‘THE DALEK INVASION OF EARTH’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Daleks Invade The Earth
This is a significant story in the history of ‘Doctor Who’.
‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ is the second Dalek TV story made in the show’s history during the William Hartnell era in 1964/65. After the popularity of ‘The Daleks’ in their first TV story in 1963/64, it didn’t take long for these pepper pots to return to the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series in its second season.
This is a six-part adventure by Terry Nation. It features the Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara facing the Daleks once again as they invade the Earth in the 22nd century. It also features the last appearance of Carole Ann Ford as Susan, making this the first companion departure ever shown in ‘Doctor Who’.
The story was released on a 2-disc DVD in 2003 with the story on Disc 1 and special features on Disc 2. I recall purchasing ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ for my Dad’s birthday in November 2006 after we saw the first Dalek story in ‘The Beginnings’ DVD box set. I hoped this would be a superb Dalek story.
The TARDIS arrives in London and the Doctor and his companions find the Daleks have occupied the Earth for some time. They’ve killed many humans and converted some into Robomen. The Doctor is intent on discovering what the Daleks’ plans are, as they mine into the Earth’s crust in Bedfordshire.
Just to be clear here, I know that this is a highly regarded Dalek story and is well rated by the fans. But this isn’t one of my absolute favourite Dalek stories from the series, as I found it uninspiring and dull in places. The story isn’t action-packed enough and I found the pacing tended to be slow at times.
Comparing this story to other Dalek adventures, I found the first Dalek story better than this one. Also, the movie version with Peter Cushing as the Doctor in ‘Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.’ is far superior to the TV one with its action-packed sequences, amazing visual effects, and being presented in colour.
The concept of the Daleks taking over the Earth and making the humans their slaves is very frightening. At the time, the world was still recovering from the Second World War and the thought of Nazis taking over Britain was unnerving. It works great with the Daleks as a visually striking image.
I really like William Hartnell’s Doctor in this adventure. I liked it when the Doctor suspects that things aren’t right when he and his companions arrive in London in the 22nd century. I also liked it when the Doctor defies and challenges a Dalek in the second episode, as it felt like a ‘new series’ moment.
William Hartnell suffered an accident during the making of this story. In the third episode, he was injured when one of the actors accidentally dropped him down the ramp of a Dalek ship. He’s absent from the fourth episode, filled in briefly by a bloke in a wig, before he returned for the fifth episode.
William Russell is very good as Ian Chesterton. I liked it when Ian and the Doctor investigated the warehouse; discovered a Roboman and then find the mysterious poster of ‘dumping bodies in the river’. Ian becomes very shocked when it turns out that the Daleks have invaded and occupied Earth.
Ian has his own journey when being separated from the Doctor. I liked it when he joins up with Larry Madison who goes to Bedfordshire to find his brother. They have to dodge Daleks; face black market spiffs and escape from the Slyther. Ian gets trapped inside an explosive capsule and has to disable it.
Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright is lovely and engaging. She gets to be resourceful in the midst of this Dalek carnage. I liked it when she forms a friendship with Jenny. The two actresses became good friends after this. They also dodge the Daleks in London whilst they push Dortmun in his wheelchair.
There’s quite a horrible sequence where Barbara and Jenny have food by two women and they get betrayed to the Daleks. I liked it when Barbara gets to use her history knowledge to make things up about the rebels’ plan to the Daleks and discovers the audio controls to the Robomen by the Daleks.
Carole Ann Ford shines as Susan. This is her last story in the series and I like how it touches on Susan reflecting her time in the TARDIS and considering settling in one place and time. She’s faced a lot of danger and terrors in her travels and likes the idea of rebuilding Earth once the Daleks are defeated.
I liked it when Susan gets to know David and falls in love with him during the story. This romantic element appeals to me in the story, as I’m a sloppy guy myself. I liked how Susan is torn with the decision to stay with David and going on travelling in the TARDIS while looking after her grandfather.
I found the Daleks are little uninspiring in this adventure. Peter Hawkins and David Graham do great voices for the Daleks, but they don’t sound edgy as they usually do, due to their voices not being so electronic and sounding feeble and silly when they declare out loud, “We are the Masters of Earth!”
I also found the Robomen rather daft in this. Like the Daleks, I would have liked them to have had electronic voices and sound like Cybermen. Instead they sound bored and didn’t have that the threatening impact that the Robomen in the Peter Cushing film had. Their headsets also looked daft.
The Daleks have a pet called the Slyther, which in my opinion is the worst monster ever in the history of ‘Doctor Who’. The Slyther looks ridiculous, pathetic and not at all threatening. One wonders why the Daleks would keep such a pet. Even Ian and Larry escaping from it didn’t do justice.
The guest cast includes Bernard Kay as Carl Tyler, one of the Earth rebels. Tyler is a hard, no-nonsense man who doesn’t like making friends. He’s a good guy, but he’s seen many terrible things during the Dalek invasion. Tyler struggles to survive the terrors that occur whilst fighting the Daleks.
There’s Peter Fraser as David Campbell, another Earth rebel who Susan falls in love with. I like David, as he’s a decent, honest young man who like Tyler is struggling to fight the Daleks. It’s easy to see why Susan fell in love with him. David offers Susan a time and place when he asks her to marry him.
There’s Alan Judd as Dortmum, a wheel-bound scientist determined to destroy the Daleks with his own bombs to break their casings. Despite the fact the bombs don’t work, Dortmum is determined to continue his research. He sacrifices himself in the process when facing the Daleks out in the open.
There’s Ann Davies as Jenny. In real life, Ann is the wife of Richard Briers. Jenny is a woman with a hard exterior, struggling to survive the Dalek occupation of Earth. Despite her hard manner, she’s a good person underneath and makes friends with Barbara when they are journeying to Bedfordshire.
There’s Graham Rigby as Larry Madison who meets Ian on the Dalek saucer on its way to Bedfordshire. Larry is looking for his brother who’s been taken by the Daleks. Larry and Ian get on well with each other. There’s a horrible scene where Larry finds his brother who is now a Roboman.
The guest cast also includes Michael Goldie as Jack Craddock; Richard McNeff as Baker; Nicholas Smith as Wells; Patrick O’Connell as Ashton and Jean Conroy and Meriel Horson as the two Women in the Wood. Most of the humans in this story aren’t as clear-cut as they seem to be in this TV story.
The Daleks are eventually defeated as the Doctor and Barbara manage to get the Robomen to turn on the Daleks. A volcanic eruption occurs in England destroying the Daleks on Earth. Have they really been defeated? All is well in the end, as the human start rebuilding Earth once the Daleks are gone.
The last scenes in the story are moving and touching. David asks Susan to stay and marry him and despite her saying her grandfather needs her, she truly loves David very much. The Doctor realises this and he locks Susan out of the TARDIS so that she can stay with David to spend her life with him.
I was in tears after seeing this scene and still am as I write this review. Both William Hartnell and Carole Ann Ford deliver amazing performances as their characters, especially with the Doctor giving his famous speech to Susan that finishes with, “One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back…”
The TARDIS leaves Susan behind. The music and beautiful simplicity of Susan realising her grandfather is gone is very moving. It was such a lovely moment, as Susan goes with David at the end, and it makes a whole new change in the show’s direction with the Doctor losing her granddaughter.
The DVD special features are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s an audio commentary with William Russell, Carole Ann Ford, producer Verity Lambert and director Richard Martin, moderated by Gary Russell. There’s a CGI effects option of the story, an info text commentary option to enjoy, and two BBC trailers for the story.
On Disc 2, there’s a ‘Future Visions’ documentary on the design of the story with designer Spencer Chapman. There’s the ‘Future Memories’ making-of documentary featuring interviews the guest cast and crew. And there’s also ‘Talking Daleks’, featuring interviews with the original Dalek voice artists. There’s ‘Now And Then’, looking at the locations in the story and comparing them today. There’s ‘Script to Script’, an animated demonstration of how the final episode was recorded. And there’s ‘Whatever Happened to…Susan?’, which is an interesting radio play looking at Susan after ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’. There’s ‘Rehearsal Film’, a short silent film by Carole Ann Ford on the making of ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’. There’s a ‘Blue Peter’ item on Dalek cakes. Yummy! There’s a 40th Anniversary Celebration music video, a photo gallery of the story, and two Slyther ‘Easter Eggs’ to look out for on the second DVD disc.
‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ isn’t really the most inspiring or exciting Dalek story for me. It’s highly regarded, but I wish it was more action-packed and pacier compared to other Dalek stories. But I enjoyed watching this and it features a touching and moving departure for Carole Ann Ford as Susan.
‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ rating – 6/10
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I agree Tim, you addressed everything i find wrong about this 6 part story, this starts well enough & ends decent with a emotional ending, i agree the Robomen are daft & sound ridiculous but the main issue i had is the middle sags in pace especially when the Doctor goes awol.
A overrated Dalek story which isn’t on par with the original 7 part Dalek story.
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Glad you agree with my thoughts on ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’.
I wish I could like this story as much as I like the first Dalek story and the ‘Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 AD’ movie. But this story felt slow in places; the Daleks weren’t dynamic or threatening as they should have been and the Robomon sounded bored when they spoke. It isn’t helped when the Doctor is absent for the middle part of the story.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Simon. Glad you enjoyed the opening and that you found the story’s ending emotional. I certainly did too. I was in tears when watching Susan’s leaving scene again.
Great review Tim.
Apart from ‘The Three Doctors’ (shame on me for not mentioning William Hartnell then), this is the first time I have ever shared my thoughts on anything featuring the First Doctor.
Even though my thoughts are based on the Target novelisation, I’ll do my best to share them. I really enjoyed it. I can see why you don’t regard it as highly as most fans do. I liked the character moments in the story and I thought the Daleks and Robomen were pretty decent. Then again you are able to use your imagination when reading a prose as opposed to watching on tv.
I agree that Susan’s departure was very emotional. The novel version of the ending is decent although the Doctor doesn’t have his famous speech that’s in the tv version. I don’t know when I’ll get around to watching that or the two Dalek movies starring Peter Cushing.
I’ve been experiencing a lot of Dalek stories lately including ‘Eve of the Daleks’, ‘The Mutant Phase’ and the novelisation of ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ which is available in the second ‘Essential Terrance Dicks’ volume. I’ll make sure I’ve read the novelisation of ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ from the first volume before watching the animation. Later this month I will share my thoughts on and two other First Doctor stories that I’ve been experiencing in novel form, ‘The Aztecs’ and ‘The Gunfighters’.
Take care, WF92.
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts on ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’. Interesting you’ve read the novelization of this story. I’m sure it’s better than the TV story. I’ve yet to check out the novelizations for both the first ‘Daleks’ story and ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’. I feel this story could’ve worked better if the Daleks voices were reduded by Nicholas Briggs as they sounded pathetic in the TV version. Susan’s farewell is well-handled in the TV story. Interesting it’s different without the First Doctor’s farewell speech in the novelization like you said. Hope you enjoy the Dalek movies with Peter Cushing when you get to see them.
I look forward to your thoughts on ‘The Aztecs’ and ‘The Gunfighters’. And yes, I have reviewed ‘The Gunfighters’ novelization/audiobook on my blog.
Many thanks for your comments.
P.S. Have you seen ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ on Britbox or DVD?
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I haven’t seen ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ on Britbox or DVD. I’m not sure when I will get the DVD release. I haven’t got a Britbox subscription at the moment, but I would like to soon. When I do, I’ll probably focus on ‘Arc of Infinity’ and ‘Snakedance’ as part of my viewing of Season 20 as well as ‘The Seeds of Death’ and ‘Attack of the Cybermen’.
I might review both volumes of ‘The Essential Terrance Dicks’ on my blog this year. Along with ‘The Aztecs’ and ‘The Gunfighters’ I will soon be listening to two other First Doctor audiobooks, ‘The Crusaders’ and ‘The Myth Makers’.
Take care, WF92.
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Hope you enjoy more ‘Doctor Who’ stories whether on Britbox, DVD or Blu-ray. Looking forward to your thoughts on them. Hope you enjoy the stuff you review on your blog.
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Completely agree Tim the Robomen are just awful their voices are awful I find this story a tad overrated & it’s saving grace is that final scene which is poignant & brilliantly acted.
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It’s interestimg how this story is highly regarded, yet I find the Daleks and the Robomen not so impressive and that lets it down for me in terms of viewing the story. The ‘Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.’ movie with Peter Cushing is more impressive than this TV story. I hope to revisit ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ again soon on Blu-ray. I would like to check out the Target novelization/audiobook by Terrance Dicks, read by William Russell.