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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965)
(2022 4K Restoration)


Starring: Peter Cushing, Roy Castle, Jennie Linden and Roberta Tovey
Distributor: StudioCanal


Certificate: U
Release Date: 20 June 2022

The first 1960s Dalek films [they’re definitely Dalek films, not Doctor Who films] really needs little introduction – you’ll either think its non-canon fluff [in which case, stop reading] or you’ll enjoy it as a dated but enjoyable bolt-on to the rich world of Doctor Who.

I’m very much in the latter camp having seen it when they were first released and I’ve loved it ever since, despite its myriad failings. I saw knackered 16mm prints at the local flea pit in Croydon several times during the 1970s, watched pan-and-scan versions on the telly and VHS, purchased them on DVD and then Blu-ray... and now there’s a 4k version to tempt me back… again! I should be awarded a medal for services to Dalek films.

So… is it worth it? The short answer is a guarded ‘yes’.

For the first time ever you’ll be able to see a version scanned from the original negative. Not even the original release prints had that going for them; they’d have been duped from interpositives.

Great sound and picture

The resulting image therefore has a lot less grain, which when combined with the additional detail provided by 4k, makes for some pretty impressive picture quality. Also, the 4k colour space is richer than is available on Blu-ray so the film really packs a colourful punch. The forest is especially striking.

The stars of the film – the Daleks – boom and blast their way across the screen in very satisfying ways. Yes, the audio is mono but it’s clean and surprisingly forceful and to my old ears it sounds perfectly good: it’s as clear and dynamic as mono can be.

So it’s top marks for sound and picture.

Most exciting!

As for the acting… well, it’s here that things start to fall apart. Peter Cushing’s Doctor Who is friendly and bumbling but there are times when he slips into a rather bland exaggeration of a doddering old man. However, Roberta Tovey’s Susan is quite the reverse. She’s great in every scene – very convincing. A lesser performance could have damned these films to a far less favourable fate, I suspect.

The extras are good, although the photos gallery are very skimpy. Given the variety of available material it’s hard to understand why this is the case and it’s actually a little annoying. Yes, there are places on-line where you can see the various posters the films had around the world, along with lots of behind-the-scenes snaps of varying resolutions, but surely they belong on these two discs. Maybe they’ll appear in the forthcoming book. Hmmm…

The Dalek’s in the detail

So what will you see that you’ve not seen before now that this family fave is available in super high resolution? Well… the silver Daleks originally had their fenders painted the same colour as their domes. However, the painted showed scuffs very easily and the fenders were quickly repainted a pale blue that we see in most of the film.

Many of the publicity shots feature the darker fender, including some rehearsal shot of the Daleks taking their prisoners into their cell. Interestingly, two shots in the film feature the original paintwork: the sequence where Susan scales down the cliff to head into the jungle and the sequence where the rock face opens to reveal the lights – the camera is in pretty much the same place [on a scaffold] for both.

Should you exterminate your cash on these discs?

If you like the film and have a 4k set-up the answer is yes. It comes with a Blu-ray copy, too, so you can still enjoy the restoration, albeit in standard HD, if you’ve yet to splash the cash on a new player and telly. If you think it’s ‘okay’ but not a core part of your collection then the previous Blu-ray release will be quite sufficient.

As I said at the start, I like this film – for the nostalgia as much as the armies of Daleks. I’m therefore delighted to have the 4k disc. However, in an attempt to be realistic I’ll reflect its flaws [the comedy element borders on painful slapstick] in my score.

Dr. Who and the Daleks has great pacing and wonderful sets but the Thal makeup is ‘questionable’ and the supporting cast is generally pretty bland...


Anthony Clark

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