Am I Becoming One Of Your Angels (Revelation of the Daleks)
|“Actually, come to think of it, Eric Saward has never|
written for vegetables. That does kind of make me jealous.”
It’s March 23rd, 1985. Philip Barley and Phil Collins are at number one with “Easy Lover.” Madonna, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Sarah Brightman and Paul Miles-Kingston, David Cassidy, and Nik Kershaw all also chart. Lower in the charts, Billy Bragg, The Smiths, and The Damned chart. In real news, ummm… actually all I’ve got, and I regret that I am not making this up, is that production of the Sinclair C5 electric tricycle is suspended. That’s all we’ve got. Sorry. Let’s move to television and Revelation of the Daleks.
What is most interesting about Revelation of the Daleks is that, other than the fact that it’s rubbish, it’s one of the greatest Doctor Who stories ever. This is, to some extent, just a restatement of our theme for Season 22 – that every story in it is a brilliant story about how terrible a story it is. Consider, for instance, the sequence in the first episode that pulls back from the Doctor and Peri to the DJ watching the Doctor and Peri to Davros watching the DJ watch the Doctor and Peri. It’s a thing of absolute beauty – one of the most narratively complex sequences in the classic series. And it’s merely the most clever of a bunch of intense clevernesses. This whole story is about passing control of the narrative around and about who does and doesn’t have authority over what’s going on.
The best Dalek stories involve unleashing the Doctor and the Daleks into someone else’s story – a drama about a space colony, the Forsythe Saga, a World War II movie (I’m talking about Genesis, not Victory), or, more recently, a bunch of reality programs, The Invasion, or Torchwood, the Sarah Jane Adventures, and a sitcom starring Catherine Tate that Catherine Tate is taking a week off from. Superficially, at least, Revelation of the Daleks mirrors that structure. Indeed, it’s on the whole a very straightforward and competent execution of that structure, well-directed by Graham Harper. Episode one shows us the world of Necros, episode two shows us Daleks slaughtering everybody on the world of Nekros. But there’s something ever so slightly wrong about this, and for that we need to look deeper at the notion of control of television.
There’s an important technological shift to note in a discussion of control over television that happened over the course of the early 1980s, which was the mainstream adoption of the remote control. It’s easiest to compare this to earlier television technology. When, in 1971, Doctor Who did a story with a bunch of very fast cuts among things and called it The Claws of Axos, the effect was that of a strange assemblage of imagery. That is, the somewhat confusing, rapid cuts around the Axon spaceship had the effect of creating an overall collage. This is because a 1971 television wasn’t built to change channels quickly – you had to get up and change it. And so the idea of switching between radically different things wasn’t part of what television did. Television presented a continual transmission of a thing. If that thing was a collage, fine, but it was still clearly one collage, if you will, and the audience focused on the overall spectacle of the thing.
But the remote control, and forgive the obviousness of this observation, invented channel surfing. Suddenly one way of watching television – arguably the default way – was to switch among different things. So when Revelation of the Daleks begins fast cuts among different parts of Necros it doesn’t look like a collage of images from one thing, it looks like flipping among multiple television programs. All of which are, due to the structure of the story (and the obsession with surveillance states that flares up this season – note that this is the third story this season to involve lots of watching people watch people), about people watching the other television programs.
This is the key thing to realize about Revelation of the Daleks and about Necros. Look at how everybody is kept apart in the story – you have Natasha and Grigory’s plot, Kara’s plot, the DJ’s not-actually-a-plot, and Jobel’s plot. In the second episode you further spin off Orcini’s plot from Kara’s plot. None of these are recognizably part of a single milieu. The usual accusation is that this is a story that is far more interested in its world than in the Doctor or the Daleks, but that misses the point – there is no world to this story. There’s just a collection of bits and bobs from other places. (This apparently even extends to the physical world of Necros – the sets are mostly repurposed from other shows.)
So the Daleks aren’t actually unleashed into anything as such. There’s no “there” to Necros. But this can’t be framed as some complaint about the inadequate fleshing out of Necros. Too much really clever effort has gone into making Necros not function as a coherent place. So this isn’t the traditional Dalek story paradigm, but it’s also not a failed execution of it. It’s something else – an active inversion of the normal paradigm.
Given everything going on within Doctor Who at this moment in time, there’s something frighteningly apt about having Doctor Who confronted with a vast assemblage of other television. The suspension is going to have a large number of entries to unfold over, but one of the major concerns underlying it was a shift towards a more overtly commercial BBC. (This ignores, of course, Doctor Who’s overseas success. As I’ve noted, the question of how overseas success ought be considered by the BBC is complex at best. Similarly, at the time of the suspension crisis Colin Baker hadn’t yet debuted in the US. The assumption that he’d tank in the US as badly as he had in the UK was not entirely unreasonable.)
So here we have a slightly absurd reiteration of the series’ actual travails. Doctor Who is actually pitted against everything else on television here. Instead of the Daleks and the Doctor being injected into other shows we get a straightforward Dalek story that is invaded by some half-dozen other television shows. This process turns out to play out substantially differently from the normal approach.
For one thing, neither the Doctor nor the Daleks actually do much in the first episode. The Doctor spends the first episode walking from the TARDIS to Tranquil Repose as various misadventures fail to happen to him. (There is that wall he climbs.) The Daleks, meanwhile, are almost entirely sidelined in the first episode, with Davros anchoring their aspect of the plot. Or, rather, his seemingly severed head in a vat. With all of them sidelined, the first episode is freed up to focus almost entirely on its other plotlines. And it’s actually quite good.
This is a real problem. Whatever frustration one might have with the fact that the show is Doctor Who and that maybe the Doctor should be in it, the truth is that he’s just about the least interesting thing in the first episode. And, worse than that, the bits with other characters are markedly more interesting than anything we’ve seen since Martin Jarvis was on screen. Yes, the deck is stacked against the Doctor here due to him having nothing to do, but really, most of the first episode is the best the show has been all year.
But just as the infusion of Doctor Who into another show does not erase the conventions of that show, the infusion of a host of other shows into a Dalek story does not mean that the conventions of a Dalek story are not observed. And if you have a bunch of Daleks in the first act you have to have a bunch of exterminations in the second. And so all of the cleverness that gets set up over the first forty-five minutes gets violently slaughtered over about twenty minutes of the second.
This is unfortunate, if inevitable. Because, frankly, the resulting Doctor/Davros confrontation and the Dalek civil war isn’t nearly as interesting as most of what came before. The collapse of the DJ from omniscient narrator commenting wryly on events to a generic character hiding from the Daleks and then getting exterminated is particularly bleak, although if we’re being honest, blowing up Daleks with rock and roll is possibly the most charming idea Eric Saward ever came up with. But for the most part this story amounts to the series confessing and demonstrating that, actually, the Daleks are less interesting than everything else on television.
This, on its own, would serve as an adequate final admission in the course of the exorcism. Having explored all of the failings of the series, the series finally and conclusively demonstrates that it’s behind the times and that the bits of other programs that assemble to make Necros are far more interesting even than Dalek action. The supposed best of Doctor Who goes up against the rest of the televisual landscape and is found wanting. Clearly it’s time to take a break and reevaluate things a little.
Except it’s worse than that. Continuing our alchemic themes, it is worth pointing out something significant that has not happened since Day of the Daleks, which is that the Daleks do not recognize the Doctor. There we read it as a commentary on the inadequacy of the earthbound format and the fact that the Doctor, in that story, isn’t quite the Doctor. It’s especially notable in contrast with Power of the Daleks where, notably, being identified by the Daleks was what defined Troughtons Doctor as the Doctor.
So within the existing grammar of the show, not being recognized by the Daleks is a cutting insult to this version of the show. It’s a final pox on the show. If the Daleks – who, let’s face it, dominate the conclusion here, since it was never really that Davison’s Doctor was ineffective so much as that the Doctor when written by Eric Saward are ineffective – aren’t able to stand up to the rest of what’s on television, well, fine. At least they’re still able to fulfill their function. The Daleks have never worked without the Doctor anyway, as Terry Nation spent the late 60s and early 70s discovering. So if they can’t cut it in the televisual world of 1985, well, who’s fault is that?
But let’s be clear here. Even the Daleks are doing better than the Doctor here. They may not be terribly interesting without the Doctor, but it’s worth noting that they’r still able to exterminate the rest of television, even if they’re not up to the task of doing it in a compelling manner. So the Daleks don’t need the Doctor to function and television needs neither of them.
The funny thing, if you want to call it that, is that this is wholly consistent with Saward’s apparent intentions. He saw the Daleks as no longer interesting, and he genuinely believed the worlds the Doctor visited were more interesting than the Doctor himself. Yes, this is almost certainly a self-fulfilling prophecy, but, well, prophecy fulfilled. The show is clearly not working even at the most basic level. It is, in fact, providing almost the exact opposite of compelling drama. Virtually all of the good bits of Revelation of the Daleks come in spite of it being a Doctor Who story, not because of it.
A central alchemical concept is the notion of putrefaction, previously dealt with in the Green Death entry. At its most basic concept, putrefaction is the process by which death becomes a creative process. Here we have the process in spades. Our season of exorcism ends at a funeral home in which the dead are literally repurposed, most obviously into Daleks. (Physical death, of course, is strictly optional) The Doctor is confronted with his apparent actual death – he even comments that it looks like this will be his last regeneration, which, to be fair, it very nearly was. The cliffhanger is him being crushed by his own death. In one sense, all that’s missing from this story is the moment in which the Doctor is reborn through his own death. Instead we get something stranger – the putrefaction breaks free of this story and grabs the series in its own maw for the next two and a half years. The thing most obviously missing from this story instead appears vividly over the next eighteen episodes of the series, as well as over the next eighteen months of the calendar as Doctor Who grapples, in real time, with a simultaneous death and recreation. And when we get to the next season, well, that’s where we’ll pick up – the idea of Trial of a Time Lord as the productive decomposition of a series that was meticulously killed this season.
But for now, this ends the main thrust of the Colin Baker era. He does, of course, get another season. In fact, we’ll still be in his era for a solid month and a half. But this is the main of it – the part that was able to play out exactly as Nathan-Turner and Saward had imagined it. The next season, despite all the extra lead time given to it, is an ungodly mess. And despite that, even at the end of it, it’s not clear what the idea of this season was supposed to be. I admit that there’s a bit of cheek to my “consciously demonstrating everything that’s wrong with Doctor Who” theme to this season, but it’s not entirely clear that a better explanation of what’s supposed to be happening here exists. Behind the scenes, as any of the myriad of accounts of this period will show, the show spent this era tearing itself apart. There isn’t what can accurately be called a creative vision here, and in many ways it’s a pleasant surprise that in the course of all of this that the program managed to articulate as clear a self-critique as it did. Now, however, we have to turn to the question of what the series could have been in this era. There are a lot of parts to this question – what it materially was during the hiatus, what else was on television at the time, what people have suggested it could have been after the fact, and what it nearly was at the time. So for the next eight entries that’s what we’ll look at.
May 16, 2012 @ 12:50 am
Hmm – Necros, planet of the dead, stitched together from bits of other worlds. A Frankenstein environment. Very nice idea. The channel-hopping reading hadn't really occurred to me before.
"the third story this season to involve lots of watching people watch people" – Varos, obviously, but what's the other one? Are you talking about the Rani's scanner?
May 16, 2012 @ 1:46 am
I haven't seen this in a while, but one thing that struck me about it was that Colin Baker's Doctor didn't really seem that bothered by the Daleks or by Davros. Isn't there a scene in a corridor where he runs into two Daleks and simply gets out of their way? (IIRC he says something like 'they went that way' but I'd have to check)
All I remember of his confrontation with Davros was his quip 'no 'arm in trying' after Davros had his hand shot off. That's almost a line from a bad James Bond movie.
May 16, 2012 @ 1:50 am
Someone should have told that to Lis Sladen too when she went "That's not as 'armless as it looks" in The Hand of Fear.
May 16, 2012 @ 2:03 am
I think the more essential thing about Necros – stemming from its original form as "Whispering Glades" in The Loved One – is its total artificiality. This is what connects the cheery, if horrendous, tackiness of it, with its being stitched together out of other worlds. The pastiched, ugly mish-mash of the necrosphere itself is matched by the pastiche of televisual forms we get. This is, after all, at base Evelyn Waugh given some postmodern self-commentary over the top.
Actually, I think Waugh is central to this, though it's not just The Loved One which is important. Vile Bodies (note title) also brings something to the table, here. To cut a good novel dangerously short, key sections of the book consists of people being terribly bored at parties. In short, people exhibit the wrong reactions in supposedly thrilling contexts. So here, too, we get the Doctor and the Daleks failing to actually produce the expected reactions in the correct context. As with the constant failure for fun to happen in that novel, so here we are constantly waiting for the point to arrive – either for the characters (the President of the Galaxy, or whatever-he-is), or for us (the confrontation).
Again, we can bounce this back onto Necros itself: far from being a frightening and phantasm-filled world which is expected of a necropolis, it's instead grotesque simply because it's all so naff.
Everything on Necros is phoney. Even the Daleks are fakes – constructs made from the wrong parts by a fake Davros. It even affects the Daleks who arrive from outside – who instead of destroying the impurities, simply intend to absorb them.
Where does this leave the Doctor? Difficult to say. His actual interaction with the world is peripheral – literally. As I recall his only actual action in the entire serial is to (fail) to hypnotise the mutant in episode 1. But then, this Doctor already stands exposed as a hollowed-out character. And what can he do against a thoroughly fake world? Nothing. He avoids contamination precisely by being entirely , and, in that sense, useless.
Again, this is reminiscent of Waugh – the only character to be entirely untempted and corrupted by the world in Brideshead Revisited is Bridey, who achieves this by totally failing to peform his duties in any sense, or indeed, to do anything at all. He floats along on the surface of the novel, unaffected and unaffecting (by and large – he does, at one point, react – but it has little actual effect because of the clumsiness of the attempt. Sound familiar?)
So the Doctor and the Daleks have been injected into another world – the world of Evelyn Waugh, where everything is exhausted, corrupted, contaminated, and inadequate to the task. Of course neither the Daleks nor the Doctor can function in this world: nothing else does.
(There may be another parallel here – between the Doctor's episode 1 trek to find Tranquil Repose and Tony Last's search for the City in A Handful of Dust, but I can't be bothered to turn this into a fully-fledged reading.)
May 16, 2012 @ 2:07 am
Addendum: action and inaction can also be read as a commentary on living and dying. In this sense, it's amusing that Jenny Tomasin gives such a lacklustre performance as Tasembeker, because – by killing Jobel – she is one of the few characters to actually be act and live in this.
The key revelation here, it seems to me, is that both the Doctor and the Daleks "have no life in them".
May 16, 2012 @ 2:49 am
"The real problem is that, whatever frustration one might have with the fact that the show is Doctor Who and that maybe the Doctor should be in it, the truth is that he’s just about the least interesting thing in the first episode. And, worse than that, the bits with other characters are markedly more interesting than anything we’ve seen since Martin Jarvis was on screen. Yes, the deck is stacked against the Doctor here due to him having nothing to do, but really, most of the first episode is the best the show has been all year."
I think that this can simply be explained by the fact that Eric Saward was, by this point, obviously interested in almost everything else EXCEPT the Doctor.
May 16, 2012 @ 3:33 am
There's also the impression here that Saward is basing his work on the two writers that impressed him the most: Holmes and Philip Martin. Hence the fun double acts and the DJ narrating events to the camera. It's as if the plundering of the series' own past is finally catching up with the present until there's nothing left to eat anymore.
Henry R. Kujawa
May 16, 2012 @ 4:35 am
"It's as if the plundering of the series' own past is finally catching up with the present until there's nothing left to eat anymore."
Oh, that's good. "SOYLENT GREEN IS MADE OUT OF PEOPLE!!!!"
I loved Orcini in this. Had totally forgotten William Gaunt, in another life, was one of the stars of THE CHAMPIONS, a fun short-lived show that mixed spies and sci-fi. He is, in effect, a vastly-better version of Lytton, a mercenary with an unshakable moral code, who thrills to the idea of being hired to kill the most evil man in the entire galaxy. But of course, he doesn't trust his employer (and for good reason). He was by far the best character in the story, and I loved the bit where he crosses paths with Colin Baker, by slamming a door in his face (almost exactly as happened in "STATE OF DECAY"), then, instead of teaming up, warns The Doctor that if he tries to follow him, he'll kill him. As if everyone else on the planet wasn't already trying. "Only I would be stupid enough to attack a Knight of the Royal Order of Oberon!" Well, look what he's wearing and how he's treating his gorgeous companion. Of course he's stupid!
Eric Saward actually had the nerve to say he hated "RESSURECTION" (and he wrote it, what a blithering idiot), but that it was something he "had" to get out of the way, because of The Daleks' confusing history. WHA'…? So, this was the Dalek story he really wanted to write. Why didn't he just write this one, first? (The whole of "RESSURECTION" could have been compressed into a single line of dialogue. News that a Dalek task force attacked the prison where he was being held to free him, but it got blown up in the process and no one's sure if Davros escaped or not. There, see? Actually, if that had been the entire story, without ALLLLLL the stupid, pointless sub-plots, that might have been a better story than it was.)
I love this story. And I've got a copy of "THE LOVED ONE" hiding around here somewhere I've been meaning to dig out for the last 2 years to watch again and compare… if I could just find the damned thing. Yes, The Doctor is reduced to doing nothing, because Saward doesn't care about him. The one thing he does is at the very end, where he suggests turning the planet into a farm to feed the starving billions. My main problem is, after Saward creates such a wonderful character as Orcini, not only does he fail to kill Davros, but Saward KILLS him off– just like Lytton– and doesn't even allow him the satisfaction of taking Davros with him when he blows himself up. That's just monstrously stupid. You don't just throw away a terrific character like that. Why was this idiot still working on the show at this point? Nobody else wanted to hire him, maybe?
Eleanor Bron is terrific in this. Wouldn't it have been so funny if her sidekick had been played by John Cleese? Or would that have been too weird even for this story?
Finally, it's often overlooked that THIS was the first TV story to show Daleks had anti-gravity hovering ability. Why? Because despite the skill and artistry of Graham Harper, the one shot you see it in is SO badly done, I saw the story 3 times and never noticed it, and had to read about it in the magazine, then watch the story again to verify that they didn't just make it up. Yep, it's there, but boy, what a botched shot. No wonder most people thought TV Daleks couldn't hover until Sylvester came along.
May 16, 2012 @ 4:38 am
And yet, this is somehow the most entertaining, watchable and modern-feeling story of the season. Funny, that.
One thing I really appreciated about this story is that it managed to give Davros a lot of depth (relatively, anyway). Up until now he's always been exceedingly cold and clinical, with outbursts of ranting. But Saward does a lot to make Davros more interesting. Now he is seen wheedling and flattering Kara, making morbid bon mots ("consumer resistance") and playing on Tasembeker's sexual jealousy. "If someone had treated me the way he has treated you…" That last one really blew my mind as a kid. One never expects to hear Davros talk about a romantic betrayal! It gave his character some unexpected facets. Certainly he's never been in love – but he can imagine such a thing and how it might make those weaklings feel. Great stuff.
May 16, 2012 @ 5:12 am
A wonderful story for this season, Phil — the diagnosis and acknowledgement of its flaws, which is also just an enumeration of what a Doctor Who story is.
It reminds me of what you said about Terry Nation's writing style in Destiny of the Daleks. Nation had been writing Dan Dare style adventure sci-fi long past its sell-by date. And it literally is a matter of its date. The Terry Nation adventure style was never really done badly; the world changed, and that kind of adventure was no longer appropriate. Season 22 was the same acknowledgement process for Doctor Who.
There was a kind of Doctor Who story that, despite the show's moments of experimentation, had never really changed. Perhaps the ordinary Doctor Who story is something like Timelash: The Doctor arrives in a world, fights monsters or a villain or both, changes the world in doing so, then leaves. By Season 22, Doctor Who had solidified into a single style, like Dan Dare. The production team certainly acted as if Doctor Who was only one type of story. The Whoniverse is this concept that makes the show into one more generic science-fiction franchise. But when Doctor Who becomes ordinary, it can't compete with everything else being done on television. It's out of date.
Phil mentioned in the Timelash entry that Season 22 was the last time the classic series, or Doctor Who generally tried a lot of these story ideas: the generic monster race, the companion without character, and so on. The traditional Doctor Who story had run out of energy. Contrary to what a couple of the commenters have said over the last few months, there really is no way for the series to continue if it had stopped in 1985. It wasn't that the stories didn't have interesting elements; the show had exhausted itself.
May 16, 2012 @ 5:45 am
I'd recommend reading "The Loved One" rather than watching it. The film is, by all accounts, a pretty poor substitute for the book.
May 16, 2012 @ 7:01 am
I haven't read the book, and I would not be surprised if it's better than the movie. But the movie is pretty damn great.
May 16, 2012 @ 9:29 am
He avoids contamination precisely by being entirely , and, in that sense, useless.
Was there suppose to be another word after "entirely"?
May 16, 2012 @ 10:12 am
Sarah's quip is an attempt to relieve tension, whereas the Doctor's putdown to Davros sums up his whole attitude. He just doesn't seem to rate Davros (IIRC; I need to re-watch it to be sure, but that was always my impression). There's an air of 'Davros. Daleks. OK. What's for tea?'
May 16, 2012 @ 10:38 am
Er, yes. Sorry. Please read "… entirely inert, and…" for "… entirely , and…".
May 16, 2012 @ 3:07 pm
May 16, 2012 @ 3:09 pm
May 17, 2012 @ 4:40 am
The Davros/Doctor confrontation is rather good – mostly down to Davros, who really seems to see nothing wrong in his day-to-day activities of turning corpses into food and selling it to the living. He doesn't really rant or rave about this at all, so long as you keep him off the subject of Daleks.
Davros: "I am known as The Great Healer! A somewhat flippant title, perhaps – but not without foundation. I have conquered the diseases that brought their victims here. In every way I have complied with the wishes of those that came in anticipation of being returned."
"The humanoid form makes an excellent concentrated protein. This part of the galaxy is developing quickly. Famine was one of it's major problems."
Colin: "You turned them into food??"
Davros: "A scheme which has earned me great acclaim!"
Colin: "But did you bother to tell anyone they might be eating their own relatives?"
Davros: "Certainly not! That would create what I believe is termed 'consumer resistance'. They were grateful for the food: it allowed them to go on living."
All seemingly reasonable, and Davros even brings the LOLs.
May 17, 2012 @ 8:42 am
He means Timelash as the third. Took me a second too, but the Borad is watching everyone constantly in that one, and everyone lives in a completely suveilled world.
May 17, 2012 @ 2:33 pm
"Doctor Who grapples, in real time, with a simultaneous death and recreation."
Doctor Who regenerates. It is a bit dodgy, this process.
May 17, 2012 @ 6:41 pm
It's interesting that throughout season 22 the Doctor keeps referring to his regeneration, almost as if it is still ongoing and still (or yet to begin) settling down. For all his protestations of "this is men, whether you like it or not" even the Doctor is aware that he's just not himself, that this is unexpected, off-kilter, unfinished – maybe even plain wrong.
I find it odd that the alleged plans for various different character arcs put forward by production staff to explain his negative personality have absolutely no evidence of occuring in what was broadcast (as if you would leave it entirely for future seasons!) and yet this thread clearly runs through the serials of season 22, and yet nothing was done with it either.
It would have been so simple (if a little underwhelming) to allege the Valeyard had been somehow mentally affecting the Doctor (via the same device implanted in the TARDIS that spys on and captures it) in order to show him as out-of-control and give reason to bring the Doctor to trial, and that the really off-character scenes in Mindwarp DID happen thanks to this psychic interferance. And I just made that up this second – it would have been easy to make good on it and give Colins term a more satisfying feel.
May 18, 2012 @ 1:12 am
I very much like this take on the story. One of the questions the story doesn't answer within itself is why all these exciting things (Orcini, Davros taking against Jobel, the Dalek war, the Doctor arriving) are all happening at the same time. Your proposed answer — well, why are all these different people doing all these different exciting things on my TV at 8 every weeknight? — is great.
Henry R. Kujawa
May 18, 2012 @ 9:41 am
""If someone had treated me the way he has treated you…" That last one really blew my mind as a kid. One never expects to hear Davros talk about a romantic betrayal! It gave his character some unexpected facets. Certainly he's never been in love – but he can imagine such a thing and how it might make those weaklings feel. Great stuff."
Who knows? He may have before his accident. And then of course, there's always Nyder…
May 20, 2012 @ 2:22 am
hah "this is men" should have been "this is me" although for all the "abused spouse" conversations in the comments, it still seems appropriate.
Henry R. Kujawa
May 24, 2012 @ 6:15 pm
Watched again tonight. As always– WOW!
But I really wish the music and sound mix wasn't totally botched. And it only got worse from here onward.
"not being recognized by the Daleks is a cutting insult to this version of the show"
It also stand in rather odd contrast to the fact that, somehow, Davros DOES recognize The Doctor, in fact, has spent considerable time and effort to lure The Doctor there, by somehow letting him know of Arthur Stenglos' death (how DOES one contact a Time Lord who flits thru time and space at ramdom, anyway???), and set up the fake statue of Colin Baker that falls on him. It's almost like "SON OF FRANKENSTEIN"– you feel as though there's an entire "Davros" story in between the last one and this one that's missing.
"he even comments that it looks like this will be his last regeneration, which, to be fair, it very nearly was"
The silly thing about that scene is, Peri worries, "If you die here, what happens to me? I can't fly the TARDIS!" Apart from that being a concern at all times, wherever they go, in this case it seems silly because, if The Doctor were actually dead when that statue had been set up, it would have happened in the past, NOT in their current present. So they would have had to have left and gone somewhere into the past, first, before he could be killed.
"Isn't there a scene in a corridor where he runs into two Daleks and simply gets out of their way?"
One of my favorite bits. "Ah! There you are. They went THAT way!" "YOU WILL COME WITH US!!!" (He was almost Tom Baker there.)
Just a thought: watching Hugh Walters (Vogel, Kara's secretary), who played "Runcible The Fatuous" in "THE DEADLY ASSASSIN", it struck me his voice reminded me of Michael Wisher's. A shame HE didn't play Davros in these stories.
"It even affects the Daleks who arrive from outside – who instead of destroying the impurities, simply intend to absorb them."
Shortly before being killed, Arthur Stenglos, while in "Dalek" mode, rants about eliminating impurities. Yet, by Dalek standards, what could be more impure than turning humans INTO Daleks?
It's kind of pathetic as Davros is led away how he tries to order the Daleks to obey him, because he's their creator, and he can make them "all" supereme.
Oh, and I really took note if the brief scene where Davros hovers. Orcini's right leg is seen in back of Davros, yet, the perspective is all wrong. Davros is too small, he's too far away for Orcini's leg to possibly reach that far! Who screwed that shot up???
As usual, everything connected with The Daleks, and especially Davros, is sick and diseased, and should be put down like the mad dogs they are. Will we ever see a true "final" Dalek story? I'd like to hope so…
Once again, Orcini is the best thing here. Every scene he's in, I can't take my eyes off him. His every word, every gesture, is sheer poetry. What a shame he blew himself up, but Davros got away.
September 19, 2013 @ 10:24 am
Interesting that you should reference vegetables in the caption, when you have Phil Collins performing on Easy Lover with a cereal grain!
April 20, 2017 @ 1:40 pm
Interesting post. I think you may have something there about the “channel surfing” nature of the story with its large array of different plots.
And yes, parts of it (usually parts of it without the Doctor) are indeed very good. The scene where Natasha encounters her Dalek-transformed father is a highlight.
But the overall effect… this is quite the strangest story in a long time, with so many different tones that it’s difficult to get involved. Whether it’s the bizarre DJ character, the unnecessary commentary on Peri’s weight, the poor sound production that makes dialogue difficult to hear or the staring at cameras, I just found too many things that had me struggling to tell the difference between intentional oddities and accidental ones.
It feels like there could have been something great here (and judging by the guides archived on the BBC website, some people thought there WAS something great here), but for me the end result is merely a different kind of failure than usual.
August 23, 2022 @ 10:36 am
First off, I’d like to acknowledge that it’s 10 years after you wrote this (and since I first read it) and I still come back to these entries to help me think about Doctor Who episodes I’ve just watched. This whole project really is incredible.
This is my favourite Colin Baker story, because it’s so high concept (it’s an entire planet given over to funerary rites!) that then focuses on minutiae (office romances, a hospital DJ for the dead, making sure everything’s presentable for a guest – even the daleks’ scheme is quite mundane and capitalistic, if gruesome and morbid). Your reading of it as Doctor Who and the daleks invading the rest of TV (or vice versa) really solidifies what I love about it.
Onto what actually made me write this comment, can the idea that this season is pre-occupied with surveillance be contrasted with Troughton’s habit of looking out of TV screens? Camera’s used to be under the Doctor’s power, now they’re something to be feared and to be used against him.
I think this then becomes quite interesting looking at the Two Doctors, where we’ve got the Doctor who displayed the most power over cameras, not quite himself, returning; the scene where a hologram of the Doctor is killed and tortured is then particularly interesting – a camera is used to literally kill an image/symbol of the Doctor. For a decent chunk of the story, this death is treated as equivalent to an actual death, before being revealed as “just” an image of the Doctor (in this story, as you point out, that death catches up to him).