The 5-Star rating is for the quality and value of the DVD. Superb job as is typical of the Doctor Who restoration team for Classic Era Doctor Who DVD products.
DEATH TO THE DALEKS
Story # 72
Season 11's Third Story
Third Doctor, Jon Perwee Era, final season 1973-74
Third Classic Sarah Jane Smith Story
OVERALL STORY RATING 7/10
In Elisabeth Sladen's opinion, DEATH TO THE DALEKS was always an underrated and overlooked story. I agree totally with her assessment. I was pleasantly surprised to find DEATH TO THE DALEKS a very well-paced and entertaining story, full of interesting and unusual Sci-Fi concepts, as well as being a very unique Dalek story. Other than some very minor acting or special effects bobbles, DEATH TO THE DALEKS is a solid story and production.
It is entirely possible that the main reason DEATH TO THE DALEKS is not well-remembered among WHO fans is because the musical track is unusual in its support or enhancement of the story. The music at times, seems to take the viewer's attention away from the story, rather than enhancing a scene the way a good score can. This is not to say the music score is bad, just that it is unusual, and for that reason may actually distract the viewer at times.
Essential viewing for SARAH JANE ADVENTURES fans, and a very interesting, unusual Dalek story for veteran Whovians. This is also a good story to introduce a novice to WHO, as the interior TARDIS scenes are very educational for someone unfamiliar with WHO.
STORY & SCRIPT 8/10
One of Terry Nation's more interesting and unusual Dalek scripts, making for a rare one-of-a-kind Dalek story. As GENESIS OF THE DALEKS is a unique story in that it details the creation of the Daleks, DEATH TO THE DALEKS is likewise a unique Dalek story, albeit a bit less riveting than GENESIS OF THE DALEKS. Only a few stories can be "masterpiece shows" as is GENESIS OF THE DALEKS. But a story can still be excellent, interesting, and unique even if not quite a masterpiece, and that is precisely the story DEATH TO THE DALEKS is. Daleks with disabled energy weapons, forced into an alliance with humans, at least until weapons can be devised that will allow Daleks to overpower all opposition. The planet, city, its inhabitants and energy-parasitic nature are imaginative, creative story concepts. The Doctor forced to outwit the self-learning, self-defending computer that controls the city and enslaves the Exxilons is also a creative, unusual concept.
Jon Pertwee and Elisabeth Sladen are 10/10, shining as the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane, having great rapport, and subtle closeness and affection between them. Sarah is noticeably not quite as independent and self-assured here as in her previous two stories. BUT this is Sarah's first visit to an alien world, and Elisabeth Sladen deserves much credit for realistically giving Sarah less self-assurance and more apprehension in such new circumstances. The guest cast is very good for the most part. Joy Harrison is "acting" as Jill Tarrant, rather than "being" Jill Tarrant, but Duncan Lamont as Galloway is superb and helps balance out that small weakness. The other actors range from "excellent" to "good" for overall respectable performances.
PRODUCTION QUALITY 9/10
Very high production value. The location and studio sets are well shot and create a believable alien atmosphere. The CSO shots all come off very well with few noticeable problems. Most model work is excellent. The Dalek spaceship is likely the weakest model work, and it isn't bad in all honesty. Overall a well produced, well-edited story, with only a tiny weakness or two in model work and acting. The music doesn't really aid the story in the way a good score should, and is the most glaring technical fault. The DVD scenes shot on video are incredibly sharp, clear and colorful, making it hard to believe the scenes were shot back in 1973! The outdoor location scenes, shot on 16mm film as was the custom of 1973 production, are noticeably grainy and less sharp then the video.
SPECIAL EFFECTS 8/10
Special effects are well-done and hold up well even nearly 40 years later. Nothing spectacular, but the Exxilon city is a remarkable bit of model work and the CSO is practically flawless. So special effects are well above average.
STORY IMPORTANCE 6/10
The Daleks disabled and forced into temporary alliance with humans is unusual enough in WHO history to bump this story up in importance to be just a tiny bit above average.
DVD EXTRAS 10/10
Superb across the board, as is wonderfully typical of most Classic Doctor Who DVD releases. Commentary is excellent and very informative, as is the on screen text information by Martin Wiggins, and both are well worth the viewer's attention. BENEATH THE CITY OF THE EXXILONS is an excellent documentary on the making of DEATH TO THE DALEKS, and the documentary helps the viewer see the often maligned story in a more sympathetic light. There is an amazing 23 minute behind-the-scenes clip of some studio recording of DEATH TO THE DALEKS, that looks as if it were shot last week. And do not overlook the wonderful Photo Gallery.
These wonderful DVD extras are what make Classic WHO DVD's such special treats, so DO NOT overlook them as you will be losing a tremendous portion of the enormous value of a Classic WHO DVD!
Toby Hadoke (Moderator); Julian Fox (Actor); Richard Leyland (Assistant Floor Manager); Michael Briant (Director);
L Rowland Warne (Costume Designer); Dick Mills (Special Sound Maestro).
BENEATH THE CITY OF THE EXXILONS Participants
Arnold Yarrow, Julian Fox (Actors); Michael E Briant (Director); Richard Leyland (Assistant Floor Manager);
L Rowland Warne(Costume Designer); Nick Briggs(fan and Dalek voice artist).