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25 June 2012

Manufacturer: BBC Worldwide Consumer Products

Written By: Terry Nation

RRP: £20.42

Release Date: 18th June 2012

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 25th June 2012

The TARDIS suffers a mains power loss, and materialises in a foggy gravel pit on the planet Exxilon. The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) must leave the stricken craft and investigate their surroundings if they hope to repair the TARDIS, but the planet is teeming with hostile life forms and the odd duplicitous Human. However when The Doctor's worst enmies arrive on the scene, affected by the same power problem, it's up to the Time Lord to defeat The Daleks, an intelligent city and an assortment of locals intent on sacrificing everyone possible to their indigenous deity... or a metal snaky root. This single disc BBC release boasts the usual cleaned up and sparkling audiovisual experience, backed up by a decent set of extras and even an Easter Egg hidden away on one of the screens.

Special Features:

CommentaryToby Hadoke hosts the all-male guest list for this commentary, with Julian Fox (Hamilton), Richard Leyland (Assistant Floor Manager), Michael Briant (Director), L Rowland Warne (Costume Designer), and Dick Millks (Special Sound Maestro) all gathered to discuss the story and its plusses and minuses. Although it can seem to lack the humour of some of the more recent commentary tracks, it is packed full of information and little-known facts, and the featurette runs effortlessly along through the story.

Isolated Score - Are you a fan of saxophones?  Repetitive saxophones playing the same theme for The Daleks over and over and over, with the occasional use of someone with a metal thimble over a metal board to provide more annoying noises, somehow meant to represent Exxilons attacking. It's all a bit bizarre and surreal, but it's all available in the Audio Options section, next to the Commentary.

Beneath The City Of The Exxilons - A rather upset Dalek introduces and narrates this behind-the-scenes look at the serial. Noting creator Terry Nation's parallels with current events of the time, the story's cast crew and current Dalek supremo Nicholas Briggs discuss the origins, locations and power issues with the production. On a majorly positive note, the extra has started using backdrops again as opposed to the dismal stark white background of other recent releases, and the Dalek that trundles across the bottom of the screen introducing guests is just marvellously diverting and amusing. A great use of graphics and "Dalek technology" to illustrate points and segueway scenes add to the brilliance of this extra. A real gem of an feature.

Studio Recording - One of the studio blocks of recording, with The Doctor, the Earth party, and some truly brilliant CSO trickery (yes, that's sarcasm) join the Daleks in this extra - from a time when stories were mostly recorder in order, not as later years when it was done with all relevant scenes on each set in turn. Some rather fun subtitles to illustrate the more visual points - such as appalling mattresses - enhance the amusement, and although not a great deal happens, it's a fascinating look at how old school Who was produced.

On The Set Of Dr. Who And The Daleks - Here's something rather special. Jason Flemyng (he of Primeval, and offspring of director Gordon Flemyng) talks us through - with the aid of Marcus Hearn - the mute film trims from the first big screen version of Doctor Who in 1965. Lots of fascinating clips of Peter Cushing's first outing with The Daleks, and some very nice snippets from Dalek operators and crew fill out the story nicely. Jason Flemyng is eminently likable from the off, and it's nice to feel that he's got a new look at his Father's career as well. A real rarity, a truly wonderful look into the past and an entertaining and thoroughly wonderful extra. A must see, and would make the DVD worth buying alone.

Doctor Who Stories: Dalek Men - The operators of the ever cranky alien dustbins get their moment to shine. John Scott Martin and Nicholas Evans, (footage for both being culled from an interview back in 2003) talk about how to operate a Dalek, how they got the jobs, and Dalek salaries!  Another fun and interesting diversion that even manages to cover how Daleks go to the toilet. Not exactly anything new, as we all know from old VHS releases like "Daleks: The Early Years" how the perambulating pepperpots work, but extra stories about the Slyther, and William Hartnell hold the interest.

Coming Soon Trailer - The Doctor-Gond (Patrick Troughton), Zo-Gond (Wendy Padbury) and Jamie-Gond (Frazer Hines) take on some oversized vacuum cleaners with delusions of grandeur, whilst Philip Madoc attempts to wreck some early internet terminals and start a very badly thought out revolution, and the TARDIS shows off a flashy new trick. The next scheduled release is The Krotons, coming soon!

There's also a Photo Gallery of behind-the-scenes and publicity shots from the serial, the Radio Times listings for Death To The Daleks (available in PDF format), Info Text giving extra information as the adventure unfolds on-screen, as well as Audio Navigation and Subtitles for those who many need or want them.

Death To The Daleks hasn't dated terribly well in the effects department, and the bright silver Daleks aren't really looking their best, but they still manage to convey a chilling dose of xenophobia with their trigger happy machine guns firing in all directions. The story stands up very well however, and cast and crew hold the attention effortlessly. The host of extras on this single disc release are equally impressive, with some absolute treasures, and everything is bang on target at holding the attention and providing quality entertainment. Can't fault the DVD, and with its superb clean-up of the archive footage, it's a must-have.

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