Updating a Cheating Memory – Day of the Daleks review

day of the daleks review

Okay so I’ve always been a Doctor Who fan. I love the modern reboot and especially the “timey whimey” stories that show runner Steven Moffat is so well known for. You know – he’s always getting things that happen in the future mixing with things that happen in the present. Or do I mean the past? The grandfather principle and all that brain aching stuff. Some people say it is too complicated. I disagree.

One of the earliest stories I ever saw – when I was just a little boy – was the Jon Pertwee story, Day of the Daleks. This had a very time travel paradox orientated story which at the time went over my head. I was more interested in the Daleks and the amazing battle they had with UNIT troops at the end of the story.

For me as a child I was captivated. My memories of that battle, with hundred of Daleks sweeping across the lawn of an Edwardian country house, exterminating the soldiers with their cool “negative” laser blasts, whilst the troops desperately fired mortar grenades at them, super-charged my imagination for many years to come……until I bought the VHS video when it was released 15 years later.

I watched in disbelief. What happened to the battle I remembered? The actual reality was just three battered old Dalek props struggling to glide across the grass whilst a couple of soldiers fired cap guns at them.

Of course when it comes to TV and films that you watch as a child, the memory cheats. My young mind had embellished what it saw with the more descriptive prose of the later novelisation and created a false memory of a spectacle that was way beyond the production and budget capabilities of the 1970s BBC.

However it’s not just me. It seems that the memory cheated for many more people who remember the story with fondness. So hats off to the producers at 2:Entertain for the recently released DVD of the tale. The team have gone back to the original filming locations (such as Dropmore Park in Buckinghamshire) and re-shot some scenes using a 1970s film camera, retro Dalek props and new people dressed as soldiers. On top of this they have added better explosions, more lasers and had the modern Dalek voice artist, Nick Briggs, redub the sound track to make them sound super scary.

The remarkable result cures the cheating memory. They have produced a special edition that is true to the exaggerated memories I formed as a child. Pertwee is still a fabulous Doctor. Here he is authoritative, charming and resourceful and shows a particular fondness for red wine whilst fighting his enemies. And he has the best line in the script with his put down of a pompous Government Minister, “Look try and use your intelligence man, even if you are a politician.”

Day of the Daleks was always a great story and script let down by poor production. Now that the old flakiness has been polished we can enjoy this top rate tale as the memory intended. And what a story. Guerrillas from the future traveling back in time to the present to kill the person they think created their Dalek subjugated future (sounds a bit like The Terminator doesn’t it? Except DOTD came first!). It’s a time travel paradox that I never understood as a child.

Now I can understand it, and can watch the show as the tour-de-force my memory always told me it was.

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