on May 29, 2004
This is one of those titles I looked forward to long before I knew of any definite plans to release it on DVD. I've always felt that, along with the Patrick Troughton story "The Seeds of Death", this is probably the best-photographed story of the entire 26 year history of the show; this is despite the fact that the cameraman's shadow can be seen drifting in and out of certain shots, but this can be forgiven since it is only the vastly improved DVD resolution that makes it visible at all, a problem that didn't exist when it was originally broadcast.
It was the first Doctor Who story to contain a significant amount of location footage, which enhanced its credibility; to see Daleks swarming around familiar monuments and landmarks leant the story authenticity, and the exterior lighting conditions throughout are flawless, and contribute greatly to creating a tense atmosphere of apprehensive foreboding.
I would also like to say that I have always been outspokenly opposed to the modification of old films and TV shows for any reason, so when I learned that some of the special effects had been replaced with newly-created CGI images, I was a little disturbed. But when I saw the results, I was floored: the new sequences are integrated so seamlessly and applied with such restraint that I have been forced to reconsider my objections. Furthermore, this DVD allows the viewer to choose between the original special effects sequence originally broadcast and the new updated CGI sequences.
This terrific feature, along with the high quality of the transfer, is an excellent example of the extreme care the BBC has taken in presenting these stories on DVD. They have taken an almost reverential approach in presenting this beloved British national icon to the rest of the world, and this is yet one more reason to buy this DVD.
on April 20, 2004
"The Dalek Invasion of Earth" is one of the best "Doctor Who" adventures of all time. It has excitement, awe and wonder, terror, and humor mixed into an epic tale of conquest and survival! William Hartnell gives a fine portrayal of the Doctor, and the storytelling and acting are top-notch! The farewell to the character of Susan Foreman (the Doctor's granddaughter, played by Carole Ann Ford) makes for one emotional ending!
Sadly, the DVD extras aren't the best. The featurettes have fine interviews, but are so lengthy and boring, no one really cares what their talking about. However, the six-part serial more than makes up for it! Any "Doctor Who" fan will not wanna miss "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" on DVD!
Program Grade: A+ (5 Stars)
DVD Grade: B+ (4 Stars)
Overall Grade: A- (5 Stars)
on April 12, 2004
For anyone who bought the VHS, this dvd is nothing short of a revelation. DIOE has gone under some major clean-up work via the Doctor Who Restoration Team's wonderful new VidFIRE machine and looks almost as good as it did (and in the case of episode 5 even better than) back in 1964. It's not entirely perfect due to the age and quality of the source material, but it is impressive. A great assortment of extras rounds out the set. A must buy.
on January 25, 2004
I just bought this dvd and was amazed ! I'm a huge Doctor Who fan but have never before seen any of the first doctor's episodes. The Dalek Invasion Of Earth was filmed in 1964 and it was incredible how well both the acting and the effects (well, quite a few of them, anyways) hold up. The Daleks are as evil as ever, with very few differences in the way they were later constructed (later versions have solar panels around their necks and a shorter base) This Doctor story has everything that makes Who one of the best sci-fi series ever; a vile, ruthless enemy, great acting, outstanding and inventive story, and wonderful character interactions ! If you love old "campy" effects, ie. Godzilla, other Japanese '60s movies, then you should get this Doctor Who story....even if you're not really a fan of the show, this story is an incredible stand alone story for fans of good, old, fun sci-fi. And the extras that are included are great. Behind the scenes interviews, an option to see the show with updated cgi effects, a commentary track....this has got to be right up there as one of the best Doctor Who dvd releases !
on January 3, 2004
After the first Dalek episode, which was somewhat weak other than the novelty factor, it was refreshing to see this Dalek adventure in which the Daleks have taken over Earth and are in the process of finishing off London. Made almost 40 years before Danny Boyle killed most of London off in his remarkable "28 Days Later," this episode does the same thing in London circa the year 2152, after the Dalek invasion is nearly complete. Quite creepy to see a Trafalgar square empty of all but Dalek life. The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan fall in with a group of rebels trying to survive against the Daleks and the robomen -- humans that the Daleks have turned into half human/half robotic overseers working against their own, like the Jewish capos in Nazi death camps. The Nazi similarity to the Daleks is played up fully for the first time here and the action moves all the way through. The sets are quite wonderful, and the sense of menace is strong enough to get past the rather cheesy special effects that were all the BBC could afford in the '60's. But it's easy to put that and the Daleks' obvious shortcomings aside is this great thriller in which the rebels are running out of time against the Daleks' plan and the imminent destruction of the human race.
By this point in the series, the actors had matured and developed a true bond with each other. Susan gets to fall in love (in a 60's kind of way) and William Hartnell seems to have a hit a good balance between being crusty and arrogant and concerned for human welfare, in spite of his rather obnoxious habit of saying "hmmm?" after all his sentences. If only they'd have let Susan stop shrieking all the time -- I was actually hoping they'd let her get eaten by an alligator. You can't blame the actress, however -- it was several decades before the doctor's female companions finally were allowed to stop shrieking. And Susan, being a teenager, got to shriek more than most of them.
There is a tendency on Amazon to review Doctor Who episodes a little more favaorably than they probably deserve, given how much we all love the series, but this one really works on so many levels. Besides being a barely saved episode and only the second one featuring the Daleks, it allowed the Daleks to function in different ways and started to give them personalities and structure. The rebels aren't one-dimensional and have various character attributes that keep them interesting. There is also a disk of fascinating extras with this one, including talks with the set designers and writers as well as various cast members on how the how was shot and what some of the difficulties were.
One of my favorite Doctor Who purchases to date, and a good chance to see the original cast when they'd knitted together and gotten rid of the early kinks. Highly recommended.
on December 5, 2003
The Dalek Invasion of Earth depicts a deserted and war-ravaged London, which would have been familiar to a large number of the original viewing audience in 1964 as the London Blitz had happened less than 25 years before. This sort of detail tends to be forgotten now that nearly 40 more years have passed, yet this doesn't detract from the impact of the story. Famous London monuments with Dalek "graffiti" on them (which I never noticed watching this on PBS broadcasts) really sent chills down my spine, and the sight of the Daleks crossing London Bridge is still an amazing piece of television.The DVD version of this story is more amazing still. Anyone who has seen this on PBS or via the previous VHS release will only know this story with washed-out images and loads of film defects. The DVD is incredible -- the VidFIRE technique works wonders, and with modern restoration work, the episodes on this DVD no doubt look better today on big-screen TVs than they did on the little 405-line monochrome sets which were the norm in mid-'60s England. You won't see a single film defect anywhere on these episodes, and the scenes originally shot on tape in the studio now look like tape again. Indeed, I was surprised by how much of this story was *not* shot on location, but rather in the studio on cleverly-designed sets.If the superb picture quality wasn't enough, there are more than 2-1/2 hours of extras, most of them newly shot. I found it rather shocking that most of the guest cast was younger than I am now (31) when the story was made. Long live the Restoration Team, and long may their stunning work continue!
on November 29, 2003
This creepy phrase, appearing on a large poster along the Thames, along with stunning location shoots all over London, sticks with you long after watching "The Dalek Invasion of Earth." Almost forty years later, this show retains its darkness, showing a slow degradation of hope and humanity among a scattered group of survivors.
After the pepper pot-shaped Daleks take over Earth, turning most humans into worker slaves, and an unlucky few into lobomotized overseers, the Doctor and his friends (Susan, Barbara, and Ian) land on Earth and join the resistance. Location shoots are used to great effect, even if you're not a Londoner - from a disquieting scene of a berserk Roboman drowning himself in the Thames, to a road devoid of cars, where two women try to escape in an antique truck.
Keeping in mind that Doctor Who, particularly during the 1960s, was first and foremost a children's TV series, it's surprising that no punches were pulled here. The character of Jenny, originally developed as a new companion for the Doctor, has seen so much death that it no longer fazes her; three other characters are traitorous, willing to sell out the Doctor and his friends for food or money.
The DVD here has great features, well worth the price of admission. Using the "angle" control on your DVD player, you may switch between the CGI-animation and original animation of the Dalek ship and other special effects, even as you're viewing the episodes. There are several documentaries covering this animation, design and other aspects of the show. There's also the half hour radio drama, "Whatever Happened to Susan Foreman?" and detailed captions, or "info text" which can be watched by using the subtitle command.
As with all incarnations of the Doctor, eventually the companions leave and change - much like the Doctor himself. This was the first show to feature the departure of a companion, in a touching scene with just the right note of sentiment. The loving speech the Doctor gives to his departing granddaughter, refusing to let her back into the TARDIS, is one of William Hartnell's great moments, sure to raise a sad pang in the heart of Whovians everywhere.
However, while "Whatever Happened to Susan Foreman?", also featured on this DVD, is well-written and gets in a few French jokes, its farcical tone seems inappropriate. It would have you believe Susan became a snide, career-minded bureaucrat on Earth and that another Hartnell-era companion, one of the strongest-minded, went mad. The same Susan who declares "I love the twentieth century" in "An Unearthly Child" begins moaning about how boring the early 1960s were and longs to return to Gallifrey?
Humor has always been a big part of Doctor Who's appeal, but no one would buy Jo Grant becoming Prime Minister, or Liz Shaw the afternoon host of a cooking show (now, vice-versa...). The silly premise is better suited to fan fiction. Most of all, the one-joke play neuters the terrific, emotional ending of this serial - as well as the interesting relationship developing between Susan and David, a resistance fighter.
Instead, Doctor Who fans might be better off watching this as a chaser with "Genesis of the Daleks". Of course, both stories are a bit gloomy, so you might want to wait until a cheerful morning to watch.
on November 14, 2003
The Daleks have finally invaded and conquered Earth! The TARDIS materializes in what looks to the weary time travelers to be London in 1963, but as it is soon revealed it is actually London in 2164! After wandering around the city, getting separated, then reunited, Ian, Susan, Barbara and the Doctor soon join with a small band of human resistance fighters to try and topple the Dalek invaders while battling the Daleks altered human slaves, the Robomen, an early inspiration for Monty Python's Gumbies. This is one of the best of the Doctor Who series because in this one we start to see The Doctor losing his crusty exterior and beginning to become not as gruff as he usually is. The ending was somewhat bittersweet and has to be seen firsthand to be truly appreciated. The acting in this is, for Dr. Who anyway, first-rate. Barbara's attempt to mimic a Dalek voice is hilarious but also displays Jacqueline Hill's skills as an accomplished actress willing to try nearly anything to give the characters she plays real depth and feeling. The supporting cast were first-rate as well, even for a Doctor Who episode. This is truly a classic for any Dr. Who afficianado. A must have for your Dr. Who collection
on October 31, 2003
What is it about "Doctor Who" that inspires such erudition? For years, the fandom rap on "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" was that it was a standard B-movie plot with bad acting, wobbly robot villains, and a wonderful ending. And yet, when you get to the bonus-features disc on the new DVD release, there are two guest actors from the story (Ann Davies and Bernard Kay, who played no-nonsense Earth rebels) expounding at length about their characters' origins and motivations. You would not expect them to even remember their characters' names, let alone reveal such interest in their backstories, all these decades later.
"The Dalek Invasion of Earth" is a curiously dated archival piece. It's no longer living, breathing television. When viewed with the rest of "Doctor Who"'s first ten serials, it's probably not in the top tier. When viewed immediately after "The Daleks", it pales.
And yet, on DVD, it's one terrific viewing experience.
The reason these DVDs work so well is the research that goes into them. When you surround a 40 year-old sci-fi action runaround with genuine affection, everyone benefits. The serial itself is accompanied by a funny, detailed text commentary track. The audio commentary for the first time employs a moderator format, as longtime professional fan Gary Russell guides an aging production team -- producer, director, and the two surviving members of the original cast -- past pointless anecdotes and into coherence. I can think of several previous DW DVD commentaries that could've benefited from a moderator. And never underestimate the power of a crisp transfer of the episodes, digitally rolled back to their original videotape quality, wiped clear of all the distortions caused by film transfer.
The special-features disc may represent a case of information overload. The interview with story designer Spencer Chapman is good. The longer making-of feature is watchable -- we're spared the sight of cast members praising the production team with the same five superlatives, and are instead treated with dissertation-quality thought. There's a clip from a BBC kids' show, teaching you how to make Daleks out of food ("Sara's Secrets" on the Food Network never did that). A bizarre radio play detailing the fictional life of Susan Foreman is worth a listen, but I didn't make it too far. Do, however, hunt for the two Easter eggs, both involving the story's incomprehensible Slyther monster, a short stuntman in amorphous latex who's good for laughs but not much terror.
It ends, as it should, with a muddied Doctor (William Hartnell) gripping his lapels and staring just to the right of the camera, giving his farewell benediction to Susan, just after he's locked her out of the TARDIS. One day, he shall come back. We're still waiting.
on October 30, 2003
This is a fun and lengthy story from the early days of Dr. Who and any fan will enjoy it. It was also clearly the basis for the second of the Peter Cushing Dr. Who theatrical films. The show is enjoyable and filled with the kind of costumes, premises and acting that would be common in Dr. Who for years to come. If you enjoy the goofy fun of the Daleks ("exterminate!") or if you've never seen Dr. Who and were looking for something fun to watch with your kids and wanted to try out a "typical" Dr. Who episode, then this show will not disappoint. However, I believe some of the extra features could have been trimmed to keep this to a one-disk set with a lower price. Some of the extra features are not that interesting and seem like they were included just to pad the length and justify the 2nd disk and much higher price. One extra feature I did like was the 40th anniversary montage of all the Doctors from various episodes. Another was the footage showing the London locations for the show as they looked then and as they look now. A thoroughly enjoyable program overall.