In the mid-1960s, with Dalekmania sweeping Britain, BBC TV's Doctor Who materialized on the silver screen. Doctor Who and the Daleks replaced William Hartnell with Peter Cushing and remade the Daleks' TV debut with a much bigger budget in Technicolor and Techniscope. With his two granddaughters, Roberta Tovey and Jennie Linden (and Roy Castle along for comic relief), the Doctor becomes an intermediary in a conflict between the robotic Daleks and angelic Thals on the almost-dead world of Skaro. A huge hit on release, the film remains an enjoyable, well-produced family adventure, though somewhat lacking the menace of the TV original.
Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. remakes the second Dalek TV serial and finds the Doctor and companions in a ravaged future London where a resistance movement has literally gone underground to fight the Nazi-like alien invaders. Peter Cushing once more makes a kindly, dependable Doctor, though Bernard Cribbins is given a cringe-making comedy routine impersonating a "roboman," and the jazzy soundtrack is wildly out of place. Nevertheless this is a superior sequel, offering lavish production values, better action set pieces, and a higher suspense and fear factor than its predecessor. The best moments remain surprisingly chilling even today.
The three-DVD set includes Dalekmania, a fun, very well made 1995 documentary running 57 minutes and recounting the production of both feature films. Included are interviews with various surviving cast members. Doctor Who and the Daleks--the first disc--has an affectionate commentary track with Roberta Tovey and Jennie Linden, hosted by Jonathan Southcote, author of The Cult Films of Peter Cushing. Sadly Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. has no substantial extra features, but both films include the respective trailer presented anamorphically enhanced and a DVD-ROM reproduction of the relevant movie brochure. The mono sound is good and the sharp, vibrant, anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 transfers are all but flawless, making both films look good as new. --Gary S. Dalkin