Doctor Who: The Dalek Invasion of Earth
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Doctor Who: Dalek Invasion of Earth, The (Episode 10) (DVD)
Radiation nil, oxygen normal, pressure normal, yet London is deserted, with no sign of life and no sense of normality. Exploring the decaying city sometime after 2164AD, the Doctor and his companions soon learn that it is not as empty as it seems. The Daleks - far from having been destroyed on Skaro - have conquered the world. Nearly wiped out by storm and plague, the Earth's population has been commandeered by the Daleks into huge mining operations. Some humans have suffered the further indignity of being transformed into Robomen to serve the Daleks in their diabolical plans. Humanity's only hope for survival lies with a small band of resistance fighters who need all the help they can get.]]>
Doctor Who: Dalek Invasion of Earth is a comprehensive two-disc set with a generally excellent black-and-white picture and mono sound. The highlight of disc 1 is a warm and very informative commentary hosted by Gary Russell and featuring director Richard Martin (all episodes), producer Verity Lambert (5 episodes), and Carol Ann Ford and William Russell (4 episodes each). There are optional subtitles for the episodes, as well as for the commentary, and further text titles giving detailed background information. Optional new CGI-effects shots have been added, which via seamless branching can be selected over the original 1964 model work. The new material obviously lacks authenticity, but looks about 1,000 times better. Disc 2 offers an abundance of extras including an amusing extract from Blue Peter (6 min.) showing how to make edible Daleks. There is a photo gallery and some very poor quality rehearsal footage, but most fun of all is a 27 minute 1994 BBC spoof radio documentary that asks Whatever Happened to... Susan? Jane Asher plays Susan Foreman in a sci-fi comedy as ingenious as it amusing and irreverent. This is a remarkable set that belongs in any Who fan's collection. --Gary S. Dalkin
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We see the Daleks coming to Earth, invading and taking over, the struggle for the remaining humans to regain their freedom. In the episodes leading up to this we see Susan starting to becoming bolder as a character, thinking for herself and wandering further away from the doctor. I honestly didn't see the ending coming though, it was bittersweet and yet in that exact moment I feel like the doctor we all know and love came bursting out, he took charge of the situation, knew exactly what to do, it killed him inside to let her go, but he knew it was the best thing he could do. In the next episodes he becomes more and more of the doctor, having Susan with him seemed to make him feel older, like her needed her with him to function, letting go made him realize that they both could live without each other. This storyline is SO important because you get to see HUGE character growth on everyone's part I think.
I was wonderfully shocked how many episodes there was to this story I felt like it was never going to end, it was like being a kid again watching old black and white movies with my grandmother.
The effects haven't aged well, but if that's an issue for you there's an option to watch it with updated effects which can help younger fans swallow this older story. This story is full of iconic moments, from the Daleks plan (later to be referenced in by David Tennant's Doctor in "The Stolen Earth") to Hartnell giving a very moving farewell to a beloved companion at the end.
Some great supplementary material as well which examines various aspects of this story and the show in general.
The "Dalek invasion of Earth" was the last adventure made in the first season production block, way back in 1964, albeit held over and broadcast as the second story in season two. The adventure is significant for many reasons, mainly because it featured the departure of one of the original Tardis crew, and also because it was the first "sequel" to feature in the show, featuring the return of the enormously popular Daleks, created by Terry Nation. Set almost 200 years in the future, the adventure mainly takes place in central London, allowing for much location filming around familiar sights, which adds to the realism of the story. It was the first real use of extensive location filming in the show's history and was well worth the effort to take the show out of the studio and bring a more epic quality to the production. The closing sequence featuring the Doctor (as played by William Hartnell) bidding farewell to his granddaughter Susan, played by Carole Ann Ford, may also be one of the entire series most poignant scenes.
All six of the original black and white episodes have been painstakingly restored to almost their original broadcast quality, with many enhancements to some of the laughable special effects added as an option. Potentially, it's the other bonus material that may prove the most interesting to fans and casual viewers alike. The commentary from the surviving cast (Carole Ann Ford and William Russell) together with the producer and director is first class. The on-screen captions also go a long way to fleshing out the background to the production. Almost the entire guest cast appear in newly shot interviews airing their reminiscences, plus there are all sorts of behind the scenes programme's, trailers and other goodies gathered onto a 2nd disc.
The same is true of the companion release, "The Talons of Weng-Chiang." Made twelve years later, in glorious colour, this six part series took another twist on the Earth invader theme by taking the Doctor, this time played by Tom Baker, and his companion Leela back into Victorian London to deal with a sinister alien menace. For many, this story is often regarded as one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) story of the Doctor Who canon. And I'm not going to disagree. The production values alone would be enough to set it apart, but the wonderful script, incredible design and superlative acting by the entire cast adds a special magic to the show that few other Who adventures have ever matched. Like the earlier Dalek story, it also marks the end of an era, since this was the last adventure produced by Philip Hinchcliffe. Quite honestly - the show was never the same again!
Again, there are all sorts of goodies available on a 2nd disc to accompany the restored six-part adventure. A documentary on the history of Doctor Who televised at the conclusion of the serial is just one bonus worth having; the commentary from the cast and crew is another. It's great to hear Louise Jameson (Leela) making her DVD debut, and it's a real shame Tom Baker himself did not take part.
Both stories are excellent additions to the growing Doctor Who library, clearly demonstrating the changing production values and story making not only of this particular show, but also British TV drama in general. I'd highly recommend them and look forward to the next two releases in 2004.