When the first “Dr. Who” episode aired in 1963, people were immediately hooked. For the uninitiated, the show follows the adventures of a being called the Doctor, who is actually an alien from a planet called Gallifrey. He travels through time and space in his TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), most often with a human companion or two.
He’s an immortal being, and has caused his enemies a lot of trouble in the last 900 years or so. And no enemy is more upset about this than the Daleks.
Dalekmania is a documentary that explores the continuing allure of both the Doctor and the Daleks, mostly through a discussion of their appearances in the two 1960s films starring Peter Cushing.
A little more info
I’ve only gotten into “Doctor Who” in the last year or so, but like everyone else I know who watches it, I’m totally in love. There’s an amazing blend of humor and history and darkness and creativity and fun and sadness.
Even before its 2005 revival and jump across the pond and into American pop culture, “Dr. Who” and his foes the Daleks found their way into British life. In fact, Dr. Who and the Daleks were so popular that in the mid-1960s two films, “Dr. Who and the Daleks” and “Daleks — Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.,” were created specifically to give the masses more of what they wanted.
Dalekmania includes interviews with the original cast members of both films, as well as a bit of insight into what people think makes the Daleks such a continually popular enemy.
Less than satisfying
While I enjoyed learning a bit more about the 1960s films, Dalekmania seemed to focus more on summaries of those films than the Daleks themselves.
The cast interviews and clips were interesting (holy terrible special effects, Batman!), but I wanted to know more about the idea of the Dalek, and hear about what makes them so special in the world of “Dr. Who.”
I got a few tantalizing tidbits, the first from Barrie Ingham (one of the stars of the films).
“…this feeling, particularly among kids at that time, that…not to be too beastly to the Daleks, because they kind of can’t help it. They’re kind of like kids, and I remember being a kid, and feeling that everyone was bigger than me and they weren’t going to push me around, and I felt like a Dalek. Now if I’d had armor around me as a kid, and known that I could zap people as well, I would have felt great, and that was the great thing about them to kids.”
The second was from Terry Nation, who created the Daleks for the original television series.
“I had some idea there had to be a pecking order, that the red ones with the black dots would be warriors, the next ones would be the intellectuals, the silver and blue would be something else. And I figured I was trying to make them into a full-grown culture with levels.”
This is the kind of info my little theatre major heart loves, and there wasn’t enough of it. But it was still nice to get a peek into a different side of one of my favorite television shows.
I watched Dalekmania as part of Non-fiction November. Click the image to see posts from this and previous years!