Resurrection Of The Daleks

A group of humanoids wearing strange clothes are shot dead by policemen in London in 1984. In space, a junior officer is complaining about the state of the space station prison he is working at; whilst The Doctor and his two companions are stuck in some strange thing called a Time Corridor!

Resurrection of the Daleks is a Doctor Who serial from the 21st season of the show’s original run. The story was written by Eric Saward; and it starred Peter Davison as The Doctor. Originally intended to be transmitted as a four part serial, it was turned into a two part serial with longer transmission length due to scheduling change. The serial marks the Fifth Doctor‘s only encounter with The Daleks, as well as the final appearance of Tegan Jovanka, played by Janet Fielding.

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This time around; the Doctor is caught up once again in the affairs of The Daleks; but things aren’t going well for them. Following on from Destiny of the Daleks; the Dalek’s war against the Movellans has finally come to a close, with the Movellans winning. This is due to the Movellans creation of a virus that kills the Daleks. So, in need of rebuilding their proud empire, they once again seek help from their creator Davros (Terry Molloy), who is currently serving time in prison. Due to the issues with the virus however, the Daleks have had to adapt, and are now creating humanoid duplicates to act as soldiers.

Meanwhile, after getting loose from the aforementioned time corridor, the Doctor lands on Earth in 1984, with his companions Tegan and Vislor Turlogh (Mark Strickson). Arriving in London around Butler’s Wharf, they are greeted by one of the surviving humanoids from earlier (Rodney Bewes), who says soldiers have arrived and are looking around Shad Thames at some strange objects. When the Doctor and his companions go inside to have a look around however, Turlogh suddenly vanishes.

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When I first got into classic Doctor Who about 20 years ago; I received a copy of this story for my Birthday, and back then I really enjoyed it. I it was my first viewing of Peter Davison as the Doctor, plus the story was interesting, action packed, and made good use of it’s music and cast. Recently however, over a couple of viewings, I am struggling to like it as much as I did. The setup to the story is quite interesting, and it does have an interesting early plot, with some cool features, such as the discussion of the Dalek and Movellan war, the reintroduction of Davros and his little schemes, the troopers, and the many viewpoints of the story as it’s told. It does seem like a really interesting story, but as it develops, the interest sort of goes with it.

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Basically, it gets a bit stagnant, as it all comes together, scenes which feel unnecessary are just prolonged, and become un-captivating. Firstly the bits with the soldiers on earth just sort of become boring, Turlogh and Mercer (Jim Findley) chasing Davros around the space station doesn’t go anywhere, the Dalek troopers begin to focus on menial tasks, the Doctor’s brain wipe scenes are a bit plain, and when all put together just doesn’t go anywhere in a satisfactory direction. Also, there are some glaring continuity issues, but the funniest is the point where the police chase Tegan, with Tower Bridge within easy reach, and people passing by who can see all of this!

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Two of the more standout issues are easy to focus on though. Firstly Davros: It feels like a wasted opportunity by the BBC, for them not to put Michael Wisher on a guaranteed contract after Genesis of the Daleks. His performance was incredible, he was cold, calculating and had this sort of rasping voice. Terry Molloy meanwhile is doing the best he can, but the cold calculating tactician is replaced with huge amounts of shouting, which just makes Davros look a bit Nutty, or more like a spoilt child. But his story though is where it gets really confusing.

Surely for a character like that, if their creation rebels against them, they would want some form of revenge, or an opportunity to be their master again. Here though, Davros suggests he wants some form of revenge, but then says he also wants to make The Daleks the supreme beings again. He spends the whole story contradicting himself. Where’s the Revenge, where’s his new Dalek design to wipe out the others, why does he want Daleks under his command to fight the others, if he just wants to kill them all off at the end anyway? He’s no longer this intricately designed character, with a sinister voice and appearance, he is now just your bog standard mad scientist.

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But at least Davros is actually in the story! The Daleks are rarely seen! They turn up, take over, then take a back seat. They come up every now and then, but for the most part the story focuses on human characters. The story does show the internal Dalek creature for a time, but again, there could have been more of a focus on Daleks in a story featuring ‘Daleks’ in the title! The troopers side of the Dalek story are actually rather cool with a good look, but with them taking on more of the story, why couldn’t they have been the whole focus, with a tiny juicy worm at the end of the story’s hook, to say that they were in fact working for the Daleks? In fairness though, the Daleks did get at least one good scene:

This wonderful scene where they march down the smoke filled corridor, with that impressive score behind it. But then after that they become merely a footnote in the story, such a shame really.

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It’s not all bad news for the story. For a start there is some cool music in the serial, from the Daleks arrival, to Lytton (Maurice Coulbourne) ordering battle stations, to little pieces here and there, and the eventual self destruction scene. But, the real shining light of this serial, is it’s cast.

The story features a huge number of additional cast members; but demonstrates it’s best talent to the forefront of the story. The main three being Leslie Grantham, Rodney Bewes, and Maurice Coulbourne. Leslie Grantham looks deceptively sinister standing beside Davros, in the same fashion as Nyder did in Genesis. The chemistry between Rodney Bewes and Peter Davison is interesting, and the founding’s of this chemistry comes to the surface, as it creates one of the story’s best twists, and goes down a new route, all leading to some interesting pieces of science fiction. Lytton meanwhile is this constantly steady rock, who really does act like a real challenge to both the good guys, and his own bosses. He is such an interesting character, with a really good screen presence, and just commands your attention throughout.

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The high levels of casting in this story creates some really good characters, but, it does lead onto another sore point in this story: It’s Brutality! Resurrection of the Daleks could be seen as the production team wanting to capitalize on the success of Earthshock, which brought the Cybermen back from a seven year slumber. It was a cool story, and the Cybermen’s return was really well done. So no wonder they wanted to do something similar with the Daleks. But, in this case, there is way too much death for a Doctor Who story! Basically the best and easiest way to describe it is as follows:

It’s a Massacre! You can see why a companion leaves at the end of this story. If you want to get rid of a Doctor Who companion in the quickest way possible, psychologically damaging them is one way of doing it; but it is very cruel! Seriously, the death count is high. Daleks die (but that is sort of par the course in a Dalek story), good guys get killed followed by their own duplicates. Troopers die (which is sad given how well they are presented in the story), additional support characters are killed off in meaningless ways. It’s a Doctor Who bloodbath (but in BBC primetime family friendly way), it’s so sad!

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Resurrection of The Daleks is an interesting addition to the world of Doctor Who. It features an interesting set-up, good character chemistry, some cool pieces of music, some action packed scenes, and a great cast. On the downside, well it’s everything else, which feels like at least half the show! It is worth watching at least once in my personal opinion, as these good quality’s make it worth it, and must be seen; but given the rest of it, you may not want to watch it again. But to try and end this whole sad story on at least one good positive point, watching it means we do get to see the awesome opening titles of Peter Davison’s era; which is always a positive; as they are the best!

2 thoughts on “Resurrection Of The Daleks

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  1. Enjoyed reading that. Was randomly watching the Doctor Who Comic Relief special on the train to work today where they filmed it partially on the Eastender’s set. Davison always seemed quite, stoic in the role lacking a little of the geniality of the others but still a great actor and part.

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