I always loved Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, maybe not best of all – I didn’t start to think of him as my favourite Classic Doctor until I was in my late teens – but his era was very special to me. I knew that Tom Baker was regarded as The Best Of All Doctors thanks to my early introduction to a small group of fans but also because most of my Doctor Who Received Wisdom came through my Mum. Who, by the way, loved Tom Baker like he was drizzled in chocolate.
THERE IS A REASON TOM CAN NEVER BE MY DOCTOR, JUST SAYING!
I actually was only familiar with a small handful of Pertwee serials for many years – the ones my Mum had taped on VHS to keep, the ones she deemed important. (SHE TAPED ALL OF THE TOM BAKER STORIES, EVERY SINGLE ONE, EVEN PLANET OF EVIL)
I think of Season 10 as being ‘my’ period of the Jon Pertwee era, though in retrospect that’s probably because it’s the season with the most number of stories that were on our VHS collection at home in my childhood, and so the one I am most familiar with. That is, The Three Doctors, Carnival of Monsters and The Green Death, all of which run together in my head as something of a season on their own. I don’t know why my mother recorded Carnival of Monsters, as she tended to just keep ‘milestone’ stories with the Pertwee years, which means that for a very long time the only other stories I had seen of this era were Spearhead from Space, Terror of the Autons, The Time Warrior and Planet of the Spiders.
Not a completely unrepresentative view of the Pertwee era, though it does mean I don’t quite ‘get’ the common fan perspective of having a bunch of similar stories (mostly featuring the surprise that the Master was involved) all running together. “My Pertwee” was padded out with Target novelisations, which filled in a lot of the blanks much as they did for the First and Second Doctor era. With many stories, I didn’t see their TV format until a decade or more after I had first read them in book form.
Season 9 (1972) is obviously a season which didn’t make much of an impression on my mother, as none of the televised stories in it are especially familiar from my childhood – I’m sure I watched both The Sea Devils and The Curse of Peladon when I was fairly young, but neither of them made much of an impression.
But Day of the Daleks, the first story of this season, was one of my all time favourite novelisations. I must have read it ten times before I finally saw it on screen – I may not have understood it, but I loved it. More than nearly any other Pertwee story, it felt like this was what Doctor Who was suppose to be. A time paradox story! With future dystopia, men from the ministry, brain hurty plotting AND adorable Jo outfits. Oh, and cozy chaps from UNIT – rank has its privilege indeed, Mr Yates!
Watching the new DVD of Day of the Daleks last year, I quite enjoyed comparing versions as far as the special effects go – one of the best things that you can count on with the restoration team is the way they always keep the original version on the disc, no LucasFilming going on here!
Still, while to some fans it might seem ‘inauthentic’ to have so many extra Daleks, laser beams etc., to me it goes some way to pulling the TV story up to the standard of the book. I usually don’t bother turning on a revised special effect, because I don’t see the point, but in this case I made an exception – and I especially enjoyed the establishing shots of the futuristic city, with its hints towards a Blade Runneresque society. Very nicely chosen designs that help a tiny bit in selling the idea that the studio scenes are happening in a nasty future instead of, well, a studio.
Target novelisations might be short but the special effects are awesome… sometimes that’s hard for a mere TV story to live up to without a little 2st century help.
Day of the Daleks feels like the most Moffaty of the Pertwee stories – from the character banter to the timey wimey plot where guerrillas travel back to save their future, only to recreate it (basically the Terminator without the sex). All this and it’s a script which shows Jon Pertwee’s Doctor off at his best: Officious, clever, quippy and protective.
Jo is good in this too – very feisty and suitably out of her element in the Dalek-infested future. Even if she does crumble under interrogation – well, wouldn’t you? For the most part she’s running alongside the Doctor (or riding on the quad bikes), being just as brave as he is.
And surprise… this story doesn’t even have the Master in it! Considering this is the first time in five years that the Daleks had come back (is that the longest period they were away while the show was on the air? I believe it is! They never went past four years again), it’s a great story and the only really interesting use of the Daleks in the Pertwee era.
The special edition also features some great DVD extras – I do like it when they show us how much work they did on the restoration itself, and not just the making of details from the original filming.
Vocabulary Check: reading this book as a child taught me the meaning of the word ‘guerilla.’ Also ‘dalekanium.’
ELSEWHERE ON 1972:
Day of the Daleks [Wife in Space]
Curse of Peladon [TV Tropes]
The Sea Devils Episode 1 [Chronic Hysteresis]
The Sea Devils [Wife in Space]
The Mutants [Den of Geek]
The Time Monster [Wife in Space]