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23 February 2013
 Day Fifty-Four: Day of Reckoning (The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Episode Three)

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day Fifty-Four: Day of Reckoning (The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Episode Three)

Dear diary,

It's fitting that I've started on this story this week, since SUnday morning just gone saw Mark Gatiss and the team behind An Adventure in Space and Time take to the streets of London to record a version of the shots from this episode (mainly, the Daleks on Westminster Bridge) to use in their drama.

I've always like the idea of the 'Yeti on the loo in Tooting Bec' aspect of the series, but never more so than during the 1960s stories. There's something just a little bit magical about seeing the Daleks gliding around the streets of London (or, later on in the series, the Cybermen at St Pauls, or the Yeti in Covent Garden, the TARDIS parked outside the Post Office Tower…). The one thing that lets this example down a little though is… well… the shots of the Daleks in the capitol aren't all that great.

Shush, now. Calm down. Stop throwing fruit, too, taa. Don't get me wrong, the shots are perfectly adequate, and they look good enough, but they don't work as well as I'd like. When we're watching Barbara, Jenny, and Dortmun running down deserted streets, or dashing round corners to escape the Daleks, it looks great. Really, truly, fantastic. Those shots have such pace and energy, and they add to that feeling I had during Episode One of this tale; Doctor Who has never looked quite this good, or been on quite this scale.

But then these action shots are intercut with the footage of the Daleks just milling about. One trundles up to some stamps on the Embankment, looks around a bit with tunnel vision, then heads off again. Some more meet up at the base of Nelson's Column, appear to have a bit of a natter (it looks like the equivalent of when you run into friends-you-don't-really-like in the middle of Ikea, and make awkward small talk), then go their separate ways.

There's no sense of urgency to the shots of the Daleks, that's what I'm trying to get at. Barbara and her new comrades are trying with all the effort they can muster to get away from the Daleks, who just don't seem all that bothered by them. It'd be interesting to see a version of this scene cut together with a bit more thought - it could be a fantastic scene, as iconic as some of the others I'd listed above.

Where the action does work for this episode, though, is in the fight with the Daleks early on. It carries on from the one we saw in yesterday's episode, albeit on a much grander scale. There's plenty of smoke effects, and flashes of bombs. People - and Daleks - dart back and forth across the screen, and Ian and Babs even get a brief moment to see each other through the chaos, and assure the other that they're all right.

What's great is that this is the battle against the Daleks that we should have seen at the end of The Daleks (The serial, not yesterday's episode…). There we got a few chaps in ripped trousers pushing the pepper-pots over. here, we actually get the impression that they're a force to be reckoned with. It's nice to see them given more status.

Mind you, I can't take them seriously with those bumpers. They look like they've been placed on little pedestals!

It's also nice to see Susan being set up for her departure. She muses early on that she's never really felt like she belongs anywhere in time or space, and David gently tells her that one day, she'll be forced to stop travelling (Next Tuesday). Later on, the Doctor notices as she starts to break away from him and move toward David. It's nice to see it being set up early on in the story. A lot of future departures won't be given this much thought…

Now, crank yourself closer to the screen in a jerky motion - like the bizarre, but great camerawork on the cliffhanger - as you read the score…

Next Episode: The End of Tomorrow

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