Anyone familiar with this blog will know that Dalek Invasion of Earth is one of my favourite stories as I explained in-depth in The One with the East London Docks!. With this being 2013, and the market being saturated with new and re-issued product, along comes that rarity of rarities a Doctor Who Blu-Ray!
In a year that also saw Spearhead From Space also get the HD treatment, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that the two Peter Cushing titles saw release. Now these are not canonical (though I have seen arguments otherwise) but they do tell largely the same story as the Hartnell originals. I will briefly sum up where the film differs from the TV story and where it doesn’t. I will also look at where the film actually works well (and where it doesn’t).
A quick list of the obvious problems (and that’s ignoring the absence of Ian and Barbara – variant timeline):
- Susan is much younger – well she could have been in a variant timeline
- The Doctor is named Doctor Who
- The Doctor invented the TARDIS – well he could have been exaggerating
- The TARDIS isn’t the TARDIS – not obviously alien technology / superior technology, not obviously indestructible…
As a film
Two areas – how close was it to the original and in its own right.
Does it match the original
A simple table of key points should suffice – this isn’t meant to be a long essay just a group of thoughts.
|Essentially the same||Somewhat different||Completely different|
|Daleks have all but destroyed humanity to allow them to mine to the Earth’s core and fly the planet around||The year is specific – 2150 AD||Susan doesn’t leave the TARDIS|
|It all starts in East London||A lot more Daleks are available which makes it more effective||No Ian or Barbara|
|A Dalek emerges from the Thames||The Daleks use a gas weapon – presumably easier to do for film||Bernard Cribbins policeman|
|Robomen||It’s the Earth’s magnetism that destroys the Daleks||Produced in widescreen colour|
|Humans are prepared to sell their own species for food||The Slyther is absent which I believe is a good thing. IT didn’t add to the original|
|The Doctor saves the day by getting the bomb diverted||No romantic sub-plot for Susan as she is too young|
So differences but not fatal ones.
In its own right
As a film it stands up being a sequel in which the central concepts were introduced. It did poorly at the box-office and a proposed third film never got made. For a fan in the 1970s before VHS, DVD and PVR technology this was one of the ways we saw our Doctor Who – few of the main stories were repeated but every few years this would be shown. Don’t forget the original TV episodes were missing until the 1980s!
Today I suspect fans are more sympathetic to this than we have been and while not being canon it is still of some merit (as many film screenings to mark the launch demonstrate). Bernard Cribbins was interviewed in many places to promote the launch and in the Graham Norton interview on Radio 2 it was mentioned that Cushing insisted on the same cast as the first film. Roy Castle wasn’t available so Bernard got the chance. Curiously it was Graham that told Bernard that a third film had been a possibility!
Also once you know about the Sugar Puffs sponsorship the amount of product placement makes an interesting game for the geeky viewer!
Was it worth restoring?
Yes it was. It may not be canon but it is still 1960s London in colour with Daleks and a TARDIS. I’ve always enjoyed watching it despite some action scenes that wouldn’t look amiss in Battlefield. There is something right about Daleks on East London streets that never fails to thrill!