Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Day of the Daleks

23/11/13 “Day of the Daleks” 
I'd heard good things about this story, especially its short running length! Unfortunately, I've got to relegate it to the ever-increasing pile of somewhat tedious Pertwee stories. Not his fault, really. There's still a lot of affection for Pertwee era stories, and I wonder if that will change as those who watched him in original broadcast age?

This is an unfortunate story for Jo, who really gets to do nothing of value, and rather a depressing story for the Doctor, who gets to be a glutton and a violent killer. It's also not a particularly distinguished story for the Brigadier or UNIT in general. It casts Yates in a particularly bad light as he uses his rank to banish Benton, who is quite sweetly flirting with Jo Grant and also just wants to have a little wine and cheese. The Doctor sitting around in a country house pigging out (and drinking wine!!) is quite uncharacteristic behavior (Gorgonzola?!).

Jo being frightened by ghosts is demeaning, especially since this follows “The Daemons” where the Doctor annoyingly keeps going on about “science, not sorcery” in a patronizing fashion and then teases everyone with talk of ghosts. Jo seems ill-informed (she should know who Styles is and shouldn't need the Brigadier to exposition-ize for her). She is disappointingly trusting of the Controller in the future, deciding to bide her time by eating grapes. Her wardrobe malfunctions are hardly her fault, but then again, why did she leave her house dressed like that?

Sir Reginald Styles, the UN diplomat and peacekeeper, is not allowed to become interesting, so his stand-offish behavior becomes a mere plot contrivance and another one in the annoying list of Pertwee obstructions. His behavior is believable enough in context, but we never get to know him. I like the Ogrons, and they are introduced here, though the need for the Daleks to use them at all is a bit mystifying.

The central idea is an interesting one (predictably Jo believes that the guerrillas are horrible people). The beginning in the Doctor's lab feels a bit “Inferno,” though this time it's Jo and not Liz, but the time distortion Jo experiences is never really explained. The guerillas themselves have little to distinguish them from their counterpart Thals in “Genesis of the Daleks” some time later, but the fact that a woman is given a prominent role feels like some progress. The on location filming is a nice touch though extremely obvious in the switch between film and video. The updated special effects seem to have been integrated seamlessly.

As the return of the Daleks not seen for many years in Doctor Who, it's at least nice that this adventure comes in a merciful four parts (and I prefer it to “Planet of the Daleks”). “Hide” appears to have been modeled directly on this story and so, to a lesser extent, does The Doll of Death.

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