Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965)

Article 2147 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-31-2007
Posting Date: 6-29-2007
Directed by Gordon Flemyng
Featuring Peter Cushing, Roy Castle, Jennie Linden

Dr. Who invents a time and space machine. He and his companions accidentally go to a distant world where a race of creatures known as Daleks are at war with a race of human-like creatures known as Thals.

In looking at this movie, it’s useful to remember that “Doctor Who” was originally designed as a children’s show. One of the show’s strengths was that it’s title character was hardly a hero; as played by William Hartnell, he was cranky, irascible, sometimes petulant and unpredictable, more anti-hero than hero at times. This was a surprisingly sophisticated concept for a children’s show when you think about it. Unfortunately, one of the problems with the movie versions is they reduced the character to one of good-natured but dotty eccentricity, and despite the presence of a great actor in the title role, there is really not a whole lot Peter Cushing could do to bring him to any real life. This, combined with the decision to turn the character of Ian into a comic-relief bumbler, made me realize that the real problem with these sixties movie adaptations of the series is the condescending air to them; they know their audience is children and they talk down to them. Still, I think this one works a little better than its sequel, if for no other reason than that the story better adapts itself to feature film retelling; it’s less cluttered with confusing secondary characters. It’s pretty to look at, and the Daleks come in a nice array of colors, but it’s entirely too setbound; it’s hard to believe you’re on another world when everything looks like it’s on a soundstage. The series was better.


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