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Doctor Who: Day of the Daleks

"There are many sorts of ghosts, Jo. Ghosts from the past, and ghosts from the future."

'Day of the Daleks' is a nifty little tale about the complexities of time travel that would've been a lot better if there weren't any Daleks in it.

Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks both wanted to bring back the pepper-pots for season 9. But instead of coming up with a great story for their comeback the producers took the lazy option and just shoved them into one that had already been written. There is no real reason for the Daleks to be in this story. They don't really do anything besides pop up now and again to rant at the Controller. When they finally do come out in force at the end of episode 4 (all three of them) it can't help but look a bit rubbish.

Originally, Louis Marks script was about freedom fighters traveling back in time to change the future by assassinating someone from the past, sort of like Terminator. But thanks to some dodgy historical research and defective logic (“I have to stop Sir Whatshisface from blowing up this house. I know, I'll blow up this house”) the rebels are stuck in a predestination paradox, destined to cause the very events they are trying to prevent. Like Terminator. Let this be a lesson to all future freedom fighters, if you're going to muck about all willy nilly with history, be sure to do extensive research first.

Before the Daleks were shoved in, the Ogrons were going to be the story's primary villain. Yeah, the Ogrons. I'm willing to bet that in the original script they were a little less... feebleminded. With all the speed and agility of a geriatric Frankenstein and the collective intelligence of an envelope, the Ogrons have to be the stupidest foes the Doctor has ever faced, and he's faced some morons in his time. Not that the Dalek's seem to mind. They are more than happy to put up with their minions' ineptness as long as they are obedient. That's Dalek logic for you, valuing loyalty above competence. They should seriously consider going into politics. They'd fit right in with the rest of David Cameron's cabinet.

Notes and Quotes

--'Day of the Daleks' is the first story to feature Terry Nation's lucrative Nazi parable since 'The Evil of the Daleks' in 1967.

--The Doctor mentions the Blinovitch's Limitation Effect (a fancy way of saying wibbly wobbly timey wimey) to explain why the guerrillas can't make multiple attempts to kill Styles.

--Worzel is in full debonair ass-kicker mode for this one. Look at how he takes down his attacker without spilling a single drop of that fantastic vintage he's sampling. Suave bastard.

--I like how director Paul Bernard shoots the early scenes at Auderly House like some low budget haunted house movie. Its almost as if our heroes have stepped into an episode of Sapphire and Steel.

--At one point the Doctor goes completely out of character and uses one of the guerrillas' ray guns to vaporise some approaching Ogrons.

-- The Daleks were originally going to appear in a story by Robert Sloman called 'Daleks in London'. After that story fell through they were incorporated into Marks' story.

--Jo should have been exterminated for her latest crime against fashion; a lumberjack checked blouse, white boots with red neck scarf and knickers.

The Doctor: (to himself) “This won't do at all, we can't have two of us running about.”

Controller: "You don't understand. No-one who didn't live through those terrible years can understand. Towards the end of the 20th Century, a series of wars broke out. There were hundreds of years of nothing but destruction and killing. Nearly seven eighths of the world's population wiped out. The rest living in holes in the ground, starving, almost reduced to the level of animals."

The Doctor: “Well, it's a very complicated thing, time, Jo. Once you've begun tampering with it the oddest things start happening.”

Controller: "Who knows? I may have helped to exterminate you."

The Doctor: “The temporal feedback circuit has overloaded.”
Brigadier: “The what's done what?”
The Doctor: “In your terms, Brigadier, the thing's blown a fuse.”

Interrogator: “You're a spy!”
The Doctor: “Am I? Who am I spying for?”
Interrogator: “I'm asking the questions. I repeat, you're a spy!”
The Doctor: “That wasn't a question. That was a statement.”

The Doctor: “Try and use your intelligence, man, even if you are a politician.”

Two stories that are just like Terminator out of four.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.


  1. Proof, if it were ever needed, that Doctor Who was ahead of its time. What would Terminator have done without "Day of the Daleks"? Obviously, Arnie chose not to copy Pertwee's dandy garb (which is a shame because I think he would have looked quite fetching in a ruff).

    Wasn't this the first colour outing of the Daleks? Little did they suspect that a future Mark Gatiss would jazz them up even more. And make them crap (per).

  2. Valuing loyalty above competence seems to very familiar, and not in a good way!

    This is one of those rare times where I rate this much higher than you Mark. I love this story, flaws and all (and they are certainly manifest). It's one of a few I have on VHS as well as DVD/Blu-Ray, and read the novelization several times. It combines so many interesting takes on time travel, and the way the controller was made into someone with depth went a long way towards making this a solid story. I even love how that interrogator from earlier was more than happy to take over for him, once the Daleks killed him, proving the Doctor correct beyond any shadow of a doubt.

    Great stuff here, even better with the updated Dalek voices and effects on the DVD as while I'm used to the special effects of the day and Doctor Who in particular, the Dalek voices were terrible in the original version.


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