The Time Lords send the Doctor back through history to
the very dawn of the Daleks' existence. On Skaro he meets
Davros, the brilliant but insane scientist who created the
evil creatures. Little does the Doctor realise that this will
be only the first of many such encounters...
limited edition boxed set, which is exclusive to W H Smiths,
contains the last five Dalek stories that were broadcast on
TV - Genesis, Destiny, Resurrection,
Revelation and Remembrance of the Daleks - each
of which, of course, features Davros.
of the Daleks is a good place to begin any Dalek-themed
collection, dealing as it does with their creation. At the
time of its transmission in 1975, some fans were up in arms
about the story's alleged rewriting of Dalek history. In fact,
the only element that directly contradicts previous serials
is the name of the race that ultimately mutated into the Daleks
- the Kaleds. (They were referred to as Dals in the original
1963 seven-parter The Daleks, but then the records
of their Thal enemies were centuries old, so the name "Dalek"
could easily have been corrupted to "Dal".)
of the strongest six-parters the series has ever produced,
Genesis is a critical commentary upon the various horrors
of modern warfare - from the trenches of the First World War
to the mutations and disabilities produced by nuclear and
chemical weapons. It would be untrue to claim that the plot
doesn't meander in places, as several scenes involve the time-travellers
getting captured, escaping, or passing through secret tunnels.
The time ring given to the Doctor (Tom Baker) by the Time
Lords is analogous to the TARDIS fluid link in The Daleks,
helping to spin out the plot by being mislaid or stolen. A
typical device of writer Terry Nation, the time ring can be
seen as a precursor to the teleport bracelets used in Nation's
Blake's 7. Despite such plot prevarication, David Maloney's
taut direction ensures that we are constantly entertained.
Daleks play a relatively minor role in this story, the spotlight
being placed squarely on Davros, portrayed by the original
and best Michael Wisher. Clearly aware that his hideous make-up
(by John Friedlander) will grab the viewer's attention anyway,
the actor gradually reveals the crippled scientist's megalomania,
only occasionally unleashing an insane rant. His ethical debate
with the Doctor remains a classic scene. Wisher is ably assisted
by Peter Miles in the role of his sinister cohort, Nyder.
better or worse, Dalek serials would never be the same again.
Davros was easier to write for than those boring conversationalists,
the Daleks, and only Big Finish would ever have the courage
to produce Dalek dramas without him.
1979's Destiny of the Daleks was not an encouraging
development. Although the Daleks' search for their apparently
long-dead creator is the focus of this four-part tale, the
realisation of the character is disappointing. It's not the
fault of actor David Gooderson, who doesn't benefit from the
strong writing that Michael Wisher enjoyed. Davros's very
human-sounding voice is a blunder on the part of the sound
department (although the use of Skarosian atmosphere sound
effects from the 1963 Daleks serial is an effective
touch). The mask that was originally moulded for Wisher's
face looks ill-fitting and shabby on Gooderson. The Dalek
props are similarly tatty.
a direct sequel to Genesis of the Daleks, Destiny
contains a surprising number of continuity glitches. For instance,
the Doctor knows exactly where to find Davros's body within
the ruins of the Kaled city, despite the fact that Davros
was exterminated in a Kaled bunker. (Perhaps the Doctor was
actually referring to the Daleks' own city, which was built
around the bunker.) Writer Nation fails to explain what became
of the Thals, who used to inhabit the now derelict Skaro (although
novelist John Peel rendered this issue redundant in his 1997
book War of the Daleks, which controversially claimed
that the planet wasn't Skaro at all). The databanks of the
Movellans, the Daleks' enemies, are incorrect when they state
that Davros is a mutant - if he was, he would have been banished
into the wastelands along with the other mutoids featured
direction by Ken Grieve doesn't help matters, although the
opening episode conveys a real sense of foreboding. Later
on, Grieve fails to coax convincing deaths out of the extras
playing the Daleks' slaves.
pick up somewhat when Eric Saward takes over the writing chores
for 1984's Resurrection of the Daleks, although this
story is burdened by some complicated continuity and two locations
separated by centuries of time. Saward is on record as bemoaning
the fact that he had to work his way out of a corner that
Nation had painted Dalek mythology into. The rescue of Davros
from his cryogenic prison is a rehash of events in Destiny,
albeit an inevitable one. Saward also needed to resolve the
deadlock with the Movellans, although their defeat of the
Daleks begs the question: what became of the victors? (John
Peel had an idea about that, too.)
Dalek stories echoed here include The Day of the Daleks
(the dual 20th-century and future timelines, and the involvement
of the armed forces) and The Evil of the Daleks (the
Dalek civil war). The process by which the Daleks duplicate
and programme humans is similar to the robotisation procedure
in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, while the threatened
duplication of the Doctor (Peter Davison) is reminiscent of
the Doctor's robotic double in The Chase.
why is it necessary for the Daleks to duplicate humans, such
as Lytton (the excellent Maurice Colbourne), in order to condition
them? Why not just brainwash the originals? And why does the
teleportation of the virus canister have such an adverse effect
on Professor Laird (Chloe Ashcroft)? The efficient and visually
exciting direction of first-timer Matthew Robinson helps to
hold the story together in spite of such unanswered questions.
the role of Davros for the final three stories, Terry Molloy
spends a large proportion of his debut appearance ranting
and raging. His psychosis is understandable, though, considering
the "ninety years of mind-numbing boredom" that he had to
endure. Molloy performs well in a few calmer moments, including
a moral debate with the Doctor, which makes an effective follow-up
to the one in Genesis. Meanwhile, a pre-Dirty Den Leslie
Grantham is a worthy successor to Peter Miles with his subtle
performance as Davros's new henchman, Kiston.
Dalek civil war ignited by Davros proves to be a pivotal development
that is carried over into the next two serials. Eric Saward's
Revelation of the Daleks reveals that the scientist
has built his own race of loyal Daleks, a rival faction to
those obedient to the Supreme Dalek on Skaro.
on Necros, a planet that specialises in funeral services,
the grisly subject matter of this 1985 story is partially
inspired by the movie Soylent Green. This unusual serial
is one of the most adult-oriented in the programme's history
- an aspect emphasised by the high-quality direction by Graeme
eccentric range of characters includes the self-centred funeral
director Jobel (Clive Swift); the disgraced yet honourable
assassin Orcini (William Gaunt); his unhygienic squire Bostock
(John Ogwen); Kara (Eleanor Bron), the duplicitous industrialist
who hires Orcini; her sycophantic personal assistant Vogel
(Hugh Walters); and a DJ (the surprisingly good Alexei Sayle).
Amid a huge cast, the Doctor (Colin Baker) and Peri (Nicola
Bryant) hardly get a look in until the second half of the
as with Genesis, Davros is placed at the very heart
of the narrative, like a spider in its web. He is somewhat
calmer than he was in Resurrection and is a more cunning
and calculating, even Machiavellian, villain, and Molloy clearly
relishes the opportunity.
conflict between the Dalek factions reaches its spectacular
climax in Remembrance of the Daleks, with the battle
moving to London, 1963. As with Resurrection, this
25th-anniversary story is packed with continuity references
that add to the enjoyment of die-hard fans, though writer
Ben Aaronovitch manages to keep such references from being
too obtrusive. You don't need to have seen An Unearthly
Child to get the idea that Coal Hill School and the junkyard
on Totter's Lane are places that the Doctor visited long ago.
appearance in the last episode was one of several revelations
that proved particularly dramatic back in 1988 - although,
of course, his presence comes as no surprise in this boxed
set! Having lost his remaining hand in Revelation,
we see that he has sacrificed even more of his humanity in
his final appearance. Other surprises engineered by Aaronovitch
included the first view of a Dalek climbing stairs, as if
in response to the Fourth Doctor's snide comment about their
lack of this ability in Destiny.
four-parter boasts extremely high production values, including
the famous scene (intact this time, unlike on the story's
DVD release) in which a soldier is propelled against a wall
by the impact of a Dalek death ray. Director Andrew Morgan
is extremely good at such action sequences. The Daleks look
great throughout, apart from occasional wobbles due to the
costumes' new locomotive systems.
as Genesis of the Daleks is an appropriate place to
commence this box set, Remembrance offers suitably
stupendous closure, with the jaw-dropping fate of Skaro (although
this is something else that has been undermined by John Peel's
War of the Daleks).
is an excellent concept for a boxed set. Though two of the
stories herein cannot be regarded as classics, at least two
of them definitely can.