9.1 – “Day Of The Daleks”
On the eve of a historical world peace conference, an assassination attempt on Sir Reginald Styles raises the alarm with UNIT, who are providing security, and throws the conference and the peace it’s hoping to maintain into doubt. The Doctor’s curiousity is piqued as to why Styles assailant appears to have disappeared into the ether after his failed attack, leaving behind a futuristic weapon. Who are these time travelling guerillas and what have the Daleks go to do with the Peace Conference?
Season 9 kicks off with the return of The Doctor’s oldest adversaries. “Day Of The Daleks” is a classic time travelling Sci Fi concept and a forerunner of The Terminator; freedom fighters from the future come back in time to stop an event from happening to change the course of history and try and stop the evil aliens/computer that rule the world in their future time period from getting to that situation. Its a proper time paradox romp, one of the first real goes at it in Doctor Who, and it works really well on the whole. The weakest thing about it is probably the Daleks themselves, who seem to be a bit of a damp squib in their own adventure.
Terry Nation is credited as having orginated the stories (he was too busy to write a Dalek serial himself at the time), but writer Louis Marks had already written much of this adventure before being asked to re-write it to include the Daleks. And it really shows. It doesn’t help that there were only three Dalek props available to use at the time of filming, so they really are thin on the ground. If you have the DVD release there is a special edition version with newly filmed scenes including more Daleks and up to date effects to make it feel more full on. They also got current Dalek voice actor Nicholas Briggs in to overdub the Dalek chat, since the original vocals weren’t considered to be up to the usual quality. This makes for a more interesting concept, but it still feels a bit like its already shot its bolt by the time the Daleks come into play.
There are some good scenes with The Doctor and Jo in the future, as prisoners/guests of The Controller, puppet leader for the Daleks of the future world, admirably played by Aubrey Woods. But the best aspects rest back on contemporary Earth with UNIT, time displaced guerillas and the security of the peace conference.
Having watched both the original and special edition version over the past couple of weeks, the climax of the story doesn’t really seem to come to anything. There is no pay off after the realisation that the soldiers trying to kill Styles was caused by them trying to kill Styles rather than Styles himself. Certainly no pay off from having the Daleks. They seem to merely exist in this tale as the back story behind why people are time travelling to change the future back in the past. A real shame since they had been missing from the show for some time, and would have benefited from a more cohesive plot they were actually a part of.
A convoluted, budget return by Skaro’s finest takes the shine off an otherwise fine tale. What could have been a solid 8/10 in its own right falls to a 6/10 with an anti-climax that the original concept would have coped without. It’s not terrible by any means; its fairly enjoyable in places, just a bit of a missed opportunity/slightly wide of the mark effort. Nation’s greatest Dalek moment was still to come with “Genesis…” and Marks would have a better chance to work again on the show with “Planet Of Evil” and “Mask Of Mandragora”. An anti-climactic 6/10.
Written and edited by Gavin Dunbar