Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Viewers of the new series may marvel at how popular the show is in the UK today, and they'd be right. The programme is constantly in the media spotlight, it's a ratings hit, and it is very much the flagship production for the BBC. However, it's not the first time that this has been the case. One might argue that the first three years of Tom Baker's run might have accorded the series a similar status, but the first time that the long-running series was thrust into the public eye was during the Christmas season of 1964. The Daleks were back.
The Daleks were a phenomenal success during their first appearance a year previous to this serial, and the decision to bring them back (despite their apparent onscreen demise) was one of the best decisions the production team made in those early days. The press build-up was incredible. "Dalekmania" had taken the UK by storm.
I'm impressed with the BBC's support of the programme at this point, as well. The Dalek Invasion of Earth was far and away the biggest production that the show had put on in its history, and would really be several years until the size and spectacle would be matched. The fact that this serial was produced at the end of the first production block, a time when the budget had usually run out, is astonishing. This was Doctor Who at its biggest. Apart from a small amount of location shooting in The Reign of Terror (with a double standing in for William Hartnell), this episode contained the first ever outside filming that the show ever attempted, and the results are exemplary. Viewed in sequence, the difference between the relative claustrophobia of the sets used in the show up to this point and the wide open expanse of a deserted London is shocking.
Plot-wise, things start off like a typical Terry Nation script normally does (as we will see for years to come). Doctor and crew land, get separated, some find the good guys, the others find the bad, and the Dalek makes a shock appearance at the end of the episode. Also, some extremely slow Robomen are there to carry out the Daleks' dirty work, beginning a long line of frustratingly slow zombie monsters who people just can't seem to get away from.
The lone appearance of the Dalek at the end defies logic (what exactly was it doing submerged in the river?), but makes for an impressive visual ending. It's all off to a good start!
Posted by Steven at 11:00 PM