Friday, 7 September 2012

The Peter Cushing- Doctor Who Films- Review by @Zeiton_7


Cue Twitter meltdown, Doctor Who fans taking arms and storming the production offices and general public unrest.!

Actually that is not what happened at all because Twitter didn't exist back in 1965 and the first Doctor Who film starring Peter Cushing stormed the box office to much critical acclaim. It did so well, in fact, that they did it again the following year and Doctor Who Dalek Invasion of Earth 2150 AD hit the screens. Both films are retellings,  oh ok vertically identical, of their television counterparts (the television versions starred William Hartnell as The Doctor). The plots are the same but yet there are enough differences to make the two films watchable alongside the original versions.

Firstly, the title sequences and theme music. The BBC would not allow the films to use the anthemic television music so an alternative had to be composed. Barry Gray (and Malcolm Lockyer) came up with a fabulous, rousing score that is far removed from the Doctor Who theme we all know and love.

Secondly, the BBC would not allow the films to feature the TARDIS interior so a new funky disco like one was used. I think it works and is certainly more colourful than its counterpart, although this may be due to the fact the films were shot in colour and the original Hartnell led stories are black and white. More on that later though

Thirdly, and very significantly, Cushing's Doctor is referred to as Doctor Who (this is my only gripe with the films as it's just wrong) he is also entirely human and built the TARDIS in his spare time. How precisely he achieves this amazing feat is not explained and, to be honest, who cares!

The Daleks also received a little alteration. They are slightly taller and have a larger "bumper" base to make them more imposing. There was talk of giving them flame throwers but it was felt this was probably not a great idea! They speak the same, they act the same and, for the first time, they are featured in colour. This was so exciting for me as a child. To see my favourite Doctor Who monsters in glorious colour was the best thing I'd ever seen.

Cushing himself portrays The Doctor as a fantastic, brilliantly minded Grandfather who is everything The Doctor should be. His relationship with Barbara (Jennie Linded) Susan (Roberta Tovey) and Ian (Roy Castle) is identical to that of the TV series. Interesting to note that Cushing famously turned down the role of the Second Doctor and would have taken over from Troughton had work commitments allowed. It is interesting to think of how different the series would have been had he taken the role and not Pertwee.

The inclusion of humour, step forward the wonderful Roy Castle and Bernard Cribbins, is a much welcome addition. Who can forget the scene on the Dalek ship where Cribbins pretends to be a Roboman. Both add a "Saturday matinee" lightness to proceedings without ruining the film and lowering it to farce.

I find that if either film is scheduled for a viewing at a weekend there is nothing quite like sitting down and watching them. Bag of M and M's optional!

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