Friday, April 20, 2007

skaro a go-go!

Dr. Who And The Daleks (1965)
Dir: Gordon Flemyng
Screenplay by Milton Subotsky
Produced by Milton Subotsky and Max J. Rosenberg
Peter Cushing (Dr Who), Roy Castle (Ian), Jennie Linden (Barbara), Roberta Tovey (Susan), Barrie Ingham (Alydon)

For many of us, the Peter Cushing movies were our first encounter with the show's past, so this was how we imagined all sixties Doctor Who looked and sounded (so you understand, then, why we were a wee bit disappointed when we finally got to see 'The Dead Planet' on it's original video release but why we all adore 'The Krotons') and re-watching them today it's hard not to be won over by their charm. Peter Cushing, as the eccentric old grandfather Dr. Who plays the part as a mischievous schoolboy trapped in an old mans body (stop sniggering at the back). From the opening shot of him enjoying Dan Dare's adventures in The Eagle to his genuine excitement at the thought of exploring the mysterious city, Cushing's Doctor Who is a joy to behold.

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"Just a trim sir?"

As for the rest of the human cast…Jennie Linden's Barbara is all scary hair, tight tops and pointed bra's, a kind of low rent Lulu either frowning sweatily at Peter Cushing or fawning sweatily over the bumbling comedy genius that is Roy Castle's Ian Chesterton but Roberta Tovey's Susie is just bloody scary. Imagine Adric in a tartan pinny and ankle socks and you're half way there.
The Thals, all blonde wigs, Chelsea boots and blue eye shadow are amazing, as if Ziggy Stardust and Quentin Crisp had been melded in a hideous genetic experiment run by the kids from Village of the Damned. The ladies are strangely alluring, the men just plain strange...
None of this is really that important, though, as we're really here to see the Daleks….bigger, better and considerably brighter than ever before (or since). From their first appearance skulking in the corridors of their city, to their exciting demise, the metal meanies have never looked better, as if they'd stepped directly from the pages of TV21 comic. The whole production screams 'BIG!, even the police box shell looks bigger than normal (it's a pity, though, that they decided to film the TARDIS interiors inside Albert Steptoe's shed). The Skaro sets have a genuine other-worldly feel and as for the city interiors…Jennie Linden recalls that this was 'the first and largest set completely built from plastic'… think about this, a giant primary coloured, transparent plastic Dalek city, complete with lava lamps and big black and white TV screens populated by giant primary coloured, shiny Daleks…genius does not begin to describe this artistic triumph. The one big mistake by the Academy Award panel was that this film wasn't even nominated in 1965, if it had been it would have swept the board.

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The plot is adapted from the Terry Nation original, but with all the boring bits cut out, by David Whitaker and the legendary Milton Subotsky, hurtles along at a cracking pace, pausing only to showcase a few quality comedy turns from Mr. Castle. These include such delights as 'Ian sits on a box of chocolates', 'Ian can't get in a door' and mine (and many other fan's) favourite, 'Ian is attacked by giant projected Roman soldiers whilst whistling'. Fans of Roy Castle's portrayal of Ian may also want to check out the Amicus classic 'Dr. Terror's House of Horrors', as well as also being produced by Subotsky, it re-teams him with Peter Cushing and also features star turns from Christopher Lee, Kenny Lynch, once mooted big screen Doctor Donald Sutherland and Alan 'Fluff' Freeman….but I digress, that's for another time……

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"Hmmm....did I leave the gas on?"