The history of the Daleks on the big screen!
Packaged as part of Anchor Bay's Dr. Who Collection, this documentary attempts to shed some light on the enduring popularity of Dr. Who, the Daleks, and the two Dalek movies from the 1960s.
Facts of the Case
Dalekmania starts from the beginning, at least as far as the Dalek movies are concerned, and runs through their history along the way. In the process we get a lot of interview time with actors like Roberta Tovey, who played Dr. Who's granddaughter in the two films, and Jill Curzon, who played his niece in the second picture. We also treated to appearances by Barrie Ingraham and Yvonne Antrobus who played the leaders of the Thals in the first movie. All of these actors give interesting personal accounts of the filming of these movies, including such amusing anecdotes as the macho tough guys brought in to play the male Thals and their shock when they learned that they would have to shave their chests and arms to get into character. We learn that the people operating the robotic Daleks were apparently not treated very well, as none of the other actors can recall seeing someone get out of a Dalek, nor ever actually meeting a Dalek operator. They talk a lot about the realism of the sets, how the line between fantasy and reality was slightly blurred for the actors inhabiting this wonderful world. They also pay special attention and share some warm memories of working with cast members who have since departed, notably the great Peter Cushing and the charming Roy Castle. Script writer and Dalek creator Terry Nation also makes an appearance through archival interview footage, and shares his thoughts on the differences between Dr. Who on television and the Dalek movies. He also explains the pride he took in his mechanical creations, and the lengths he went to over the years to protect their image.
At its height, Dalekmania appears to have seized a large portion of the British population. Dr. Who retains an enormous cult following to this day, and so it is only right that some prominent members of the fan base appear in this retrospective. These come in the form of Gary Gillat and Marcus Hearn, editors of fan magazines. They, perhaps even more than the cast, are able to explain the huge impact that the Daleks had on the public imagination over the years. There is also a lengthy segment that deals with Dr. Who and Dalek merchandising; it seems that the boys at Lucasfilm have nothing on these guys. Great attention is paid to how cheap a lot of these toys were in the 1960s, and how much collectors are willing to pay for them now.
Finally, we get to see how The Doctor's adventures captured audiences all over the world. Clips are provided of the trailers for the two movies in a number of foreign territories, including France, Italy, and the United States.
Overall the content in this documentary is interesting, but nothing earth-shaking. It is a lot of fun to see the actors and how they aged in the 30 years between the films and the documentary. The merchandising segment was probably the most interesting, at least for me; I had always thought this sort of thing was a uniquely American phenomenon. Dalekmania is very low key, and features a lot of pleasant reminiscing by those involved. You won't find any shocking revelations about behind-the-scenes scandal or conflict here; essentially, everyone sounds like they had great fun making the movies, and are proud of their work to this day.
The DVD of this material is adequate, but nothing impressive. Video quality is acceptable, but not what we are accustomed to. The whole affair has a certain direct-to-video look about it, just a bit soft throughout with some bad edge enhancement and shimmering at times. Colors are reasonably strong, although flesh tones do seem a bit washed out most of the time. The audio is fine for the task at hand, with voices of various interviewees easily understood.
There are no special features on this disc. That is not a bad thing in this case, since the whole disc is essentially one big special feature in the Dr. Who Collection box set.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Unless you are a diehard fan of the Dr. Who television series or films, this documentary is not going to be terribly interesting. Even if you are a big fan, it will still have moments where you might prefer to test the drying time of your favorite latex enamel instead.
If you are a big fan of Dr. Who, and if you are planning to purchase these movies anyway, the box set is clearly the way to go. Dalekmania probably won't knock your socks off, and has a pretty low repeatability factor (I know because I watched it twice), but it makes a very nice supplement to the DVD editions of the two Dalek big screen adventures. However, it is for die-hards only.
All charges are dropped, and the suspect is free to go.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
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