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To prove his scientific ingenuity to Ian (Roy Castle), his granddaughter
Barbara's (Jennie Linden) boyfriend, absent minded scientist Doctor Who (Peter
Cushing) takes him along with his granddaughters Barbara & Susan (Roberta
Tovey) on a trip in his time machine n shape of a police box, the TARDIS (short
for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space).
They land on a petrified planet,
that seems to have been dead for ages, however, when he encounters a city on
the horizon, the Doctor tricks the others into gointg there, claiming he
can't control his TARDIS until he has found some mercury.
Someone even was
kind enough to leave some medication against radiation poisoning on the TARDIS'
doorstep, but the Doctor & company are much too preoccupied with going to
the city to be diverted by the drugs ... so when the foursome arrives at the
city gates, they are quite exhausted from radiation poisoning & are made an
easy prey for the cities evil inhabitants - robot people called the Daleks
(essentially looking like huge armoured saltpots).
But the Daleks, for all
their evil ingenuity, have one weak spot, they can't leave the cities confines
because of the radiation poisoning, & thus can't annihilate the (very
human) Thals, a benevolent race that has developed a drug against radiation
poisoning ... & in fact, they have laid the drugs onto the TARDIS'
When the Daleks gather information that the Doc & company have
some of the Thal's drugs, they allow one of them, little Susan, to get the
drugs (to examine them in their lab), & while out, Susan makes friends with
Aylidon (Barrie ingham) leader of the Thals, who shows her what a nice people
Back in the city with the drugs, the Daleks persuade Susan to write
an invitation to her newfound friends ot enter the city - which she does - only
to then throw her back into her prison with the others & disclose to her
that it was all just a trap to finally get their hands on the Thals.
Doctor & friends still have one or more tricks up their sleeve, as they,
when finding out the Daleks can only move on metal surfaces, can use that
against their guard, escape their prison & warn the Thals, who are just
entering the city upon Susan's/the Daleks' invitation, just before the Daleks
can effectively annihilate them.
The Doctor & company and the Thals can
retreat into the petrified forest, but now the Doctor has set his mind on the
Thals making a counterattack - but has serious problems at first persuading the
Thals to do so as they are an extremely peaceful people.
In the end though,
the Dalek city is attacked from 2 sides, Ian, Barbara & a few Thals enter
it through a supply shaft at the back, while the Doctor, Susan & the Thal
army (if you want to call it that) attack the city gates - however this attack
is at first doomed to fail & the Doctor & Susan are recaptured while
the Daleks - as a last step towards the Thals' annihilation - want to explode
the neutron bomb.
But by now the Thals have found new courage & attack in
numbers, which effectively brings down the Daleks defences & only a few
seconds before the blast of the Neutron bomb, the Daleks are immobilized &
the bomb's countdown is stopped by them. The Doctor, Barbara, Susan & Ian
now can safely return to their home ... but do they ?
The success of
the BBC-serial Doctor Who - The Daleks from
1963/1964 (which was only the
second episode ever of 156 produced over the next 26 years) - & especially
because of the Daleks success back then - inevitable led to someone (in this
case Amicus, even though their name doesn't appear in the titles upon
co-financer Aaru's request) adapting the tale for the big screen. &
with only minor changes in script & characters (though fans will
inevitably tell you, enormous changes), this task was accomplished.
the colour-remake pales to the black-&-white original in comoparison.
Whereas the tv-serial was, despite its absolute length of 2 1/2 hours, a tense,
suspenseful & fast-paced sci-fi-thriller, the movie turns out to be a
rather dull affair, lacking suspense & tension depite of only running for
about half the length.
The fault lies probably in the different approach:
while the tv-episode was written as a sci-fi-story first & kid-tv-show
second, Doctor Who and the Daleks is essentially a kid's movie - with
all the disadvantages the genre brings in the long run.
Another fault may
lie in the Doctor himself, who is portrayed here by the usually extremely
dependable Peter Cushing as a mild-mannered confused scientist as opposed to
William Hartnell - an actor definitely inferior to Cushing otherwise - as a
grumpy old man with his negative traits almost outweighing the positive.
add to all this, the sets display a colourful & from today's point of view
completely charming pop art kitsch ... which doesn't work at all compared to
the dark menace of the black-&-white tv-version ...
The following year, a
sequel to Doctor Who and the Daleks, Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.
was produced, a big screen adaptation of Doctor
Who - The Dalek Invasion of Earth, which, contrary to all expectation
was a vast imrovement over this movie as well as its small-screen counterpart.