You Were Expecting Someone Else 26 (I, Davros)

(59 comments)

A commissioned essay for David Allen.

For all that the new series takes pains to avoid making declarations about “canon” that might clash with the classic series or the spinoff material, things got surprisingly close with Journey’s End, which, in an earlier draft, contained a flashback sequence that gave a capsule origin story of Davros. All fairly standard stuff - a shot of the one time he was ever on the surface of Skaro, him swearing to ensure the survival of his people, Davros horribly injured and screaming, and then a nice monologue about how “I became a victim myself. Perhaps it was necessary. To inspire me… Can you imagine? I had one idea! An idea that has never stopped. Rolling out across the centuries. I have slept, and woken, and died, and every time I open my eyes there they are. My Daleks. Outlasting eternity. And all from one man.”

It’s a lovely little monologue - the “outlasting eternity” line is a cute little throwback to the Doctor’s description of humanity in The Ark in Space, only inverting that into an act of singular, mad vision as opposed to a collective indomitability. It fits nicely with the larger metaphoric space of Journey’s End, and the decision to frame the Daleks as an idea - that is, as a narrative concept - is wonderful. It also, apparently dragged during the read-through and required a bunch of FX shots, and so got cut before filming. It’s always something. 

Had this sequence not been deleted, however, the result would have been a rare moment of contradicting what had come before, as back in 2006 Big Finish released a quartet of audios called I, Davros that offered a different and contradictory origin for him. Actually, the contradiction isn’t that jarring - the big one hinges on whether or not Davros has only seen the surface of Skaro once or not. The real difference is that Big Finish did four hours and forty minutes of audio about Davros’s origins whereas Russell T Davies wrote and cut about a sixty second flashback. They’re very different things.

But they both speak to an underlying concern about Davros, which is the need to approach him from the opposite direction. In practice Davros is a back formation of the Daleks. Terry Nation considered the question of what the Daleks’ origin might be and created Davros in their image. His physical appearance is derived straightforwardly from Ray Cusick’s iconic design of the Daleks. His basic concept and iconography as a Joseph Mengele figure comes from the Daleks’ existing Nazi Germany imagery. Everything about him comes from the Daleks, designed as a retconned origin for them. 

And so any attempt to provide an origin for Davros that leads to the Daleks is necessarily something of an odd process. It can never be an entirely satisfying narrative simply because the narrative is self-evidently false. It has the same problems as telling the true and complete story of the Doctor leaving Gallifrey - the reality of the narrative is that it was designed to function without that story, and thus that the addition to the story is fundamentally inessential. (This is, one suspects, why Davies found the resultant material so eminently cuttable.) 

Big Finish’s solution to this problem is, on the whole, fairly sound. They spin a sizable tale of sound and fury in the vague mould of I Clavdivs. Which means that what we get is not so much an origin of Davros as an origin of the conditions that allowed a visible nutter to rise to power. Davros is an irredeemable bad seed from the get-go, and in the first audio, titled, with entertaining inaccuracy, Innocence, he shoves his tutor in a radiation chamber just to see what happens. This more than sets the tone for what is, in practice, an extended series of murders and double-crosses in proper I Clavdivs style.

I Clavdivs, for its part, existed for two basic purposes. The first was to show off the ridiculous talents of its cast, which it accomplished handily. The second is to tell a long game history story, in which two generations of people influence each other with their back-stabbing schemes. Big Finish is not quite equipped to handle either of these, though they do as well as could reasonably be asked. Instead of a cast including Patrick Stewart, John Hurt, Brian Blessed, Derek Jacobi, Siân Phillips, and George Baker, I, Davros has Terry Molloy, Richard Franklin, Nicholas Briggs, Lisa Bowerman, and Peter Miles. It’s not a bad cast by any measure, but it’s not a cast of great actors. Then again, the loss of the visual dimension probably helps with this - where I Clavdivs traded on the ability of its actors to communicate the subtle nuances of character motivation, I, Davros is forced to have comparatively transparent characters. I Clavdivs gets the luxury of people motivated out of selfishness, greed, and mild incompetence, whereas I, Davros is basically about irredeemable monsters.

But, of course, I Clavdivs and I, Davros are leading to different ends. A thoroughly nuanced stretch of gritty political realism is a poor lead-in to the (literally) black and white morality play of Genesis of the Daleks. The Daleks are not complex. Their simplicity, both in physical and narrative design, is the entire point of them. And so there’s always going to be a disjunct between I Clavdivs and the Daleks. I, Davros does, on the whole, a terribly successful job of making the changes to the I Clavdivs formula necessary to make it work to lead into the Daleks. I, Davros always had to be about ranting black-hatted madmen seizing power simply because that is exactly what the state of affairs in Genesis of the Daleks is.

But all of this highlights an odd question about Davros himself. He’s not quite a mythic character. He’s deeply tied into the fundamental mythology of the series, but in and of himself he’s actually just another ranting mad scientist of the sort that the series has dozens of. That’s not to say he can’t function as a villain - Lance Parkin does a bang-up job in Davros (and writes the third I, Davros script, which revisits a key character from Davros), for instance. But a functional and successful villain is not necessarily a mythic one. Davros works because ranting mad scientists are fun, and Davros is a particularly good one. But in the end, in mythic terms, he’s an interesting but unneeded explanation for the Daleks. 

Indeed, he’s only prominent because Terry Nation spend the latter half of the 70s and the entirety of the 80s demanding he be recycled. Had Nation made the more sensible decision to leave Davros out of Destiny of the Daleks he’d be a one-off 70s villain who was dead. But Nation brought him back, and used his right to veto future Dalek stories to ensure that every subsequent writer brought him back as well. Part of this may have simply been that Nation would get a separate royalty payment for Davros, although it’s also worth noting that Nation was always eager to establish “his” version of the Daleks, particularly over that of David Whitaker, and thus presumably saw Davros as a suitable replacement for Whitaker’s Dalek Emperor. In either case, the reasons for Davros’s mythic role are as idiosyncratic as those of the Cybermen’s - and ultimately come down to the greed and ego of the same person. 

Which is, in the end, the problem with I, Davros. Interesting as it is, it really can be adequately replaced by a sixty second flashback in Journey’s End. It’s fundamentally inessential, serving as the explanation for something where the entire point is its complete resilience to all explanations. The Daleks are terrifying precisely because there is no real explanation other than “they want to kill you, and everything else too.” Their creator is thus mythic in the same way that the Dalek Emperor is mythic, or that the Black Dalek is mythic - because he’s mythic to them. 

Journey’s End gets at this interestingly, having Davros simultaneously be the needed progenitor of a new race of Daleks and, as the Doctor rather icily mocks, their pet. Davros exists in part to be loathed by the Daleks. The final moment of Genesis of the Daleks, in which his creations turn on him, gets suspended out over decades, so that they turn eternally on him, He exists to be hated by his creations. There’s another lovely deleted moment from the Journey’s End script where the Doctor warns Davros that the Daleks will turn on him too, and he notes that it is as he said - the universe will be at peace. The self-destructive nature of Davros is genuinely interesting. But it also serves to push him out of the narrative. The story doesn’t want him.

Which makes nearly five hours of setting him up perhaps more than the world could possibly need. And that’s the biggest problem with it. It’s a perfectly good and interesting story, and yet there’s simply too much of it. The audience for five hours of Davros origin story is vanishingly small. And so the most fundamental aspect of I, Davros is its own excess. But even this is not a bad thing - Doctor Who, in the Davies era, has always been about a sort of gleeful excess. Its overriding aesthetic is hedonism. The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, after all, trades on the fact that it packs absolutely everything imaginable into its two episodes. So to, within the context of the new series, fault five hours of Davros continuity porn feels like a sort of fannish slut shaming.


In this regard, no wonder Davies saw fit to cut the sixty second flashback origin of Davros segment from Journey’s End. Sixty seconds just isn’t enough time for something as gloriously and lavishly unnecessary as an explanation of where Davros came from. 

Comments

Anton B 3 years, 3 months ago

This is probably the place to lay my cards on the table and declare my dislike of Davros as a character. Your essay points towards why. If the Daleks were going to have an origin story it needed to be slightly less parochial than 'it was a mad Nazi scientist'. I'm not that keen on the Yarveling and Zolfan origin of the TV21comic strip either but at least that looked like a space epic. Why didn't Nation develop his suggestion of the race of Dalek philosophers mutated by nuclear war into monsters mentioned by the Thals in the first story? Why drop that poetic concept for the drearilly clunky Evil Surrogate Nazis and their bonkers leader? I suppose having ripped off the peaceful blonde farmer Therons of Dan Dare's Venus for the Thals he felt the need to create his own Mekon. As if Doctor Who needed an arch villain anyway. It already had the Master and that was a corny old concept anyway, based on a misunderstanding of Holmes' relationship with Moriarty and only there to give Pertwee's bombast a target.

Link | Reply

Lewis Christian 3 years, 3 months ago

Controversial opinions: The Master should never have been brought back post-Delgado. Davros should never have been brought back post-Genesis.

Link | Reply

jane 3 years, 3 months ago

Derek Jacobi and John Simm excepted, I agree. Davros was always terribly boring.

Link | Reply

Scott 3 years, 3 months ago

If these are controversial opinions within fandom, then fandom and I definitely do not see eye-to-eye.

(Although, while I will happily concede that the post-Delgado Master is a lesser creation, we still got "The Deadly Assassin", "Logopolis" and "Survival" out of him.)

Link | Reply

jane 3 years, 3 months ago

"Why didn't Nation develop his suggestion of the race of Dalek philosophers mutated by nuclear war into monsters mentioned by the Thals in the first story? Why drop that poetic concept for the drearilly clunky Evil Surrogate Nazis and their bonkers leader?"

Is it possible that the poetic origin was an addition or revision by David Whitaker? I do think Phil's onto something here -- the Daleks really have two original conceptions, Nation's blatant one and Whitaker's alchemical one. The former is infinitely boring and cliché, while the latter gets at the heart of Doctor Who. Which, interestingly, functions as a mirror.

Even when Nation goes back to rewrite the Daleks as a strictly Nazi allegory, the power of the mirror can't help but reflect their creator.

Link | Reply

Scott 3 years, 3 months ago

(Plus, like Jane says, Derek Jacobi.)

(I'm not quite as ready to agree about John Simm.)

Link | Reply

Scott 3 years, 3 months ago

The thing about Davros is that a whole fan-wisdom seems to have arisen around him that treats him like this hugely fascinating and complex character who is absolutely central to the very idea of the Daleks and without whom they cannot possibly function while simultaneously being rich and deep enough to exist quite happily without them, when as far as I can see the truth is the exact opposite. The Daleks were iconic long before Davros entered the picture, yet if you scratch away the mythic connotations granted to Davros by having "creator of the Daleks" on his resume, all you're really left with is another bog-standard shouty mad scientist with a God complex, a notebook full of sub-Nietzsche rants and plenty of 'Nazi-with-all-the-swastikas-removed' symbolism.

I mean, okay, he served a purpose and served it well enough in "Genesis of the Daleks", and everyone always bangs on about how the Dalek voices are boring if they give long monologues and need someone more 'human' to do if for them, but given that Davros' long monologues inevitably become longer ways of expressing concepts adequately summed up by the word 'exterminate' this hardly seems that essential to me.

Link | Reply

prandeamus 3 years, 3 months ago

I can't speak for fandom as a whole, but it's not wholly controversial. Long-running series like Who do have an irresistible tendency to revisit past glories, the Master and Davros being classic examples. Familiarity breeds contempt, after all. The Ainley master was not in any meaningful sense much more than an imitation of Delgado, perhaps excluding Survival, and the dreary repetitions of kings flight, the time demons, the holiday to Lanzarote and the Telford brain drain, and so on, did the part no favours. The Master was only defribillated as a character by Jacobi/Simm for a last blaze of glory, but please, no more.

The problem with Davros is that after Genesis he's just another supervillain (with a possible exception for Remembrance). Consider this, if you'd never seen any classic Who, does the "half-dalek-bloke-in-a-bonkers-wheelchair" character make any sense at all? The dialogue as I remember it is very "tell-not-show". A ten year old watching Journey's End might think "oh, it's the guy who made the Daleks. He's a bit like the guy who invented Cybus Cybermen. Yawn. What's for tea?" At least in Genesis we have enough background to sketch in Davros as a character, albeit a Terry Nation one.

Link | Reply

Lewis Christian 3 years, 3 months ago

I admit I really love Beevers/Pratt and Jacobi. I like Ainley but he only gave us two truly great stories (his first and last, in my opinion). Jacobi, also, was more Yana than the Master. And Beevers/Pratt, really, could've been any old burnt out Time Lord.

As for Davros... I like Molloy and Bleach but, really, Dalek stories have been weakened because of him and he's pretty one-note/repetitive.

Link | Reply

Lewis Christian 3 years, 3 months ago

Agreed. And, anyway, surely it'd be more fun to give 'longer monologues and speeches' to different characters - people claim it'd be boring for Daleks to always do it... well surely it's boring for it always to be Davros? The 60s managed great Dalek stories without him.

Link | Reply

David Anderson 3 years, 3 months ago

Prandeamus asks whether Davros makes any sense at all. If you left Doctor Who with only the things that make any sense at all, you'd probably only have the Cybus cybermen and maybe the ice warriors. The parts of Davros that work are the half-dalek bloke. Julian Bleach just about makes the bits of Stolen Earth / Journey's End that he's in tolerable. It certainly says something about a story that Davros is the thing grounding the bombast of the rest of the script, but it's Davies' last season finale. There you go.

Link | Reply

David Anderson 3 years, 3 months ago

The other origin of the daleks is Raymond Cusick.

Genesis of the Daleks had Holmes script-editing. Can anyone say whether Holmes introduced the wheelchair and the rest of the Holmesian deformity package for good and ill? A lot about Genesis is very Holmesian, up to and including the giant clam that destruct-tests the limits of the BBC special effects department, and the epic war between two cities that are a short stroll apart.

Link | Reply

David Ainsworth 3 years, 3 months ago

Fascinating as the mirror possibilities are, they can lead plausible in directions of fanwankery, too. Tying the Dalek's creator in some way into the history of the series makes all kinds of sense, even if it leads story down blind alleys. Imagine, for example, that the First Doctor leaves his home in a huff over the Daleks, carrying the Hand of Omega with a plan to use it to wipe the Daleks out for good. Something goes amiss, he ends up on Skaro and meets the Daleks in-person for the first time. By Four's era, he's no longer willing to go through with his own plan. Then he is in Seven's era, again in the Time War, then not in the most recent special (although that's ambiguous, as there's never any consideration of doing with Daleks and Time Lords what was done with humans and Zygons).

Such an account makes structural sense, I think, but is incoherent as a narrative. In many respects, it's useful for the Dalek stories to operate allegorically when the series isn't concerned with its own continuity, and for them to function alchemically once it is. Whitaker was up against not just Nation, but the nature of television in his era...

Link | Reply

Chadwick 3 years, 3 months ago

But if they had stopped Davros after Genesis, we wouldn't have had Revelation and Remembrance. He's crucial to both stories. The straightforward and the alchemy telling of the Dalek stories come into conflict in both and the destruction of Skaro triggers the Time War which leads on into the new series.

Link | Reply

prandeamus 3 years, 3 months ago

"making sense" was perhaps an infelicitous choice of phrase. I was imagining an average Joe who has only seen the new series, who sees Davros for the first time, and is told (nb not shown) that he's this mythical guy who created the Daleks. And yet they keep him as a mad uncle in the attic, or a pet. To anyone who knows the classic series, this makes a modest amount of sense in terms of the series continuity: they dig him out of Skaro in Destiny not because they love him or revere him but because he might be useful in breaking the Movellan Deadlock. You know that, and everyone reading this forum knows it. But in the context of the new series alone, the significance of Davros is, well, there isn't any. He gets a couple of elliptical references without his name being mentioned, but that's it. And now it's all "Aha Doctor We Meet Again".

The crazed Dalek with second sight was a much more interesting character, don't you think?

I quite like SE/JE, and I look forward the full blog analysis. The half-Tennant in a parallel world is OK, and at least we find out what a Half-Human doctor might be like. The bees? Meh. The stolen planets? Meh. TARDIS with a cestial tow-rope? Meh.

For me, the Donna arc was great with a genuine tragic ending. But we'll get there in good time.

Link | Reply

prandeamus 3 years, 3 months ago

The definitive Master, post-Delgado, is of course Gordon Tipple. [DUCKS]

Link | Reply

prandeamus 3 years, 3 months ago

Not quite sure about Remembrance. If the Dalek Emperor on the ship had been, well, the Dalek Emperor, and he had not revealed his true form under the bubble helmet, how much difference would it really have made? You can have a running thread about Dalek civil wars that does not necessarily include him. (Fair warning, I love Remembrance but Resurrection/Revelation have completely slipped my memory).

Link | Reply

prandeamus 3 years, 3 months ago

Of course, in the context of the 70s and 80s, Davros gives us a torso and face that is capable of more physical subtlety than Daleks, who really can't show much emotion without shouting. A man is more interesting to watch than a machine, and that does give him some raison d'etre at least.

Link | Reply

Theonlyspiral 3 years, 3 months ago

Can I ask what difference Remembrance would have if the Dalek Emperor had actually been an Emperor as opposed to Davros? All that matters is the Daleks are hoisted by their own petard.

You are correct that Revelation does fare much better with Davros.

Link | Reply

jane 3 years, 3 months ago

I dunno, Briggs really infused Oswin!Dalek with a great deal of subtlety and nuance. Even the Dalek in "Dalek" conveyed a lot of depth solely through voice work and a swiveling eyestalk. And of course some keen direction can also convey a lot of emotional subtext.

Link | Reply

Theonlyspiral 3 years, 3 months ago

I think Mark Gatiss' Master is pretty good.

Link | Reply

David Anderson 3 years, 3 months ago

I can certainly see that a fan who has grown up on Eccleston and Tennant and hasn't been obsessive about backstory might indeed be thrown by the sudden appearance of Davros.

Link | Reply

encyclops 3 years, 3 months ago

The Daleks are terrifying precisely because there is no real explanation other than “they want to kill you, and everything else too.”

I won't beat my dead Kaled mutant, but while I'd like nothing more than to agree, I just can't make myself feel it. Somehow this inscrutability tends to make them seem absurd to me, comical, cartoonishly two-dimensional, rather than archetypally frightening. Oh well.

I would love to read your take on the FASA Doctor Who roleplaying game from the 80s (or have you written one?). Among the many fascinating attempts in there to mold TV (dis)continuity into a cohesive world for roleplaying purposes is an origin story for Davros. Judging from the illustrations, he once resembled a more narrow-faced version of Roger Delgado.

Link | Reply

Assad K 3 years, 3 months ago

The John Simm Master... meh.

Link | Reply

timber-munki 3 years, 3 months ago

The thing with Davros (who I can take or leave) is that after his appearance in Genisis Dalek stories just became Davros stories. I'm no Dalek continuity expert but the question begs why (diagetically speaking) after at least 10 Dalek stories without either hide nor hair of him why suddenly he's all over their stories like a rash. I realise phrasing it like that the question could be is he the Scrappy-Doo of the Daleks*?

I Think the new series was right to bring him back, There was an inevitability about him in the context of bringing back an iconic character/monster from the first 4 doctors for the first 4 seasons of the new series, they were also right to not keep on bringing him back.

It's the nature of the beast that he's going to come back again eventually just don't make him the go to feature of a Dalek story, which was one of the failings of the later original series IMO.

* If the series ever gets to a story with that title I think it's justifiably time for another cancellation...

Link | Reply

Anton B 3 years, 3 months ago

Hmmm. I was prepared to accept the Whittaker as creator of the Dalek's alchemical origin but I've just checked a couple of contemporary sources from my bookshelf. Whittaker's novelisation Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks first published 1964 oddly does not repeat the 'Daleks were philosophers' line. Nation's rather more hack-job of a cash-in book The Dalek Pocketbook and Space Traveller's Guide first published a year later in 1965, while obviously not mentioning Davros (that revision was ten years away) does go into great detail on the Yarvelling and Zolfian origin and contains the following lines -

'They (the Daleks) were great teachers - and philosophers. Later they made Science, Invention and in certain repects, Art, their main attributes.'

Talk about material social progress! Maybe we should re-evaluate Nation's alchemical credentials.

Link | Reply

Anton B 3 years, 3 months ago

@Lewis Christian. 'Jacobi, also, was more Yana than the Master'.

I disagree. Jacobi put more pure evil and dramatic subtext into his reading of the line 'I...AM...THE MASTER!' than Simm, Delgado and Ainley combined. Just watch that scene again and look at the way his eyes narrow and glint as he murders Chan Tho. Jacobi is the master (pun probably intended) of playing the underestimated mild mannered character who unexpectedly gains power, as I Clavdivs demonstrates.

Link | Reply

Anton B 3 years, 3 months ago

It occurs to me that the problem with Davros is that, encumbered as he is with prosthetics, voice modulation and machinery, there is no room for an actor to give a redemptive or left-field reading of the character in the way that Jacobi and Simm did with the Master.

Link | Reply

Anton B 3 years, 3 months ago

In fact if Nation had held to his first idea and forgotten the cheap Nazi allegory we would have had the far more intriguing - Daleks as, in effect, the narrative collapse of material social progress. The Anti-Alchemists. No wonder the Doctor kept losing his mercury on Skaro!

Link | Reply

David Anderson 3 years, 3 months ago

Phil covered it. It's somewhere early in the Colin Baker era IIRC.

Link | Reply

Anton B 3 years, 3 months ago

'is he the Scrappy-Doo of the Daleks?'

Oh gods yes! Genius call. But actually., thinking about it, if we're going for the Scooby Doo analogy isn't the 'surprise' introduction of Davros in every story more like the repetetive, predictable and depressingly pedestrian reveal that it was the old caretaker all along?
"I'd have gotten away with it too if it hadn't been for those pesky Children of Time!"

Link | Reply

Lewis Christian 3 years, 3 months ago

I think Jacobi's suitably brilliant as the Master, but it's still a 7-minute scene I'd sacrifice if given the chance to erase all post-Delgado Master stuff.

Link | Reply

Lewis Christian 3 years, 3 months ago

I think a Wisher-esque Davros would make a magnificent 'portrayal' to play around with. He was capable of quiet, chilling, horrific... but he wasn't out-and-out evil back then. His "eeeeevil kill everything ahhh" only comes with Molloy onwards, I think. Bleach is eerily similar to Wisher, but was far too shouty and mobile. Tone it back a bit and it'd be ideal.

Link | Reply

encyclops 3 years, 3 months ago

As long as we get to keep some of the stories themselves. They have their flaws, but Logopolis and Castrovalva are two of my very favorite stories ever.

Link | Reply

encyclops 3 years, 3 months ago

Great, thanks! I'll go hunt it down.

Link | Reply

Ross 3 years, 3 months ago

@David Anderson: I dunno. They make a big deal about the parallels between Henry van Statten and the then-unnamed creator of the Daleks, so you'd expect a new-series-only audience to be primed for the idea of them presenting a genius-megalomaniac creator for the Daleks at least a little.

Link | Reply

encyclops 3 years, 3 months ago

I think what makes it hard is that the Master regenerates, and isn't definitively tied to a particular history other than what he has with the Doctor, so it's relatively easy to redo him.

With Davros, I think what would be interesting would be a version that's not an out-and-out psychopath but a mega-patriot who genuinely believes he's saving his race against their future. Or maybe a scientist who espoused relatively peaceful views until he was crippled by a "ruthless" Thal attack, which changed his politics considerably, such as happened to David Gelernter after he was attacked by the Unabomber (though, to be fair, I'm not sure what his politics were like before that). The problem is that you'd have to jump through hoops to reconcile that with classic-series and now "Journey's End" Davros -- he doesn't regenerate and you can't effortlessly retcon him. It's his history that encumbers him, more than the prosthetics and so on.

We'll talk about this in a matter of days, but I'm just gonna mention right now that the "reality bomb" and pretty much any "kill everything" plot (see also "The End of Time") are just insanely stupid. As soon as I hear that a villain wants to destroy absolutely everything just because, I tune out. There's no way to take that seriously.

Link | Reply

Ross 3 years, 3 months ago

Not that they really did anything with it, but in the context of the previous Dalek story, it's a Shocking Reversal; we've been led to expect that Davros, if he's there at all, is behing the 'renegades" and the "imperial" daleks are following, y'know, Whittaker's emperor.

Link | Reply

Ross 3 years, 3 months ago

I think it says something unkind about the show that a limp rubber mask was considered the more expressive option

Link | Reply

encyclops 3 years, 3 months ago

Am I the only one who can't keep track of renegades and imperials, or really bring myself to think or care about what the difference is? I think the only Dalek story where having them fighting amongst themselves worked at all was "Evil of the Daleks."

Link | Reply

5tephe 3 years, 3 months ago

While I understand the limitations of continually using Davros, and the fairly 2 dimensional and ret-conned nature of his character, I pleasantly have a different experience of him.

Growing up watching Doctor Who in the 70s and early 80s in Australia, where what we mostly got was repeats running a few years behind the British broadcasts, I was right in my prime behind-the-couch viewing age when I first saw Genesis. In fact that whole early Tom and Sarah Jane period is my foundational Doctor Who experience.

But when I was in later high school, toward the end of the 80s, I stopped watching Who - I fell off during Colin and wasn't the right age or mindset to get the subtleties of the McCoy era, so never got into it. I still haven't watched much McCoy. And I haven't read any of the wilderness years novels, really. So I never saw any of the Davros Returns stories.

As a result, when my wife and I were watching the "next week on" where they teased Davros' return in Journey's End, she turned to me to ask if I was alright: because I was gripping her hand VERY HARD.

Now, I'm a rational man in my late 30s. I understand INTELLECTUALLY the limitations of Davros as a character. But that voice - and the images it summons to my mind without my volition of a frightening blind face - are literally the stuff of my nightmares.

I don't think I'll bother to listen to I, Davros. I enjoy that childlike terror too much.

Link | Reply

heroesandrivals 3 years, 3 months ago

I know that you didn't want to delve too deeply into the Big Finish stuff on the blog, but have you considered doing a single entry on the Lucie Miller adventures as a palimpsest of the relaunched TV series? The way it shadowed and recapitulated them and how they exist as "read" by the audience side-by-side with the new series coming out? I think there's an interplay there.
It could be either after the End of Time (when the comparison is most relevant) or before Night of the Doctor.

Link | Reply

Ross 3 years, 3 months ago

I know I never had any trouble with it. I found it just utterly bizarre that John Peel seemed inexplicably to both think it was very important which was which and also have them backwards.

The renegades were the ones that looked old; the imperials were the ones that looked new.

(It was only years later that I saw and fully processed the previous Dalek story, by which time it was far too late for me to notice that the sides had switched.

Link | Reply

Theonlyspiral 3 years, 3 months ago

Phil covered them twice back in the Eighth Doctor era actually.

Link | Reply

Matthew Blanchette 3 years, 3 months ago

Phil's not going to cover "Night of the Doctor" on the blog; he said he's saving that for the McGann-Eccleston book, apparently.

Link | Reply

Philip Sandifer 3 years, 3 months ago

Yeah - I've kept the blog to a chronology of the Doctor's lives. I think the nature of the psychochronography demands that each Doctor be tied fairly intimately with the time period they originated from. A McGann-era post in 2013 just feels wrong to me.

Link | Reply

heroesandrivals 3 years, 3 months ago

I know he covered them as they stand alone, I was actually picturing about how it functions in relation to the new series. NEDA Series 1 vs. Who season 1, etc.
This is largely because I have a misguided belief the NEDA's Zygon arc is part of the reason we got them back in the new series, which draws me to compare their story about sentient Autons to Rory's fate in The Pandorica Opens, etc. and explore how the line's stories "respond" to the stories of the previous seasons of the TV show, which stories it's doing "our version of," or providing a counterpoint to or even disagreeing with the thesis of one of the new TV episodes.
Examining the NEDA's in relation to themselves is like doing a study of Andy Richtor's career without touching on Conan O'Brien.

Maybe not even the NEDA's themselves but Big Finish. Series 7 did back to back stories featuring The Witch From the Well and a Cyberman as the chess-playing Turk -- both of which were the subjects of 8/Mary-Shelly audio adventures the previous year.
Anyway, I find the interplay between the two series interesting in a way quite separate from an exploration of the stories themselves.

Link | Reply

What Happened To Robbie? 3 years, 3 months ago

@Ross I'm not sure if they did make such a big deal of it. From what I remember it's basically one line. I can imagine people who started with the revived series not paying much attention to it and certainly not remembering it by JE/SE (of course that depends on how much they've rewatched repeats/DVDs or delved into the series past - I suppose I'm imagining the casual viewer here)

Of course for me the primer Davros was coming back was the dead giveaway Davros boxset released just prior to the series ;)

Link | Reply

What Happened To Robbie? 3 years, 3 months ago

I always thought there was plenty of fan-wisdom that agreed that the Daleks had been reduced to dull stooges after Davros appeared. I love Genesis but Destiny was an incredibly underwhelming return coupled with the sudden insistence that Daleks were robots motivated by logic. Totally agree that they were iconic long before Davros entering the picture.

I really like Revelation and Remembrance but none of the things I like in those stories have anything to do with Davros. Having said that I enjoyed I, Davros and "Davros" audio with sixie.

Link | Reply

What Happened To Robbie? 3 years, 3 months ago

I think it depends on the voice artist. Peter Hawkins did some very expressive work - in particular the delivery of "I am your servant" in Power of the Daleks which is one of those moments that still chills me years after first hearing it.

Link | Reply

T. Hartwell 3 years, 3 months ago

Do they? In Revelation Davros is accompanied by the white/gold daleks, in Remembrance he's shown still leading them. Where is the switch?

Link | Reply

Lewis Christian 3 years, 3 months ago

It's a shame, as well, that the 80s Doctors only get 1 Dalek story each - all lumbered with Davros. We get "Death to the Daleks" and then it's a hell of a wait until "Dalek" for another Dav-less story.

Link | Reply

Lewis Christian 3 years, 3 months ago

"Yeah - I've kept the blog to a chronology of the Doctor's lives. I think the nature of the psychochronography demands that each Doctor be tied fairly intimately with the time period they originated from. A McGann-era post in 2013 just feels wrong to me."

Fair comment, but a shame, I think. It'd be nice to talk about McGann with the 2013 stuff. It helps enunciate the 'gap' between 1996 and shows he's been a long-serving Doctor (just off-screen).

Link | Reply

heroesandrivals 3 years, 3 months ago

I imagine he might be willing to review the Dark Eyes era -- like he did McGann's other 2 Big Finish eras -- but only Dark Eyes 2 will be out by the time he gets to that point, which makes it hard to parallax.

Link | Reply

Sean Daugherty 3 years, 3 months ago

In Revelation, Davros is creating the renegade (grey) Daleks secretly on Peaceful Repose. The serial ends with the imperial (white/gold) Daleks being tipped off to his location and taking him into custody.

Remembrance plays with this until very late the story: there's a Davros-sounding figure in a Davros-looking chair leading the renegades, versus the Emperor Dalek-looking leader of the imperial faction. Turns out, of course, that the renegade's leader isn't Davros, and the Emperor Dalek is. The implication there is that Davros sweet-talked himself out of execution following his arrest and inveigled himself into a leadership role.

Link | Reply

Sean Daugherty 3 years, 3 months ago

I really think Big Finish have done wonders with the Terry Molloy version of Davros, to the point where I'd rank the interpretation of the character we see in the audios as superior even to Michael Wisher's original portrayal. He's even has moments where he's almost sympathetic, ultimately hamstrung as much by Big Finish's inability to break too drastically from the character established in the television series as anything else.

And I'm not sure I accept that Davros is any less "out and out evil" in Genesis than he was subsequently, honestly. Less shouty, sure. But the defining moment for the character is his "that power would set me up above the gods" rant in Genesis, and it's a level of purely genocidal evil I don't think we see again from the character until the reality bomb business.

Link | Reply

Ross 3 years, 3 months ago

I believe that in Revelation, the Renegades were the white/gold ones and the Imperials were the gray ones, but otherwise yeah.

Link | Reply

Ross 3 years, 3 months ago

Also, when I finally realized the implications of the imperial/renegade reversal, it occurred to me that posit that Revelation is actually contemporaneous with Evil of the Daleks -- that the Daleks who show up to arrest Davros at the end of Revelation take him back to Skaro to find the Emperor dead, and Davros managed to maneuver himself into the power vacuum.

Link | Reply

Axel 3 years, 2 months ago

My understanding is that Terry Nation, who owns the Daleks wouldn't let the BBC use them without Davros after Genesis... 'cos that way they had to pay him more.

Link | Reply

New Comment

required

required (not published)

optional

Recent Posts

Archive

Tags

Authors

Feeds

RSS / Atom