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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

9 Comments

  1. Iain Coleman
    April 19, 2011 @ 7:18 am

    I basically disagree that the film does everything better, or is even simply better overall.

    The serial has its flaws, many of which are removed in the film, but what the serial has going for it is atmosphere. It feels grim, grubby and nasty in a way that the gaudy film cannot manage. A good example is the scene where Barbara and Jenny come across the two women in the house who promptly sell them out to the Daleks. The TV version is really quite seedy and squalid, an unpleasant portrayal of human nature at its lowest. The corresponding scene in the film tells the same story, but comes across as much lighter, less threatening, and less relevant to the world outside the cinema.

    You've already mentioned the shots of the Daleks parading around the London landmarks in the TV serial, so I won't bang on about them.

    You're quite right that, in general, the Dalek material is executed better in the film. However, what is memorable to me from the story is not so much the sci-fi invaders as the human reaction to alien occupation, and I think that's done much more effectively in the TV serial.

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  2. Elizabeth Sandifer
    April 19, 2011 @ 7:28 am

    Hm. In the original plan of this entry there was a paragraph where I reiterated that despite being technically better in most regards, as before there's something faintly soulless about the film that the TV serial never had. I agree, if nothing else, that the television series had the advantage of trying new things and pushing itself. At the end of the day, this is still a streamlined version of something that was creative, with some faults smoothed off and no major new ones added. I think it is more fun to watch than the serial, but yes, the serial is obviously the more creative, edgy, and groundbreaking of the two. I don't think it watches as well, on the whole, but then, I'd rather watch the Peter Jackson movies than read Lord of the Rings, even though I know full well which of the two are the most influential novels of their genre and which were pretty OK movie adaptations.

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  3. Spikeimar
    April 19, 2011 @ 10:39 am

    For many of us growing up this was the closest we would ever get to the fabled Hartnell originals. I imagined all the plots I read about being like this film, with huge production values and action galore. Think about The Keys of Marinus as filtered through the look of this film.

    My earliest Who memories are this film and a Sea Devils omnibus while on holiday. Imagine my surprise when I finally started to see the TV Hartnell stories on vhs. What? Where is the amazing attack on the dalek saucer? Surely the scene in the tv version was just a cast bbq that went wrong and they filmed it?

    But there really is something missing from the film version after you get to know the proper Doctor and companions from the tv version. Perhaps it is soul?

    Can you imagine the film's production values with the tv cast? Now that would be something to see

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  4. Elizabeth Sandifer
    April 19, 2011 @ 10:42 am

    Well, let's be honest – that's basically the new series, which shoots for the production values of a low budget feature film coupled with the classic series' level of ingenuity at stretching the budget.

    But yes – the role of these two films in TV reruns is fascinating. Not something I could quite figure out where to put in either entry, since it's in many ways a product of the 70s and 80s, but a really interesting detail in the transition of the show from a serial to something with repeatability. I suspect when I get to things like the Five Faces of Doctor Who repeats, I'll also mention the films again. 🙂

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  5. Billy Smart
    April 20, 2011 @ 9:55 am

    I think that you're possibly placing too much importance on the lower ratings for the third season. As far as I can tell, the greatest reason for the dip is that ITV were offering more competitive and better-networked opposition to Doctor Who in the form of the exciting pop show 'Thank Your Lucky Stars', a strong draw for youth audiences. When you take this into consideration, Doctor Who audiences still held up pretty well.

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  6. Elizabeth Sandifer
    April 20, 2011 @ 9:59 am

    Well, as I said, the ratings dip has been compellingly explained in terms of ITV's counter-programming. On the other hand, explicable or not, the ratings were not good at the end of the third season, and surely Lloyd was expected and told to improve them. I mean, as I've said, I liked most of the late Season 3 stories, with only The Ark and The Celestial Toymaker really irritating me. Since then, Lloyd put out three quite good stories. So I certainly don't think anything was wrong with the program at this point in time. On the other hand, compelling as the ITV argument is, the fact of the matter is that the program has had an air of desperation around it. Certainly Troughton was concerned that it had done all it had to do.

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  7. jheaton
    August 9, 2011 @ 8:04 am

    I don't know where you stand on fan fiction–the unlicensed kind, that is–but there's a perfectly delightful story called "The Care and Feeding of Tiny Humans (and slightly larger Time Lords)," featuring Eleven traveling with a seven-year-old Amelia Pond that, given what you said above, you may want to take a look at.

    And while I'm at it, I may as well mention that this is a fascinating blog. I was referred to it a few days ago via Balloon Juice and have slowly working my way forward from the beginning. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  8. tantalus1970
    January 22, 2012 @ 3:37 am

    When Target first novelised Dalek Invasion of Earth, the images on the cover were from the movie, not the series, which led to a major surprise for me when I eventually saw the serial.

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  9. Henry R. Kujawa
    August 6, 2012 @ 7:13 am

    About 20 years ago, the DW Magazine did a feature on the 2 films. In there, it was revealed that Milton Subotsky was hoping the 3rd film would once again be an adaptation of a Terry Nation serial– "THE KEYS OF MARINUS". Now, for some reason, in recent years, every website in creation says "THE CHASE". Which makes a lot less sense, unless one thinks the films absolutely "have" to have freakin' Daleks in them. (The internet is like that a lot– someone posts inaccurate info, everyone else repeats it.)

    "INVASION EARTH: 2150 A.D." (as it was listed n TV GUIDE in the late 60's) my my introduction to Doctor Who. In fact, I accidentally turned it in a few minutes late. My first view of ti was Peter Cushing & Bernard Cribbins walking along the riverfront, when, suddenly, this big salt shaker comes up out of the water. What a place to come in!

    I loved the film (I also loved Irwin Allen TV series, and Japanese sci-fi TV series and monster movies, and Gerry Anderson tv series, etc.). Eventually I saw it again from the beginning, a couple of times, and also saw its predecessor, which I have also been at least a bit disappointed in, by comparison to the much-better sequel. I wished they'd done more. It is still my all-time favorite Dalek story.

    In recent years, I've fantasized that if they'd kept going into the early 70's, they might have done a story with Christopher Lee as The Master, Nigel Greene as The Brigadier, and Jane Asher as Jo Grant.

    The general concensus (at least, 20 years ago), was that people flocked to see the 1st film, but were bitterly disappointed that it didn't contain the TV cast. (Imagine if the 1966 BATMAN film had starred anyone other than Adam West– come to think of it, they came close to doing that, considering Julie Newmar was replaced by Lee Meriweather.) It was suggested they stayed away from the sequel in droves as a result of that. However, considering just how popular Peter Cushing was, I suspect your theory about the World Cup may have been closer to the real reason. It's still one of Amicus' best films.

    It's interesting how "London invaded" could be said to be both the theme of this film and "THE WAR MACHINES", in their separate ways, both seem to point to the UNIT era. Someone once also suggested the more light-hearted portrayal of The Doctor may have led to what we got with Patrick Troughton.

    Meanwhile, I think Roberta Tovey's Susan is just adorable, Bernard Cribbins is sympathetic (and sometimes funny, I've since seen him in quite a few earlier comedy films), while Jil Curzon's Louise is gorgeous but sadly underused. (I saw her in a SAINT episode the other day, with an Italian accent!) And then there's Philip Madoc, the rotter with the incredibly charismatic smile. I've discovered he was in some early AVENGERS as well (one with Venus, two with Cathy, one with Emma, and one with Tara).

    Oh yeah– and I love both the theme song (Barry Gray?) and the jazz score. And doesn't that flying saucer look like it was moonlighting from a Gerry Anderson show?

    Reply

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