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21 February 2013
 Day Fifty-Two: World's End (The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Episode One)

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

Day Fifty-Two: World's End (The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Episode One)

Dear diary,

When I'm watching an episode of Doctor Who for this blog, I tend to make notes. Not lots of them, just things that I might want to mention while I'm writing up my thoughts for the day's entry. Some days, there's very little (glancing at my sheet, I've written absolutely nothing for Dangerous Journey, and only a single line of Hartnell's dialogue for Crisis…), and other times, I write quite a lot.

Today is an example of a day that I've written quite a lot, and it's probably quite a good thing that I've used the word 'great' three times. Once in full caps.

I've never really paid all that much attention to The Dalek Invasion of Earth. It's just one of those stories that's just sort of… there. It's another that I picked up on DVD quite early on, watched once, maybe twice, then just left to sit on the shelf. It's got a pivotal place in Doctor Who history for a number of reasons, but it's just not all that special to me.

That is, until watching through the series in order. Because, blimey, this is a massive leap from the stuff we've had so far, isn't it? I mused the other day that I'd pictured the audio-only Farewell Great Macedon as being entirely studio-bound, because that's what I'd been used to. A brief stroll sown a country lane aside, Doctor Who just hadn't done location work.

All of that gets blasted right out of the water here, though. The episode is full to bursting with location footage - and it really helps to sell the story as being part of something epic. The silly thing is that the moment that's perhaps most effective for me from a location standpoint is a simple scene in which the Doctor and Ian climb a set of stairs… and they just go up and up! There's a scale to this that you just don't have in any of the stories we've seen before.

It's also some great stuff when we watch Barbara running through decaying industrial structures, with collapsing buildings that stretch off into the distance and a world completely over-grown. It doesn't look anything like Doctor Who, but it looks better than Doctor Who. This looks like a real drama, with a gritty sense of reality.

But it's not only the locations that work really well. The initial shots of the TARDIS arriving on the banks of the river and the crew exploring their surroundings is fantastic, and a selection of high shots and low shots really help to sell the sheer size of the setting. This really is the most ambitious episode we've had to date, and I'm simply floored by it.

I'm also surprised to find, as we start our tenth 'regular' story, that they're still using the idea of a first episode focussed mostly around the regular team exploring. We're slowly drip-fed new characters throughout the twenty-five minutes, but it's not until the end that we have several other faces on screen - this is mostly about the TARDIS crew and their reactions.

Staring at my notes, there's so much more I could talk about, but I'll save it. There's sure to be an opportunity during the later episodes of the story. Suffice to say, I'm impressed.

Next Episode: The Daleks

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