Saturday, April 19, 2014

Day of the Daleks - "A touch sardonic perhaps, but not cynical. Yes, a most civilised wine. One after my own heart."

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Day of the Daleks - Details

Season 9, Story 1 (Overall Series Story #60) | Previous - Next | Index

Two things: first, this wine swishing Doctor is redeemed by his socialist attitudes on display later; second, nothing redeems Jo's outfit. One, btw, that affords one her many famous 'knicker shots' later.
Image via the Doctor Who tumblr

Heralded, well, at least occasionally mentioned, as a minor classic, this time travelling Daleks story (sans the input of Terry Nation) seems, to me, a bit short on Daleks, long on Ogrons, and duller than I expected. Not terrible, and certainly with its moments, but one I was less enthralled with than other reviewers.

Moments, like the Doctor dandying it up as a wine connoisseur while waiting for the "ghosts" to make their next move, save this one from itself. His leftist critiques of society under the Daleks when arguing with the Controller contrast with his elitist tendencies, but still work and together make the Doctor a quixotic sort of aristocrat defender of the working man that probably shouldn't cohere, but for me at least, does.

There's the usual Pertwee era vehicle chase -- this time he rides a little ATV/trike around and seem to be having some fun -- but the dynamic of the varying factions presented working to either prevent or ensure a peace conference is bombed never engaged me. The bombing the guerrillas have come back in time to stop meant a series of wars that followed decimated the Earth's population and made humanity easy picking for the Daleks. The Daleks, in the wings behind the villainous Controller, send their shock troops, the Ogrons, back to thwart the guerrillas. Where all this fits in the continuity of Earth history relative to prior and future Dalek invasions is ... problematic. That is to say, I'm sure if I consulted Woods and Miles they'd have it all worked out, but I suspect it's going to have to be a torturous process to explain how this Dalek invasion ties out with "The Dalek Invasion of Earth," for instance.

But maybe the whole point is by saving the conference, the Doctor, Jo, and the guerrillas from the future undid the series of events, this timeline's Daleks would have seen the Earth as not suitably weak for their invasion plan, and it all disappears *poof* in a ball of timey-wimey. Which is fine, because this strain of Daleks just doesn't do it for me. Better that the resolution of this one is that whole future mess never happened.

I watched "Invasion of the Dinosaurs," shortly after watching this one and can at least take satisfaction from seeing that jerk Yates get exposed and his conspiratorial plotting foiled. In "Day," he's insufferable in how he pulls rank and shamelessly commandeers takes the wine and cheese Jo fetched for our man Benton. Rank has its privileges? Screw you, Yates, I thought. That he turned out to be a villain, if a half-hearted one with pangs of conscience, in the end was nicely pulled off in the later story. I may be alone in my opinion, but I'd put "Invasion" ahead of "Day" on a prioritized watchlist partly because it matches this one where it gets overtly political, but it has more, goofier action -- puppet dinosaur-on-dinosaur! -- on display.

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