Me: I’m sorry, but I need you to close your eyes during this title sequence.
Me: Because the title of this story is a massive spoiler.
Sue: Wait, don’t tell me… Is it The Return of the Master?
Sue: Is it The Return of the Cybermen?
Sue: The Return of the Daleks?
Me: Stop it!
Sue: It had better not be The Return of the Toymaker.
Me: Just close your eyes.
Sue: Okay… Can I look now?
Me: Hang on… Wait… Okay, you can open them now.
Sue: This had better be worth it, Neil.
The story begins when Sir Reginald Styles, organiser of the Second World Peace Conference, narrowly survives an assassination attempt by a guerrilla who vanishes into thin air. UNIT are called in to investigate.
Sue: Do UNIT change their base of operations every week? Do they ever appear in the same location twice?
The Doctor is playing with his faulty dematerialisation circuit.
Sue: He still can’t get his skateboard working properly. And my, doesn’t Jo look pretty today. That’s a very good look for Jo.
The Doctor and Jo are visited by projections of their future selves.
Sue: You know, I’m sure they’ve done this gag before.
Meanwhile the guerrilla who failed to kill Styles is desperately trying to run away from something.
Sue: He looks like Tom Petty.
Suddenly, two hulking, ape-like Ogrons appear from nowhere and shoot him dead.
Sue: Are they Klingons? Is it called Doctor Who and the Klingons?
The Ogrons report to their Controller.
Sue: This guy looks like David Cameron.
And then this happens:
Sue: He’s having a laugh! Did he think he was still in rehearsals? Why didn’t the director demand a re-take? Was he sacked? Has anyone ever tracked him down and interviewed him for a DVD extra? I think he should explain himself.
Sue: He’s having a laugh! Did he think he was still in rehearsals? Why didn’t the director demand another take? Was he sacked? Has anyone ever tracked him down and interviewed him for a DVD extra? I think he should explain himself.
And then, thanks to me, Sue enjoys a nice surprise.
Sue: Ooh! It’s a Dalek! Right, okay, I understand now. I bet the kids were made up when they saw that. Brilliant.
The Doctor takes the place of Sir Reginald, and as he waits for the guerrillas to return, he passes the time eating cheese and drinking wine.
Sue: He really is a pompous twat, isn’t he?
Jo wants to feed Benton some strong cheese, but Yates wants the Sergeant to check on the UNIT patrols instead.
Sue: How is Yates superior to Benton in rank, exactly? How is that even possible?
The episode concludes with three – count ’em – Daleks announcing to the world that they’re back and ready to kick ass.
Sue: It’s nice to see the Daleks again. It’s not really Doctor Who without them.
Me: Do you notice anything different about them?
Sue: They’re in colour?
Me: Well, yes, obviously. Anything else?
Sue: They sound different?
Me: I know! Isn’t it terrible?
Sue: I like the new voices. I can actually understand them.
Sue: What the hell? Is there something wrong with our DVD?
She’s referring to the opening recap, which also includes the music sting from last week’s cliffhanger. It’s very jarring and Sue’s convinced that the director, Paul Bernard, couldn’t give a shit. He hasn’t thought through the doors in this futuristic city, for a start.
Sue: You wouldn’t catch me standing under a door like that, it could snap back and slap you in the face.
Meanwhile the Brigadier, surrounded by a pool of clattering typists, is on the phone to the Ministry.
Sue: It’s like Dickie Davies on World of Sport… The Brig is always on the phone, isn’t he? He’s always juggling some balls in the air.
Me: Maybe that’s how he keeps his affair with Doris a secret.
Time-travelling guerrillas capture the Doctor and Jo, but when she complains about this development, the Doctor gives her a good dressing down.
Sue: Does Jon Pertwee ever mellow out, like William Hartnell did? Jo’s saved the Doctor’s life several times now, and yet he still talks to her like she’s shit on his shoe. And at the same time he wants her to treat the people who have tied her up with compassion and respect! It’s totally inconsistent.
It suddenly becomes apparent that time-travel assassination paradoxes are going to play a big part in Day of the Daleks.
Sue: It’s The Terminator. Years before The Terminator, mind. I’m impressed. Seriously, I am.
Yes, The Outer Limits did something vaguely similar even earlier than Doctor Who (badly, I might add), but I can’t be arsed to get into that now. Sue’s impressed, let’s just leave it at that.
Sue: It’s impossible not to love Jo, but she isn’t written very well. She’s written with mild contempt, actually. Annette (she means Anat) is a strong female character, which proves that it can be done, so why is Jo written so badly?
At least she likes the Ogrons.
Sue: They’re proper scary. They remind me of the Orcs from the Lord of the Rings films.
Me: Well, Peter Jackson is a massive Doctor Who fan…
Sue: Yeah, I bet when they were making Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson put this story in his DVD player and said, “I want the Orcs to look exactly like that!” I bet that’s exactly how it happened.
I can’t tell if she’s being sarcastic or not. Anyway, Sue is fascinated by the Controller’s make-up.
Sue: He looks plastic. He’s not an Auton, is he? Or is that silver paint on his face? It’s very New Romantic, whatever it is.
The Controller asks Jo for the date where she comes from, but – and this is crucial – he doesn’t ask her for the year.
Me: Damn it.
Sue: What’s wrong?
I pause the DVD and explain the basics of the UNIT dating controversy to Sue. She can’t be arsed, frankly, although she does point out that BBC3 doesn’t come along for several decades yet, so either the Pertwee era is set in the 2000s or “It’s probably just 1972?. So that’s another controversy cleared up by Sue.
Sue: These Daleks sound okay to me. Obviously they sound better nowadays when Briggsy (sic) does them, but I don’t have a problem with them. As long as I can understand them, I’m happy.
The Doctor picks up a gun.
Sue: You don’t see that every day… Bloody hell! He just killed an Orc! And he didn’t show any remorse! What’s he doing?
She’s so convinced that the Doctor couldn’t possibly have shot an Ogron in cold blood like that, she makes me rewind the DVD.
Sue: Oh dear. That can’t be right…
The episode climaxes as the Doctor runs into the Daleks.
Sue: I’m surprised he didn’t start shooting at them.
In a moment of madness, I convinced myself that switching to the Special Edition of this story mid-stream, without telling Sue first, would be a good idea. Mainly because I wanted to see how long it would take her to realise that she was watching Day of the Daleks with 21st century special effects…
Sue: The Brig should be a lot stricter with the Doctor. He lets the Doctor walk all over him. He needs to toughen up a bit. Hang on a minute, that wasn’t like that before, was it? Eh? What?
The next thing that throws her are the Dalek voices, which are now provided by “Briggsy”.
Sue: Have they changed the Dalek voices? They sound different all of a sudden. Did they change the settings between episodes? Or are there two different timelines with two sets of Daleks? I’m really confused now…
The Daleks practically wet themselves when they realise who they’re up against.
Sue: I love how the Daleks freak out whenever they hear the Doctor’s name. They do that in the new series as well.
And then we’re treated to a glorious CGI landscape.
Sue: That’s nice. There are some lovely visual touches in this story.
Seriously, I am not making this up. I only wish I were.
Sue: You know, these Daleks sound great. I don’t know why people don’t like the Dalek voices in this story.
When the Controller begins talking to a female technician, Sue has an issue with the actress’ eye-line.
Sue: Is that woman blind? Did she just hand him something written in Braille? It might be a dictatorship but at least they’ve got an equal opportunities policy in the admin depart. Oh, maybe not… She’s looking straight at him, now. Well, that was very odd.
But not as odd as…
Sue: It’s Rob Shearman!
She’s pointing at the Senior Guard, who a) Deserves a much better credit, and b) Looks a bit like Rob Shearman if you squint really hard and watch this episode in the wrong aspect ratio.
Sue: It’s difficult to argue with someone while you’re lying on the floor, but Jon Pertwee is doing a pretty good job of it here. And when the bad guy says his family has ruled this sector for three generations, it means he’s definitely related to David Cameron.
As the Controller defends the status quo, the Doctor becomes more and more angry.
Sue: That’s the best the Doctor’s been in ages. That’s how the Doctor should act all the time.
The Doctor and Jo escape from an Ogron guard by smashing a bottle of wine over its head. The Doctor makes a joke about the wine’s vintage.
Sue: Leave the James Bond stuff to James Bond, thanks. That’s exactly how the Doctor shouldn’t behave.
Jo and the Doctor escape on a trike.
Sue: Is there anything this Doctor won’t drive?
A trike that isn’t exactly turbo-charged.
Sue: James Bond never would have lowered himself to this level. He’d have walked instead.
And then Sue notices something odd about the Ogron’s weapons.
Sue: There are green rays coming out of their guns, now. They didn’t have that before. This looks like Star Wars.
Sue: Hang on a minute!
Yes, it took her all of 19 minutes to figure it out. I’m not making this up.
Sue: I thought it looked too good.
Me: I can’t believe you didn’t work it out sooner.
Sue: People will think I’m really thick, now. I knew something was up, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Thanks for that, Neil.
As the Doctor is subjected to the Dalek’s mind analysis machine, his past incarnations flash before his eyes.
Me: Does it give you a thrill to see all the old Doctors like this?
Sue: No, not even remotely. Sorry.
Sue: Can we watch the Special Edition version, please?
Me: The blog’s readers will hit the roof.
Sue: Pretty please?
Me: Okay, but only if I can show you the original climax as well.
Sue: Two climaxes in one night. You really know how to spoil a girl.
Sue wants to know more about the Special Edition.
Sue: So what else do they change? Is it just the effects?
Me: Well, they take out, “No complications”, for a start.
Sue: You can’t blame them for that. I would have done the same thing. And at least you can watch the original version if you feel the need, Neil. It’s not as if the BBC have done a George Lucas on you or anything.
Sue adores Aubrey Woods.
Sue: He’s very good. It’s a subtle and believable performance. The Master would have been chewing the scenery by now.
When Jo suddenly jumps to her feet, Sue gets an eye-full.
Sue: Jo is wearing red knickers this week.
Me: Damn it. I missed that.
Sue: Yeah, of course you did, Neil.
The Brigadier’s in a bit of a flap over the amount of security required for the peace conference at Auderly House.
Sue: The Brig is having a nightmare this week.
Me: He’s appearing in his own personal sitcom. An unwanted vicar will drop in on him any moment now.
The guerrillas want the Doctor to travel back in time and kill Sir Reginald, but the Doctor doesn’t want anything to do with cold-blooded murder.
Sue: You just killed an Orc! You didn’t have a problem with that!
The Doctor describes Styles as, “Vain to the point of arrogance, a trifle obstinate, perhaps, but basically a good man.”
Sue: Pot. Kettle. Black.
And then the Doctor tells the guerrillas that the future – the future they are so desperately trying to avoid – was created by their own, frankly stupid, actions.
Sue: Oooh. That’s clever. I didn’t see that coming. And Jon Pertwee is really going for it this week. This is very good. And it has nothing to do with the new special effects, either.
The Controller could stop the Doctor and Jo before they escape back to their own time, but he decides to let them go instead.
Sue: I knew he’d come good in the end. He can’t be related to David Cameron, after all. Oh no! Rob Shearman knows!
The Senior Guard grasses the Controller up to the Daleks. It’s as if he knows that a vacancy will open up as soon as his boss is exterminated.
Sue: Rob Shearman’s been promoted, and he’s chuffed to bits!
Meanwhile the media are out in force at Auderly House.
Sue: I like it when the programme uses the media to tell the story. They should do this every week. It feels really modern.
The Doctor tries to evacuate the building, but Styles won’t listen to reason.
Sue: Is the Doctor going to make sure that the Dalek timeline doesn’t happen, yes?
Sue: I thought the Time Lords exiled the Doctor to Earth so he wouldn’t interfere with stuff like this? It’s not really working, is it?
And then we enjoy the spectacle of UNIT battling Daleks and Ogrons. It really doesn’t get any better than this.
Sue: This is very exciting. Sure, the new effects definitely help, but the plot has an urgency to it. It’s a great way to start a new season.
The Daleks are blown up and the timeline returns to normal (we think).
Sue: I enjoyed that one a lot. It had a great plot, a great script, some really nice performances and an excellent twist. The direction was all over the place – excellent one minute and appalling the next – but it had plenty of pace, and there were some outstanding moments. Plus it was only four episodes, which is the ideal length for a Doctor Who story. What’s not to like?
Me: We have to watch the original version now.
Sue: Do we have to? I think I can imagine what it looked like, thanks.
But a deal’s a deal…
Sue: (Irritated) There aren’t enough Daleks. There. What else do you want me to say? It looks crap. Oh dear, that Dalek can’t get through that door. Look, just switch it off, Neil. I’ve seen enough.
Me: Do you want to change your score?
Sue: Not really. I’m much more interested in the script and the characters. And it was a bloody good story.