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4.3 out of 5 stars
Doctor Who - Death to the Daleks [DVD] [1974]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 April 2014
The Third Doctor knew how to show a girl the Universe. No back story about family ties and complications - straight into the TARDIS and one forced landing later it's a life and death struggle with the Daleks, hostile natives and an all-consuming City that drains power and life from the world around it. Welcome to your first alien world, Sarah Jane! Gloom, doom, power cuts, blackouts and social strife in a bleak wasteland. Just another lovely day on Exxilon.

`Death to the Daleks' sees Jon Pertwee's Doctor faced with the Daleks for the third and final time. It's a curious contrast with his first encounter in `Day of the Daleks'; there a strong script wasn't matched by the special effects and production possible at the time. The superb DVD special edition finally gave that story the glossy look and sound it deserved. In this battle on Exxilon, some plot elements are familiar from earlier Dalek adventures, but the original production quality of `Death to the Daleks' is excellent and remains impressive 40 years later.

Jon Pertwee still has immense charm and style as the Doctor, even though he was never supposed to like stories with the Daleks. Elizabeth Sladen has a superb `alien world' debut for her role as Sarah Jane, cleverly conveying the fear, awe and confusion that anyone would feel in that situation. Of course, Sarah's usual determination wins through to help outwit the Daleks, good work for a first trip off Earth! Sarah's discovery of the City of the Exxilons by night is a high point in the story; acting, music, model work and effects combine to create a genuine sense of wonder.

The stranded Earth expedition is brought to life by a very good group of guest actors but the basic concept and group dynamics are similar to the stranded Thals in `Planet of the Daleks'. The Exxilons themselves are wonderfully masked and costumed so the hostile tribe almost blend into the background of their bleak world. Best of all is Arnold Yarrow as `Bellal', leader of a friendly Exxilon faction that operates literally underground, a likeable character and very well acted. There's a great scene where Sarah adjusts to meeting her first friendly alien and overcomes her fear of the unknown. Bellal is also meeting *his* first friendly alien but is expecting it. Bellal later takes on the `companion' role as he and the Doctor work their way through the City's defences. Jon Pertwee is at his best in these scenes and he and Arnold Yarrow make their characters an enjoyable team to watch.

`Death to the Daleks' could have been just another Dalek story, but it is lifted by very good acting including Michael Wisher's Dalek voices and by being an extremely well made show. Terrifically atmospheric location filming merges almost seamlessly with the studio sets; in the first episode, night on Exxilon is a very unnerving place to be. Most of the models and effects work convincingly in an effects-dependent story, there are a few visible wires and one Dalek shows its rails but under Michael Briant's direction the action flows smoothly. Carey Blyton's saxophone music is an unusual style for `Doctor Who' and not to everyone's taste (especially when accompanying onscreen Daleks) but the unsettling music of the night scenes, the `City' theme and the sacrificial chant of the Exxilon priests are very memorable.

A flight with the Third Doctor is always worth the journey to your DVD player; watch it in the dark to soak up the atmosphere of Exxilon ... 4* story, raised to 5* by the excellent DVD extras.

Special Features:
The commentary is first-rate; entertaining and full of anecdotes from contributors who actually remember details and talk about the show (not true for every DVD). The production subtitles are the usual high standard, interesting and even amusing.
`Beneath the City of the Exxilons' is the best `making of' documentary I've seen yet, done as if you are watching a mission report hacked from the Dalek database, complete with CGI overlays and narrated (as a Dalek) by Nicholas Briggs.
`Studio Recording' is an enjoyable 20 minute insight into the studio recording process from one of the original tapes, showing the normally (hopefully!) unseen retakes and technical hitches that surrounded a show like `Doctor Who'.
`Doctor Who Stories - Dalek Men' is a short feature talking with the men who operated the `Supreme Beings'.
`On the Set of Doctor Who and the Daleks' - a feature about the 1966 movie.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 13 June 2012
I first saw this story on it's original broadcast and found it entertaining as a kid. I didn't see it again until the 1987 budget VHS video release and was just as entertaining. Now this polished DVD release is the icing on the cake for this Dr Who story and the very last complete debut DVD classic Dalek story. Personally I like this Dalek story throughout, because it's different to other Daleks stories (Daleks firing bullets!).

I won't go into the storyline as other reviewers have already done so. In this story you can see why Sarah Jane Smith became such an immense popular companion. Elizabeth Sladen's early portrayal of SJS really blossoms as evidently proved in the testament of time. A character called Bellal in this story plays well opposite Jon Pertwee especially in the last two parts. Just great. Visually I think the Daleks looks stunning in their silver and black, especially on location.

I viewed the entire DVD. And WOW! the extras are worth the cost of the DVD alone, let alone the story.
It's starts off with 'Beneath the city of the Exxilons' which is an enjoyable making of the story put together.
'Studio recordings' is just simply Brilliant! Clocking in around 23 minutes, this gives an insight of Jon Pertwee's Doctor on set. I thought this was well edited together with the behind the scenes with the actors and Daleks, with various TAKES on certain scenes. Really entertaining!

'On the set of Dr Who & The Daleks' is one of the highlights of this DVD. Though short around 13 mins, it crams a lot in. Being used to the film alone it was really a treat to see various snippets of behind the scenes footage from 'Dr Who & The Daleks'. Jason Flemying gives a warm account of his father's directing of the film. (Incidently I understand similar footage of behind the scenes/Gordon Flemying Interview for Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. from a mid-60s TV programme has recently been discovered.)

'Dr Who Stories- Dalek Men' is a rather an amusing interviews from a couple of Dalek operators namely the late John-Scott Martin and Nicholas Evans giving their accounts what it was like being inside the Daleks as well as other parts in Dr Who.

The photo gallery has a brilliant selection of photos, with classic pictures that you would have seen in Dr Who Magazines/Books and to my knowledge some unpublished photos that I have never seen before. Some of the Dalek pictures on location are stunning! All in all a terrific selection of photos.

Though not listed on the extras there's an EASTER EGG on this DVD. By clicking right on Photo Gallery in the special features. I won't reveal it. But it's great.

The coming soon trailer for the next DVD release is The Krotons. I thought this trailer was nicely compiled together.

This surely is a must by DVD.

10/10 for the story
10/10 for the extras
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Some Spoilers

An interesting if not unusual narrative where by the Daleks are stranded on the planet with their ship and all their weapons drained of power. They have to agree a truce with the humans, who find themselves in a similar situation, and work together to try to find a way to overcome their power loss and escape from the planet. Both groups are in the vicinity due to the need to find a rare mineral that can cure a plague that is threatening both species. Of course the Daleks have no intention of keeping the peace and co-operating for the collective good. As soon as they can they quickly try to gain the upper hand. Then throw into this mix a TARDIS and its occupants.

This adventure has well-acted human characters, great performances from Jon Pertwee and Elisabeth Sladen in the lead roles and interesting use of the Daleks. The natives, the Exxilons are decent background characters with an approachable Exxilon providing an affable alien who is a well-rounded character in `his' own right. There is plenty of rawkus - action and mayhem and the use of the ubiquitous quarry scenes for the external shots. The 'roots' of the city are an attention-grabbing idea and very well thought-out especially the use of the defensive cybernetic appendages - very reminiscent of the 1950s film War of the Worlds Manta Ray-shaped Martian war machines in especially it's `head design'. The incidental music (OST) was both interesting and gelled well with the celluloid - lending an extra layer of the uncanniness of the whole situation. However, some of the other SFX does not bear well with the passage of time (no pun intended).

On first viewing in my earliest childhood I found it spooky as hell - but thoroughly captivating. On seeing it again in 2014 it is still entertaining, however, I can safely sit on the sofa and not behind it as did all those years ago.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 September 2012
This 1973 serial has had its fair share of critics over the years; however I have just watched the DVD for the first time, after becoming a fan of the story via the excellent Target novelisation, with its terribly exciting image of an exploding Dalek on the front cover, (not nearly as impressive when seen on TV of course!)
To be honest I think it actually stands up very well, and in many ways is much more indicative of the direction in which the TV show was going to go in the 70s than how it had been previously. Running around a quarry made up to look like an alien planet, The Third Doctor and his (relatively) new companion Sarah Jane Smith encounter a band of Earth mineralogists, and are soon stunned by the arrival of a Dalek flying saucer, as well as being ambushed by a band of natives, seemingly mutated beings in tattered cloaks.
There is a twist in the tale, meaning that the Daleks and the humans (plus the native Exxilons) have to join forces for a while, in order to unearth what lies within the gleaming white citadel on the hill and save their own skins. The real strength of the story lies in its depiction of the labyrinthine citadel innards, and there are some great SFX considering when this was produced.
Admittedly, neither The Doctor, Sarah, nor the Daleks have much to do in this story, but it remains a tautly directed and well produced nugget from what was really the start of a golden era for Doctor Who, and is well worth a look, whether you're a fan or just curious.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 October 2013
I have always loved this tale, from the moment I watched its first broadcast to the numerous UK Gold repeats and domestic video releases. It's nice to see comments praising the story since there's a tendency in fandom to be somewhat negative towards it, as well its fellow season 11 stories, perplexingly so in my opinion. The story is wonderful and compelling from the start, from the eerie power-drained TARDIS to the first glimpses of the planet Exxilon. Also, the Exxilons are well-realized, the living city even more so, and it's good to see the Daleks using their intelligence as opposed to following Davros or merely killing people. As noted, there are some who dislike this story, which makes one wonder why they like the series in the first place since this is classic traditional Who in every sense. Just draw the curtains, sit back, turn it on and enjoy! There's no better way of recapturing your childhood.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 August 2013
Does this have 'too much plot'? Not for me at the age of ten it hadn't. I liked it; I still do.

Admittedly, much of the plot was used a year previously in Planet of the Daleks (and in The Daleks in 1963, come to that) but I find one needs to focus on the variations rather than the theme.

Again there's a mission to save the world, and again it's in trouble; there's a dead commander again, and a surly lieutenant, a divided local population, and a city with a secret - I don't know how Terry Nation got away with it, especially since he stole the original idea from HG Wells!

But the Exxilons are very well realised, and I suspect there's a nod to Flash Gordon's Claymen, that used to morph out of the walls of their caves; in the very spooky first episode it isn't at all easy to distinguish Exxilon from rock - until it moves and comes after you.

The location filming looks very good and, in the new remastered version, jars much less with the studio stuff than it did on VHS. It does look like there's lots of aliens, rather than the usual six (I think there's ten, but in the ambush it looks like 40 odd) the costumes aren't expensive after all, but they are terribly effective at disguising the human shape, and the over the head poncho look implies that tailoring on Exxilon is pretty basic, and the masks have just the right wall-eyed stupidity which, coupled with the mooing dialogue tells us pretty much all we need to know about them. They're nasty and thick.

Except, of course, for Bellal and his people; Arnold Yarrow does a lovely job, even if he could hardly see, being covered head to foot in rubber. There's a certain Galen from Planet of the Apes crossed with Dobby the House Elf quality to him.

The production is not without its foibles; if the city drains power from everything, how come the Daleks can keep going? The Dr says something about 'psychokinetic power' which really means 'whacking great hole in the story - keep going and thank goodness they'll only ever see this once'. If the soil of Exxilon is so barren, what do the locals eat? Where do they get the feathers to fletch their arrows, and the tallow for their candles? And why can't Daleks count prisoners?

The Daleks are looking well, very nicely liveried in black and silver, and the new guns are good (even if the one talking to Galloway in Ep 3 has still got the non-working standard job), and they do glide along their Elamec Track nicely (even if Pertwee did inadvertently cause a pile up) but - and I'm sure that this isn't intentional - Nation keeps sending them off to do stuff in pairs. and (I suppose it could be the way Michael Wisher is doing the voices) they do come across a bit like Mutt and Jeff. In the right light, possibly with a glass or two of wine, they are really quite funny.

Then there's the city; it does boil down, fairly quickly, to Mr Pertwee solving series of decreasingly interesting puzzles; 'Is this really necessary Doctor?' 'This is a test of patience, Bellal; we have to endure this blatant padding with our sanity intact'. Long dead Exxilons are clearly human skeletons wrapped in sacking, and I'm sure the first room contains a chess set.

The ultimate brain room is anything but a climax, but the Dead Exxilon held together by surface tension looks good, and the antibodies look good, and the model of the outside is really rather lovely, and it melts very well.

It may not be deep - even if there may be a ref to the power cuts of 1973 - but it's a good tale well told, particularly by Miss Sladen and little Mr Yarrow. The feature 'Dalek Men' is worth watching.

Again, the Doctor leaves unfinished business; the high priest on one side, General Bellal on the other - there's going to be trouble.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2003
This is a great Jon Pertwee adventure. The third Doctor at his most noble and gentleman like having verbal battles with the Daleks, trying to sort out a scientfic problem and ensure that the good guys get away with the life saving drugs they need and on top of all that a little humour thrown in. Elizabeth Sladen is great as our intrepid journalist Sarah Jane Smith thrown in the deep end by the Doctor as per usual going through all sorts of experiences and still battling on and replying to the Doctor's one liners. The majority of the Space Corps are forgettable the only exception being the single minded Galloway who will stop at nothing to get the Parrinium played by Duncan Lamont. Add to that the atmospheric surface Exillons' temple, the rather sweet Balal and the moment when 2 Daleks look at each other and lower their eyestalks after one of their number is destroyed by the City and you've got a sure winner. I've only got one question, why did they call it 'Death to the Daleks'?
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 25 August 2012
4 episodes with one of the best doctors .
picture is clean and sound is clear . 4:3 original aspect ratio .
owned this on vhs and have waited for what seems like an eternity for this on dvd. (the doctor has regenerated 3 times while i have waited alone in the cosmic void)
what this release has is one of the best Dr Who stories ever .
trapped on a planet that appears to feed on all power sources the doctor and sarah jane are forced to find what is draining the tardis of its power and while doing so meet up with an earth scout ship sent there to mine perinium , a mineral that can save the lives of millions caught in a deadly galactic plague.
the doctor and the earthers are having there problems with the locals when the Daleks show up .
what insues is science fiction at its best .
there is some reasonable action , some good acting and erie music to set the mood .
special effects are as you would expect from 1974 but don't really detract from the story .
all in all an excellent sci-fi story and i still remember the sound of the beacon as clearly as when it was first broadcast .... i was 7 years old
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2003
I have all the best period of Doctor Who on video, which was the 1970's. I bought Death to the Daleks back in 88. It is still one of my top Pertwee stories. This 1974 adventure has plenty of atmosphere. Dark landscapes. An amazing white city. The more classical soundtrack music is one of the best, and it helps the story. The story is strong. The exilions and the adventure into the city is very good. It's a definate must to own. I always enjoy watching it.
Finally, it's been released on DVD. Since early 1988 I've been collecting videos the DVD's of the classic and current series and Death to the Daleks is still in my top three. Very underated story. I cannot undrstand why these so called Dr Who experts who write damning review's of the story? The late Liz Sladen liked the story too. Looking forward to replacing my worn 1987 issue video once on sale.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2012
This was my first ever Doctor Who story, along with Day of the Daleks, that I ever owned back in the 80's and indeed my first videos given by my dad when i was barely 5 years old. Through the eyes of a child you could see the terror this tale brought, with it's shaggily dressed Exxilons that blended perfectly into the background like rocks and shadows and weren't visible as threats until they moved and indeed in the cave scenes when they emerged slowly from the walls. This may not be a dalek masterpeice like Genesis (indeed the Daleks are in as much of a pickle as the heroes for most of it...) it's model shots, hauntingly wonderful music score and tense atmosphere really makes it a true timeless classic that i can attest to will scare children of any era.
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