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Doctor Who: Destiny of the Daleks review

How to ruin a TV icon

1979 • U • 100 mins • £19.99 • 26 November

Director: Ken Grieve

Starring: Tom Baker, Lalla Ward

Rating:


Extras rating:

When some fan critics attack new Who for daring to revamp its icons, they conveniently overlook the fact that the classic series habitually did just the same thing – and sometimes made a right pig’s ear of it...

In his final contribution to the series, Terry Nation ruined his own creations, building a story on the notion that the Daleks are no longer organic creatures, but mere robots. That disastrous miscalculation is just one of a long list of things wrong here, with the Daleks turned into brainless machines capable of little more than tediously stating the obvious or barking their catchphrases.

The many longeurs suggest an underwritten script desperately padded out by then-script editor Douglas Adams. He adds a couple of good gags, but some of the comedy sabotages the drama. The Doctor talks to Davros like a naughty child and pushes him around like an old man in a bathchair, and the other bad guys, the Movellans (ludicrous disco robots with Floella Benjamin braids), can be disabled simply by nicking their battery packs.

Plus, the series has never looked so shabby. The Dalek props are visibly battered and scratched, and whenever Davros moves under his own steam, its painfully obvious from his frantic upper-body movement that the actor is pedalling away like billy-o. For years, people laughed at the Daleks. This story is largely to blame.

DVD Extras
Loads. Highlights: a commentary by the director, Lalla Ward and David Gooderson; a documentary about Terry Nation (27 mins); optional CGI effects; Australian TV ads, which cheekily feature Baker and Ward in character and riff on their off-screen romance.

Ian Berriman

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Available platformsTV