Thursday, September 3, 2009

KKK4 - Day of the Daleks 4

There is something blissful about spending 92% of one's free time growing up watching Doctor Who (that percentage has probably been even higher for me during this Chronic Hysteresis journey) in that if Doctor Who was ever ripping anything off, then I wouldn't have known about it unless that which was ripped off happened to be encompassed in the remaining 8% of free time that was allotted to me when not watching Doctor Who. I had never seen Quatermass before watching The Ambassadors of Death or The Claws of Axos, two stories which I'm reliably informed borrowed heavily from the BBC's early sci-fi effort, so I just ended up enjoying both stories for what they were.

Another example: Day of the Daleks. A story featuring people coming back to the past to try and change events to suit their purposes, but then finding out that they were the ones who originally created the mess that they were, in fact, trying to fix, seems so brilliant, yet so obvious, that I can't help but think that this idea has already been thought of and used in some other science fiction novel, film, or TV show. But thanks to my blissful ignorance, all I can think of is the 1984 film The Terminator that is similar to Day of the Daleks. (I'm sure some of the more educated readers of this blog (ie. all of you) will be quick to prove me wrong on this, of course).

Whatever the source of inspiration that this story uses (or doesn't use), it's a splendid idea and one that is surprisingly novel for Doctor Who. Why does a series is about time travel so seldom deal with the complications of traveling through time? Day of the Daleks is a great story, if let down by the presence of the Daleks themselves. Inserted into the lineup after the first draft of the script had been written, there's nothing too Dalek-y about the Daleks in this story. They stay within the confines of the control room for the most part, they fire their weapons a grand total of two times throughout the whole story. They don't even sound like Daleks, voiced as they are by Peter Messaline and Oliver Gilbert (the George Lazenbys of Dalek voices), and they move even slower than in some of the creakier 1960s episodes. Not the best way to usher back in the flagship monsters of the series for the first time in five years.

Two quick notes - Katy Manning wears probably my favourite Jo Grant costume in this episode, and it is so refreshing to hear that Dudley Simpson has managed to hire back a small orchestra to perform the score for this story and all those that he did after this. It seems like a breath of fresh air now, mind, but one should remember that Simpson's music would rarely stray from this sound for the rest of the 1970s.


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