Least Climactic Climax Ever
So I watched the second half of Day of the Daleks today. There comes a moment when the tension is supposed to be ratcheted up to the max, as the Daleks and their ape-like servants the Ogrons launch a full-on attack against the World Peace Conference, with squadrons of UNIT soldiers defending the property. It should have been a hugely climactic battle with lots of action and skirmishes, and with soldiers nobly sacrificing their lives and such. Instead, the climax features three Daleks and five Ogrons just kind of casually strolling across a field towards the Estate, while the UNIT soldiers fire a few thousand rounds at them. Nobody dodges or flinches, but it is also not menacing in any way. They just kind of meander across the field until UNIT wanders away. It was.... sub-optimal.
Let's talk some more about that.
Day of the Daleks - Episodes 3 & 4
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
The second half of the story pretty much has the Doctor jump forward two hundred years with the guerilla soldiers, have a bit of drama in the future with the Daleks and their human Quisling, and then a jump back to present day to wrap up the story. Along the way we discover that the big awful thing that the rebels think the English politician did to derail world peace was actually done by one of their own soldiers. In other words, rather than changing history with their efforts they actually caused history as they know it to happen. Oops. So the Doctor and Jo jump back in time, the big final assault happens, but this time around the Doctor makes sure all of the civilians are cleared from the building and suckers the Daleks and their Ogrons into the building to be blown up. Disastrous future averted.
One of the problems with the story was that the Daleks were not properly menacing, in large part because their voicing was way off. It had been years since they had appeared as an enemy and there was nobody left who had done Dalek voices in earlier stories. Being as this was well before the age of readily-available video of past episodes, the new voice actors had no real frame of reference and they totally whiffed it. This is so much the case that, when the DVD release was prepared, they actually did a new Special Edition in which all of the Daleks were re-voiced by Nicholas Briggs, as well as including some updated special effects and extra scenes.
Another problem is that a couple of key moments from the original script were cut for time. One of those moments was an actual confrontation between the Doctor and the Daleks, which I should think would have been the entire point of the story. Another missing scene renders a bit from the first episode completely meaningless. At the start of the story there is a timey-wimey bit where the Doctor and Jo come face to face with themselves from a future timeline. It was clearly a setup for a bookend scene in which the future incarnations would relive the same moment at the end of the story, from the other perspective. Cutting this scene removed the structural punch line that the story really needed. Both of those missing scenes are apparently present in the novelization, and I have no doubt it is much better for it.
It looks like I have two more Pertwee-era Dalek stories to suffer through, and I really hope they are better. It's a long, long time before I finally reach Genesis of the Daleks. As for tomorrow, it looks like the Doctor and Jo finally take a trip in the TARDIS without Gallifreyan interference, so I gather the UNIT ere is, if not winding down, then at least being de-emphasized and spaced out with other more mobile stories. I wholeheartedly support this narrative direction.
Companion(s): Jo Grant, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Episode(s): Day of the Daleks - Episodes 3 & 4
Steps Walked: 6,873 today, 1,051,806 total
Distance Walked: 3.57 miles today, 515.71 miles total
Weight: 266.76 lbs (five day moving average), net change -40.54 lbs