Sunday, January 23, 2011

Doctor Who: "The Daleks" Addendum

Any discussion of the serial "The Daleks" should probably include the story's 'younger brother' -- Doctor Who and the Daleks.

Deciding to capitalize on the popularity of both Doctor Who and the Daleks the BBC licensed out the show for the first time in 1965 to a British movie production company. The production company chose to adapt the serial "The Daleks" for it's first movie.

Having a bigger budget, the film company could produce better special effects and also had the benefit of being in color. taking advantage of this, the film company created their own Dalek props and made them in bright, primary colors. As part of a side deal, after the movie was over the BBC was allowed to keep a couple of the movie Daleks and would use them as part of their Dalek stable for years.

The production company kept the original story intact -- in fact, almost completely so -- but they chose to recast the film and change several things about the nature of the Doctor and his companions...

In the movie version the Doctor, played by Peter Cushing (yes, Governor Tarkin himself), is a kindly, fully human, absent-minded inventor literally named "Doctor Who". He lives with his two granddaughters -- Barbara Who and Susan Who. Yeah, I know, it sounds like the output from another "Doctor" -- Doctor Seuss. But anyway.... So one night, Barbara's boyfriend Ian comes over and the Doctor decides to show off his latest invention -- a machine that can travel in time and space -- that the Doctor has named Tardis. No, not THE TARDIS, the ship's name is simply Tardis. Like how Han Solo's ship is named the Millennium Falcon.

So, as you can imagine, the ship takes off accidentally and lands on Skaro where events play out pretty much as they did in the original story. The biggest differences are that Peter Cushing's Doctor is a more kindly soul than Hartnell's at that point and the character of Ian was transformed into a bumbling idiot.

It's an entertaining enough little movie but it is very definitely not canon to the TV show. The humor is pretty heavy-handed... particularly the way Roy Castle, the actor playing Ian, does it.

This one was never really a favorite of mine. Despite the problems I had with the original serial I still found it a better story than the movie despite the fact that the movie is almost word for word the same as the serial. There are just differences in tone and action which give the serial more weight.

If you're curious, though, the whole movie can be watched, free and legal, on YouTube. You have to put up with a few commercials but what the heck...

The movie was also released on DVD several years back so you can probably find it on Netflix or something if you don't want to slog through the commercials.

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