Everything you ever wanted to know about The Daleks (aka The Mutants) but were afraid to ask

Now the forum is attracting a few more people, time to add the second Doctor Who story ever to the discussion mix.

Is this where Doctor Who started proper? Was Verity Lambert right to ignore Sydney Newman’s ‘no Bug Eyed Monsters’ directive?

And of course we now have a totally new version of this story to enjoy - in COLOUR with a brand new music score and edited to a blockbuster movie length. Opinions on that are, shall we say, dividied.

As with An Unearthly Child, I took a bit of a deep dive into everything associated with this story online - which is easier said than done because typing ‘The Daleks’ into a search engine doesn’t just lead you to stuff about their first story and, indeed, probably leads to a lot of other stories instead!

So, do we like The Daleks?

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I still haven’t watched the original but I enjoyed the colorization quite a bit! I find that most 6 parters drag a lot so I appreciate the edit.

I didn’t mind it - although it got crazy from the lift shaft bit onwards.

I will say that the original spends more time developing the Thals into proper characters and there is some brilliant stuff with Ganatus and Antodus which deserves people’s time.

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I’m not sure where I stand on The Daleks. For introducing the Daleks and Thalls, it does a good job. I’ll admit it is at least an episode too long. The novel is one the handful of Target Novelizations I’ve read and it does well at streamlining the story. There are definitely some good moments, even if that history of Skaro presented here doesn’t meld well with later stories.

I think it’s a shame the ‘colourised’ version cut out a lot of the Thal character work - the Ganatus / Antodus stuff in the trekking through the mountains episodes is really compelling.

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I still need to watch the colorized version, I struggle to be all that interested though, I tend to be of the opinion that color doesn’t add much to the Black and White stories

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Yes, I like The Daleks. Like many people of a similar age, my first experience of it was via Whitaker’s novelisation. The hard back with a pink cover turned up in our village library, which I guess must have been one of the printings in the sixties, so it was called Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks. Eventually I saw a bootleg VHS of the story some time in the late eighties, before the official VHS came out. Despite the differences between it and the book, I still loved The Daleks. I found it compelling viewing and I bought each release up to The Beginning box set. I read The Early Years at a similar time, which included a description of the recording of The Dead Planet, which gave me a greater appreciation of the way it was put together. It was just so exciting to experience the very first appearance of the Daleks!

The story is far from perfect. It’s a bit too long and all the stuff in the caves is a bit dull. The movie version is better paced, although it lacks some of the jeopardy of its TV counterpart.

The colourisation is fine. It’s obviously the product of numerous compromises, which is a shame, but I accept that they had to be made. I know that it had to be edited down to make it a manageable colouring job, but I feel that there is a clash between the tighter, more modern editing and the acting and direction of the original. The colouring itself is impressive, but one of the downsides of it being so good is that you stop appreciating it and the other limitations of the production become a bit more obvious. It’s just as the novelty of the colour wears off that the editing compromises become more obvious. The over reliance on flashbacks becomes irritating. They’re included because there was no other footage to cut away to that would cover some of the in vision edits. They also reduce the amount of colourisation needed. So they were necessary, but are somewhat irritating to watch. I’m also not convinced by the addition of more Dalek voices, giving us “Exterminate” well before its time, but I guess these were designed to help sell the edit in places. It was never going to be perfect and I think they’ve done as good a job as they could have done to fulfil the brief in the available time.

In an ideal world, I’d have liked to see the full episodes colourised with intelligent upscaling. The technology and expertise isn’t there to manage this, yet, but it might be in future. That said, I don’t suppose it would be much more popular.

I’m broadly pro colourising, especially if the originals are retained, but I don’t think that this was the ideal story to work with. I know why it was chosen, but I think one of the later stories with better picture quality might have given a more pleasing result.

Anyway, the black and white episodes are all on iPlayer, so this augmented release is a bonus, whether we like it or not, it doesn’t detract from the originals.

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You’ve hit the nail on the head where the colourisation is concerned. I really felt it was working fine up until the lift shaft and then it all went crazy! I thought it was just that this is where the manic editing started but, you’re right, this is also where my eyes had become accustomed to the colourisation and so I started noticing other aspects that maybe weren’t working as well.

The Daleks isn’t a story I’d ever rank highly but it is one I do tend to enjoy when I watch it.

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It is about the same point where I noticed issues. I think the sequence around the lift shaft has ended up a little clumsily edited. Clearly it needed to be shortened to meet the brief, but it must have been difficult to work out where to place the edits while keeping that bit of the story making sense. It may be that someone coming to it without prior knowledge of the story might not find it confusing, but to me that sequence seemed all over the place.

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