Thursday, October 19, 2006

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

Written by Eric Saward
Directed by Graeme Harper

Dalek: “It is The Doctor.”
Davros: “Excellent. My lure has worked.”

Last time viewers had to wait four years to see a certain Creator and this time, it’s only been a year since Davros made his last appearance on screen. Arguably this has to be his best serial since “Genesis Of The Daleks” but maybe that’s just me.

The Doctor and Peri meanwhile have landed on Necros, a pretty icy planet that for once forces Peri to actually wear some sensible clothing for a change. Funnily enough, Peri isn’t particularly thrilled with this idea but asking The Doctor if she can slip into something more comfortable is met with derision as well.

However The Doctor isn’t here to be frozen to death but more to visit the deceased friend Stengos. This guy seems to be pretty popular as there are two other people on the lookout for him but for the first few scenes its The Doctor interest in him that takes precedence.

Of course arriving on a mysterious planet also means the first spot of bother and when a mutant attacks The Doctor for no reason, Peri is forced to kill. Given that we’ve had to endure most serials with Peri repeatedly getting captured and screaming it’s relieving to see her be the one to save The Doctor for a change.

The mutant however isn’t an evil creature but the unsuccessful experiment of a scientist called The Great Healer. Seeing this poor disfigured person piques The Doctor’s curiosity but there’s a fair amount of resistance from Peri. She’d rather go back in the TARDIS and leave Necros but you just know that The Doctor doesn’t feel the same way.

As for The Great Healer, even if it wasn’t revealed so early, I would’ve guessed automatically that it was an alias Davros was using. It seems that he’s got a neat little business set up on Necros by coming up with his own unique way of combating famine. Well Davros might be a psychopath but he’s also a clever one.

That being said he has to deal with the likes of Kara. She’s not particularly thrilled to be handed virtually all of her money over to Davros so he can make his own advancements. Of course she has to play nice with him but the hostility both her and Davros have for one another can be seen in their very conversation.

To give her some credit, Kara doesn’t just bore viewers by whining to her secretary Vogel about how much she loathes being under Davros’ thumb. Instead she decides to have him killed and hires Orcini, one of the best assassins to carry out the task. Although it’s a smart move on her part, I still don’t like her.

I think it’s because I’ve meant a fair amount of people like Kara who are disingenuous with virtually everyone they talk to. Even with Orcini and his squire Bostock, Kara displays total insincerity. Then after she’s gotten them to leave she makes some nasty remarks about the two of them.

Orcini is probably one of the most likeable characters in this serial along with Bostock. Both of them are strong minded and savvy men and while they argue on tactics, there is a good rapport with them. Although neither of them trusts Kara or Vogel, Orcini happily takes to the task of killing Davros for reasons of honour.

As for Stengos, his daughter Natasha and the rather weak willed Grigory break into Tranquil Repose in order to find his body. Between arguing and shooting staff members there, what they find is pretty gory even for Doctor Who, which isn’t altogether gory.

We’ve seen all kinds of Daleks but a Glass Dalek with Stengos’ head in it, partially converted is really gruesome. It’s nice that you see him try to resist the Dalek mentality before he succumbs and Natasha is forced into killing. Then her and Grigory end up arrested and tortured by workers Lilt and Takis.

The other interesting dynamic is Tranquil Repose. It might have a good reputation but with Davros using it for his own means, the thuggish manners of Lilt and Takis and the repulsive Jobel, played excellently by Clive Swift, it’s hardly Fishers And Sons, now is it?

There’s also Tasambeker, who goes from being sympathetic at one point to utterly pathetic the next. In a sense you feel bad for her due to the monstrous way Jobel behaves with her but when she gets thick with Lilt and The Doctor at different points, your sympathy tends to waver. Working with Davros was also an ill informed decision on her part.

When he’s not moaning about traitors and using statues to lure The Doctor into a trap, Davros is irritated by Jobel. It seems Davros doesn’t like when people refuse his offer of immortality so he gets Tasambeker to kill Jobel. She only does it after Jobel excelled himself in being cruel and afterwards she got killed by Daleks.

Another character who sparkles in this serial is the DJ. A part of me can’t believe I’m actually saying that he’s so bloody irritating in the first half of this story but as soon as he’s paired with Peri he shines and so does she. Peri mentions being a little homesick and the DJ makes a good effort to warn The Doctor and protect Peri from the Daleks. Sadly he’s also another casualty.

Orcini on the other hand has twigged that Kara has set her up and his plan to exterminate Davros doesn’t exactly go to plan either. It seems that Davros was being clever with the head in the jar. When that’s dispatched he appears in his usual form with the ability.

To Orcini’s credit he gets the pleasure of killing Kara and even Davros thinks high enough of Orcini. Of course the real person Davros wants to interact with is The Doctor and they get some of the best exchanges in my opinion. Both Colin Baker and Terry Molloy spark with each other.

Davros lets The Doctor know about his plans, building a new race of Daleks, using corpses as a food solution. Davros’ reasoning for the latter is twisted but consistent with him too. We know how little he cares for human life and only he would get a sick pleasure in making a joke when The Doctor is horrified by what he’s doing.

Davros doesn’t get too long to be smug though. Thanks to Takis, a bunch of Daleks from Skaro arrive to arrest him and with Orcini blowing off his hand, things aren’t looking good for Davros. He can’t even persuade the Skaro Daleks to attack The Doctor and that is a bad sign.

With Tranquil Repose blown to bits, more people dead and Takis and Lilt forced into taking a new business venture, the ending of this serial is lighter. To be fair this isn’t the most darkest of serial, in spite of it’s gore so the ending actually works in it’s favour and both The Doctor and Peri deserve a better holiday after this.

Also in “Revelation Of The Daleks”

It was nice for Davros to actually be introduced early in this serial. Pity this wasn’t a common occurrence with a lot of his stories.

The Doctor: “You eat too much.”
Peri: “Hardly. I’ve just given my lunch to the fish. Can’t I wear something more comfortable?”

There was a lot of comments about food and weight in this serial than you’d usually get from a series like this.

Mutant: “You wouldn’t think I used to look like you.”
The Doctor: “What happened to you?”

Tasambeker: “An attendant has been murdered.”
Jobel: “Why couldn’t it have been you?”

Peri’s botany was mentioned again in this episode, especially towards the end when The Doctor found his own protein solution.

Peri: “Okay. Just don’t drop me.”
The Doctor: “Drop you? I’ll be lucky if I can lift you with the amount you weigh.”
Peri: “Watch it, porky.”

Davros (to himself): “Suddenly everyone sees and knows too much.”

If Davros loathed that DJ so much then why didn’t he have him killed the moment he set up shop in Tranquil Repose?

Jobel: “Mind you, you’re the first living client I wouldn’t mind working on.”
The Doctor (to Peri): “He does go on, doesn’t he?”

The Doctor: “Friend of yours?”
Tasambeker: “What’s it got to do with you?”
The Doctor: “Absolutely nothing at all. I was only taking an interest.”

Big praise to Graeme Harper who did an excellent job with this serial. He directed a few of my favourites such as “The Caves Of Androzani”, “Doomsday”, “Utopia” and “Turn Left” to name four.

Jobel: “I love a Miss who plays hard to get.”
Peri: “Then you’ll love me to death.”

Dalek: “You will obey.”
Kara: “How inconvenient. You know how difficult it is to find good secretaries.”

The place where The Doctor was supposed to take Peri was Blackpool. Originally the next serial was supposed to be located there instead of “Trial Of A Time Lord”.

Davros (to Tasambeker): “As I said, I once offered Jobel immortality. He refused. I now make the same offer to you. Serve me with your total being and I will make you a Dalek.”

The Doctor: “May I ask what you’re doing here?”
Orcini: “You may but only a fool would expect an answer.”

After this serial aired, the show went on hiatus for eighteen months sparking a fair amount of controversy as well.

Kara: “Now we both die. Satisfied?”
Orcini: “You before me.”

The Doctor: “But did you bother to tell them that they might be eating their own relative?”
Davros: “Certainly not! That would’ve created what I believed is termed ‘consumer resistance’.”

There was a lot of music in this episode but Glen Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade”. It would also be used in “The Empty Child”/“The Doctor Dances”.

Davros: “You’ve not heard the last of me. I shall return.”
The Doctor: “And I shall be waiting.”

This was released on DVD in 2005 but then re-released in 2007 as part of the Davros box set. Great commentary with Nicola Bryant, Graeme Harper and Eric Saward.

“Revelation Of The Daleks” was a satisfying way to end Colin Baker’s first season. Davros and the Daleks were well served; there was some great supporting characters, brilliant dialogue and pithy black humour to boot.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

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