the production – and that doesn’t fill me with confidence for any new big-screen adaptation, especially as the same feeling runs through the next couple of attempts.

There’s a pencil case outside TARDIS.  During the pencil case’s big close-up, the Him notices something about Ian.

Him:  Why’s he wearing high-heels?

Me:  I think they’re winkle-pickers, or elf-kickers, or something.

Suzie Who – having no sense of self-preservation whatsoever - grabs the pencil case.

Him:  It’s full of make-up.

Me:  Must be Thals.

The Whos (and Ian) trudge off to see if Dalek City’s mercury shops are open.  Doctor Who’s feeling a bit out of sorts and rests against an installation.

Him:  The sculpture’s even worse in this.

Everyone (and Ian) feels ill.

Me:  “All my hair’s fallen out.  Oop – and my teeth.”

Him:  Why’s Peter Cushing wearing Jon Pertwee’s clothes?

Me:  It’s the only thing we’ll never truly understand.

There’s a selection of doors to Dalek City, so everyone splits up.  Ian is left at the entrance.

Him:  The doors aren’t as good either.  Who makes doors like that?

Me:  Hollywood Daleks.

Ian’s chosen the wrong door.

Me:  Roy Castle’s getting on my nerves.

Despite a lot of physical comedy, Ian’s door still won’t open. 

Me:  John Cleese tells a great story about his dad, who was still Mr Cheese at that time, turning to him whilst they were watching some nonsense and saying, “I don’t think this will ever replace entertainment.”  Just saying.

Barbara’s in a gallery.  She meets the artist but we don’t get to see what he looks like – although, to be fair, we could hazard a guess based on the film’s title.  Barbara screams. 

Me:  They even messed that bit up – where’s the plunger?

In a maze of perspex corridors, the remaining Whos (and Ian) hunt for Barbara. They eventually find a control room which in no time at all is stuffed to the briskets with multi-coloured Daleks.  The Daleks are so excited at having visitors that their indicators are flashing with delight.

Me:  Are they all talking then?

Terry N, in a particular pompous moment, declared from his champagne Jacuzzi that a big part of the Dalek’s success could be credited to them never being used in a jokey fashion.  Consequently, I won’t be making the obvious, “So close, you can see their farts” gag as Ian gets sprayed by them.

Him:  “Thanks.  My leg’s not on fire anymore.”

Me:  Some of them’ve got claws.

A Dalek gently extracts Doctor Who’s fluid link.  Barbara has been keeping a cell warm.  The Whos (and Ian) are reunited.

Me:  Barbara Who’s hair is quite astounding.

Ian falls over.  Doctor Who recognises they’re all showing the early symptoms of radiation poisoning – Ian too. The Daleks gossip excitedly about their guests whilst also delivering buckets of exposition.

Me:  They’ve fixed the lights now.

The Daleks listen in on the conversation taking place in the cell and pop down to send one of their guests out for provisions.


Turns out it’s Suzie Who.  The Dalek has an odd request.

Me:  “CUR-RY!”

Him:  Eh?  Why would it be saying “CUR-RY!”?

Me:  Alright, you got me – it was actually saying, “HUR-RY!”

Off Susan goes.

Him:  So, the city just ends there?

Me:  Yup.

Him:  And they’re making Suzie go down the cliffs?

Me:  Well.  They are really mean.

Thunder echoes and lightning plays across the blue and green petrified forest.

Me:  Fair play, that’s quite a set.

Back in the city a Dalek exposits.  Suzie Who meanders toward TARDIS – something follows.

Me:  Nice to see that the sky still needs ironing – no matter how much they flaunt their fancy flats.

Him:  Oop.  Beware the Obvious Log.

Suzie Who:  Who’s there?

Me:  He probably can’t understand her because the TARDIS won’t be translating for them.

After that burst of pure anorak anger, Suzie makes it back to TARDIS.  After only a moment the doors open to reveal a Thal in all his glory. This reveal leaves us both in fits.
No comment.
Me:  “But..  You’re a boy.”
       “Welcome to the Sixties, Suzie Who!”

The Thal comes in.

Me:  And he’s been rolled in glitter.

Him:  It’s Aladdin!

Alydon introduces himself.  He’s hoping that they took the drugs he left for them (and Ian). Suzie reveals they haven’t taken the drugs, but the Daleks have sent her back to collect the drugs because the Daleks want the drugs for themselves.  Luckily, Alydon gives Suzie a second supply of drugs, which she has to hide. I’m guessing that language has moved on a tad since this was made, as the Him has a rather quizzical look after that little exchange.  Anyway, back on TARDIS, Suzie starts gossiping.

Suzie Who:  But, I don’t understand.  They said you were mutations.

Him:  And so they are.

Alydon:  If they call us monsters what must they be like?

This question leaves me in further childish fits.  I’m not proud of it, but it happened.  Suzie (and the drugs) return to Dalek City.

Me:  The Daleks look good there

Back in the cell, Suzie recaps what just happened for the benefit of the Whos (and Ian) and the eavesdropping Daleks.

Me:  The Daleks – ah – watching Doctor Who there.

The Whos (and Ian) knock back the antidote like they’re in Club Obi-Wan.

Him:  They’re drinking it like tea.

Me:  You’d think it’d need to be measured out in careful doses.

A Dalek brings a thermos to the cell and grabs himself a tiny scribe in return.  Suzie is taken to write a letter to the Thals.


"I'm very disappointed in you, young lady."
The Dalek camera is spotted.  

Me:  While everyone’s distracted, Suzie hides a shiv.

Him:  I saw her stealing the pen.

Ian and Suzie Who knacker the camera.  The Daleks exposit what this might mean.  Outside the city, the Thal post has arrived.

Him:  When was Suzie supposed to have left this letter?

The letter arrives.  Proving themselves to be just pretty faces, the Thals’ll believe anything.

Me:  Oh – they’re useless!

The Whos (and Ian) are scheming.  A Dalek brings a TV dinner.


The plan just isn’t coming together.  Barbara Who looks at the different dollops on offer on the TV dinner tray, and selects one.

"I'm a genius.  Yes, I am."

Barbara Who:  I think I’ve got it.

Me:  Don’t – say – anything…

The next bit has to be seen to be believed.  Here’s a snatch of the dialogue.

Barbara Who:  Dalek?

Dalek:  YES?!



The Dalek is dismantled and scooped out to make a disguise.  From under the abandoned Thal shower curtain crawls a claw.  Ian hides inside the Dalek shell, like some kind of squatting crab, and guides the Whos toward a lift.  The deception baffles one Dalek, but not for long and before you know it, there’s an oxyacetylene cutter slicing through jabolite.

Me:  That’s quite good.

Him:  It’s certainly better than Maitland’s.

Being stuck inside his stolen shell, Ian is left behind to distract the Daleks.  The Daleks break through.  Ian escapes and the Daleks exterminate a casing.  The Thals arrive, looking for the promised picnic.  A prop is dropped down a lift shaft.

Doctor Who:  We must warn the Thals.

Me:  Why?

The Daleks have laid out a lego picnic for the freeloading Thals who stride up, laden with empty baskets, like they own the place.

Him:  Can I ask again, as I never got an answer before, why do the Daleks need food?

Me:  It’s to lure prey.  That’s the only purpose of the Gardener Dalek.

The extermination of the Thals is interrupted by a bellow from Doctor Who.

Doctor Who:  It’s a trap!  Go back!  Run!

Everyone runs back to the forest.  The Thals are confused and the anti-pacifist agenda rears an inquisitive head.

Alydon:  We are a peaceful people.  We see no reason to kill others.

Doctor Who:  But…  Even when you know that they would kill you?

As a nod to the original series, Dyoni is very pretty.

Him:  Where’s the tree?  Dyoni doesn’t have a tree growing out of her head.

The Whos (and Ian) say goodbye.  Unfortunately, Doctor Who’s fluid link is still in Dalek City so they’re stuck with the Peaceniks.  Morally, this presents an interesting quandary, as the Whos (and Ian) were quite willing to leave the Thals to die when they didn’t need them.  Back in Dalek City, it’s been discovered that the Thal drugs don’t work on Daleks so they’re stuck in the city.  A bit miffed by this, they opt to take the only sensible course of action left open to them, and detonate a massive bomb.



Back in the Thal camp, Doctor Who isn’t having much luck explaining why the Thals should give up their beliefs (and probably a few of their lives) in order to help the selfish cowards who were about to abandon them without a thought.  Odd that.  Proving himself to be a massive bully as well, Doctor Who threatens to give Dyoni to the Daleks as a present and thus starts a fight that Ian finishes with his face.  Having managed to goad them into breaking their code of honour, he then clucks about like this is actually a good thing.  A map gets looked at and then we’re in a swamp.  So’s Ian.

Me:  It’s moving at a fair whack, I’ll give it that.

Ian stops for a wash.

Him:  That water’s white!  Why would you stick your face in that?

Ian spots a great big thing in the water.  A Thal we haven’t been properly introduced to heads off to gather water for the exhausting climb.  A scream is heard.

Me:  He’s fallen into the champagne Jacuzzi.

Barbara and the Thals (and Ian) reach a mountain.

Me:  That looks good.

The Thals and Barbara (and Ian) climb and climb again until the music cue finishes and they reach the top of the picture of the mountain.  And they’d best get a move on, as back in Dalek City, skullduggery is afoot.

The Daleks all deliver some dodgy salutes.  Barbara and the Thals (and Ian) are making their way through the mountain.  There’s a rockfall.  In Thal camp, Doctor Who spots a lady Thal doing her hair and is struck with inspiration.

Him:  What are the mirrors made from?

Me:  No idea, but I imagine the Thals invented them sometime before the wheel.

The Thals and Barbara (and Ian) have reached a bit of a gap.  They have to jump across.  This goes quite well, until it's the turn of the cowardly Antodus.  As in the original story, the rope just plaps against him, frozen as he is, in peacenik terror.

Me:  It’s a much better chasm than could be mustered up in Lime Grove D.

Ian:  Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe.  Look, I’ll catch you.

Straight after saying this, Ian winks.

Me:  And, going on what a safe pair of hands Ian has shown himself to be thus far, that makes Antodus’ subsequent jump tantamount to suicide.

Needless to say, Ian doesn’t catch him.  Back at Dalek City the Thals are reflecting lights at the Dalek instruments.


The Daleks have hidden Pink Floyd’s lighting rig in the rocks at the front of Dalek City.  The Thals, being no match for bright lights, run away.  Suzie and Doctor Who are captured.  Back above the chasm, Ian’s shirt breaks and Antodus makes a total pigs ear of his Noble Sacrifice.  The countdown begins.

Me:  At last we meet the Countdown Dalek.

The Thals are so annoyed by the Daleks they resolve to fight.  Doctor Who buckles under pressure and offers the Daleks Susan’s science project in exchange for their freedom (and not detonating the bomb).  Ignoring this, the Countdown Dalek keeps on counting.  The now angry Thals invade the city followed by the Thals who went the long way round and Barbara (and Ian).  A Dalek meets a lift shaft and a violent end at more or less the same time.

Him:  Did you see his eyestalk?  It came off!

Seeing his role as to keep calm and carry on, whatever unprofessional lunacy is breaking out around him, the Countdown Dalek keeps on counting down.  And then Ian turns up and-

Me:  Ian even breaks the countdown.

Ian has totally broken Dalek City.  As a testament to his clumsiness, the Daleks have gone floppy.

Him:  Poor Dalek.  Stuck there for all eternity.

Outside TARDIS the Thals have lined up to say goodbye.  I imagine they want to make sure that this time the Whos (and Ian) actually leave.

Me:  With all the hairspray drifting around I’m not sure that a naked flame’s such a wise idea.  Those Thals would go up like a map of Rome.

Ian manages to walk into TARDIS’ door before prat-falling another sudden take off.  Opening the doors, the Whos (and Ian) are met with an interesting view of giant Romans.

Me:  They’ve landed in the ground and they’re tiny.  Good job.

Ian then spends the rest of the movie flapping around like a dying comedian.

Me:  Oh well, at least it’s over.

The credits roll.

Me:  Thoughts?

Him:  Aaaruuu!

Me:  Very good.  Any others?

Him:  Nope.

Me:  Did you enjoy it?

Him:  It was okay.  How did they get permission from the BBC to do it?

Me:  With how the BBC used to guard the programme’s image and best interests so carefully?  Good question.  Money would’ve been involved at some stage I think – greed, is really the only adequate explanation for some of those artistic decisions.  It’s also possible that Terry N gave someone permission to give him a lot of money as well.

Him:  Oh, Terry Nation.  Tch.

Me:  Back to normal for the next one, yeah?

Him:  Yeah.
1.  *sigh*


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