The Daleks have returned! Well I didn’t see that coming! And this time they invaded the Earth! The Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara must be wondering when they will land somewhere safe!
What to say about this story? It’s pretty good I guess, well done in parts and less so in others. The flying saucers were right out of Ed Wood for starters! The Slither wasn’t very good either. Some parts lacked sufficient background music. Never the less, on the flip side some great shots were achieved, and they got the show out of the TV studio.
‘World’s End’, the opening episode, is very well directed and paced. Another case of the Doctor and his band of merry women and one man exploring their surroundings and gradually becoming aware of where they are and what’s going on. Unfortunately Susan hurts her ankle in a piece of appallingly bad acting that is hard to ignore. She’s squealing again!
The Robomen. What can I say? I understand the need for them in Terry Nation’s story, but the polystyrene head-gear that they wear is a bit embarrassing from a design stand point. However, achieving the Dalek coming out of the Thames at the end of the first episode is something the production team should be very proud of. I have never seen an In grin come out of water. The stuff on film generally looks great.
The plotline is definitely, though, B-movie. I don’t know if B-movie is a step up or down for Doctor Who to be honest. The way the explanations are delivered is not so well written for example. It’s very plain and functionary. However, direction Richard Martin did a great job with cross fades and the like to spruce it up visually.
For this viewer, the saucers are the biggest point of embarrassment (for the production team), both in design and in being in the story in the first place, and the detonation device in the final two episodes that is supposed to break the Earth’s crust. The model shots may have a lot of detail, but sadly look like toys. Ian spends all this time phaffing around inside the device pulling out wires, and later he manages to stop it with a couple of thin logs. Meanwhile all that was needed to defeat the daleks was ordering the robomen to turn on them.
The scenes are rather good at the end though, with the humans destroying the Daleks. The shot with a Dalek lifted above their heads is particularly memorable.
The costume people did something interesting with the character Jenny, played by Ann Davies . Apparently her hair wasn’t prepared for the film shots, so she had to wear and extremely comical
balaclava for exterior shots (and some studio work too). Bernard Kay is rather good in this as Tyler – I wonder if he’s likely to reappear in another story? Probably not, they wouldn’t re-engage the same actor for different roles in this series I imagine.
Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) has a nice role to play in this story, her character is very strong and she seems to enjoy the role. She is split from the rest, and so is Ian who has his own story. Susan spends most of the story with the Doctor and David (Peter Fraser) – where she falls in love. She has her fair share of screaming and crying, but a very nice final scene. The Doctor leaves her on Earth to start a life with David. The final scene is very moving indeed and well delivered from the two actors.
The story has a few ridiculous things in it, and at the same time it is rather harsh at times. We get to see more death at the hands of the Daleks than in the first instalment, a lot of it is quite brutal in as much as it was needless. Perhaps the most horrific scene is the one where the character is strangled to death by his brother, now a roboman.
London is destroyed by firebombs, but we really don’t see any of the devastation. Only one bomb is diffused, and most of the city should be in ruins, yet Barbara and Jenny don’t even hear the bombs exploding and drive off through London in an ancient fire truck, a London showing no signs of the fire bombs. It’s a nice scene, but the Dalek’s appear to have the least effective bombs ever devised.
To summarise though, I think the production team were easily attempting the ‘biggest’ story they had ever done. They were raising the bar with props, locations, characters and the like. The story is well paced and well done on the whole, especially for what was possible at the time and keeping in mind the limited budget.