Doctor Who: Journey into Terror (BBC1, 12 June 1965, Richard Martin)

DoctorWho

An occasional series where I watch and review works inspired by Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula…

These reviews reveal plot twists.

Setting: This is the fourth episode of The Chase, a six-part serial from Doctor Who’s second season. The regular characters – the Doctor (William Hartnell), Ian (William Russell), Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) and Vicki (Maureen O’Brien) – are being pursued through time and space by the Daleks. This week, they seemingly end up in a haunted house…

Faithful to the novel? Count Dracula (Malcolm Rodgers) appears about six minutes in – he opens his mouth and a disembodied voice says his name. He has a cape and two fangs protruding over his lips. He then shows up again a few minutes later and gets zapped by the Daleks… though is unaffected. Also in the ‘haunted house’ are bats, Frankenstein’s monster and a grey-lady ghost woman who shouts “Unshriven!” The Doctor theorises that the TARDIS has landed in some kind of fantasy world created by the creative psyches of humanity. We viewers, however, get a Rosebud-style reveal: it’s actually a closed-down section of a theme park (‘Festival of Ghana 1996, Frankenstein’s House of Horrors, price $10’). Dracula was just a mechanical exhibit.

Best performance: William Russell knows what he’s doing, as ever.

Best bit: There isn’t one.

Review: Lines are fluffed, props are left in shot during the wrong scenes, cameras cast shadows onto actors, cues are missed. It’s a tiresomely sloppy piece of television. The Dracula-containing sequence makes up just the first 15 minutes of the episode.

Two phagocytes out of 10

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