Doctor Who: Death to the Daleks – DVD Review

Pertwee!  Daleks! Quarries! Exclamation points!  Classic Doctor Who.  This would mark the last time that Jon Pertwee’s Doctor would encounter his greatest nemesis.  Maybe not the best Dalek story, but certainly has its good points. 

The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) are traveling in the TARDIS when it suffers an unexpected power failure and arrives on the planet Exxilon.  They’re not the only ones stranded as they find a group of Marine Space Corps, Dan Galloway (Peter Lamont), Capt. Richard Railton (John Abineri), Peter Hamilton (Julian Fox), Jill Tarrant (Joy Harrison), and the wounded Commander Stewart (Neil Seiler),  searching for a cure to a plague sweeping the galaxy. 

The mineral that will stop the disease is in abundance on Exxilon.  Their ship too has been drained of power.  They did manage to get off an SOS before their ship stalled.  When they hear a ship approaching they think it a relief ship, but it turns out to be piloted by Daleks.  However, the mechanical villain’s weapons are drained as well so they’re rendered helpless but still as duplicitous. 

An uneasy alliance is formed.   The Doctor and a friendly native named Bellal (Arnold Yarrow) now have to find their way through a forbidden, self-repairing city to discover the cause of the power drain so that all can get off the planet and the plague stopped. 

Death to the Daleks finds current Doctor Jon Pertwee two more stories away from his leaving the show.  Much of his familial crew had already left and his friend and favored villain Roger Delgado had tragically been killed in an auto accident.  The die had been cast.  Death to the Daleks brings back the other popular enemy for one last go with the dapper Doctor.  The show starts off with a great sinister atmosphere with darkness falling in the TARDIS and oil lamp lighting the way. 

The Exxilons also blend into the landscape and lead to some frightening moments.  When revealed they’re more man in a mask than threat though.  Much kudos goes to Yarrow as he adds so much to his portrayal that we’re sorry to when he’s not on screen.  He took his cues from a similarly large eyed marsupial.  Is all the footing so solid?  Maybe not as if the secret of the planet drains power shouldn’t the Daleks stop working entirely?  After all they’re a powered life support system for the mutation inside. 

Luckily their powered by hate and psychokinetic energy or that would end their menace rather quickly.  Not that their menace isn’t somewhat dispelled by the jaunty tune that plays every time we see them.  It would be the first, but not the last time, that Sarah Jane would encounter the Daleks.  It’s a decent adventure and I always enjoy seeing the white haired chap in the smoking jacket meet the pepper pots of death. 

Death to the Daleks is presented in fullscreen.  Special features include a commentary with actor Julian Fox, Dalek operator Cy Town, director Michael E. Briant, floor manager Richard Leyland, costume designer L. Rowland Warne, special sounds designer Dick Mills, and moderation by Toby Hadoke, a pop-up trivia track, an isolated score, the 26 minute “Beneath the city of the Exxilons making of, 23 minutes of production studio recording, the 7 minute “On the set of Doctor Who and the Daleks” that looks at the Peter Cushing film (wonderful but a bit short and left me wanting to see the complete behind-the-scenes footage), the 13 minute “Doctor Who Stores: The Dalek Men” that interview the men inside the monsters, a photo gallery, and the Radio Times Listing on DVD-ROM. 

Jon Pertwee’s days were numbered, but there’s still enough pizazz left in the Timelord for one last go round with the Daleks.  The BBC has done their usual smashing job in heaping on the special features, especially the too short feature on the Dalek movie. 

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Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.