Old Movie Review: Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965)

Mama Fisi
Mama Fisi's picture

Just watched the 1965 movie "Dr. Who and the Daleks."  The best I can say is it took an hour and a half instead of the five hours the original TV series arc took.

For a genius who can created a time and relative dimensions in space machine, Dr. Who is an absent-minded, if not downright dotty, idiot. He acts like he's off his medication as he blithely endangers himself and his granddaughters as they explore an alien landscape.  He almost handed the Daleks the means for conquering the universe, by offering the exchange the tardis for the Thals.  I kind of wanted someone to kill him at that point. It's hard to think that Peter Cushing also played Grand Moff Tarkin.

The Thals look like a glam rock boy band. 

And I can't imagine how the Daleks ever caught on.  Their excruciatingly slow, gratingly nasal, mechanically harsh voices dragged the action down.  I can't help but wonder whether anyone has the Dalek voice on their GPS.  "In--point--three-miles--you--will--take--exit--ramp--on--right--obey me--OBEY ME--OBEY ME!!! ...recalculating..."

The best part of the film was when the Thals and earthlings got the Daleks to shoot each other with their fire extinguishers.  Ian finally got a chance to be more than comic relief by luring the Daleks to shoot en masse at the neutron bomb control panel.  I'm betting Barbara is seriously reconsidering her relationship with this buffoon.

The gibberish Susan spouted about how the Tardis works, and the fact that the Daleks travel machines used electrostatic charges transmitted by the floor, at least made some sort of pseudo-scientific sense.  And making the Tardis look like some nut wired it up in his back garden from odds and sods picked up in hardware stores and the local dump, was almost more fun than...well, what they have now.

There were some interestingly shot bits right after they landed on Skaro, but then the movie rambled and rambled and rambled...

My husband says instead of thinking of it as an hour and a half I'll never get back in my life, I should think of it as three and a half hours I was able to keep, by not having to watch the TV series.

Summary:  Peter Cushing plays a doddering old scientist who has care of two granddaughters, Susan and Barbara.  Susan is a prepubescent genius, Barbara is a smoking hot twenty-something with a bumbling oaf of a boyfriend.  Ian's good-natured, but by God, he should not be allowed in a hay barn with a burnt-out match.  He accidentally bumps the button to activate the time and relative dimensions in space machine Dr. Who has built in his back garden, sending all four of them to a distant planet ravaged by nuclear war.

The two species living on the planet are the belicose Daleks, who are forced to live in travel machines and cannot escape their city for fear of radiation, and the weirdly too-pretty humanoid Thals, who survive as agrarian pacifists by the use of an anti-radiation sickness drug.  (As The Husband said, "Call them the Eloi and the Morlocks.")

Blah, blah, blah, the Thals want to ask the Daleks for food when their crops fail, the Earthers get captured by the Daleks, the Daleks want to get hold of the drug so they can leave their city and destroy the Thals and conquer what's left of the planet, the Earthers figure out how to escape and warn the Thals, the Thals, being pacifists, refuse to fight until Dr. Who figures out how to goad them into it, the Daleks decide to use a neutron bomb to blow up the Thals, Dr. Who needs to retrieve a vital part to the TARDIS that the Daleks took so they need to get back into the city, and Ian manages to stop the launch countdown with three seconds to spare as the others fight the Daleks and shut down all their travel machines, killing the occupants.  The Earthers return to their homeworld with the gratitude of the Thals, but seem to arrive at the wrong time.