The first ever Dr. Who movie is now available in 4K ultra high definition thanks to a brand new restoration. Dr. Who and the Daleks has never looked or sounded better. Plus these new releases are stacked full of bonus content.
Capitalising on the developing Dalekmania of the mid 1960’s movie producer Milton Subotsky approached the BBC with the idea of putting the Daleks on the big screen. The BBC agreed and the first televised Dalek serial by Terry Nation provided the template. Subotsky himself completed the screenplay with some variations in order for it to stand alone as a movie rather than as part of an ongoing television series.
Released in a blaze of publicity in 1965, including a Dalek Invasion of the Cannes Film Festival, Dr. Who and the Daleks became one of the top 10 highest grossing movies in the UK that year. It was a chance for fans of the Daleks to see them in colour for the first time. Despite only 3 colour scheme variants seen, it was far more exciting than the shades of grey television viewers had previously seen. They were also bigger, bolder and louder. It is absolutely a Dalek movie first and foremost.
Starring Peter Cushing as Dr. Who
In the modern era of multiverses and parallel worlds it feels entirely plausible that a human being could’ve invented a time machine and encountered the Daleks. That individual was of course played by Peter Cushing. Known predominantly for his Hammer Horror movie appearances, this was a role that allowed Cushing to play the friendly grandfather figure instead of a Baron Frankenstein or a Van Helsing.
Cushing’s version of Dr. Who, as he’s called, is very much the human grandfather. A little eccentric and absent minded but with a brilliant understanding of science. As our introduction to the character proves, he also has a childlike thrill for excitement. One which ultimately lands them in trouble! It is a unique take on the character but one which works brilliantly.
Dr. Who and the Daleks
Despite Cushing’s status it is two other cast members who really steal the show; Roberta Tovey and Roy Castle. Tovey does superbly as effectively a co-lead, driving the story forward and delivering some sublime moments of acting. Castle provides many of the comedy elements with superb physical comedy. Completing the ensemble is Jennie Linden as Barbara who provides several withering looks in Ian’s direction. Also worthy of mention is Barrie Ingham who delivers a terrific performance as Alydon, coming across as a true leader of his people.
These four main characters explore a truly incredible environment. From the brilliantly realised petrified forest, to the equally impressive Dalek city, everything looks even more stunning in 4K UHD. Equally impressive is the wonderful soundscape that’s created and which has been restored by Mark Ayres. But don’t fear if you don’t have a 4K television and 4K UHD player. There is also a HD Blu Ray disc that allows you to enjoy the film and bonus features.
Available in steelbook and Collector’s Edition
Fans looking to purchase Dr. Who and the Daleks have a choice. The brand new restoration is available in steelbook and Collector’s Edition formats, plus on digital platforms. The steelbook has a beautiful cover design but the Collector’s Edition comes complete with extra goodies. Within a lovely boxset is a booklet with brand new essays, an exclusive 32-page mini-book, art cards, posters and even a collectable coin.
Central to these editions is the film itself. The previous Blu Ray release had used a second generation copy from which to work. This time StudioCanal was able to find the original film negatives for the movie. Unfortunately there were also some scratches across the negatives. But through terrific skill the film is once again in pristine condition. The colours of the Daleks and their city are wonderfully vibrant and that is thanks to all that effort for the restoration. Alongside the film is of course a wealth of additional content.
Most exciting for me was a new documentary ‘The Dalek Legacy: Destination Skaro’. This features Doctor Who alumni Nicholas Briggs, Mike Tucker, Robert Shearman and Gavin Rymill, detailing the influence that the first movie had on them and their subsequent work. For instance, Mike Tucker’s customised Louis Marks Dalek was an idea demonstration. The inclusion of Emily Cook effectively watching the film for the first time provided a nice alternate perspective. Personally I would’ve liked it to be a bit longer but it is a very nice feature.
Those interested in such things can also enjoy a feature on how the film was prepared for release in ‘Restoring Dr. Who in 4K’. Anthony Badger, Steve Bearman and Ray King brilliantly convey what a detailed process was undertaken and the stunning results speak for themselves. Fans of Dalek documentaries will also enjoy a chance to watch the classic ‘Dalekmania’ feature, originally released on VHS back in 1995, which remains a superb piece.
There is also a choice of two audio commentaries available. One with critic Kim Newman, screenwriter/writer Robert Shearman and actor/writer Mark Gatiss. Also available is a commentary with actors Jennie Linden (Barbara) and Roberta Tovey (Susan).
Another short feature is an interview with Gareth Owen, author of The Sheperton Story who provides context for the film. For example, he explains why this was an AARU production. Also included is the original trailer (remastered from the 2013 release) and a photo gallery.
This is an absolutely wonderful release. Whether you’ve seen the film before, lots of times perhaps, you’ve never seen it presented as nicely as this. If you have never seen it before then this is the perfect opportunity to give them a try. Whether you prefer to get a steelbook copy, the lavish Collector’s Edition or just want to watch the digital version, it is absolutely worth your time. I cannot recommend this release highly enough.