Typical of an Eric Saward script, there are several cross-connecting plot strands. It’s better to split them up rather than trying to intertwine them. Oddly, the Doctor (actor Colin Baker) and Peri (Nicola Bryant) practically become a minor strand in their own story. They arrive on the wintery planet Necros where politicians and the wealthy are stored in suspended animation than death, waiting for medicine to restore them to life.
The thing is the Doctor had heard that Professor Arthr Stengos had actually died. They are attacked by a mutant and that Peri fatally injures while rescuing the Doctor. They then become a bit more cautious approaching the Tranquil Repose.
What they don’t know inside is that Natasha Stengros (actress Bridget Lynch-Blosse) and Doctor Grigory (actor Stephen Flynn) have already barged in looking for her father, only to find a manikin instead of his body. Evading capture, they come across a room containing brains in fluid and her father’s head going the same way and who insists she kills him before he is turned into a Dalek. Alas, they are soon captured and tortured.
Behind the scenes, the Great Healer is controlling things. He also goes by another name, Davros, or rather what’s left of him which is just a head as the result of the Movellian virus. He wants the brains to turn them into a new breed of Daleks and their remains cultivated into food to feed the rest of the galaxy.
However, Kara (actress Eleanor Bron) and Vogel (actors Hugh Walters) the owners of the factory hire the mercenary Ocini (actor William Gaunt) and his squire, Bostock (actor John Ogwen), to assassinate Davros. As he does so, he is supposed to activate a control so they can destroy Davros’ agents in the factory, little realising what is really planned.
Watching everything is a bizarre media clothes-changing DJ (actor Alexei Sayle), who is turn is suffered by Davros for existing. Davros is content to know that the Doctor is falling into his trap.
Finally, we get back to the Doctor and Peri in the grounds of the Tranquil Repose. The Doctor misses a sighting of a Dalek but startled to see a monument to his current regeneration, realising he is seeing his limited future when it begins to fall on him.
I’ve missed out one strand from the opening episode simply as its mostly scene setting and oddly it isn’t that significant in the grand order of things which is a waste of the really talented actors Clive Swift and Jenny Tomasin, when its hinted they had a bigger part to play in the opening episode.
Saying what happens next goes totally spoiler, simply because few can be trusted here. Instead, I’ll focus on some points and hope you catch up with my comments here when you watch the story. There is little explanation for anything here. With Davros turning hibernating bodies into food protein for that part of the galaxy, you do have to wonder how many people are being fed. Even more so when the blue flower is turned into a replacement protein. Can’t any of the other planets grow food anymore? Likewise, all Davros did was harvest brains for his new version of the Daleks and, even then, not many of them. Are there so few politicians and wealthy to choose from or are they only chosen as worthy because of any psychopathic tendencies they might have? Surely Davros could also have manipulated the protein food itself to commit genocide against the rest of the galaxy? Likewise, why did it take so long for the original Daleks to find him? The resolution of the Davros head also suggests that things aren’t quite what they seem in the later story, ‘Remembrance Of The Daleks’. Will the real Davros please stand…I mean roll up please.
In some respects, I can understand the criticisms from back then that there was a lot more violence in ‘Doctor Who’ but it was a progression from the Davison era than solely on Colin Baker’s watch. If anything, I would think it emphasises that war is dangerous and casualties are high. I’m still puzzled how Saward openly managed to get around the script editor isn’t supposed to write stories for the show unless the open secret meant the rule was finally relaxed.
The audio commentary is lead by director Graeme Harper, script editor Eric Saward and actors Nicola Bryant and Terry Malloy, where they cover a lot of ground. Saward points out that many of the character names were based on things he found when he was writing on the Isle of Rhodes. The snow was a welcome surprise for the filming of cold weather. Harper also points out that the story was intricate with a touch of absurdity with a DJ at a radio cemetery.
Saward points out that the lack of the Doctor in this story wasn’t intentional although Bryant points out that she had a lot more of the action. Harper points out that they were going to have a flying Dalek for Orsini to shoot down but snow prevented that. That was the same reason why they couldn’t show Davros levitating as well. It does raise an interesting question that if they had the Daleks levitating, why wouldn’t that be a preferred preference than rolling along the ground all the time?
I also disagree with Saward regarding ‘Genesis Of The Daleks’ as we did see the Daleks being created in that story. They were in the background when the Doctor was debating whether or not to unite the wires that would destroy them.
Saward drew comparisons to Laurel and Hardy and even Don Quitoret and Sanchos and yet fails to recognise a comparison of Tasambeker (actress Jenny Tomasin) stabbing Joblin (actor Clive Swift) and that of the assassination of Julius Caesar.
Harper points out that some panelling from Century 21’s ‘UFO’ series was used in Davros’ chamber on the walls. Seeing the curves, I would think they belonged to Moonbase but alas not lit, even if the electronics had been there.
Oh, the final word and destination missing from the end where the Doctor was planning to go next was ‘Blackpool’ which got scuppered when the show got cancelled for its violence.
Oddly, the 45 minute ‘Revelation Exhumed’ has interviews with most of the cast and some crew making it odd that neither Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant weren’t included.
‘Behind The Scenes’ is a 16 minute fascinating look of the studio recorded scenes before they had the special effects like the Daleks firing added. You also get to see Daleks exploding and Davros having a drink. There’s 2 minutes of ‘Deleted Scenes followed by a 6 minute Photo Gallery. The latter show behind the scenes photos and you want to watch for one vital picture after the credits.
(region 2 DVD: pub: BBC. 1 DVD 89 minutes 2 * 45 minute episodes with extras. Price: £ 6.99 (UK) if you know where to look. ASIN: BBCDVD1357)
cast: Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Terry Malloy, Eleanor Bron, Clive Swift, Alexi Sayle, Jenny Tomasin, William Gaunt, John Ogwen, Bridget Lynch-Blosse and Stephen Flynn