Doctor Who: Destiny of the Daleks DVD review

Proof that, even in the past, the Daleks were no guarantee of a good Doctor Who adventure. Good thing the DVD's strong, then...

The tepid Destiny of the Daleks

There’s no getting away from it: in the back catalogue of classic Doctor Who stories, Destiny of the Daleks proves to be one of the weakest adventures featuring the Doctor’s most infamous foes. The lack of budget, the surprising lack of amibtion and the lazy treading out of the Daleks mean the main feature is one really for the completist.

With Tom Baker in the title role, the adventure kicks off with Romana regenerating, before the Tardis lands them on Skaro. Here, the Daleks are locked in a stalemate of a battle with the Movellans. The Movellans look hilarious, with all the threat and menace of an army of Shredded Wheat. It’s like the Daleks are fighting Boney M.

And this is a real pity, given that Tom Baker had previously featured in perhaps the finest Dalek adventure ever, Genesis of the Daleks. Yet the momentum of that latter serial is all but gone here. It’s a pity, as the idea of two forces at constant war, each anticipating each other’s move, should be the basis for something better. At least Baker is on top form here, although he really needs to be to carry the story through.

Destiny of the Daleks isn’t perhaps the disaster that some Who fans would have you believe, but it’s an adventure with problems, that’s for certain.

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The DVD itself isn’t one of the more elaborate Doctor Who special editions but there’re nonetheless some interesting special features. Chief among them is the nigh-on half hour documentary, Terror Nation. This, as the title suggests, is a look at Dalek creator Terry Nation, and features contributions from the likes of Terrance Dicks, as well as audio interview snippets from an interview recorded before Nation’s death.

It’s a fascinating documentary. In it, the tale is recalled as to how it took Tony Hancock to try and persuade Nation to take the job in the first place. Nation, who was writing for Hancock at the time, initially turned the job down. Yet a huge row with Tony Hancock put Nation out of work, and a forced change of heart started the process that led to the creation of the Daleks.

The documentary then takes in Nation’s influences when designing his monsters, along with how subsequent adventures took shape (influenced in no small form by the fact that Nation realised he owned the rights to his creation). It’s a warm and interesting extra, and the highlight of the disc.

There also an Info Text feature. This pops up on-screen text factoids at the bottom of the screen, and are worth reading through. There are some interesting titbits in here, even if you do need to be a bit of a speed reader. You also have the option, should you choose, to see the episodes with fresh CGI effects bedded in. These are entirely optional, but interesting nonetheless.

The commentary track is okay; this time there’s no Doctor on board, but Lalla Ward, Ken Grieve and David Gooderson prove to be amenial enough hosts. It’s hardly vital, but no without merit.

A nine minute segment on directing Doctor Who features Ken Grieve then talks about the challenges of putting together the progamme with late 1970s technology. It’s an interesting aside, and Grieve is good company. There are also some terrific archive adverts with the Doctor and Romana promoting Prime Computers – “Step into the 80s” they invite you. It’s a smashing piece of archive footage.

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The rest of the disc is then filled out with continuity announcements and trailers, along with a photo gallery. There’s also a small preview segment for future classic Doctor Who releases (Silurians, Sea Devils and Warriors of the Deep).

In short, a disc where the extras just about push the disc over the ‘worth buying’ line. Don’t buy it before you’ve got yourself Genesis of the Daleks, though….


2 out of 5
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2 out of 5