Dr. Who and the Daleks Reviews
I admit it: I'm a lifelong Doctor Who fan, and it is very hard to watch this without bearing that in mind. As a Doctor Who film, it's rubbish. The characters are wrong, the story isn't very well-written, and any real elements of drama and terror are omitted. It just doesn't work the way that original black-and-white story did.
It is an adaptation, so it doesn't have to be spot-on identical. This is understandable. But some of the changes are enormous. The Doctor (Peter Cushing) is now called Dr. Who - it's his actual name, which is just bizarre. He is no longer an alien. He is a kindly old scientist living with his two (not one) granddaughters, and he just so happens to have invented a time machine in his back garden. (There is now no reason for it to resemble a police box, but it still does.) Anyway, he shows young Susan (Roberta Tovey), Barbara (Jennie Linden) and her boyfriend Ian (Roy Castle) around the TARDIS - sorry, that's just "TARDIS" now, no "the" - and Ian accidentally leans on the giant control lever, and off they go through time and space. It is no longer the case that Ian and Barbara are inadvertently kidnapped by the Doctor, who wishes to keep his, Susan and the TARDIS's existence a secret. The TARDIS is no longer impossible to pilot, and hence can return them home as soon as they're ready. No one seems to mind visiting a scary alien planet, and besides a little fussing, no one is tremendously bothered about going home.
Now, changing elements of the story is one thing, and can actually lead to improvements. (It doesn't in this case, but still.) Changing what makes the characters work is another. The Doctor - nyeargh, that's Dr. Who, probably Archibald Who or something - is not mysterious, nor sinister. Peter Cushing plays him as every loveable granddad archetype you can think of, rolled into one. I half expected him to pop Susan on his knee and open a bag of Werther's Originals. He is loveable to the point of being preposterous, and needless to say, he carries none of the unpredictability and irascibility that William Hartnell brought to the role. Ian is no longer a brave, outraged hero - he doesn't need to be, as their journey has been an honest mistake and not any kind of kidnapping. Roy Castle has fun in the role, but is purely there for comic relief, and spends all his time falling over and breaking things. His defining moment in the story, encouraging one of the peaceful Thals to stand up against the Daleks by threatening his beloved, is given instead to Dr. Who, which makes virtually no sense as the old man has been nothing but benevolent throughout the story.
Meanwhile Susan, eight years old now instead of a girl on the verge of womanhood, is precoscious to the point of rudeness, and her close relationship with her grandfather renders Barbara - who is now just the other granddaughter - completely pointless. Barbara does nothing of note in the whole film. Her only purpose is to be old enough to require a boyfriend, which makes way for Ian. But since all Ian does is muck up the Doctor's plans, there's barely any need for him either. The four of them make up a boring, undramatic unit, and the story neglects to tell us anything useful about any of them, so we never get to know them. We're flying through time and space long before ten minutes of the film - credits and all - have elapsed, so there isn't time.
But while the thin characters have trouble opening up, the Daleks barely stop talking. This is not only boring - Daleks talking to other Daleks was often a point of tedium in the series, and it's no different here - but clumsy. The frequently terrifying creatures are reduced to openly discussing the plot, dropping great info-dump bombs about what they're doing and why, purely for the benefit of the viewing audience. They also reveal things that ought to be kept a secret from our four heroes, and do bizarre things like feed their prisoners and allow them to keep medical supplies when we know they want them for themselves. At least they look great, colourful and just as sinister as they were on the small screen, but the dumb script does them very few favours.
Terry Nation's original storyline peeks through the mess, and it's still very strong, even if it has been mangled by screenwriter Milton Subutsky. A world stricken by nuclear fallout must have seemed a terrifying setting for a movie back in the mid-'60s, and it is well-realised. The music is catchy, and although the time period does invade to a certain degree - why, in the name of all that's logical, do the Daleks possess lava lamps? - it's in places a welcome change from the black-and-white pictures Doctor Who fans were used to.
But the story lumbers along rather stupidly, the characters don't make much sense or do anything interesting, and the whole scary, dramatic feel that's supposed to hang in the air just doesn't. This therefore makes a pretty entertaining science fiction movie for youngsters, offering a hint of H.G. Wells (or more specifically the Rod Taylor movie, The Time Machine) and of course, introducing them to the Daleks. But where it differs from the original tale, it unanimously mucks it up and makes it less effective, so really, I'd advise you seek out the (thankfully still freely available) original episodes.
First Doctor William Hartnell 1963â??1966
Second Doctor Patrick Troughton 1966â??1969
Third Doctor Jon Pertwee 1970â??1974
Fourth Doctor Tom Baker 1974â??1981
Fifth Doctor Peter Davison 1981â??1984
Sixth Doctor Colin Baker 1984â??1986
Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy 1987â??1989, 1996
Eighth Doctor Paul McGann 1996
Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston 2005
Tenth Doctor David Tennant 2005â??2010
Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith 2010â??
threw this in the mix cuz i love dr. who, but i like the newer stuff better and there isnt any recent movies