Welcome to Altered Vistas
   Duel of the Daleks (AV02)
Duel of the Daleks AV02

The third story is probably one of the finest strips in the collection. Zeg is a lowly Dalek worker in the inventions factory, until his casing is transformed into an almost indestructible alloy. Filled with a sense of his own power, he challenges the Emperor's authority. The only solution is to pit Zeg's strength against the Emperor's brains in a deadly duel out in the wastelands of Skaro.

Below is a selection of images from this third story, our version originally released in 2004.

DVD and CD-style covers and disc labels for the production can be found here.

   Duel of the Daleks: Gallery
Daleks DuelEmperor and Zeg
Desert Dalek
Rumble in the Jungle
Examination ChamberThe Dalek Workshops
Mild mannered Zeg
Zeg takes a dip
Taking a plungeEmperor strikes a pose
Storm Warning
Black Dalek Alert!
Bank Holiday shopping panicI was working late at night, down in the lab
The balcony sceneMercury Geysers
Emperor Addresses Daleks
   Duel of the Daleks: Reviews

Carl Woodleigh writes:

Duel of the Daleks is even better than the first story. Its got Zeg in it for starters, which has to be a good thing! That opening shot is really good - and there are loads of others - and the way it goes down into the laboratory is excellent. When the duel gets going it's pretty tense and I love the details that you barely see. Did I see a brief flash of Davros in this one?

Bryan McCormack writes:

This is easily the best of the first three stories. It’s pepperpots all the way as two of the tinpot terrors battle it out for chance to be Supreme Goldendome of Skaro.

The animation here is even more impressive than in the first story and, unlike Dr Who itself, scenes containing nothing but Daleks are never boring! AV maestro Stuart Palmer supplies all the Dalek voices here (who is Nick Briggs anyway?) and once again makes them sound like their cinematic counterparts.

This disc also contains a very informative "Making Of" featurette that gives the rest of us some idea of the amount of work that goes into creating these CGI gems. Highly recommended. Start with this one.

Daniel Pegg writes:

This is everyone's favourite Dalek strip, or so it seems, and I can see why. I never really liked the comic strip at all, used to flick past it in the old Doctor Who Magazines when they reprinted them for the hundredth time, but this really pumps some life into it and makes it all seem so alive.

There's even more of those little Doctor Who in-jokes that I mentioned in my review of the first story, and some real tension, especially when it gets to that creepy disused base for the final showdown. The bits where you've added stuff is done really sympathetically and only makes the story better.

I know I said I didn't like the original comic strip, but I now find I'm picking out all my back issues of Doctor Who Magazine to read the originals and compare the two! Great stuff!

Dave Trill writes:

Your rendering of Duel of the Daleks is awesome! and it's made me late for work.

Duel of the Daleks is a delight. The motion and lighting in the first scene is mesmerising. Then in comes the title music with all the power of Mars: The God of War. Very slick, dare I say professional ? Nice touches like the logo on the comm. screen will please observant fans. The entrance of the Emperor also made me chuckle. Cheesy and inappropriate lines like Zeg saying 'I must watch my step' don't really spoil the fun. After all Stuart is faithfully recreating a comic strip. But it's convincing too as his Dalek voices are spot on. The Black Dalek even sounds more menacing. And so he should, bless him. Same goes for the Brain Machine, it's saved by the vocals!

It's all here, when they start exterminating the effects are just what you'd want. The music too fits the story well and borrows drum sequences from The Dalek Invasion of Earth. This is quality terror for any one who was hiding behind a sofa in the sixties. Included on the CD is The Making of Duel which gives a useful insight into production techniques.

Martin Davidson writes:

Jesus gorblimey! I've never seen a fan production like this one! Everything is so stylish! The visuals are just glorious, the music and sound effects and voices are perfect (have you considered producing audio plays too?!), and the pacing is just great. It really recaptured for me the excitement of reading these strips in Doctor Who Weekly. Zeg rules!

David John Barker writes:

This is my favourite episode.

The opening shot is wonderful, with the extract from 'Genesis of the Daleks' playing in the background adding to the dramatic start. The title sequence is also well placed in the story at a cliff-hanger.

The balcony scene between the Emperor and the Black Dalek was a nice addition, really underlining the importance of the Emperor's victory to the whole Dalek race, and making the audience rout for the Emperor.

The shadows and reflective lighting on the Dalek casings in the abandoned lab were very effective and contributed to the overall atmosphere. Also the added scene where the two duelling Daleks discuss strength and weakness is well done and rounds off the struggle nicely.

Overall the animation has improved with each episode and the story adaptations only add to each episode. It would be wonderful to see a whole episode done using the CGI grade techniques of the opening, however having seen the detailed work behind it in the intriguing 'making of' feature it is clear why you have chosen to blend various techniques together to create a style of your own.

Keep on producing. You have done very good work, your efforts are a wonderful way of preserving and enhancing The Dalek Chronicles.

RetroRobot writes:

Prog.1: Duel of the Daleks (25:45)

2: The Making Of… (7:50)

Prog.2 review: "MakeUp-Kit Of The Daleks" (apologies to 'Pretty Pink Dress Of The Daleks'*)

Unlike so many so-called "Making-of" pseudoco's these days, containing few actually informative technical details (other than the 'gosh-wow' stuff), Stuart's engrossing little how-it's-done production actually shows the processes involved in creating images, animations & sound(s) in The Dalek Chronicles.

Not delving too deeply into the technical details, however, this surprisingly interesting 'MiniDoc' zooms by ["that was never (8) minutes just now!?"] showing the amount of construction-work involved in an A.V. Production without 'big-noting' himself, and leaving only the inference of how much time and effort has been expended just to bring a comic strip story to life for others to enjoy in a new way.

This featurette also affords an opportunity to enjoy an EMPIRE 639 soundwork/musicscape on its own, uninterrupted by dialog & FX (save for the brief Scripting sequence).

The quality of the WorkStation-screenshots is oddly 'low-fi' but it's the animations shown on them that matter after all.

Prog.1 review: "Duet of the Dualeks"

20thCentury slogan: "Be Alert – we need more Lerts!"

21stCentury slogan: "Be Metalert – we need better Lerts"!

A much more adventurous piece than the first, with the advantage of not having humanoids to animate in it, and also showing a limitation or two – only to be expected in an ambitious second effort, tho'!

This being the Second Altered Vistas Production it is a less polished work than Ep.2(AV04), but also the expected step up from Ep.1(AV01). It is also therefore the first instance of moving away from the entirely faithful inclusion of all original dialog-sets as in Ep.1 and almost all of Ep.2 (see reviews), even to the dropping of entire passages.

The scene where Zeg faces the Golden Emperor's first Trap is flawed by portraying Zeg as needlessly approaching the edge of the ledge above the Acid River, with the Emperor already clearly in view. Rather it could have shown Zeg turning to leave just as the Emperor moves forward to fire at the ledge – allowing retention of the moment when Zeg realizes (and says) it's "a trap" – before showing the blasting of the ledge and Zeg's fall…

Query: how come we didn't get to see how Zeg got to be toppled-over at the opening of the post-Title sequence when he was on the way to the off-switch for the "Artificial Sunlight" at the end of the Teaser? The inference is intended that a Lightning Bolt from the "OQUOLLOQUOX" storm struck his laboratory, but unfortunately wasn't clearly depicted so a sense of disjunction is created at the start of the story proper.

Also, why wasn't the scenery destroyed (or blackened) when Zeg nervously fired a wild shot in the forest?

(WARNING! 'The Spoiler'! [Who-reference"in-joke"revealed]). A missed opportunity to 'petrify' the Skaro-Metallic Beast (from the 1st Dalek TV story)! Are these critters immune to Dalek Rayblasts?

Making up for the occasional flaws (such as overlong or repeated static shots behind some dialogue sequences – again an economy-of-production consequence) is another entertaining show containing some truly inspired visuals and effective dramatic lighting and editing, and yet more examples of clever and interesting (use of) 'wipes'.

Duel of the Daleks has been described by Stuart as "one of the best strips in the series'* (i.e. referring to the original tales) – certainly Zeg is the most dynamic (and pretty) character to emerge from the Dalek lineup – and once again he's been inspired to flesh out the scenes with appropriate new dialogue (and even a little bit of extra subplotting), plus an expanded role for the Black Dalek. [* My personal favourite is Plague of Death (Episode 6).]

Steve Swales writes:

If you read the comics as a kid this is probably the one you remember the most. A Dalek called Zeg and the Emperor slug it out to be leader. As there are no pesky humans in this episode, this is the one of the ones that adapts the best to Stuart's techniques and coupled with a strong storyline it results in an absolute triumph. Perfection!

The Making Of extra shows the painstaking Truespace and Flash techniques to anyone who thinks computer animation is either quick or easy!

Nick Mellish writes:

The animated adaptations of The Dalek Chronicles continue with Duel Of The Daleks, a story in which the Emperor Dalek has to fight to retain his position in Dalek Hierarchy due to the accidental creation of a Super Dalek named Zeg. Before, Zeg was but a lowly worker Dalek but his newfound powers have led to delusions of grandeur and a threat to the entire Dalek race…

As with the other Episodes in The Dalek Chronicles, Stuart Palmer's adaptation from strip to screen is superb. The actual script is great, though the source material contains some of the most un-Dalek like lines ever uttered ("You will be cosmic dust in ten megs" is a particular favourite, and as for "I feel… dynamic!" Huh? Tsk! I ask you!) However, such things simply add to the unique appeal of The Dalek Chronicles, and whilst it sounds odd coming from a Dalek it is nice to know that Palmer has decided to remain as faithful as possible to David Whitaker's original scripts.

The directing and music, again both of which are by Palmer, though he assumes the pseudonym of Empire 639 for the latter, are both great again. You know a musical score is a good one when parts of it get subconsciously stuck in your head, and the Dalek Chronicles theme tune has done just that with me.

Once more, the voice acting throughout is good with the Dalek voices sounding very strong. Also, the nod to the Troughton-era Cybermen with the voice of the Brain Machine was very nice indeed.

Duel Of The Daleks is the third Episode of The Dalek Chronicles but it was the second adaptation released by Altered Vistas. As such, there are times when the animation is not as impressive as later animations (for example, the second story in The Dalek Chronicles - Power Play - was in fact adaptation number four by Palmer, and one of the setbacks in watching these Episodes in story-order rather than order-of-release is that the improvements made in these later adaptations are made even more clear due to their position).

Despite saying this, the animation is very impressive indeed, with only two parts lacking the high quality of the rest; the explosions arguably lack the impact they deserve, though this is compensated for with their retro-design, and the escape of Liquid Air from its container looks more impressive when surrounding Zeg rather than when leaking.

The set designs are very nice indeed. The room housing the Brain Machine looks just as it did in the comic strips, and even the blue and white chequered floor has been retained.

The leaps already taken in terms of production from Genesis Of Evil to this Episode are all around, but special mention must go to the way that this Episode contains a lot more movement.

Whilst I greatly enjoyed Genesis Of Evil, the slightly static nature of some scenes admittedly slowed the action down in parts but this problem hardly ever resurfaces here. Occasionally, a bizarre cut can be witnessed (one such example being the movement of Zeg in his laboratory, which is achieved through a set of stills rather than an animated sequence) but such moments are few and far between and despite their relatively 'still' nature, they remain very watchable.

The extra on this VCD is a short making-of featurette, which just goes to confirm what I already guessed- that these animations take a long time to complete and are very much a labour of love. I will never be able to thank Stuart Palmer enough for his work, and I hope that further instalments of The Dalek Chronicles continue to impress me to the standard I now expect.

Robert Barclay writes:

ZEG LIVES! I've just watched Duel of the Daleks, and the character I vaguely remember from 40 years ago has returned as a real, moving, talking, megalomaniac!

Watching your version of this classic story is one of the most enjoyable 20-odd minutes I've had in front of a TV screen in ages. The most impressive thing to me is the bold, colourful story-telling - it was only afterwards that I started to think about the technical skill and effort that must have gone into making it.

Staying faithful to the original strip is, I think, the right way to go. I'm quite happy that you haven't tried to "improve" anything (such as un-Dalek like dialogue) and so risk turning the stories into something they never were. And the in-jokes don't spoil this because they're naturally fitted into the story - and end up enhancing it because they connect the story to wider "Dalek-lore" (for want of a better term).

Since your website encourages comments that might improve later stories, I can think of a couple things - although I'm sure you're aware of them by now anyway. There are times when the Dalek speech could be a little faster, and there are a few moments when some of the comparatively cruder 2D animation jars a little in between the generally wonderful, smooth 3D stuff. But, in the context of what you've done, this is piddling stuff.

Thanks for making something so enjoyable (and also remarkably quick delivery).

Scott (AKA undercoverfanboy) writes:

Duellin' Daleks

Oh I am lovin’ it already … the Dalek city has that awesome Dalek speech piped through the city. Awesome!

Oh wait a minute … an Oquoloquox? What the hell is that when it’s at home for tea? Oh I see, thank you Zeg – now I know what you’re on about. Hey now, I do like that “I remember” … almost as if it was something of a task to do so … nice pathos.

I like the idea of this laboratory. You know you always wonder what something like this might be like. I have never really been able to get my head around what a Dalek might value as function. This looks all rather believable.

Oho – this swirly view is great .. and the sound effects really give a nice touch. This is nicely handled. I remembered the first time I had heard a Dalek with the individual view a la Evil of the Daleks I wondered how it could be handled. Here it does sound as if one is never sure whether he is just mad or not and the jarring makes for a stilting that is very effective.

I found here also the use of different angles to be excellent. Not only does it really help with the characterisation but also it helps with the tension. As if the whole “where do I feel I stand between the individual v. totality/emotion v. logic” was not enough. This story is really assisted by the lack of what would be considered stationary camera angles.

Special Feature – The Making of …

Oh now this is lovely. I have no idea about this sort of thing so I find it rather interesting. Again I find myself rather blown away (this rather underlines the point I feel) that so much work has gone in. I mean sure I guess the more you do the more reference you have and surely it must get a bit easier, but geez … still …

All I can say is – I am glad I just get to see it rather than have to do it!

Tim Balchin writes:

Thank you very much for the Dual of the Daleks production. I and my two sons loved it.

The production was excellent with the time and money available. The episode comes to dramatic life off the comic book page. We look forward to the next episode with glee.

Thanks again for all your hard work and long may it continue.