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Daleks - The Early Years

Video review by Darrell Patterson

This tape is cram-packed with so many excellent clips and episodes that it is hard to stop praising BBC Video for releasing it.

The first thing that strikes you about this video is Peter Davison's calm, assertive, informative and enthralling presentation. His links and comments are far better than the previous era tapes, mainly because he seems to actually want to make his narration as clear and interesting as possible to the viewer - unlike either McCoy or Pertwee's blunt narration.

The episodes are thoroughly enjoyable, with the best on the tape being Escape Switch (The Daleks' Master Plan Part Ten). Peter Butterworth as the Meddling Monk gives a fine and amusing performance, and it is his presence which in my eyes adds that something extra over the other Master Plan episode on the tape; Counterplot.

Along with these fine examples of William Hartnell's era is the only remaining episode of the classic The Evil of the Daleks. Although perhaps not the best episode of the story, part two does leave you wishing that more of the story existed. The best part of this episode is definitely the climatic conversation between two Daleks, which left me paralysed with laughter for at least a minute.

As if this were not enough, the tape has more to offer. Of note are the brilliant trailers for The Dalek Invasion of Earth with the hammy Sixties BBC voiceover ('Watch Doc-tor... Who...!'), and the recently rediscovered clips from The Nightmare Begins with the brilliant 'I Want to spend my Christmas with a Dalek' dubbed on to the silent footage.

Then there are clips of Katarina's death scene, the Dalek battle cry from The Power of the Daleks, and the famous Dalek blooper from The Five Doctors with accompanying explanation by Roy Skelton.

Intermingled with all of this are interviews with Raymond Cusick - who shows his greatest pay-off for designing the Daleks: his honorary badge from Blue Peter; John Scott Martin - who seems too overly proud of being known as the 'number one Dalek'; the aforementioned Roy Skelton (he even talks like Zippy in real life!), plus a horrid interview with Terry Nation neatly lifted from a 1981 British news feature on the big American conventions of that time. This is the only let-down of the tape as the man has to be the biggest liar in the show's history - 'I should have given them more manipulative arms' indeed, and that part when he bursts out 'And if the rocks talk, then no-one can deny it...' makes me cringe every time!

However this is one minor fault on an otherwise superb video tape. So when it arrives in New Zealand, buy it. You definitely will not regret it.

This item appeared in TSV 31 (November 1992).