Day of the Daleks is one of the stories that I have very fond memories of from its original broadcast – like DVD extras producer Steve Broster, it made a very clear impression on me on first transmission, and I lost count of the number of times I read Terrance Dicks’ novelisation when I was a child.
Watching the original version today inevitably shows up some of its production flaws and pacing problems (the long exposition section in episode four has to be there, but it does slow things down), and of course there’s always the disconnect between the all-conquering Dalek army of the script and the three Mark 3 Travel Machines trundling along accompanied by the Ogrons. But it’s still a great showcase for Pertwee’s Doctor, even if he personally hated working with the Daleks.
The Special Edition gives us a load of CG effects and new sounds. Most of these do their job although the establishing shots of the 22nd Century do look more like animation than an exterior that’s meant to match the sequences of Jo and the Doctor on the tricycles later in the story. The final battle certainly is more “realistic” than Paul Bernard’s original effort and without a shot by shot check of the two versions side by side, there are probably more additions than you realise when watching.
We also get classic-series Dalek voices, courtesy of Nick Briggs. These are somewhere between what you might expect from a 1970s story and the Big Finish Dalek tales from their early days, and, while purists might object, they are an improvement on the original versions. Hopefully this isn’t being repeated with Death to the Daleks – I’d rather that money was spent on a revised Dudley Simpson-esque score.
The extras are enjoyable but not essential. The behind the scenes documentary, coupled with the commentary and the production notes, give a good flavour of what was going on, if not really revealing anything extraordinary, as does the second part of the UNIT Family documentary, all benefitting from the input from Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks, another Who double act sadly no more. Toby Hadoke’s UNIT dating film doesn’t break new ground, but assembles the information in one place (with the odd nod to the New Adventures along the way), and the pieces on the special edition come across slightly too self-congratulatory.
Verdict: Overall an enjoyable package around a solid story. 7/10
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