Doctor Who
The Dalek Invasion of Earth

Starring: William Hartnell
BBC Worldwide
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: PG
Available now

The Doctor and his companions return to Earth but London seems strangely quiet... deserted, derelict, abandoned. It soon becomes clear that this is a world of the future and that the capitol has been overrun by a catastrophe of near-apocalyptic proportion. But this is no natural disaster - this is the work of the Daleks...

The Doctor's second encounter with the Daleks set the seal on Doctor Who's success and even after all these years it's not hard to see why. Yes, invading aliens is nothing new but way back in 1964 the idea wasn't quite as hackneyed as it seems today and this is often apparent on screen. By keeping the story pitched at a human level and by focusing in on the hopes and ambitions of the remaining inhabitants of a decimated Britain, Dalek Invasion of Earth manages to be both emotionally engaging as well as dramatically powerful. A modern version would probably have been swamped with special effects and explosive battles - exciting, yes, but not as poignant, especially as the adults watching 40 years ago would almost certainly had identified with the action from their own wartime memories of the Blitz.

William Hartnell's Doctor was never better - a wonderful mix of obstinate anger and aloofness - while both Ian (William Russell) and Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) have plenty of real things to do, rather than just screaming, running down corridors or getting captured. Only Susan (Carol Ann Ford) fails to shine but her last scene - shut out from the TARDIS - works rather well, although mainly thanks to Hartnell's speech rather than Ford's stiff performance. And then there's the army of standout moments including the Dalek emerging from the Thames and the flight across London showing Daleks on Westminster Bridge and patrolling Trafalgar Square and the Albert Memorial.

However, the best thing about this DVD set is the quality of the episodes themselves - sharp images combined with a clear, clean soundtrack really helps refresh a story that fans of the show will already know inside out. This, combined with a set of great extras - not one a filler, makes Dalek Invasion of Earth an essential purchase.

So do the Daleks succeed in their devilish plan to hollow out the Earth and pilot it back to Skaro where it will be stripped of its mineral wealth? I'm not telling - you'll have to go out and buy the DVD to find out. It'll be worth it...

Anthony Clark

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