5 December 2018: It Takes You Away review added.
26 November 2018: The Witchfinders review added.
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DAY OF THE DALEKS
"Frankly, I don't know if I can stand much more of your hospitality."
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Be afraid, be very afraid. The Daleks are back.
It must have been a real dilemma for the writers. The Daleks are sure ratings-grabbers, so they're compulsory. But let's face it, one extermination is very much like another. So how to bring the pepperpots back without putting the audience to sleep? Hey, yeah! Use 'em as a garnish! And that's just what they did.
Day of the Daleks is an intelligent time-travel story that for once actually faces up to the consequences of changing history. Even more refreshing, the characters, with some exceptions, are complex: they could have gone with Evil Collaborators and Saintly Rebels, but instead participants on both sides are actually open to reason. The Controller, in particular, could have been a boring tyrant, but they made him human instead. Brilliant.
Grafted onto this are the Daleks, who are basically stripped down to their exterminating essentials here and are probably the least important part of the story, but they don't do too much damage. It's not what we'd call a Dalek story, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
As ever, of course, Day Of The Daleks' story has its weak points. The Doctor scoffing Gorgonzola and knocking back plonk is not a pretty sight, although we admit it seems in character. Jo gets, if possible, even further up our noses in this one: her brains seem to be dribbling further out her ears with every adventure, and we calculate she's now around eight-year-old level. Massively irritating, as is the Doctor's patronising attitude. (When he was saying he'd leave Jo's gag on to shut her up we could cheerfully have cracked him over the head with his own wine bottle.)
The Ogrons are a species too far, in our opinion, cluttering up the landscape to no good purpose. And while we applaud the attempts to inject some interest through action sequences, some of these undo the good work by falling over flat on their faces. The scene where the Ogrons practically have to run on the spot to avoid catching up with the Doctor and Jo on the trike is particularly unfortunate, as is the leisurely way the delegates evacuate the house as if off for a picnic. And the wrap-up seems very sudden: they're beetling back to UNIT headquarters almost before we can wonder if that's all there is. Overall, though, as long as you weren't actually expecting it to be about the Daleks, this is a pretty fun adventure.
MORAL: Time travel. Itíll only end in tears.
THERE'S A GOOD LITTLE GIRL
Jo's short skirt is presumably meant to be sexy, but we think it only makes her seem even more childlike. We admit, though, that we're not the target audience. (God, that horrible tie.)
THE SUNíS OVER THE YARDARM SOMEWHERE IN THE GALAXY
Now we know that time has little meaning to a Time Lord, but we've got to wonder if the Third Doctor's got a bit of a problem with substance abuse, given the hour at which he starts swilling back the booze.
WHAT DID YOU SAY?
When the Brigadier answers the phone, there's a horribly embarrassing bit where Jon and Katy, doing their Best Acting, have an entirely inaudible conversation - not very likely given that the Brigadier is about six inches away from them.
DEATH TO WHATSHISFACE
The assassins from the future don't seem very clued up - you'd think they'd at least know what their intended victim looked like.
We like the shot of the Brigadier et al through the transparent map. Styly!
IF YOU SAY SO
It never seems to occur to poor simple-minded Jo to wonder why the Controller, instead of sending her off for a little lie down, doesn't send her straight back to her own time, nor to wonder why he assumes she's tired and hungry after a journey that seems to take approximately five seconds.
And again we see the Doctor using a gun, this time to shoot an Ogron. Where did this thing about him never using guns come from?
TALES OF THE UNEXPLAINED
We like the way in which they leave some stuff, like the shiny faces and the weird behaviour of the women working for the Controller, hanging. There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio...
The Roman-style dining arrangements are a nice touch which suggest the corruption that seems to go hand-in-hand with dictators. It's a shame, though, that Jo didn't realise what getting up off the floor does to your skirt vis-a-vis your knickers.
It's nice the way they take the fake news programme device used successfully in The Daemons and expand it so that this time it's the viewers, not the cast, that are watching. Very effective.
YOU CAN CHECK OUT ANY TIME YOU WANT. BUT YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE
The poor cannon fodder in UNIT are creamed again when the Daleks come to town. What do they put on UNIT recruiting posters? "Join UNIT, see aliens and die. Rapidly"? The sight of UNIT corpses draped over the scenery is a recurring theme that gives this season a very dark edge.
IF YOU INSIST
It's very interesting that the Doctor allows the rebel to kill himself in order to blow up the Daleks. This is consistent with the behaviour of earlier incarnations (the Second Doctor in War Games, for example), but later on this is less common (look at the Fifth Doctor's angst over the death of Adric). Is the Doctor becoming a finer person as he gets older, or are the programme makers wimping out?
Buy this Dr Who DVD: US