Hello everyone, the Historian here, with a TARDIS Project Special Post! To celebrate reaching the end of Season Two, we’ve decided to watch the first Aaru film, which was released in late summer of 1965, right around the point where we are in the Project. I’m pretty sure that, although some of us had heard of this (in)famous Peter Cushing classic, none of us (“us” being myself, Ketina, Ronelyn, Schmallturm, Spoo, MiniSpoo and Photobug) had actually seen it. So, not knowing quite what to expect, we settled down in front of the TV to watch…
Original release date: 23 August 1965. For a summary, please see the movie’s wikipedia page. It’s very close to the original “Daleks” serial, but there are some significant changes (“Dr. Who” as an Earthman who invented “Tardis,” Susan as a small child, Barbara as his other granddaughter, Ian as…Dick Van Dyke….etc. etc.).
And now I turn things over to Ketina, for her transcript, with some extras…
S: That was fun. It was it’s own self contained little fun. Seeing Peter Cushing get his “coot” on was lots of fun. I’m going to be ear wormed with that theme.
H: First of all, I think that was better than I was expecting it to me.
S & Sc: Yeah.
P: (humming the theme to the movie) Dadada dada da
MS: Ba dada da da da
P: Bah bah!
H: To my mind, as far as the original, the flaws that I see are the glam Thals. They were kind of creepy, with the greenish skin and eye makeup.
Sc: I thought it was cool
H: I liked Ray Cusick’s original design for the city better than this design. Everything was foil.
Sc: I loved the control room.
S: The walk and talk of the Daleks was silly. It was wonderful!
H: Agreed about the control room. But the outside of the city and the corridors weren’t as good.
[some agreement from several people]
H: And when they shoved the control panel down the elevator it made so much more sense than pushing the statue in the original. As we said at the time, what was art doing in the Dalek city? So much of the dialog was very close to the original script.
S: They just tightened it up really well. The only thing that slowed the plot down was the Dalek speeches.
H: So, Ian goes from intelligent man of action to…
S: Dick Van Dyke. [H: To explain, Ian winds up kind of bumbling his way clumsily through the film, much like DVD did in his tv series.]
H: He only did 2 cool things at the end of the movie. I’m not sure if Ian being the comic relief was a good idea. They took all of his cool stuff from before and gave it to others, and he was just a big dumb guy.
S: Why was Barbara even there? She didn’t do anything?
R: Because if Susan was the love interest it would have been creepy. And also Barbara had to be there to hold all the hair.
H: Yes, they really captured Jacqueline Hill’s hair very well.
S: And they should have let it go.
Sc: I kinda liked having the little Susan instead of the teenage Susan. So when she does something stupid it makes more sense as something a little girl would do, and when she does something smart she’s really the Doctor’s grandaughter.
H: And I it made the running through the forest scene much more terrifying. In the original she was disoriented because of the radiation, but here’s she’s terrified because she’s such a young girl.
Sc: Well, I liked it.
H: Yeah, I thought it was great!
Sc: What surprised me was that the Doctor’s outfit was all sorts of colors and I expected it more muted.
H: We saw his costume in color in the Marco Polo shots, and it wasn’t quite as bright as this version.
R: I really enjoyed Peter Cushing’s William Hartnell impression. He captured the lilt well.
S: But he slide more in and out of it towards the end. When he was preaching the virtues of violence to peace loving Thals he came across as sane and adult…
Sc: As opposed to deranged old coot.
H: Which is again because the scene was originally written for Ian. The dialog was like the original scene, except who said what.
S: What did you think, MiniSpoo?
MS: I thinked that the really awesome part was where the Thal fell down into the pit and then it turned out that he was okay. And the part that I didn’t like was where that one guy punched the other guy when they started in the cave.
H: Did you like the Daleks in color?
H: Did you think the Daleks were really scary in the film?
P: Was that because you’d already seen the Daleks?
S: I thought the production was inconsistent. There were many times where the audio and dialog were off. One time Barbara’s lips didn’t even move.
K: Background sounds would change, depending on who was speaking. But the soundtrack…
H: It was awesome! I may need to track down the CD.
R: It was fun to watch, but it was also fun to make fun of.
H: Their eyebrows were even better than the Space Museum kids.
Sc: And I think having Susan has a kid made the Daleks much more frightening.
S: It was fun. A fun diversion.
H: This was our special event. Next week we go back to our regular schedule.
And here are some quotes from the peanut gallery as we were watching the episode that I [Ketina] took down:
[As the opening credits start and we see "as Barbara's" credit]
K: Barbarella, maybe.
[As buckets of opening credits go by]
MS: Is the movie already over?
H: They used to show most of the credits in older movies before the movie would start.
S: Back before they had buckets and buckets of credits in movies.
[Scene when the show Susan reading a book]
K: That book is HUGE!
S: Or she’s just really small.
[We pan by Barbara as Ian knocks and enters the room]
H: Well, they’ve got Barbara’s hair right.
K: And that’s Ian’s knock. But that’s not Ian’s prat fall!
[The Tardis arrives on the planet and the crew step out]
P: Gosh, we might have been in space, not on a planet at all!
R: Don’t go to far yet, Susan. We don’t know how big the sound stage is yet!
[Ian crashes into dead creature in forest]
K: Ah, Ian and his soft centers just never seems to end! It’s like anti-Ian.
S: It’s like Dick Van Dyke.
[Seeing the eye stalks in the Dalek city]
S: Echuta! (reference to eye stalk creature from Return of the Jedi)
[Sound effects from Dalek city, as we get our first views of the Daleks in their city]
S: Pacman’s eaten the power pill! He can get the ghosts now!
MS: Finally, now we see Daleks in color!
K: I like the chrome wall art!
S: That set is huge!
Sc: Genuine Fort Knox!
[As the first Thal is revealed]
H: It’s David Bowie!
[Back to Dalek city]
K: Ooo! Real lava lamps!
[Susan gestures with funky Dalek pen, trying to indicate to Ian that they can use to it break the camera in the jail cell]
S: No thank you, Susan. I’m not that lonely.
[First mention of extermination]
MS: Exterminate! Exterminate!
[General laugher from most of us as the Dalek "walk and talk" discussing their extermination plans]
H: It’s like Aaron Sorkin wrote this!
[Seeing the Dalek frog leg creep out from end the Thal cloak]
S: “Hello ma baby, hello ma darlin!”
[General laughter from everyone as the elevator controls burst out into flames after the slightest hit.]
R: Science goes boom!
[As the Thals sneak into the city]
S: Trick or treat!
H: We’re the Spiders from Mars.
Sc: Where’s the rave?
[Seeing the piles of food]
P: Oh look! Legos!
[Long pan over the action]
S: We spent a lot on these sets. So let’s get a long, good shot of it!
[Red Dalek glides into the room]
R: It’s a fire engine Dalek!
P: It’s even got the lights on top!
[As lone Thal creeps into the room]
[As the Thals run away]
S: And 300 Thal’s plan to toilet paper a petrified jungle for Halloween.
H: Wow, this is the worst love-in ever!
[TARDIS trying to take off and fails]
S: Worst Emerson Lake and Palmer moog solo ever!
[As the Daleks discover the radiation drugs aren't working for them]
S: Now, try that drug again, only put some Pink Floyd on this time!
[As the TARDIS crew convinces the Thal's to attack the city]
H: You know what’s coming soon?
K: Nooo!! Not “The Ordeal”!
[Cut to Dalek's planning their strategy]
K: These must be the gooviest Daleks ever!
[Ian, Barbara, and Thal's tromp through the swamp]
P: Yoda’s hut is the other way. Yoda. You seek Yoda!
R: There are great big molecule models in the swamp!
S: And that’s a great big moon!
H: It certainly is.
[As Thall disappears into the swamp, and the other comments "What happened to Elian?"]
H: He went back to Cuba, as I recall.
[As the group reaches a cliff. "We'll have to climb"]
K: No! Not the climb! That brings us that much closer to… “The Ordeal”!
[Everyone agrees that the background is a very nice Matte painting]
[As the group climbs up the cliff]
P: Why aren’t they using the rope?
H: Throw down the rope!
P: I can’t, my hair’s too heavy!
H: They really did capture Jacqueline Hill’s hair, didn’t they?
S: Maybe they should set it free?
R: Let’s just let the Americans go to the moon? This climbing is much too difficult.
[The Doctor comes up with a plan to use mirrors]
S: Thank god you’re such a vain people.
P: We need them to put on all of our eye makeup!
[And the pit approaches]
K & Sc: No!! “The Ordeal”!
[After an "agonizing" 4 minutes of jumping over the cliff, followed by the surprise rescue of the Thal that fell]
K: That was at least 18 minutes shorter than I remember.
[Cut to the Thals as they use the mirrors to shine light on the Dalek city]
R: Return to the Valley of the Thals.
Sc: It’s the first night of Burning Man.
S: What can we do to rescue the Doctor? Interpretive Dance!
[As the Daleks computer is destroyed, and all the Daleks stop moving]
S: (Charlton Heston voice) You did it! You really did it! God damn you Thal! God damn you Thal to hell!
[Seeing the Thals hold up their torches as the TARDIS crew gets ready to say their goodbyes]
R: I’m afraid we’ve decided you’re a witch.
S, Sc, and P: And you’ve been voted off the island!
S: We were a peaceful people, and now you’ve taught us how to kill. Thank you very much!
And that does it for this TARDIS Project Special Post! We hope you enjoyed it–we certainly did. Next week, we jump to the autumn of 1965 and the beginning of Doctor Who’s third season, entering what Ketina…lovingly refers to as “reconstruction hell.” Well, I’m excited! Until then, I remain
NEXT WEEK: “FOUR HUNDRED DAWNS”