Dalek Doomsday

I’ve been so busy and so stressed of late that I haven’t felt up to blogging about anything. But I’m going to make a bit of an effort, even if the results are entirely random.

So, at the start of April I went down south for Ryan and Jackie’s wedding. This was a lot of fun, but rather than talk about the ceremony, or the reception, or how nice it is down there, or how nice Justin and Marika were for giving a lift down there and back I’m going to talk about television.

On the Saturday morning I had some time to kill. I was staying in Margaret River and after a walk into the town center for breakfast and a look around I found myself back at my hotel, so turned on the TV to see what passes for rural entertainment these days. I was quite shocked to find myself watching the tail end of Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150AD, the second of the Peter Cushing Dalek movies from the 60s.

You see, back in the 60’s, just after Doctor Who began, there was an absolute craze for the Daleks. They were huge. So the powers that be decided to cash in by taking the first two Dalek stories from the series and turn them into big budget movies staring respected actor Peter Cushing (who lived in Whitstable) as the Doctor.

For a number of reasons (including the fact that the Doctor is portrayed as a human inventor actually surnamed “Who”) they don’t form part of the official Whovian cannon. I’ve always heard that they’re awful, but actually what I saw wasn’t too bad – especially judged by the standards of mid 60’s British film making. And the sets, costuming and effects were a lot better than anything the series could manage at that stage.

I was also surprised to see that the young Bernard Cribbins (who of course went on to appear in the revived TV series as Wilfred Mott) bears an occasionally startling resemblance to Alan Brough.

Excuse me for a second…

Peter Cushing went to Dunstable,
Had a run in with a Constable,
All involved were most uncomfortable,
Peter Cushing went to Dunstable,

Sorry about that.

After the Dalek’s horrible plans were defeated and some ads for tractors and the local agricultural show, a program came on called Doomsday Castle. It was – frankly – astonishing.

It was an observational series about a family whom it is tempting to describe as hillbillies constructing a ‘castle’ on top of a mountain in North Carolina to protect themselves from “marauders” when the “end times” come. The episode in question involved various family members constructing metal shutters for the ground floor windows and clearing land to construct a survival garden. The highlight of the show was when they decided to use explosives to remove a tree stump.

The entire thing left me gobsmacked.

If you’re concerned about protecting your family from “marauders” why the hell would you build a big, conspicuous castle on top of a mountain where it’ll be visible for miles around? And then why would you put it on TV? And most important of all, why in the name of all that’s sane and holy would you build a defensive structure with GODDAMN GROUND FLOOR WINDOWS?!?! Where did these rednecks study castle architecture?!? Disneyland??

And their explosives discipline was insane. The son tasked with clearing the land – right next, by the way, to the castle where the rest of the family were working – decided to use some sticks of dynamite to remove the stump. He didn’t see fit to inform anyone else about this, and wired up three sticks because “he didn’t know what three sticks would do”. IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT AN EXPLOSIVE WILL DO, DON’T MESS WITH IT!! He then set it off without any kind of warning – or at least tried to set it off because he screwed up the wiring, creating a highly dangerous UXO situation, which he solved by creeping up slowly to the stump behind a detached car hood and fiddling with it. It did blow up successfully on the second try, but again he gave no warning to anyone else.

Now I know these shows are for entertainment and they probably only pretended that he set the explosives off without warning, but it’s a terrible example to set for the viewing audience – particularly given that the kind of person who’d tune Doomsday Castle on a regular basis is probably not the sharpest tool in the bunker.

OK, that’s your lot. Tune in next time for some Frente or something.

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