Dr Who and the Daleks & Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 AD
Dr Who and the Daleks (1965) / Land of Dalek invasion 2150 AD (1966)
Directed by Gordon Flemyng.
With Peter Cushing, Roy Castle, Jennie Linden, Roberta Tovey, Michael Coles, Barry Ingham, Bernard Cribbins, Ray Brooks, Andrew Keir, Jill Curzon, Eddie Powell, Godfrey Quigley.
Special edition 4K UHD releases of the Doctor’s two big-screen adventures.
When exactly star wars become Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope? A strange question for a Dr Who reviewed but relevant, because in these modern times there seems to be a preference for creating universes, making all canon properties and numbering stories and characters in the order in which they take place , and recently the various incarnations of the titular Doctor are generally known by number – current Doctor Jodie Whittaker is referred to as the Thirteenth Doctor, Tom Baker is the Fourth Doctor and so on. So where does this put Peter Cushing in the scheme of things, as his portrayal of the Doctor is rarely – if ever – included in an overall character retrospective? Since he was sandwiched between William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton, that must make him Doctor v1.5.
Whatever the technical aspects – and Doctor Who fans are nothing if not pedantic when it comes to technical details – the fact remains that these two films carry the Dr Who naming and including the Daleks and the TARDIS, though they bear very little relation to the TV series character’s mythology.
Released in 1965, Dr Who and the Daleks features Dr. Who (Cushing) as a nice old scientist who invented a time machine called the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space). One evening, Ian (Roy Castle) comes to visit his granddaughter, Barbara (Jennie Linden), Dr Who’s granddaughter, and accidentally hits the TARDIS starter lever, carrying Ian, Barbara, Dr Who and Who’s other granddaughter, Susan (Roberta Tovey) through time. and space to an alien world that has been devastated by a war between mechanical Daleks and humanoid Thals.
After being taken prisoner by the Daleks, they are used to try to obtain a drug made by the Thals so that they can leave the city and escape the radiation of war. However, Dr. Who joins forces with the Thals as they attempt to overthrow the Dalek Regime and return to Earth.
And it’s not a spoiler to say they breakout like the following year Land of Dalek invasion 2150 AD. is a direct sequel which, again, pretty much ignores any previous Doctor Who folklore. In this story, Dr Who is joined again by Susan (a returning Roberta Tovey), her niece Louise (Jill Curzon) and police officer Tom Campbell (Bernard Cribbins), who have fallen into the TARDIS thinking that it was a real police box after getting hurt trying to foil a robbery (or a “smash-and-grab,” as it’s strangely called). Ending in 2150, where London has become a wasteland after the Dalek invasion, the group joins forces with an underground resistance movement led by Wyler (Andrew Keir), David (Ray Brooks) and Dortmun (Godfrey Quigley). The Daleks now have a habit of turning their prisoners into brainwashed slaves called Robomen and begin the process of conversion with Dr Who and Tom, but before they are changed they are saved and thus a battle with the Daleks ensues.
Totally bypassing the setting and mythology of the TV series, these two films are truly standalone efforts that were only created for profit by Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg, the two founders of Amicus Productions who had seen rivals Hammer Film Productions achieve serious success with their television projects and wanted in on some of the action. The biggest difference is with Dr Who himself, who is definitely not a two-hearted alien in this version. Peter Cushing plays him much like an eccentric old scientist in a performance that sounds more like Thorley Walters’ bumbling assistant in Hammer’s. Frankenstein created woman than anything approaching the heroics of the TV series (although in hindsight, take a look at Cushing in that role and put him alongside Peter Capaldi’s portrayal for a visual comparison). It should be noted that Dr Who is never referred to as “The Doctor” as he is in the TV series, where the Doctor Who in the title is meant to be a question rather than his name, and here he is not. is really just an old man called Who who invented a time machine.
Of the two films, Land of Dalek invasion 2150 AD is closer to the TV series in feel, whereas Dr Who and the Daleks has more than one star trek – which will appear a year later – atmosphere on this subject. Avoiding the neon colors and campy kitsch of the mid-1960s Dr Who and the Daleks in favor of a grittier apocalyptic London setting, Invasion of the Daleks 2150 AD will likely find more favor with die-hard fans as it’s less hokey and played a little more directly, with Bernard Cribbins (who also appeared in the TV series playing a different character) adding some lighthearted humor over that of Roy Castle well done but very wide slapstick which is more in line with what he did a few years later in Carry on… to the Khyber than in what should be a relatively serious sci-fi adventure.
Both movies look fantastic in 4K UHD, with Dr Who and the Daleks standing out the best because it has a more varied color palette than the more location-based second film. The eerie greens and purples of the alien landscape, combined with now crystal-clear matte painted backgrounds and the more colorful design of the Daleks, look pristine and take the film from a bigger-budget TV show to something more cinematic. Indeed, Mark Gatiss even remarks in the audio commentaries that he sees things in the film that he’s never seen before in TV shows or older pan-and-scan versions.
And speaking of Mark Gatiss, he appears with writer/critic Kim Newman and Doctor Who writer Robert Shearman for brand new audio commentaries for both films, and these are a highlight as the three men are obviously all fans, but veer into so many other nostalgic British TV tangents as their conversations remain accessible even if you are only an occasional viewer. Both discs also contain the 1995 documentary Dalekmaniawhich is a full-length tribute to Mechanical Threats, interviews with Gareth Owen, a featurette on the 4K restoration process and a short featurette on each film with interviews from various Doctor Who old students. Dr Who and the Daleks also comes with additional audio commentary from actors Jennie Linden and Roberta Tovey, and Land of Dalek invasion 2150 AD also features an additional interview with actor Bernard Cribbins.
But whatever the merits of the movies, it’s the packaging that is sure to be the most sought-after item. Both films will be released in Steelbook editions with suitably bright and vibrant artwork, but there are also two collector’s box sets – one for each film – being made available which will contain the 4K UHD disc, a standard Blu-ray disc, booklets with newly written film essays, art cards, posters, collectibles and a mini version of Titan Books’ upcoming release The Official History of Dr Who and the Daleks Movies by John Walsh. Undoubtedly bound to sell out quickly, these special editions are worth buying for the brilliant artwork alone, but Studiocanal has gone above and beyond to make these packages extremely collectible.
A bit like what Never say never or the original Casino Royale are in Eon james bond film series, these two films are really nothing more than a completist’s curiosity if you’re a Doctor Who fan, and mildly entertaining ’60s sci-fi adventures if you’re not. A bit like the thug Obligation movies, they’ve come closer and closer to being considered canon in recent years – indeed, it looks like Russell T. Davies borrowed more from those movies than you’d think if you go back and examine the show TV rebooted, according to some reviewers of the special features – and they provide an alternate version of the character who could have heralded more movies if the TV show hadn’t gone the way it did after William Hartnell’s tenure, guaranteeing that Peter Cushing’s more grandfatherly, less heroic take was seen as a little too old-fashioned. Still, both of these films are a fun escape regardless of your level of fandom with the character, which means you don’t need to have seen dozens of – or really – episodes of the show. television to enjoy it.
Scintillating Myth Rating – Dr Who and the Daleks – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Scintillating Myth Rating – Land of Dalek invasion 2150 AD – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★