Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My Review of Doctor Who's: "Destiny Of The Daleks"

Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Ken Grieve

Davros: “Ha... How long do you think you can sustain your advantage, alone, and against such odds?”
The Doctor: “Wouldn't you like to know, eh? Wouldn't you like to know? Wouldn't I like to know?”

You can’t keep a good villain down but as a producer you can go out of your way to delay retuning him for as long as necessary. Part of the reason why some people might not have warmed to The Master was due to overexposure during his first three seasons. With Davros, the same complaint isn’t valid.

Spending all of the previous season with Romana, The Doctor seems to have gotten used to having another Time Lord in his presence. However the start of this serial not only see K9 struck down with laryngitis but Romana herself isn’t feeling quite the same too.

In the history of this series’ we’ve seen some traumatic regenerations but with Romana, it looks more like a walk in the park. She decides to look like Princess Astra from the previous serial and when The Doctor voices disapproval, she then has some fun coming up with even less impressive guises until settling on her first choice.

From the off, this Doctor and new Romana look like a well matched pair but the fun is cut short when they land on a planet with high amounts of radiation. That’s also the least of their problems as they deal with explosives and seeing slaved people burying each other.

The Doctor also admits to having the wackiest déjà vu. He knows he’s been on this planet before but he can’t think why or when. When he and Romana get separated, there are some more clues as where the two of them have landed. Eventually he’s told that he’s on Skaro again.

The Doctor finds himself rescued by a robotic race named the Movellans who are in battle with the Daleks. Given that nearly every serial that has featured this lot has had the word ‘Dalek’ in it, it’s not like their return is attempting to be remotely surprisingly or anything.

Still it piques The Doctor’s interest as he’s curious to find out why the Movellans and Daleks are both up but its Romana getting captured by the Daleks that paves the way for some clues. Romana undergoes an interrogation and then she soon has to do hard labour for them. The Daleks are drilling to get something pretty important. No prizes in guessing what that is.

Romana’s crafty enough to fake being dead long enough to get away from the Daleks and also to get back in with The Doctor and a former slave named Tyssan. The Movellans are also there to help with the Dalek investigating but it’s pretty clear that their motives aren’t as honourable as The Doctor’s might be.

The drilling also results in the return of Davros. Nearly five years after his debut in “Genesis Of The Daleks”, the character might be played by David Gooderson this time around but he’s still a raging psychotic, hell bent on continuing his advancement of the Daleks.

It makes no difference that it was the Daleks who nearly killed him either. The Doctor is a lot less gracious here with Davros than he was in “Genesis Of The Daleks”. In fact when The Doctor isn’t threatening to blow up Davros, he’s often taunting the Dalek creator as best he can.

Davros himself is as intriguing as he started off. Soon as he manages to get away from The Doctor’s grasp, he’s determined to know the source behind every victory and defeat his ghastly creations have been involved in. The fact that the Daleks are totally loyal to him in this serial is noteworthy.

There’s a part of me that would like to entertain the idea that the reason why the Daleks are devoted to Davros is because he’s their leader but the fact of the matter is, that their loyalty is out of necessity. Their ongoing battle with the Movellans is pretty going nowhere.

The one that both the Daleks and the Movellans have in common beyond being dangerous is their reliance on logic. Both The Doctor and Davros figure that out earlier on and neither of them wants to totally help either Daleks or Movellans out either.

With The Doctor it’s got to be because of his mistrust for the Movellans. Davros on the other hand wants to maintain control over the Daleks and even manages to get them to act all suicide bombers and sends them loaded with explosives to destroy the Movellan ship.

If there’s one thing about this serial that does slightly let things down, it’s probably the confrontation between The Doctor and Davros before the former succeeds. It lacks the punch of their last meeting but at least Davros gets an interesting comeuppance. Instead of being killed, he’s frozen and taken away by Tyssan and the freed slaves.

As for the Daleks and Movellans, well both of them are nicely defeated and there’s a delightful scene towards the end where Romana thinks that the reason The Doctor tends to win is because of his ability to make mistakes. It’s definitely one of the more colourful theories I have to admit.

Also in “Destiny Of The Daleks”

I’ve just noticed that there aren’t that many season openers in the old series where the Daleks. I think this is about the fourth out of seventeen.

The Doctor: “What are you doing here?”
Romana: “Regenerating. Do you like it?”
The Doctor: “Regenerating? But-- what are you talking about, regenerating? Only Time Lords regenerate!”

It’s a really nice move on the writer’s part to have Romana dressed up in similar attire to The Doctor. I think her scarf was even longer as well.

Romana: “Don't go away, will you?”
The Doctor: “I'd rather hoped you'd resist the temptation to say that.”

Dalek: “At my command you will move forward. Any attempt to escape will be punished. No further warning will be given. Is that understood? Is that understood? Speak! Speak!”
Romana: “Yes I understand.”

Mary Tamm who played Romana in Season Sixteen often wished that she had gotten a regeneration scene. I think I prefer what we got here to be honest.

Romana: “The Daleks would be better of with machines for this job.”
Female Slave: “They just enjoy subjugating humanoid races.”
Romana: “They used to be humanoid themselves.”

Davros: “You will release me. You will return me to the Daleks.”
The Doctor: “Shut up or I’ll switch you off.”

Davros is identified by the Movellans as mutant humanoid. What were they going to do with him and The Doctor?

Davros: “Until the Daleks' universal supremacy is accomplished, I can not allow myself the luxury of death.”
The Doctor: “Aw, poor Davros!”

The Doctor: “All I have to do is squeeze my sonic screwdriver and boom-boom Davros.”
Davros: “You need not elaborate.”

K9 got excluded from this serial due to the location being havoc for filming with a prop. Still I did like the little scene we got with him.

Davros: “We’ll meet again, Doctor. Never doubt it. We’ll meet again.”
The Doctor: “Don’t be so sure.”

Movellan: “That’s an order, not a request, now move.”
The Doctor: “I do seem to be in demand today.”

How did those slaves know to mark Romana’s tomb with her name? I don’t think she actually told any of them who she was.

Davros: “Supreme Dalek. That is a title I shall dispute most vigorously.”

Tyssan: “We’ve only got a handful of men.”
The Doctor: “One, two, three, four, five. I’ll go alone. Ask me why.”
Tyssan: “Why?”
The Doctor: “They’re unconscious. Also I’m a very dangerous person when I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Tom Baker has to be the only Doctor to have two encounters on screen with Davros, unless David Tennant holds out for a bit longer.

Davros: “It seems we are both in demand.”
The Doctor: “It’s nice to be wanted, isn’t it?”

Davros: “I have failed.”
The Doctor: “Yes what does it feel like?”

This was released on DVD in November 2007 both individually and as part of the Davros box-set. The commentary with Lalla Ward, David Gooderson and Ken Grieve is good.

Although this serial isn’t quite as loved as other Davros/Dalek related ones, I actually have a soft spot for “Destiny Of The Daleks”. In some ways it could’ve been better, especially with making the Movellans into a stronger threat but overall its enjoyable enough not to seriously offend people.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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