Doctor Who And The Daleks


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Doctor Who And The Daleks
"When those metal monsters take to the screen, it's non-stop fun and extermination."

The first big screen adventure for the good Doctor, this one steps outside series canon but still delivers a satisfying adventure for fans. As its poster makes clear, the daleks are the real attraction, and they're also the most pleasing part of this film. The introductory scenes - a trip to the planet Skaro - are fairly dull. Nobody really cares about the fate of the miserable Thals. But when those metal monsters take to the screen, it's non-stop fun and extermination.

This time, the Doctor is accompanied by his two granddaughters (played with conviction by Roberta Tovey and Jennie Linden), one of whom is inexplicably dating the prim Ian (a young Roy Castle, already possessed of his trademark smarm). A desire to explore gets the party in trouble in the radioactive war zone they encounter, but rather than kill them the daleks seek t use them to lure their enemies into a trap. If this fails, they have a back-up plan - detonate a neutron bomb so radiation levels outside their sheltered city become too high for anyone to survive.

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Compared to their other incarnations, these daleks are pretty vulnerable creatures, dependent on static electricity just to get around thir citadel; but the cleverly created sense of their great numbers means they're still scary. Sensibly, the film relies on simple special effects that work well and give the citadel scenes the necessary tension.

Elsewhere, the film is not as strong. Its bleak sets may have accorded well with Sixties notions of nuclear devastation but they don't have the same power today, and often they look far too artificial. The film draws various bits of its escape narrative from the disaster movies popular at the time, a move which has also dated badly, though it does provide some entertaining moments. The biggest problem with these scenes is that few of the actors seem properly scared, a factor perhaps influenced by censors who, at the time, had to be patiently persuaded that the film would not be too frightening for children. Today's children will probably be underwhelmed but if they're fans of the series they'll stll find something to engage with here.

All things considered, it's impressive how well Doctor Who And The Daleks stands up today. Even if it is most interesting as a historical curiosity, it's still an adventure worth watching.

Reviewed on: 10 Feb 2013
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Doctor Who And The Daleks packshot
The Doctor and his companions travel to the planet Skaro and try to help the Thals escape the nuclear menace posed by the daleks.

Director: Gordon Flemyng

Writer: Milton Subotsky

Starring: Peter Cushing, Roy Castle, Jennie Linden, Roberta Tovey

Year: 1965

Runtime: 82 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: UK


Glasgow 2013

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