Tuesday, December 3, 2013

DVD REVIEW: "Doctor Who: Death to the Daleks"

“Doctor Who: Death of the Daleks” (Story #72)

Original Airdate: February 23 – March 16, 1974 (4 part weekly)

Starring: Jon Pertwee (the Doctor) and Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith)

Special Features:  Audio commentary by actors Julian Fox (Peter Hamilton), Dalek operator Cy Town, director Michael E. Briant, assistant floor manager Richard Leyland, costume designer L. Rowland Warne and special sounds maestro Dick Mills; Beneath the City of the Exxilons making-of featurette; Studio Recording: Rare glimpse into the production of a Third Doctor story; Doctor Who Stories: Dalek Men; On the Set of Doctor Who and the Daleks behind-the-scenes of the first Dalek film in 1965; Photo Gallery; and Radio Times listings.

In this DVD review I look back on “Death to the Daleks.” This was the very first story in which Sarah Jane meets the Daleks, and the first time she is on a planet other than Earth since beginning her travels with the Doctor.

The TARDIS is forced to make an emergency landing on the planet Exxilon after an unknown force drains it of its electrical energy. While separated from one another, Sarah Jane discovers a magnificent white building with a flashing beacon on top but ends up captured by a group of savages and taken to their cave to be sacrificed – while the Doctor ends up befriending a Space Marine Corps crew whose spaceship has also been downed by the energy drain; they are on a mission to harvest a rare chemical called parrinium that is unique to Exxilon and is the antidote to a plague which is sweeping the galaxy.

Then another spaceship crash lands onto Exxilon – a spaceship carrying a group of Daleks whose weapons have been rendered useless by the energy drain. Everyone becomes eventual prisoners of the Exxilons; the Doctor interrupts Sarah's execution and ends up sentenced to death himself, but the two escape into some tunnels as the cave is attacked by a second force of Daleks armed with mechanical guns. There they meet Bellal, an enlightened Exxilon, who tells them that the city was created by his own race that then brought about their downfall. The Doctor, realizing that the city's beacon is causing the energy drain, resolves to put it out of action.

Meanwhile, the Space Corps crew and the Exxilons have entered into an uneasy alliance with the Daleks that quickly grows out of hand. While the Doctor and Bellal enter the city and are forced to solve a series of potentially deadly tests – and the Doctor uses his handy sonic screwdriver to destroy the controlling computer – the Daleks hatch a plan to steal the parrinium, but are destroyed by a bomb triggered by one of the Space Marine Corps members who stowed away on their spaceship undetected. Thankfully all is not lost, as Sarah Jane confesses that she and another Space Marine Corps crew member had already smuggled all of the parrinium back off of the Dalek ship before its destruction and returned to the Earth ship where it belonged.

Favorite Scene:
My favorite scene is the very first appearance of the Doctor and Sarah in Part One, where they’re both preparing themselves for a holiday on the planet Florana. It made me giggle to watch the Doctor twirling a huge, rainbow-colored beach umbrella singing “Oh I do like to be beside the seaside, I do like to be beside the sea…” It’s too cute.

Notable Dialogue:

Oh, there are several bits from this story.  The first is from the above mentioned scene:

Sarah (gathering beach related items): Sunglasses…sun lotion…water wings…
Doctor: Well, you won’t need those for a start.
Sarah: Oh, we’re going swimming, you said.
Doctor: You can’t sink on Florana.
Sarah: I can sink anywhere.

Another great line comes from the Doctor, when he’s enlightening Sarah Jane about who the Daleks are: “Inside each of those shells is a living, bubbling lump of hate.”

Other Items Worth Noting…
·        Sarah Jane’s outfits – they’re both simple and fantastic in this story. To start, she wears a teal-colored two-piece swimsuit with a pair of matching teal platform shoes that I find adorable. Then, later, she puts a long, brown dress on over the swimsuit and trades the platforms for a pair of brown, knee-high boots – which are much better for navigating Exxilon’s terrain – and she looks great.

Why I enjoyed Death to the Daleks:
·        The melt-your-heart moment when the Doctor puts two fingers to Sarah Jane’s lips and then touches her cheek. Oh. My. Goodness. Watching that happen was beyond sweet. Seriously.
·        The scene where one of the Exxilons sneaks into the TARDIS while Sarah Jane is out looking for the Doctor – she comes back inside thinking she’s safe, and when she realizes she’s not alone she starts hitting the dude with the metal crank handle from the door of the TARDIS. Totally impressive on her part.
·        I hate to admit it, but I enjoyed the scene at the parrinium mine where the Dalek bursts into flames after being destroyed by the metal snake-root. Hey, the Daleks wanted to steal all of the parrinium for themselves and let everyone on Earth die from the space plague – that Dalek deserved what was coming to him for being so selfish (and the rest of them, for that matter, who were later destroyed when their ship blew up).

“Death to the Daleks” is available on DVD from Amazon.

Check out more about Sarah’s outfits from “Death to the Daleks” over at The Sarah Jane Wardrobe Appreciation Society at http://sarahjanesmith.cosmic-archer.com/deathtothedaleks.html

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