Tuesday, 6 September 2011

DWAS Day of The Daleks Preview Screening Report

Hello faithful bloggers. Firstly welcome to my new followers, and I also wanted to apologise again for my lack of blogging. I have been very busy, which is certainly a good thing. I recently started rehearsals for a new musical and I simply haven't had enough spare time to dedicate to you all, and for that I am sorry. However I am now going to share with you the wonderful way I spent my sunday.

I returned to my birthplace of Hammersmith and arrived at Riverside Studios under some fairly heavy rain at about half one, a little damp but very excited as I found myself the lucky recipient of a much sought after ticket to the Doctor Who Appreciation Society's (DWAS) preview screening of the new 2|entertain Special Edition DVD of the Jon Pertwee Classic: Day of The Daleks. The edition has clearly been a labour of love for producer Steve Broster, who was influenced by previous releases like The Ark in Space and Earthshock which both featured new effects shots and has worked on the project for over a year. And what better place to hold this excellent event than Riverside Studios where scores of Hartnell and Troughton Who was actually filmed.

I soggily trudge up numerous flights of stairs and enter a swelteringly hot cinema auditorium and locate the best empty seat my eye first falls on. I can hear the group of people to my right discussing favourite episodes and the pair to my left talking about current Big Finish audio releases. You can practically see the nerd sweat dripping from the walls, but I don't care. I'm here to see a new version of an old Doctor Who story that I love, and best of all along with this throng of fellow Whovians I get to see it first, before it's released and review it for you. 

First we were treated to a Prologue specially arranged just for this launch event. It was a Dalek transmission linking the continuity between the later filmed adventure Destiny of the Daleks to it's story sequel, which was actually made before it. It explained that the reason for the Daleks Invading for a second time was to mine Earth's resources to fuel their endless battle with the Movellans who we wouldn't meet until about 7 years later.

The Day of The Daleks is the perfect story for this kind of overhaul with some famously bad line fluffs and missed opportunities like an unfortunate invading 'army' of only three Daleks. Without further ado we launched right into parts 1 and 2. I simply enjoyed getting to experience the story on the big screen. The one dampener on my day aside from the rain, was the guy sitting beside me, who felt the need to audibly tut each time we reached an amendment in the story. If you knew you weren't going to like it why did you come? Oh well. I notice a couple of line changes. When the Brigadier is speaking to the Minister he doesn't say "rather" a million times any more. Steve Broster has also decided to lose the most unintentionally funny moment in the whole story, when the Controller asks, "Where there any complications?" and an over-eager Ogron actor replies just a little too quickly, "No Complications." Funny stuff, but not in this version.

There are apparently something like 250 amendments throughout the whole edition, the more obvious ones are: lasers that fire from the guns, the time machine effects are greatly more impressive, and the exterminations are up to a modern standard. There are also some little trims to cut out some sticky moments and conversely allow for new footage of 22nd century Earth. There are some wonderful scenes, which feature the "obey" logo and you can also see the Dalek saucers flying about as well.

After the end of part two, everyone applauds apart from the man sitting next to me who just looks disappointed. We get a short panel from producer Steve Broster and graphic designer Michael Dinsdale. Broster tells us how he wanted to try to recreate the version of Day of The Daleks that he thought he saw as a six-year-old. 

A comparison of versions, old and new.
We learn that the project all stemmed out of the idea to replace the somewhat stilted Dalek voices with ones more fitting and in keeping with other classic Dalek stories. And who else would a self respecting Doctor Who producer turn to? Why, none other than Dalek Voice man and Big Finish producer Nicholas Briggs. After the suggestion of new Dalek voices, new footage seemed like an obvious step. 

Broster also explained that for the most part he had tried to create what might have been possible in 1971, if the production had had more time and money. For the most part the team has stuck to this creating not a version with obvious modern special effects, but an elaborated and more streamlined version of the original.

We then got an extra special treat. One of the DWAS leaders came forth and announced Nicholas Courtney's successor as president of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society and welcomed, Colin Baker to the stage.

We then had a break, and I had the good fortune to finally get to meet the wonderfully talented, true gentleman: Toby Hadoke. We had spoken a bit on Facebook and Twitter in the past, but it was really great to speak to the Doctor Who aficionado and Knitter himself. After a good chat about all things Who, I returned to my seat and the 'tutter' and we continued with parts three and four. 

There was some more good changes and additionally filmed footage; shot on a vintage Arriflex 16BL camera and de-graded to give it that matching 'washed out' film look. The footage was filmed at Dropmore House, the location originally used for Auderley House, and consisted of: a new sequence of a soldier witnessing the arrival of the Ogrons, the Daleks and the Ogrons approaching the house, Daleks attacking, some exterminations, and Daleks and Ogrons entering the house. These were integrated expertly and I often couldn't tell what was original and what was newly added.

When the Special Edition came to a close, we all applauded, even the tutter. We were then treated to another panel, this time with Scott Fredericks who played Boaz, Richard Franklin who played Captain Mike Yates and the lovely Katie Manning who played Jo Grant.

Afterwards I had a good chat with Richard Franklin who has just finished "The Tempest" with Shakespeare troupe Antic Disposition along with my best friend and fellow actor, Robin Rightmyer. I chatted to Ogron and Dalek builder and operator Toby Chamberlain. I was also able to snap this little beaut with the glamourous Katy Manning. I can't believe she's 62. She looks amazing.

All in all I had a great day, met some nice people and throughly enjoyed the Special Edition of The Day of The Daleks. The DVD is released on monday 12th September and amongst various special features contains both the original un-edited version and on a second disc the special edition. I highly recommend it to any fan, old or new. It's an essential for die-hard fans and would make a great introduction to the classic series for noobs. Thanks to 2|entertain and the Doctor Who Appreciation Society on a successful product and event.


Patrick (a steward) said...

I'm glad that the picture turned out ok :-) and that you enjoyed the event.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Patrick (a steward) not to be confused with Patrick Stewart. It was a real success.

r. sienicki said...

That's an unfortunate font on the first picture. This thing I assume is "OBEY" looks like "OBCY" which in Poland is translation for "Alien" series :)

Anonymous said...

^ Actually, I think that's a rather wonderful example of serendipity at work.