Dr Who and the Daleks Blu-ray

You might recall that a while ago there was some kerfuffle[1] about an alleged plan to make a Doctor Who movie which would not feature the current TV Doctor and have its own continuity. At the time, I dismissed this as most unlikely indeed. But it wasn’t always like that. In the early 60s, TV shows were hardly ever repeated, there was no concept that there would ever be a home video market, and apart from licensing toys and comic strips, the BBC didn’t do much with their property.

So it probably seemed quite reasonable at the time to allow a movie to be made based on Terry Nation’s first Dalek story. And so this was done. This is absolutely not canonical Doctor Who. For a start, the Doctor, far from being a mysterious alien, is a human called Dr Who. Yes, Who is is actual last name, so presumably before he got is doctorate, he was plain Mr Who. He’s played by the excellent Peter Cushing and accompanied by granddaughter Susan (played here as a younger girl than the Carole Ann Ford version by Roberta Tovey). Barbara (Jennie Linden here) has been transformed into an older granddaughter and Ian (Roy Castle, would you believe?) into her boyfriend. The Tardis looks much the same from the outside, but the innards are completely different. Still bigger on the inside, though. We’re told that it’s Dr Who’s latest invention…

And apart from that, it’s all much as the original TV version, with the Daleks in their city, the Thals outside, radiation everywhere and so on and so forth. The big selling point at the time is that the Daleks could be seen in colour (and they come in a nice selection of colours, though not quite as shiny as those New Paradigm Daleks) and on the big screen at your local cinema (this being the 60s, colour TV was still years away and screens were tiny by modern standards).

And overall, it’s still nicely watchable. The Daleks are as devious and murderous as you could hope for, and while the Thals’ make up looks a bit off, they’re quite believable as the descendants of the other side of the war.

The movie has been very nicely restored for this Blu-ray. Extras aren’t all that impressive – there’s the Dalekmania feature which was on the DVD release, a commentary of the same vintage and not a lot more.

Still, it’s an interesting period piece, and worth watching at least once.

[1] I don’t think I’ve ever used that word before

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