Revelation of the Daleks
War of the Daleks
The novelisation
Remembrance of the Daleks

Episodes 4 Aiming for the Doctor
Story No# 152
Production Code 7H
Season 25
Dates Oct. 8, 1988 -
Oct. 26, 1988

With Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred.
Written by Ben Aaronovitch. Script-edited by Andrew Cartmel.
Directed by Andrew Morgan. Produced by John Nathan-Turner.

Synopsis: Two factions of Daleks battle for the deadly Hand of Omega, a relic the Doctor left behind on Earth after An Unearthly Child.

Reviews 1-20

A Review by Allen Robinson 9/1/97

One of the most annoying things about Doctor Who is the sheer number of stories that depend on the viewer's knowledge of past events to fully appreciate what's happening.  This story, which references not only past Dalek continuity, but serves as a sequel to An Unearthly Child, is an example of the production team managing to pull it off. Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred, in only their second story together, are already one of the classic teams, and the hints that the Doctor is more than we suspected work very well indeed. The story succeeds as an action piece, and the foreshadowing of the UNIT team, with Gilmore and Rachel serving as prototypes for Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and Liz Shaw, is inspired.  It's also lovely to see a Dalek story in which the appearance of a certain character is actually a surprise (no spoilers here!). All in all, I think Remembrance is the beginning of a new era of greatness for the series. What a shame the BBC disagreed.

A movie waiting to be made by Oliver Thornton 29/3/98

The first thing I would like to say is that I haven't seen this one in a long time. The second is that I agree largely with what Allen Robinson has already said.

The idea to bring the Doctor back to the beginning was something that would either work marvelously, or fall flat on its face. Fortunately, this did the first. At the time, I had little knowledge of the early Doctor Who stories, but still understood what was going on with the minimum of trouble. The story was excellent, Davros finally raising his own Dalek army to take on those Daleks who have rejected him, and the fight that ensues, is good in itself, but add in the Doctor's meddling and the trap he set and it becomes nothing short of brilliant with action and developments all over the place.

For me, what made this story so memorable (so much so that I can remember enough to detail to review it many years later), has to be Ace's first show as the Doctor's regular companion. I have made a review of her elsewhere which makes quite clear why I liked her so much, and all the same things apply here. Ace's character is properly established as a rebel and someone who will fight back rather than cower in a corner. The interplay with Sylvester McCoy's Doctor is also immediately established in the first scene, where the Doctor uses one of Ace's bombs to blow up a (already slightly damaged) Dalek in the junkyard. It is the first time he uses the phrase, "one day we are going to have to have a little talk about safety standards" or words to that effect, a comment he makes more than once in future stories. And later, Ace also gets to blow up a Dalek.

The dark humour of Sylvester McCoy's time as the Doctor is here mostly restricted to his own comments, things like "Don't you recognise your mortal enemy?!" and other conversations with the Daleks stand out in my mind most notably.

This is one of the few Doctor Who stories that also works well as pure cinema. Most of the stories I've seen work best if taken at least in part as being closer to theatrical productions than cinematic ones. This works brilliantly as either, which to me indicates that for once all of the effects, script and performances have been done competently, even excellently, and combined into a coherent whole. A classic, and a movie just waiting to be made!

"They hate each other's chromosomes" by Will Jones 31/7/99

London, 1963. In a junkyard at 76 Totters Lane, strange and peculiar events are taking place. Events inextricably connected to at least one missing Londoner and an enigmatic stranger known only as… “The Doctor”. You can enjoy Remembrance of the Daleks without having any idea that this synopsis could refer to any other story, but it would increase your enjoyment if you did have that extra contextual knowledge. You see, this is the way continuity always should have been used in later Doctor Who, but thanks to somebody I won't name but whose initials are JNT, the word “continuity” related to any Doctor Who story after 1980 is something of a dirty word amongst fans. Remembrance shows that it didn't have to be that way. The tale is fully comprehensible even to someone for whom this was their first experience of the programme, yet for hardened and knowledgeable fans the implicit backstory makes Remembrance so much better.

I can count on the fingers of one hand Doctor Who stories that are better than this one. It's simply excellent, and has everything you want from classic Doctor Who – scary villains, evil plans, big guns, a clever trick from the Doctor, a triumph for the little guy – not to mention things you don't normally expect from the programme, but that we get here as a little present. Things like special effects. For SFX, there has never ever been a better story than Remembrance. The creatures living inside the Imperial Daleks look good from the little we see of them; the Special Weapons Dalek is one of the most convincing-looking opponents of recent years; and the junkyard battle is also fantastic looking. I know all this is just paraphernalia, but it's damn nice to see the programme looking like this.

The opening sequence is just inspired, too, and starts off brilliantly one of the best first episodes the programme ever saw, leading of course to the magnificent cliffhanger. The menace is finally restored to the Daleks as their greatest weakness – the inability to climb stairs - is removed. McCoy's acting really helps too, he looks absolutely terrified and as stunned as the viewers at home presumably were. The first episode is also great in that it gets rid of that stupid convention of leaving the first appearance of a Dalek until the cliffhanger as a supposed surprise in an episode entitled “XXXX of the Daleks”. Revealing the Dalek early on allows the story to get going quickly and wastes no time in a dull build up.

There are very, very few problems with this one: the absolutely rubbish acting of Jasmine Breaks is one, but then her character is supposed to be under Dalek mind control. The acting on the whole is fine: Simon Williams and Dursley McLinden do very well as the men of the operation, and Pamela Salem and the gorgeous Karen Gledhill are equally good if not better as the scientific advisers utterly usurped by the Doctor. Note to anyone who may make Doctor Who in the future: if you want a good adventure, put Pamela Salem in it – she’s incapable of being in bad Doctor Who.

On the whole, then, Remembrance of the Daleks is one of the absolute highlights not only of the McCoy era but of Eighties Doctor Who as a whole; not only of Dalek stories but frankly one of the best – if not the best Earth invasion stories as well. 9/10

The Bell Tolls by Rob Matthews 14/7/00

Coming off the back off the horribly flawed and frequently ludicrous season 24, it's no wonder that Remembrance feels like such a triumph. And yet if only the basic setup were described to you, you'd expect just another of those superficial runarounds where the Doctor tries to stop some old baddy gaining control of time. And it's chock-full of those continuity references that irk so many of us.

So, apart from being viscerally entertaining, why does it succeed?

Firstly, through sheer confidence. Season 24 felt panicky and vague throughout. There were a couple of good ideas, but no wholly good stories. Each and every one of them contained at least one moment that had me squirming in my seat with embarrassment. Remembrance feels sure of itself from the first moment. The scene in which the Doctor breezes into Rachel's van and converses with her like they're old friends kind of exemplifies this newfound sang-froid. The series has become unselfconscious.

Secondly, it has a good script with some great lines and crisply conceived characters that are acted very well. There's no substitute for any of that, is there? "That's the point, group captain. It isn't even remotely human"; "I've no idea. I'm a physicist"; "Transmat? What does that mean?"/"More Daleks"; "Your career is magnificently irrelevant"; "I thought you said he was an old geezer with white hair". Even the Doctor's much-maligned question mark obsession is entertainingly used - I love the Supreme Dalek's reaction when it sees his calling card.

Thirdly, the serial embraces Doctor Who history not in self-congratulation, but instead to subvert itself. Sylvester McCoy's dark, manipulative Doctor is a far cry from the buffoon we saw the year before, something I presume first-time viewers wouldn't have expected, and probably wouldn't have really picked up on for the first couple of episodes. The scene when he's left alone with the Hand of Omega, and the one in which he hints at his involvement in Gallifrey's stellar experiments, are very well-acted, with the Doctor coming across as a genuinely sinister figure for the first time since, er, 1963. It brings the show full circle.

That's why I think Remembrance is so powerful, and such a paradox. By bringing a new lease of life to the show, it also brings its run to a satisfactory conclusion. It is one of the four great 'final' Doctor Who stories (along with Greatest Show, Curse of Fenric and Survival). Just as The Evil of the Daleks brought the sixties Dalek era to a finale, so Remembrance brings the Davros-era Dalek saga to a 'final end'. The title of this story is apt indeed. Every important element of the post-Genesis Dalek stories is comfortably integrated into this one. The warring factions, the genetic one-upmanship, the Nazi allegory (present in The Dead Planet and Dalek Invasion Earth too, but the inclusion of Ratcliffe presents an explicit parallel here), the threatened attack on Gallifrey first suggested in Resurrection, the presence and destruction of Skaro. And of course there's one of those scenes where the Daleks yell "Exterminate" at someone for seven hours without actually firing their weapons.

But here's my favourite thing; Tom Baker couldn't bring himself to put those two wires together in Genesis, Peter Davison couldn't bring himself to kill Davros in Resurrection, Colin Baker didn't have time to do much of anything in Revelation. The big confrontation at the climax of Remembrance was a long time coming, and the Doctor's unexpected ruthlessness is absolutely magnificent (I can only hope that there were no Thals left on Skaro by this point!). It's especially powerful coming from a Doctor who has up to now seemed very very silly. In spite of that rice pudding line, the Doctor's condemnation of Davros is brilliant. He really does sound like he's sick to the back teeth of Davros's -- and every other monster's -- demented ranting. Never mind Fenric; this scene acts almost as the ultimate, the final confrontation between good and evil in the show. Because Davros isn't a supernatural evil; he's basically a human being trying -- as the Doctor points out -- to deny his own impotence. That's where real evil comes from.

Conversely, there's the matter of the Doctor's sudden near-omnipotence. I know some fans find this a bit too much to take, especially since it had never manifested itself before. Peter Davison's Doctor, for example, couldn't manipulate toothpaste out of a tube. And if Colin Baker had worked with Rassilon, you can't imagine that he'd have kept quiet about it! But that's the point of mystery, isn't it. For the record, my own little theory is that the Doc was somehow affected by his time spent in the Matrix in The Ultimate Foe. Maybe an old dormant memory was stirred, one that he'd willed himself to forget in the distant past. Well, it's nice to play with ideas.

The finality of the Dalek's fate is perhaps undermined by Davros managing to escape again. But that's Davros for you. Also, references to the Zygons, Yeti and the planet Spiridon are perhaps a bit gratuitous.

Also, the Daleks seem to have come down in the world a little since the first two 'R of the Daleks' stories - in Resurrection, their time corridor functioned without a receptacle, and they used human clones rather than (presumably) more fallible human agents.

But I guess this is a 'back to basics' kind of Dalek adventure, solid and uncomplicated. On the whole, the malevolent pepperpots couldn't have had a better or more appropriate send-off. Remembrance, indeed.

And am I crazy, or was that little girl some kind of tribute to Roberta Tovey?

"Ahh Wicked!" by Adrian Loder 13/8/00

Although my love for Dr. Who tends to run more toward the Pertwee/T.Baker/Davison years, I have to state right at the start that Remembrance is a rather good story. It isn't, however, perfect, and there are a few bits which tend to grate on my nerves for almost the entirety of all four episodes. Nevertheless, I believe it rises above these things. First, a few of the bad points:

  1. Ace -- I'm sorry. A lot of people seem to really like Ace, and in general she seems to be regarded in the same group of such wonderful companions as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Sarah Jane, Peri, etc., but I have never had much nice to say about her. The entire 'modern girl'-boom box-rebel-sort-of-pose really don't work for me, though in her defence she takes the initiative at several moments of Remembrance, which does flesh her out a bit. The whole pseudo-romance between her and Sergeant Smith is enough to make me gag, though. For some reason, I've never really found romance to be something Dr. Who does particularly well, perhaps because it doesn't fit in so well with the mix of dramatic world-saving and tongue-in-cheek humor.
  2. The incidental music -- Sometimes I say to myself that Remembrance must be one heck of a good story for me to sit through all 99 minutes of it even with the horrendous incidental music. The music suffers from the same qualities Ace does -- the effort to be 'hip', 'new', 'modern'. I can just imagine the execs at the BBC saying things like "It's the 80s man, we've gotta have music the kids will dig". Personally, I find it cheesy, and when I was watching it just yesterday, my roomie was on the computer, watching it periodically, and everytime some of the incidental music started playing I would inwardly cringe in embarrassment. I should also note that I hate the Sylvester McCoy-era theme song for the show.
  3. This is a minor pick, but the Doctor makes a big to-do about Ace's boom box when she complains about it getting blown up, and then goes on to say that "even the Daleks, ruthless as they are, would think twice before making so incalculable a change to the timeline", referring, of course, to the annihilation of the Earth. Yet, even as satisfying as it is, the Doctor causes Skaro's sun to go supernova, destroying not only Skaro, but any other planets that might have been in it's solar system. Apparently it's okay to change the timeline via destruction of an entire solar system, just as long as it's the bad guys' homeworld.

Now for the good points:

  1. Sylvester McCoy -- I really like the 7th Doctor. He isn't my favorite by a longshot, but he is such a wonderful mix of caring, righteousness, mystery, courage, cynicism, and just a splash of darkness, that he makes for a Doctor that is entirely unique and different from the others. He is well-acted, and his different facets manage to interact in different ways with various members of the supporting cast, his caring for Ace, his righteousness in the face of Davros, the mysterious air he assumes around Allison and Rachel, his cynical attitude when speaking with Group Captain Gilmore, etc.
  2. The Daleks -- Look, say what you like, but a story with the Daleks is guaranteed to be watchable at the very least. It may not be good, it may not even be fair, but it won't burn holes where your eyes used to be as you watch it. Having both Dalek factions was nice, although I do wish that the Doctor's plan to let the Imperial Daleks recover the Hand of Omega would have been kept a secret from the viewer for just a little longer. That aside, the Daleks just make for entertaining viewing, and I have always loved the Dalek voices. One thing intrigues me in that regard -- in just about ever Dalek adventure I've ever seen, Roy Skelton is credited as one of the voices, and I've nowhere seen him credited in any other capacity. I just get this strange image of a guy sitting in his London flat, when he gets a phone call saying 'Hallo Roy, this is JNT, we need a Dalek voice for a new Dr. Who adventure'. Anyway. I seem to have strayed a little bit. Daleks good.
  3. Special Effects -- Okay, I actually don't care about effects at all, but if I were trying to hook someone onto Dr. Who, I think I would go for Remembrance, as my friends usually aren't so forgiving of rubber monster costumes and the like. Plus, it has a lot of explosions. Once I'd shown them this, I would hope they would have been hooked on the other aspects of the show, and then I could proceed to, say, The Ark In Space, or Robot.
  4. Humor! -- I've never believed that Dr. Who often blatantly laughs at itself, but a little tongue-in-cheek humor not only steers away pretentiousness, it also mixes up the emotions felt during viewing, so it isn't all being gripped like a vise by dramatic tension; scenes like when the Doctor asks Ace if she can drive, then complains about the job she's doing at it, and she comments that if he doesn't like it, he should drive....and then we see them both plop down in the opposite seat from where they were.

A bit lengthy, I know, but Remembrance of the Daleks really brought forth some strong reactions, a few bad, but mostly good. All in all, a recommended story.

Buh-doom by David Barnes 17/7/02

You may be wondering what the title of this review is about. Well buh-doom is the noise made by a Special Weapons Dalek when it fires. The noise is a favourite of mine and some of my friends. For I chose this story to try and get two of my best mates into Dr Who, Simon Ball and AJ Cameron (he likes to be called AJ on the net).

This story is one of my favourite stories (it's 6th in my top 10) and it was my first DVD I got (the reason why my mates saw it; I invited them over for dinner on my last birthday and the DVD was a present from my grandad).

The story opens with a wonderful pre-credits sequence by the way.

Sylvester McCoy is superb and has stopped all the unnecessary faffing about from the previous season (although I do like 3 out of 4 of the stories from Season 24). His first scene with a Dalek and his manipulating of Davros were some of his best bits.

I've never liked Ace. She is the worst companion to be on Doctor Who (yes, blasphemy I know!) because I hated all that angst and "Cor! Wicked" etc. But she's quite good in this story and Sophie Aldred makes her seem like a generally nice person.

The guest cast are all good, Simon Williams as Group Captain Gilmore and George Sewell as Ratcliffe being the best. The only person who lets the side down is Jasmine Breaks as the creepy little girl who can't act at all (does she ever seem threatening at all?) but she dosn't speak often so it's only a minor niggle.

The Daleks are great! Finally rid of Davros (until the end that is!) they take centre stage, blasting everything in sight, including each other. The Dalek battles are the highlights of the story, especially when the Special Weapons Dalek is wheeled into battle. Usually, battles in Doctor Who aren't very spectacular at all, and those that are usually reuse lots of footage and cheapens the scene (look at The Invasion). But the battles in this story are simply amazing.

Normally, I don't judge special effects but they are brilliant in this story! The Dalek rays, the explosions and the destruction of the Transmat are all conveyed convincingly.

The plot is a little lightwieght but I was too absorbed with everything else I scarcely noticed!

And aren't the cliffhangers to parts 1 and 2 simply brilliant?

Now, my friends also enjoyed this story. A lot. Simon turned a critical eye on everything (the "entire British army" in one tea-bar indeed...) but he likes Daleks so he enjoyed it all. Even he thought the special effects were good (he's usually quite critical of special effects and computer game graphics), and liked what he saw of the Doctor. AJ enjoyed it all as well, not really commenting much but showing his appreaciation of parts when he felt like it.

Last impressions:
Me: A great Who story and one of the all time greats.
Simon: 9/10
AJ: For a DW story I don't think it was bad so from a non-fan perspective, 7 or 8/10

And from all 3 of us, a big BUH-DOOM!

Times Past by Andrew Wixon 1/8/02

As a teenage DW fan in the mid-to-late 80s I was used to hearing people talking about my favourite show. It was, after all, one of the things that I was known for at school - I was the Doctor Who guy. But Remembrance of the Daleks gave this experience a very unfamiliar twist: for the first time since the early 80s people came up to me to talk about the show, not to abuse it. They talked about how great it was and wanted to know what was going on with the different coloured Daleks. It was very, very welcome and more than anything else proves the quality of this tale.

To begin with, Remembrance comes on like a karaoke version of 'classic' DW, a manic segue between the UNIT years and the continuity-heavy Saward period, with knowing nods towards the show's earliest beginnings, but it soon starts to sing a new and beguiling tune of its own. It does contain many of the elements that made earlier versions of the show so great, but it fuses them with the energy and style of the previous season and the wholly new and surprising attention to the characterisation of the regulars - the Doctor's scene about sugar is one of the best in the history of the series.

But it fires on all cylinders: it looks great, first and foremost, and the Daleks live up to their legend. They work so well in urban contemporary surroundings that it's a wonder they weren't deployed there more often. The plot is a tricky pleasure. There's hardly a duff performance in it.

Only the title is slightly confusing, but that's understandable: the most apt title had already been used, and so this remains a revelation in all but name. 'Back with a vengeance' would've worked too as well.

Everything the 25th anniversary story should have been... but wasn't by Michael Hickerson 7/8/02

Building on the momentum created by Dragonfire, Remembrance of the Daleks kicks off season 25 in high style. Gone are the doldrums represented by Time and the Rani and, instead, we see the flashes of brilliance from Dragonfire weren't a cruel joke but instead a preview of the greatness to come.

I have to admit I've got a soft spot in my heart for Remembrance of the Daleks -- simply because I consider it to be "my" Dalek story. Back in my younger days I dragged my father to a Doctor Who mini-convention at our local PBS station. The guest of honor -- the new Doctor, Sylvester McCoy. As fans around me asked questions about the general quality of stories and the direction of the show, I had a far more burning question -- when would the seventh Doctor do battle with his greatest enemies? I raised my hand and McCoy called on me. I asked him this question and he smiled, thanked me for the interest and said he hadn't met them yet, but he wanted to as soon as he could. He them promised to go back to the BBC and tell them that the American fans were demanding a Dalek story.

Imagine my surprise and delight a few weeks later when I found out that season 25 would lead off with the Doctor once again doing battle with his ancient enemies, the Daleks. I imagined McCoy going back to JN-T and demanding a Dalek story for the young man in America who wanted it. So, needless to say I was pretty much predisposed to like Remembrance of the Daleks when it finally hit the American shores those long months later.

The good news is that Remembrance of the Daleks was worthy of the anticipation.

Outside of Genesis of the Daleks, Remembrance is best of the Dalek stories. Ben Aaronovich's script takes the pepper-pot shaped monsters and takes them in a new direction. Aaronovich pays homage to not only the Dalek's history but the show's as well, all the while firmly taking Doctor Who in a new direction. Aaronvich's script plays with the standard conventions of a Dalek script -- even down to the first cliffhanger of having a Dalek threaten to exterminate the Doctor.

You have to remember that this was in the days before the Internet and huge SPOILERS, so seeing a Dalek go up stairs was one of the biggest jaw-dropping Who moments ever witnessed on my small screen. I remember standing up and yelling -- "They can go up stairs! They can go up stairs!"

Another great point of the script is how well Davros's identity is concealed. Aaronovich structures the script so that Davros is the last character we thought he would be -- but in looking back, it's the only character that the evil genius can be. That is a nice twist. (I admit it -- I completely bought that it was Davros helping the rebel faction until it's revealed to be the young girl).

All of the elements of the script hand together so well. Indeed, Remembrance serves as an apology to fans how bad the first three quarters of season 24 were. All those bad moments from Time and the Rani are quickly forgotten with a tense, intelligent and extremely well done script that is a joy to see. And the thing that makes great Who, classic Who is the re-watchability value. I never get tired of Remembrance of the Daleks. The same sense of wonder and reckless enthusiasm I felt watching it that first Saturday night years ago never leaves me as I watch it. Sure I have it on DVD now and can fast forward to my favorite bits, but I still find myself wanting to settle in and watch the entire story. It's one of those stories I return to time and again when I want to see great Doctor Who.

A lot of this has to do with the superlative Doctor/companion pairing of the Doctor and Ace. At last, the seventh Doctor finds the perfect traveling companion in Ace. The chemistry and the give and take between McCoy and Sophie Aldred is unmatched in all of Who. There is a warmth of friendship there, mingled with a sense of Ace's not exactly being sure who exactly the Doctor is.

It's also with Remembrance that the dark Doctor begins to emerge. After years of seeming to know everything there is to know about the Doctor, the production staff gives us a new twist on the Doctor. We see the manipulative Doctor of the Troughton years return -- though the seventh Doctor is not nearly as subtle as Troughton's Doctor about his maneuverings. However, the audience begins to question the origins of the Doctor and also wonder how he gained this knowledge of the future and at what price. And the best part is that McCoy is superbly able to deliver a crafted performances that capture all these nuances. The quiet scene in the cafe with the Doctor discussing the consequences of taking sugar in his coffee is one of the greats not only of the McCoy years but of Doctor Who as a whole.

Is Remembrance of the Daleks perfect Who? Probably not. There are some minor imperfections, but they're really too small to take too much notice of. Instead, sit back, relax and enjoy four superb episodes that breathed new life and energy in Doctor Who. If there was a story that I'd choose to celebrate 25 glorious years of Doctor Who, it would be this one, not Silver Nemesis.

The first real classic of the McCoy years... with many more yet to come. This is where it starts to get really, really good.

Nostalgic by Joe Ford 29/11/02

Doctor Who is a funny old thing. Older people remember it well but think of it as a thing of the past. The younger generation seem a bit embarassed by it so they take the mickey out of anybody who enjoys it. But do these people ever actually watch it?

I took my Rememberance DVD to my friend's house when I stayed there at the weekend recently. I popped this on in the morning to watch and slowly but surely everybody around me started to watch it too. It was quite fun to watch them and to see how and why they were so captured by it.

Hazel has watched Doctor Who with me for years... we spend ages just quoting stupid lines from the show to each other (like you do!). She had seen it before but she enjoys it for the Doctor, she thinks McCoy is sweet and she loves the look of the Imperial Daleks. She thinks they are sexy. She usually looks out for the mistakes and has a giggle so the wobbly Daleks roaming the streets of London raised a giggle or two. And I think she fancied Mike (and I can understand why).

Dave, her husband, to everybody's utter astonishment sat and watched too. Dave is in the army, the real beer drinking, butch type who wouldn't dream of watching anything as tacky as Doctor Who. He was watching out for all the bangs and flashes, he loved all the gunplay in the first episode and enjoyed watching as the big guns (the ATRs) came out. He kept praising the production for its excellent portrayl of the military even down to the bullying Captain!!! I was gob smacked when he was the one to protest when we turned it off at the end of the third episode to have lunch!

Simon was there, of course, and with his now broad scope of the show he enjoys watching how all the bits fit in. He was very impressed with the production, how glossy and expensive the whole thing looked.

But to my everlasting joy it was Amber, their one and a half year old daughter who enjoyed it the most. She LOVES the Daleks, she thinks they are absolutely marvellous and screams out "Dargeks! Dargeks!" whenever they appear! Even now their unusual appearance can enrapture the hearts of kiddies. She kept saying "My Dargeks!" once it had finished and wouldn't give me the DVD cover back!

And of course I was there, loving every second of this action-filled masterpiece. Like I've said before it's not my favourite of the season (Greatest Show just edges it out because of that story's fabulous direction) but it is very close. I love how the show ends with the Doctor talking both Davros into blowing up Skaro and the Black Dalek to death AFTER all the explosions and stuff... everybody expects the story to end on an explosion and it's a nice subversion of expectations. I still think the climax to episode two is the best filmed action set piece the show has ever done, Sophie really goes for it and it looks great. The secondary characters are all brilliant (Gilmore is much more than just a Brigadier substitute and the wonderful Pamela Salem does wonders with Rachel "After this over I'll retire and grow begonias"... "Good, I LOVE surprises"). The Daleks are effective and menacing and the obligatory Davros scene is superbly scripted "Unimaginable RICE PUDDING!" although not a patch on Colins similar scene with Davros in Revelation.

But isn't it odd that all five of use sat that watching this majestic masterpiece and all enjoying it for such different reasons. It goes to show just how much of a multi-faceted show Doctor Who truly is.

Very silly fun by Jonathan Martin 9/12/02

I see that everyone's been mostly very positive, and while I've never pictured myself to be the guy that comes along and disagrees with everyone, I'm still debating whether this story's good points really outnumber the bad...

Everyone says how this is the return back to form for the show after how silly and light-weight season 24 was, but really, after watching episode one, I'd have to say that it's probably the most silliest and unbelievable episode of Doctor Who I've ever seen. Every scene is utter nonsense, from both the Doctor and Ace having made friends with both that scientific adviser woman whose name escapes me, and Mike, within five minutes, to the scene out of a cartoon where Syl manages to getting himself into the drivers seat and Ace out in about two seconds and without her even noticing. I 'spose it just adds to the mystery... Sure, especially when you can already see them sitting in their new positions before they've "bounced" into place, the editing's where the mystery lies.

And if some crazy looking stranger came up to me blabbering about things not being human (this is before it's actually proven), I'd tell him to go back to the circus where he can tell his unbelievable stories to his pet ferrets when they're not occupied scurrying down his trousers.

Ace is also at her worst here; like the rest of the story, she never convinces, and her scenes with Mike are dreadful. And I agree with Adrian Loder in a previous review. Who and romance do not mix, especially when we could be watching the Dalek factions battling it out, certainly the highlight of the story, it's probably the only Doctor Who story that could really benefit from being filmed in widescreen.

Ben Aaronovitch's script it filled to the brim with silly little quotes that you can tell he feels are remarkably clever. Some of them are, but by episode three he starts to get carried away by this sort of thing, the "unlimited rice pudding" line just clinches it, but it's not too bad. At least it's not "unimaginable rice pudding" like Joe ford has imaginably put ;)

Pamela Salem's character and her assistant start to get really irritating after episode two as well, but it's good to some familiar faces from the past, particularly Peter Haliday. It's a pity that fellow with the sugar wasn't in it more though. Like another reviewer mentions, his scene is a really good one, he fitted in perfectly to the spirit of this story.

Someone mentioned they didn't like the music, I personally think it suited the story perfectly. Wacky, showy, and difficult to ignore, it reminds me of the much-praised special effects.

The story's pretty good really, the four episodes pass by in a flash, and I was always entertained, so now I'm beginning to realise I am being a little over-critical, I'd much rather be entertained watching a wacky episode that's kinda bad, then a so-called classic like Genesis of the Daleks, which just isn't all that fun to sit down and watch.

One last thing that irritates me while I'm having a bit of a splurge is this big "mysterious" thing that's supposed to be happening, it's certainly not convincing in this story. Michael Hickerson mentions how this Doctor's "manipulative" side isn't subtle like Troughton's - well, it almost is when you compare it to lines like when he says "we" and then quickly change back to "them." It's horribly forced, but it's a pity all this hit-the-audience-over-the-head-stuff comes to nothing anyway, since the series is practically over by now.

Damn, all that ranting and raving and I'm still not convinced I dislike this story, it's just that it could've been so much more... They should've tossed plans for Silver Nemesis out the window and made this an eight-parter, then they could've really explored this "mysteriousness" thing, because it would so much batter if they could flesh out this mystery to the Doctor's character in one long story with one writer, so it could be fully explored, instead of just having a one-liner every episode or two that basically are all meaningless in the end. But then, Aaronovitch would've had to have written more of a script, and not a bunch of clever one-liners bunched together.

Anyway, Remembrance is fun, yes there's no doubt about that, so it basically achieves it's aims, so in effect this is another positive review... but it's not really good.

A Review by Terrence Keenan 9/2/03

(This review was inspired by a challenge from one of the best reviewers here at the guide, Rob Matthews, who called me on a comment from my 7th Doctor article.)

Anyone in fandom who knows me knows that I don't have high opinion for Remembrance.

Time for a confession. I hadn't seen this one in years, so I was basing my opinion on pure McCoy loathing. Easy to trash a story if you don't like the Doctor in it.

So, in the spirit of fairness and reassessment (as with the whole McCoy era and Seventh Doctor books), I shelled out twenty clams and ordered the DVD. I watched it twice in a one week span.

Side note: When I review serials, I always watch them twice, one as fanboy, one as critic. The fanboy viewing gets me reacquainted with the story. The second viewing, I am ready to evaluate the story on its own merits.

Remembrance perplexed me. It's not as bad as I thought. As an action piece it's damn good. For once I wasn't laughing while everyone's favorite pepperpots wobbled across the screen shouting "Exterminate!" (By the way, they wobbled a lot in this one, moreso than in any other Dalek story I've seen.) The Special Weapons Dalek looked like a badass.


Remembrance suffers from a common Doctor Who affliction called First Episode Syndrome (FES). I'll explain. FES is an affliction where the first episode of a DW story is so good, that it overshadows the rest of the story, causing the other, weaker episodes to seem to be better than they are. Earthshock is a prime example of FES.

So is Remembrance. The first episode, with the Dalek in Foreman's Junkyard, with the Doctor jumping in and taking over, that creepy girl skipping all over the place, with that fun and brilliant cliffhanger with the Dalek climbing up the stairs... it's really good. And Michael Sheard -- the king of Doctor Who guest stars -- is in it too!

The Cafe Scene, which has no bearing in the plot (and features G from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air), is probably one of the best mini-ideas since Binro the Heretic in The Ribos Operation.

Unfortunately, it goes downhill from there. The Hand of Omega plot line is well done -- the scene at the funeral and at the grave were great -- and didn't really annoy me all that much. Ben Aaronovitch rides the line between good mysterious stuff and annoying mysterious stuff well. And the Doc's trap is set up early and paid off properly in the end. But, the whole subplot with Mike and Ace (romance ?!?) is just bad. Also, the Davros revelation was pretty pointless (but we were spared a full four episodes of Terry Molloy's interpretation, so maybe I'm just being harsh.) The "Chatting to Death" bit with the Black Dalek was hokey to say the least. Overall, the last three episodes seemed to be more set piece than story. And the performances of most of the cast went into the tank as well. Which is a shame, because the story is there.

The real downfall of Remembrance is the bloody pepperpots themselves. Their dialogue makes their chanting in Destiny of the Daleks poetic. Except when they were blowing each other up, I wanted them off my screen.

Performances vary. Syl is good in this one. He almost pulls off angry mode. Syl is best in his calm moments, of which there are plenty. His only bad moment is his speech to the Black Dalek. Sophie annoys, but I have an Ace bias that I find hard to overcome. Your own mileage may vary. The guests run the gamut of fun -- Pamela (Toos!!!!!!!) Salem, Karen Gledhill, Michael Sheard (not enough of him, dammit!) -- to annoying -- Simon Williams, Dursley McLinden.

The DVD comes loaded Syl and Sophie commentary (which was okay, and fairly informative), a blooper reel, two trailers, pop up information -- which had some fun bits -- and deleted scenes. Worth investing the dough if you have a DVD player, although I wish that they would have had a menu listing for all the different deleted scenes, rather than playing them all in one go.

So, what is the verdict on Remembrance of the Daleks?

A solid story. Not a classic, but not as bad as I thought it was. Coming on the heels of Season 24, it must have been a much needed shot in the arm for the series. It does suffer from FES, but is definitely worth watching.

A successful redefining by Tim Roll-Pickering 16/7/03

Kicking off Season 25 in a big way, Remembrance of the Daleks never fails to pull its punches. Packed with action it also contains a very strong plot and is assured of its place in the series' mythology by redefining the Doctor as an individual setting out with a plan, rather than merely arriving somewhere and improvising. Both the Doctor's actions and the whole production feel as though they have been more thoroughly thought through and planned than recent efforts and the result is a highly polished production. Continuity buffs might want to take issue with the fact that Coal Hill School looks nothing like it did in 100,000 BC, Totter's Lane has once more undergone a transformation and somehow the book 'The French Revolution' has made it back to Earth and into the science lab. But could 1960s style studio sets really work in a late 1980s colour production? The links to the very first story are subtle and easy to miss if one isn't familiar with the original story, as I was when I first saw this tale way back on its original transmission, but they do add a nice little extra for those with more knowledge. Similarly there is no need whatsoever for the the viewer to know anything at all about Daleks or Davros as the Doctor provides an explanation to Ace (and thus the viewer) that in no way feels forced although it doesn't become immediately clear that there are two Dalek factions.

The Daleks themselves are a mixture of the good and bad. On the one hand Davros is absent from most of the story, allowing the Daleks a presence, but on the other much of the key dialogue is given to human characters such as Ratcliffe. Indeed the key confrontation comes not between individual Renegade and Imperial Daleks but between Mike and the Headmaster. Physically the Daleks are impressive but they would have benefited from more dialogue scenes by themselves. This story is perhaps best remembered for the cliffhanger to Part One as a Dalek floats up the stairs towards the Doctor, tackling head on the traditional comment about how to escape from them. This story is truly effective in making the Daleks a force to be reckoned with. There have clearly been some developments since Revelation of the Daleks, but this doesn't jar much at all. Davros is wisely kept under wraps until the climax where he confronts the Doctor and so the Daleks are able to once more carry a story by themselves. The comparisons with human fascism and racism are drawn although at times it isn't completely obvious due to the reluctance of the programme to actually use the term 'fascist'. Nevertheless there are many good scenes drawing the point, such as the one where Ace finds the 'No Coloureds' sign in Mrs Smith's window.

The Doctor benefits as well and it is a sign that his clothes are smarter than in the previous season, with the hat looking much smarter than the battered one he wore previously, a nice visual sign of the shift from the manic improviser to the preplanned schemer. There are many good scenes such as the one in the cafe in Part Two where the Doctor ponders the way in which decisions can have massive effects, giving a strong sense of the levels on which the Doctor is operating. Ace is also on good form, standing up to the prejudices of the era and being prepared to take bold action at times, a far cry from the traditions of screaming companions. The guest characters for the story are an interesting mix, ranging from the traditional stiff upper lip of Group Captain Gilmore, superbly performed by Simon Williams, to the more devious Mike Smith. The revelation the Mike is working for a fascist group is meant to be a sign that even those who seem okay can be racists/fascists. Unfortunately it suffers from the sensitive treading undertaken by the story but otherwise the story's characters are carefully written.

Andrew Morgan's direction is strong, with the action sequences never failing to convince, offering a wonderful succession of images especially in the battles between the Dalek factions. 1963 London is realised exceptionally well, with no obvious anachronisms standing out like a sore thumb. Keff McCulloch's score is strong but it is the video effects which really stand out. The Dalek's energy rays, their effect on a soldier, the Dalek's trail as it ascends the stairs... I could go on for days. This is a story that has had a lot of care and attention devoted to it on both the script and production side and the result is a story full of vitality that manages to alter the emphasis of the series and use the series' most famous monsters in a new and imaginative way whilst at the same time telling a strong tale. Definitely a sign of a strong series. 10/10

A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 20/9/04

Remembrance Of The Daleks is by far my favourite of all the televised Dalek serials for the simple reason that it manages to reinvent the series yet remain a traditional adventure at heart. The basic storyline of the Doctor intervening between two Dalek factions searching for an all powerful device is enjoyable in its simplicity, yet the script contains enough continuity references to appease the fanboy in me. The pacing of the story is what grabs me, everything keeps ticking along and things don`t just stand still in the third episode.

As for reinvention, the Doctor/Ace relationship is a joy with largely great performances from Sophie Aldred and Sylvester McCoy though both tend to overact in at least one scene (Ace when attacking the Dalek, the Doctor when confronting Davros) but for the most part they are great and thankfully aided by a strong guest cast. Add to this more reinvention for the Daleks (who now climb stairs) and the addition of the Special Weapons Dalek and the end result is something of a triumph on all counts.

A Review by John Anderson 5/2/05

"That would be... another Dalek?" asks Ace.

"Yeeeessss," mutters the Doctor darkly, his eyes darting momentarily deeper into the cellar.

The Dalek in question emerges from silently from the darkness. Spotting the intruders it screams in metallic rage.

"Stop! You are the enemy of the Daleks! You must be exterminated!"

"The stairs!" calls the Doctor, Ace ascending two at a time. The Doctor, in his haste, trips on the first step, which eats up valuable seconds.

At the top, Ace collides with the sinister Headmaster. He brings up his knee, winding her.

The door to the cellar slams shut.

The Doctor bangs on it desperately. "Ace!" he cries.

The Dalek continues its climb up the stairs, a ring of energy propelling it relentlessly upwards.

"You are the Doctor! You are the enemy of the Daleks! You will be exterminated!" it screams.

The Doctor's terrified expression fills the Dalek's crosshairs.

And then the credits roll.

I'm fairly sure that's not exactly as it happens, but it is the way I remember it.

Every fan has a moment in their life where Doctor Who stops being simply a "programme what I watch," to meaning something more. Well this was my moment. Everything that came after: BBC video collections; New Adventures; conventions; fandom can be traced back to a couple of minutes of television footage broadcast way back in October 1988. It's why I'm here, now, writing this review.

I feel intensely fortunate to have jumped aboard the good ship Doctor Who at this point in its history - just when it was about to get good again. At the time of course, I didn't know this, didn't know that my love affair was about to sink just 28 episodes later and didn't know anything about the 24 years of history. Oh, parents and grandparents would talk about Jamie or William Hartnell or hiding behind the sofa but these are things that are irrelevant when you're 8 years old and the Doctor has just blown up a Dalek with Ace's Nitro-9.

There's a reviewer on these pages, Joe Ford, and I must confess to loving his reviews. (If you're reading this Joe - hello.) He seems to retain the same boyish enthusiasm for Doctor Who that I'd like to think I do myself, but for Colin's Doctor. I'd guess this means he's but a slip older than I am 'cos let me tell all those naysayers who tiresomely bang on about Hinchcliffe or Season 5 all the time that when I was 8 and seasons 25 and 26 were on they were just fantastic.

When Ace gets all excited at watching the military fire grenades into the lean-to I was getting all excited too! Then the soldier gets shot through the air with a fizzy green skeleton effect and the Dalek gets blown up. Hell, even the barrels getting knocked over seemed the height of televisual excellence. But if the Dalek getting blown up wasn't enough, over the course of the next three episodes the explosions get bigger and bigger and bigger thanks to super-powered baseball bats, the special weapon Dalek (which was the coolest thing, like... ever) and remote stellar manipulators. (As a bloke, and I think I speak for most of us here, we like to see things get blown up on screen. I'm not sure why but I suspect it's genetic.) And most importantly, to my wide-eyed 8 year old self - it all made perfect sense.

Looking back now, it still makes sense to me. I'm still a little vexed by the brouhaha that insists Remembrance, like Ghost Light, is incomprehensible without repeat viewing. If you'll allow me to digress for a moment, I'm sure I'll eventually get around to my point.

There's a story that is probably apocryphal, about a fan telling Cartmel to look at Talons and a couple of other stories that dear Tim Munro from DWB would consider 'real Doctor Who' and having some kind of Damascene conversion. It's always struck me that one of the first things any incoming script editor/producer/production designer would do is look at some past serials from different eras to gauge relative successes and failures; don't forget that there's now a nine month break between seasons so there's even less reason for Cartmel et al not to do this. What in God's name Saward was doing when he was given eighteen months to have a think is anyone's guess? (I apologise if I use any chance I get to bash season 23 but frankly it deserves it. Saward can have no excuses. I'm still gobsmacked that in the DWM interview he wasn't asked what the hell he did in that enforced sabbatical. Inventing the Trial format on the back of a fag packet it seemed!!! D'oh!!!) But anyway, Cartmel wasn't alone in doing some homework; the break has clearly done McCoy the world of good, while Andrew Morgan shoots the Daleks from the same low angles that David Maloney was using 13 years previously.

But to return to the "incomprehensible" stick that's wheeled out like some batty old relative on day release from time to time, I think that Cartmel's real change is in his approach to the narrative. He effectively junks his part one and starts his narratives from part two. So whilst in previous eras we would have seen the Doctor reprogramming the Hand of Omega or carving the chess pieces from bones in Fenric, here we're as much in the dark about the Doctor's motives as the supporting cast. Don't however think that this hasn't been done before; Williams and Read pulled the same stunt in The Invasion of Time, but that of course has Tom Baker in it so it is almost a "classic" by default. By the same token, imagine Talons where the Doctor (pre-serial) witnessed Greel's escape from the 51st Century to the 19th; the plot wouldn't change but for a couple of lines in episode 5 where Tom would reveal that he was trying to hunt Greel down from the very beginning (much like the Doctor's throwaway line to much that effect in Greatest Show). Come on people, I wouldn't have thought that the watching fan-audience needed it spelled out all the time!

I have no problem with a little bit of innovation and in Remembrance it goes a hell of a long way. I'll happily claim that this is the best serial of the 1980s UP TO THIS POINT. It's practically a Tim Burton-esque re-imagining while at the same time reaffirming the Doctor's position as an outsider. To do this it goes back to where it all started - 76 Totter's Lane. Unlike the TARDIS's last appearance there in Attack of the Cybermen, this piece of continuity does not feel gratuitous, in fact it's there because the Totter's Lane site is integral to the plot and so that Cartmel and Aaronovitch can expressly subvert our expectations of it. Same too is Gilmore's presence a nod to UNIT and the Brigadier, but this isn't the cosy Pertwee set up; the seventh Doctor does not need the army in the way that Pertwee did - by virtue of his exile - and in fact resents their presence.

He doesn't try to get to know Gilmore, appease him or even offer him any explanations (in fact, anyone looking for explanations from this Time Lord should join the end of the queue), all he does is remind him how gloriously out of his depth he is. The Doctor should count himself lucky that Professor Jensen concedes that point at the first sign of 'death ray' because Gilmore seems on the verge of having the wee man shot. This is the 'new' seventh Doctor in a nutshell, a much more dangerous and sinister figure - he doesn't sit everyone round a projector in a darkened pub to talk about "HORNS!" and generally exposit the plot because he doesn't need to. He's not trying to win them over; he just wants them out of the way and despite his best efforts the military find themselves relying on the little Time Lord more and more over the course of the serial.

I love this incarnation of the Doctor. I like having this wall built between him and the audience. The lauded cafe scene is the only moment in the four episodes where the Doctor actually lets his guard down, and as such seems all the more beautiful and intimate for it. And of course this paves the way for the first proactive companion since Romana. Regardless of Sophie Aldred's acting ability, the character of Ace is a breath of fresh air after six years of Adrics, Nyssas, Peris and Mels. Ace's ability to carry a subplot on her own becomes increasingly important over the next two years as focus shifts ever so slightly away from the Doctor. Don't be fooled into thinking that this incarnation of the title character becomes sidelined in his own series however; he snaps the focus back so quick you can almost feel it across your knuckles.

I love Ace. She leaps through windows. She attacks a Dalek with an atomic baseball bat. And did I mention she blows things up?

I love these Daleks. Regardless of the "cobble-wobbling" the Daleks have not looked this good since Death to the Daleks. The twenty-year-old casings that the Beeb had been re-using ad infinitum looked shabby by Destiny; by Revelation they are absolutely atrocious. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong but I think there's only one of the battered old casings here and it still sticks out like a sore thumb. But I can excuse the one sh*te casing 'cos in exchange we get the Special Weapons Dalek. We can all breathe a sigh of relief that the budget wouldn't stretch to a floating weapons platform really because the Special Weapons Dalek is a joy. Although it begs the question - why don't all of the Daleks look so battle-scarred? For me it makes them far more "solid" and far less like pieces of moulded fibreglass. And it blows things up in a really spectacular fashion. Why aren't all explosions in Doctor Who as good as the one that demolishes the gates to Ratcliffe's yard?

If you've got the impression from this overwhelming positivity that this is my favourite Doctor Who serial of all time, you're wrong - it isn't. But it is where my love affair began and as such holds a special place in my heart. Oh, and did I mention the explosions?

The Emperor has no clothes by Steve Cassidy 20/8/05

If you scan the internet forums there are plenty of opinions. People get pretty het up about their favourite Doctor, people get pretty damning about their least favourite Doctors. Icons are brought low (Inferno, too many episodes), or clunkers re-evaluated to the status of classics (Dragonfire, it's really not that bad you know). But in the internet ether Remembrance of the Daleks is brought forward as a shining light. A beacon of the McCoy years to the naysayers who decry the last great Dalek story was Revelation. Take a look, they say, glory in the special effects, the production designer and the new dark manipulative Doctor.

I am really sorry boys and girls...

It's tosh. Isn't it?

Hard words? Well, either something works or it doesn't work for me. And I get a strange emptiness when I watch Remembrance. A feeling that all the pieces are in place (except one major one) but it is strangely bankrupt of ideas. There is no denying the production design is very good. John Nathan-Turner prided himself on his production design. In 1988 a splashy comeback had to be made. Something which would stop people turning over to watch Coronation Street. The major ammunition for the new season would be the return of the malevolent pepperpots. With a new script editor in place and a production team with a new direction surely it is a surefire success? Well, yes - a lot of fans do hold it in high regard. Show this to your friends to see how Who can do SFX. Oh, that wonderful masterful manipulator. The light and dark of McCoy's portrayal shows what a rounded character the seventh Doctor has become.

I just don't buy it.

I apologise in advance; there are many out there who like this adventure. I understand if it is the first one ever you saw and the seventh Doctor is your Doctor. Not everybody can remember the rock-hard Pertwee adventures or the fantastical Williams/Baker adventures the first time around. A lot of people came in at season 25, or picked up the New Adventures and McCoy is their Doctor. The romanticism of nostalgia often softens the outlines of Rememberance just as it does with Happiness Patrol, Greatest Show and many of Colin Baker's adventures. This does not stop them being tosh. But then again I think well of The Armaggeddon Factor, Destiny of the Daleks and The Power of Kroll as I saw them the first time as a child, and I've heard them damned to the heavens. Where's my foot - I'll just get my shotgun.

But for some reason Rememberance just doesn't work for me. Perhaps there is too much harking back to 1963, perhaps everything just seems to be trying too hard, perhaps I don't buy the little girl subplot. Oh no, I know what it is - I hate the destruction of Skaro. There I've said it. I feel better. One of the most enjoyably fiendish planets ever to come out of the Who cosmos is simply obliterated with a flick of the wrist (or hand of Omega in this case). Not only do I hate adventures which box themselves into a corner by destroying a sacred cow - but they seem to balls it up for everybody who came afterwards. Cries of "Well, I fancy a Dalek adventure on Skaro!", "Too late! We destroyed that in season 25!". And there is a certain hypocrisy here. Colin Baker was damned, damned and thrice damned for violence in season 22 and yet the seventh Doctor in his dark manipulator role kills millions and rubs it in with a speech about "rice pudding". So I'm afraid that is it, for me - the adventure self-destructs in the last ten minutes.

But there is lots to enjoy..

Pyrotechnics being the main one. The BBC really have been reaching for the pennies behind the back of the sofa. More money has been spent on it and for once it shows. The costumes and locations are as good as we get from the BBC. Also to appease a flash bang eighties audience weaned on Die Hard and Rambo we have plenty of explosions and the Daleks at their most destructive. The assault on Totter's Yard is impressively staged with both Dalek factons blasting it out. And the opening episode of the lone Dalek taking on the British forces has that flash and dazzle we never seem to have got in Doctor Who. And I must admit Simon Williams in a Brigadierish role is rather enjoyable as is Pamela Salem and Michael Sheard in their respective roles. I never saw the point in Allison - I always thought she was superfluous. But one mustn't be churlish I suppose, well - no more then normal...

The first episode is very enjoyable. The setup is quickly established and the action moves along. The only minus I can see is the inclusion of the little girl. Somehow she just didn't belong in a Dalek story. But that's the point, I hear you all cry! That's the twist - having a cute little girl be at the route of all this evil. Someone once said the McCoy years managed to be cheesy while at the same time being up their own arse - quite an accomplishment. And the famous Dalek floating up the stairs? Well, it had to be done sooner or later if just to defuse those late night C4 comedians who would make jokes about all you had to do to escape the Daleks was run up a flight of stairs. And then we have the hand of Omega... not only do we have the hand of Omega but we have sixties gangsters, Daleks in the basement, spaceships landing in school yards and... and... and...

It's all there - it's all in the mix. But the whole thing is tied together so weakly - it's cliche after cliche. It looks good on paper but some scenes are excruciating. Who doesn't hit fast forward when the Supreme Dalek is talked to death? Who doesn't roll their eyes when the controller is revealed to be an eight year old child?

And at the forefront of it all is the lauded-in-some-quarters partnership of Ace and the Seventh Doctor.

Sophie Aldred I have much affection for (apart from her trite DVD commentaries) - her character throws herself into her adventures with the Doctor with gusto. Since 1981 we have had such a bad lot affecting the TARDIS, so a new and original companion for the Doctor was very welcome. Sometimes her performance is misjudged, sometimes her lines sound flat - but there is such enthusiam to be there. Contrast this with the obnoxiousness of pyjama-boy, the reluctance of Peri and the sheer awfulness of the trollydolly from Air Drag Queen. So Ace always gets five stars in my book and her chemistry with the seventh Doctor is a joy to behold. She gets some nice scenes with Mike as well.

Sylvester McCoy was always too little too late for me. He was a gamble after the sacking of Colin Baker in season 23. Would they get anther Tom? Would his wackiness win the audience over and make the ratings soar? The pratfalls and awful misquotes of season 24 have been jettisoned as someone cottened on that for the Doctor to work he must be portrayed seriously. So here we have the all-knowing, all-plotting Doctor as some kind of intergalactic Henry Kissinger. A great cosmic courtier who knows the end of the game before everyone else has started. For me, he doesn't work - never has, never will. But I understand many people have much affection for him as their first Doctor - and I won't rain on their parade. Word is that the actor is an exceptionally nice man in real life and he does a lot for Who fandom. And for that he gets my appreciation.

So there we are. I wish I understood what all the fuss is about with Remembrance. I much prefer the dark twisted characterisation of Revelation and the splashy sci-fi of Resurrection. But then what do I know? I like The Power of Kroll.

I'll get my coat...

The First Classic McCoy by Jonathan Middleton 29/8/05

I have just read Steve Cassidy's review of this story and it made my so angry that I just had to kick something out of pure rage. Steve in my eyes has regularly annoyed me; his review of Terminus was the most offensive thing I have read on this site and his dislike of the eighties is extremely irritating.

So let's start with Remembrance. It is the first real classic of the McCoy era after that dreadful Season 24 and that the irritating Smell sorry Mel We have a cracking script first rate direction good acting and an OKish score.

The dialogue is a excellent lines such as "I can do what ever I want", "I love surprises", "Every large decision creates ripples", "They hate each other's chromosomes", "Typical human response". Just five excellent examples of brilliant dialogue from Ben Aaronovitch. I can't believe this guy wrote Battlefield the next season, this is a truly cracking script and is not tied together weakly nor is it cliche after cliche Steve again there.

Then there's the direction which is wonderful. Andrew Morgan shows what he is truly capable of after that abysmal Time and The Rani. He shows what a good director he is in his low shots of the Daleks in the junkyard battle in Part one or the Dalek battle in part four. The shuttle landing at the end of part three, part two's cliffhanger, part one's cliffhanger, the bit with the little girl in part one and the Dalek being talked to death are brilliantly directed and special mention must go to these. The entire story is brilliantly directed.

The acting is superb. Simon Williams is wonderful as Group Captain Gilmore, his solid acting and reacting to what is happening around him is superb. Pamela Salem, who was wonderful as Toos in Robots Of Death, is just as good here portraying Jenson as a bit like a female human third doctor with a Barbara style haircut and clothes and a bit of Liz Shaw into the mix. Her frustration at not being able to find out what's going on and her being drafted in is well played. Allison is well played by Karen Gledhill who manages to bring in quite some depth such as when we first see her as she goes silent over Matthews' death is subtly played. Ratcliffe played with subtly by George Sewell is marvellous as someone who thinks he's going to take over with the Daleks but he's proven wrong and is doublecrossed. Smith is a bit like Mike Yates, as he is led astray by Ratcliffe and his attempt to justify what he did are also well played by Dursley McLindon. Even minor parts like the vicar are well played by Peter Halliday and John portrayed well by Joseph Marcell is also excellent and Harry who is well played by Harry Fowler.

But the best acting is by the regulars. McCoy is brilliant in this. He plays the doctor as a dark manipulator. Every line is delivered with conviction and brilliance. His performance is fantastic, miles away from the clowning of season 24 and his best scenes are with John in part two. Sophie Aldred is quite good too, her flirting with Mike is good and her disgust at his betrayal is well played. As for the little girl, well Jasmine Breaks is quite good. My theory is she's meant to be a tribute to Roberta Tovey. She's quite good when she's saying her rhyme but some of her dialogue is delivered so badly and ends being wooden.

The music is quite good to although composed by Keff McCulloch, a purveyor of bad music. Some scenes are brilliantly scored, such as part one's cliffhanger but others are really badly scored (part two's cliffhanger in particular). So the music score's quite good in some places but excruciating in others.

In his review Steve said how people like these adventures because they saw them when they were kids. Steve, the same could be said about the Williams era to and quite frankly the reason why people like this, Greatest Show, Fenric, Ghost Light and Survival is that these are well written, intelligent stories with good actors and directors and musicians. The Invasion of Time, Horns Of Nimon, Kroll, Destiny and The Armageddon Factor are despised because they are not entertaining. Oh and Steve what exactly is so special about Skaro, we see it a grand total of four times, twice it's a quarry in Dorset and the other times we see it are as a studio mock-up.

Just before I finish this you complained that the Doctor callously blows up Skaro and then jokes about it afterwards. The same could be said about the Fourth Doctor the way he blows the Zygons up without a second thought along with the Nimon, the last of the Jagorath and puts a time loop around the Vardans' home planet and he jokes about it too, so if the Fourth Doctor can do that so can the Seventh. 9/10. (A turning point for the show after that disastrous last season.)

A Review by Finn Clark 11/4/06

A story so important that even its Target novelisation shaped Doctor Who as we know it, Remembrance of the Daleks is where the Cartmel era and the Virgin NAs really began. Its legacy is far weightier than the 1996 TVM's, for instance. I'd always enjoyed Remembrance, but rewatching it for the purposes of this review gave me a new appreciation of it. It's astonishing. It practically invents modern Doctor Who from scratch and hardly puts a foot wrong in the process, getting the little things right as well as the big ones.

I'll get the negatives out of the way first. Remembrance was made in 1988 and you can tell. It has a slightly plastic feel that's maddeningly hard to nail down, especially when you realise that the costume and set design don't put a foot wrong. What definitely doesn't help is Keff McCulloch's screamingly 80s music. Personally I quite enjoy it, but the show would have been more resonant with a score that harked back to the black-and-white era. Maybe one day fans could recut Remembrance to the strains of early Dudley Simpson? If you want to draw comparisons, Curse of Fenric did a far better job of evoking World War Two.

There's something plastic about its Daleks too. I don't mean the Paintbox SFX. Well, maybe I do a little, but I mean the actual Dalek props. The BBC's originals had always been slightly shabby, which gave them an air of verisimilitude. They felt real. This may be why the tortured Dalek in Rob Shearman's Dalek looked better at the beginning when dented and battered than it did later with a lick of paint and polish. Remembrance's Imperial Daleks were brand-new, cast from plastic moulds, and they look it.

As for their Dalek-o-vision, I preferred the low-tech version in Dalek Invasion of Earth!

Obviously the story stars Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred. Not everyone thinks this is a good thing, but I like them. They have charm. Yes, their line readings are sometimes poor or downright strange, but they have chemistry and they feel right together. I love Peter Davison and Colin Baker, but I find their Doctors un-Doctorish. Even in Season 24, for me Sylvester was the Doctor. He's not an intellectual actor, unlike Davison or Eccleston, but I believe completely that this wrinkled little gnome is an alien bumbling through time and space. His line deliveries are fascinating and as a physical performer he can be very good. I particularly love his little smiles and offbeat moments.

The script helps, mind you. Liberated from the horror of Ian Briggs's lines for her in Dragonfire, Ace becomes likeable! We hadn't seen cameraderie like this since Tom and Lalla. Remembrance has some of the best Doctor-companion scenes we'd seen in a long time, with even part two's TARDIS bitch scene managing to be more than the usual JNT-era childishness. Ace has guts, with a terrific action sequence in part two, while Ben Aaronovitch reinvents Sylvester's Doctor as a manipulative alien. It's great stuff.

As for the rest of the cast... Pamela Salem and Karen Gledhill are easy on the eye and an entertaining double act, but pretty bad. Similarly Jasmine Breaks is creepy as The Girl, but only until she opens her mouth. Come back Roberta Tovey, all is forgiven! I watched this alongside the Cushing movies and it almost felt like a companion piece to them... going from one end of Classic Who to the other, we start with the underrated Roberta Tovey and conclude with the Daleks turning another little girl into a battle computer and making her break down in tears.

The production creates some cool scenes and images. The Dalek mothership is a fantastic set, simple but effective. It's certainly more atmospheric than its equivalent in Bad Wolf and The Parting of the Ways. We also get the first Dalek-Dalek battle that doesn't suck. Hitherto they'd always chatted for a few minutes, standing barely two feet from each other, then fired one shot each and missed. Here we have actual tactics and kick-arse explosions.

The sugar scene is wonderful and a deliberate counterpoint to Genesis's "Do I have the right?", but I like its punchline best. "Life's like that, best just to get on with it." I also love part one's cliffhanger, especially the bit where Ace says, "And that operator would be another Dalek?" Sylvester says "yes" and you realise there's a metal monster coming around the corner.

On a fanboy continuity level there's plenty to chew on. The Daleks don't reduce the Earth to slag because even they, "ruthless though they are, would think twice before making such a radical alteration to the timeline." Hmmm. Really? Did they learn the dangers of time travel the hard way, or is this another step towards the Time War? For the first time they're chasing Time Lord artefacts, trying to upgrade their time corridor technology to Time Lord levels. Note that Davros actually talks about wanting to "sweep away Gallifrey".

Leading in serendipitously to Eccleston's unhinged pepperpots, these are the classic series's most mentally unbalanced Daleks. Skaro's finest were never exactly stable (e.g. Death to the Daleks) but here they're killing each other in the name of racial purity and being talked to death by the Doctor instead of just shooting him down on sight. The novelisation goes even further down this path, with Aaronovitch's ruminations on the Abomination, aka. the Special Weapons Dalek.

The story has enough sense to ignore Davros, yet even he gets some interesting development. His last line in Resurrection was "I am not a Dalek", yet here he's calling himself Emperor and has discarded the last vestige of his humanity. His relationship with the Doctor is different too. Previously their encounters had been a meeting of minds. They'd talked. See Tom's moral debates, Peter's murder attempt, Colin's discussion of business ethics (and don't forget Up Above The Gods in DWM 227)... yet here Sylvester is playing Davros from the start. It's not an honest debate, but deliberate provocation.

What's more, for once such fanboy discussion isn't beside the point. Ben Aaronovitch specialises in creating a rich, multi-layered universe and here he exploited Doctor Who's own continuity. You feel the weight of its decades of history, through both the Daleks and the Doctor. Even the TV21 comic strips are referenced, with a nod to David Whitaker's Golden Emperor. The battle computer is a fantastic idea, plugging a weakness that was brought up in Destiny. Aaronovitch's awareness of the past shows in other ways too, such as his sensitivity to cliches and genre convention. As the old joke goes, "Daleks can't go up stairs." Aaronovitch builds part one's cliffhanger around it! Furthermore for the first time a blinded Dalek is still dangerous. The one in part two merrily blasts the chemistry lab to matchsticks. Cynics might suggest that getting blinded almost seemed to improve its aim.

There's still more. Aaronovitch may be creating the Dark Doctor, but he carefully gives him Doctorish moments too. I liked "weapons: always useless in the end," or his musings on the responsibility of changing history. My favourite example of this will always be Battlefield's crisp bag scene, though.

The story lives up to its backdrop. The rich plot is full of secrets, factions and unknown enemies. I even think Mike gets the right amount of foreshadowing. His friend Radcliffe is a bad guy. What more do you want? I also admire the fact that the production team were brave enough to make Mike charming as well as bigoted. Not all racists are cartoonishly evil. Yes, he's selfish and stupid, but that's under the surface. TV's attempts to tackle racism can often be timid and trite, but I like where Remembrance goes with it.

All that's good stuff, but what really sold me on Remembrance was its finale. Most Dalek stories would have ended with Skaro's destruction, but not here. In the real ending, the Doctor talks the Black Dalek to death and Jasmine Breaks murders Mike. However after that comes the real real ending: a crying girl, a funeral and "We did good, didn't we?" It's not just about killing the baddie. Remembrance ends with more thoughtfulness and humanity than that, for which I love it.

This story works on so many levels. It's a kick-arse Dalek story with cool explosions which for the first time since 1974 doesn't care about Davros. It's a triumphant reinvention of Doctor Who after the troubles of Season 24 and the rag-end of the Saward era. It's an exploration of racism. And most amazingly of all, it tackles all these intimidating tasks with so much confidence and style that it makes it look easy. This may sound like an odd claim to make of one of the best-regarded 1980s stories, but I think Remembrance of the Daleks is underrated.

Sympathy for Saward by Jonathan Norton 19/1/07

Despite being a Who fan since the mid Tom Baker years (my earliest TV memories) I only saw a few moments of Remembrance when it was broadcast. That's because I'd pretty much given up on the show in the McCoy years, and after the farrago of Time And The Rani I had a policy of watching just enough of the first episode to decide whether to bother at all with the rest. Thus it is that I've seen about 1 episode of all the McCoy stories, but very few of them in their entirety. It just wasn't real Who anymore.

But now, years later, I am now able to afford all the videos and DVDs to explore the bits of the series I never saw, and I've now exhausted all the Pertwees and Tom Bakers, I thought I may as well give McCoy another chance, seeing as I keep reading that he went good after the 1st series, contrary to my impression at the time that the 1988 season was a string of dud stories apart from Greatest Show In The Galaxy.

I rewatched Resurrection of the Daleks two nights ago and now I see Remembrance and... it's just as bad as my first impressions in 1988.

I've been perusing The Discontinuity Guide, and the Ratings Guide site recently, and I've seen an awful lot of attacks on the Saward era for such crimes as "obsession with continuity" and for making glitzy violent nonsense. Which is very unfair to Eric Saward since Remembrance is every bit as nonsensical and gimmicky as Resurrection, but gets an easier ride in TDG.

A few questions:

  1. Why on Earth should the Doctor jump in the van at the start, and why should the others accept him immediately?
  2. Why would any British soldier hand over a lot of Anti-Tank Rockets to two civilians who don't offer any paperwork?
  3. This is probably a stupid question, but where are the other schoolkids, who were seen at the start?
  4. If the young girl is needed to make the battle computer work effectively, what happens when she goes off for her frequent wanderings? What is it needed for since the Black Dalek gives the orders anyway? How can Ratcliffe not have managed to notice the girl entering or leaving his premises, or that the occupant of the seat is child-sized?
  5. Why did no one notice the shuttle landing originally when it dropped off the transmat gear?
  6. Why is the Headmaster on the premises if the school is empty, and is he present on a Saturday? What happens to his body?
  7. Why "hide" the Hand Of Omega by burying it in a grave with a mysterious headstone? Incidentally the amount of back-referencing about Dalek and Time Lord history in this story goes beyond anything Saward ever approved.
How can anyone praise this stuff as a great Who story, and have a bad word for the Saward era? No, I don't think Attack Of The Cybermen was a great show either, but it was no worse than this stuff. Incidentally it did at least get a big audience, which is probably why the Saward Shootemups (as I call them: Earthshock, Resurrection, Attack and Revelation) were commissioned in the first place, an unsuccessdul attempt to protect the show's future in the mid 80s by getting bigger audiences in.

In conclusion: I don't think I missed anything great by skipping this back in 1988. Back then I did see the bit of the final episode where it was announced Skaro was destroyed and I thought that was a terrible ad hoc development then as well. But my main feeling here is absolute mystery as to why anyone can denigrate the Saward years and praise stuff like this. Unless they are implicitly using a double standard: it wasn't real Who in the McCoy years, it was just a cheap substitute. Well, that's how I felt at the time. That's why I skipped a lot of those stories.

Now why couldn't all the 80's stories be this good? by Thomas Cookson 15/5/07

As is evident in the above reviews, fans have something of a divided opinion on this story. In the Doctor Who story poll of 1996, it was voted into the top ten, and stood as the highest rated story of the McCoy era. But inevitably many fans see it as overrated or just plain bad.

Nostalgically, I've always been fond of Remembrance of the Daleks whilst at the same time I've long outplayed its charm. When I was a burgeoning fan at the age of eleven, it was one of my most watched alongside The Five Doctors, Planet of the Daleks and Daleks Invasion Earth: 2150 AD. Even having beforehand had the entire plot spoiled for me by the 1993 DWM summer special's archive, I still watched this story unfold with keen interest that Christmas morning when I opened that special edition tin, even though I knew what to expect. But even back then I could see the faults in it too.

I have actually seriously pondered why the story got such an echelon position in the poll, given that I'd relied on the poll for finding superior stories and found that Remembrance of the Daleks just wasn't that perfect or mind blowing by comparison, far from it in fact.

But I guess you need to appreciate the worst of Doctor Who as well as the best in order to see why these stories get so lauded. Back in 1988, Remembrance of the Daleks came as a breath of fresh air after three years of hell for the show. I've heard many an older fan describe how back in 1987 the kamikaze scheduling of the show meant they had to watch Doctor Who at a friend's house because their own family was watching Coronation Street on the other side. And inevitably they then had to explain in embarrassment to said friend how the show 'never used to be this crap'.

In that regard, Remembrance of the Daleks was a triumph for many fans of that age. It shared the look of many a Season 24 story, except it seemed far from the abominations of that season and it felt like the show had really pulled its socks up. And as for the horrors of the Colin Baker years, they now seemed like a forgotten bad dream.

It would of course have been nice if we could have skipped a few dud seasons to this point. In fact having read Tat Wood's essay on the JNT era in About Time Volume 5, I can see now how, for fans like him, Remembrance of the Daleks was the first time the show had gotten back on track since the Tom Baker era ended. It was like the 80's era had finally gotten pacy and overcome the lethargy that had dogged the show since 1981. The script felt far more homely and less pretentious. The story itself seemed to no longer be aimed at a fan niche but a general family audience with Daleks in the basement, magic baseball bats and evil headmasters to appeal to the kiddies whilst the parents could appreciate the politics and 60's nostalgia. And teenagers could probably relate to the quick-fire violence and undercurrent of frustrated angst in this story better than in any other (even the Doctor indulges in a bit of spontaneous vandalism with a baseball bat). Furthermore, it was nice to finally get a Doctor since Tom Baker left who had both omnipotence and a pair of balls.

But nonetheless, it does take some revisiting of the ghastly Season 24 to appreciate what a step-up Remembrance was, and why, in some ways it still inherits some of the handicaps of Season 24. For one thing, just like the piss-poor cleaning robots of Paradise Towers, the presence of the Daleks is let down by nightmarish, tacky designs, inept directing, a sense of the protagonists having to make an effort to act scared and get themselves cornered by the poorly manoeuvrable mechanical beasties. Plus, as with the action-flick excesses of the 80's, the Daleks are pretty much reduced to cannon fodder for the big explosions. The Doctor easily short circuiting the shuttle navigator Dalek feels like far too much an insult. The Dalek fear factor has long gone by this point.

In fact, the Daleks are the most lousy shots they've ever been, which makes the much-praised cliffhangers of this story very contrived involving "exterminate" being repeated ad infinitum, and yet the gusto of those climactic moments hides the contrivance well. I mean, the first cliffhanger is the first time we hear a Dalek speak in the story and Roy Skelton really makes its presence felt like a PA announcer. The second is just so delightfully fannish.

Then, of course, is the Doctor, revitalised, reinvented and improved. No longer the inept, passive juvenile who's ambivalence for violence suggested his plan of action was simply to wait for his greatest foes to die of old age. Nor was he the deranged, superficial, companion-beating, shoot-first, guntoting brute who thought so highly of himself for so little reason. Nor was he the Season 24 clownish, lobotomised imbecile who absolutely failed to convey the slightest bit of alienness.

This Doctor was someone who saw the big picture. His decision to keep Ace indoors at Mike's mother's house showed how he was fiercely protective of his companion to the point of suffocation, and a far cry from the nutter who'd kept strangling Peri; in fact, that was now long forgotten. He was also a powder cake of his predecessors. Pertwee's despondence to the military has given way to a very bitter, cynical view of humanity. Patrick Troughton's darker methodology in his two Dalek encounters which pushed the Doctor slightly into the realms of being an out and out terrorist. The experiences of Tom Baker's chats with Davros which had educated this current Doctor in how to manipulate the megalomaniac (the 'virus' anecdote is definitely played upon here). Which is appropriate, I think, because in many ways the crucial Doctor's scene in Genesis of the Daleks also showed a matured Doctor combining the diverse philosophies of his predecessors, such as Hartnell's "you can't rewrite history" and Pertwee's exhaustive attempts to see peaceful resolves.

By this point, the previous two duds of Doctors had at best been a reflection of the crisis of masculinity in that both were either emancipated or a violent reaction to emancipation. But, to me, that is out of step with what the Doctor is meant to be and, for me, Sylvester McCoy recaptured the Doctorly ethos by drawing on something current and empowering: the role-playing craze.

Here we have colour-coded Daleks, just like the colour-coded Kangs of Paradise Towers (of course it's easy to spot that now given the Doctor Who roleplaying games that have come out since), and the special ranks of that Special Weapons Dalek. It's a game for many players, and then of course you have the bumbling Doctor, like many a shy teenager who enters into the roleplaying denizens, learns quickly how to bluff and manipulate and be confrontational and know his opponents weaknesses and buttons to press and emerges a stronger person. It would have been nice if this was the Doctor we had got immediately after Tom Baker.

But does Sylvester McCoy play the role well?

Well this was my main exposure to Sylvester McCoy as a child and I had little reason to think of him as being any less than a competent Doctor. You could watch this in isolation and see McCoy as a very capable actor. There are many scenes in McCoy's tenure that stain his credibility as an actor but Remembrance contains precious few of them. Even the angry moments of tearing into Davros he manages to pull off well. If there's any fault with Sylvester's delivery it is that sometimes he doesn't put the dramatic emphasis where he should and in some moments what he says is not entirely audible. In many ways, I see that as part of a greater problem that the story doesn't come off as fully refined, and indeed reading the novelisation shows up how much sharper it could have been on all fronts.

Many of the fan criticisms are valid. It is nice to have Ace on board, she's clearly having fun and showing up just how intolerably uptight most of the 80's companions before her were. But she does get some of the most annoying lines of dialogue and this is far from Sophie Aldred's best performance (that would be Greatest Show). Sophie Aldred to me is like Hans Christensen, in that despite her cringeworthy moments and misjudged adolescent angsty acting, she is still nothing less than promising, particularly in regards to facial acting. The Daleks are rather tacky in design and really they should always look metal and never look plastic. No wonder they seem like such easy canon fodder. There's also some of the embarrasing Challenge Anneka music which is taken for granted as being a disaster and insultingly pandering, but then again there are some lovely poignant scores such as the funeral music at the end.

I completely disagree however with the view that the racism issue is 'heavy handed'. The allegory to the Dalek civil war is very well done, and gives an angsty edge to the fire between them. And, if anything, such scenes are done with the kind of brevity that allows the story to move fast (but by the same token the action spectacle doesn't dominate to the point of boorishness as in the hollow Doomsday). Furthermore, the fascists themselves are well characterised. Mike is such a likeable guy that you never suspect him of being a traitor even when the story blatantly foreshadows it. This isn't a monster, this is an ordinary guy with his own philosophy on life and his ideal Britain "You've got to protect your own. Keep the outsiders out, just so your own people can have a fair chance." Doctor Who has always done well to get us in the enemy's head and emphasise how many things are a matter of perspective. Even at the age of eleven, Ratcliffe's story of imprisonment had me asking socio-political questions about the murky conflict between racial tolerance and the individual's right to free speech. I also noticed how there only seemed to be white faces allowed at Mike's funeral, so his prejudices didn't die with him.

Then there is the controversial matter of the Doctor destroying Skaro. I don't personally have a problem with that. As I said, it's about time the Doctor grew some balls.

Okay I'll try to qualify that in more eloquent terms.

The Doctor has always needed to toughen up to a more savage universe, and where the Daleks come into the picture there is no real moral dilemma, as they exist only to destroy. In fact, it should be remembered that in Genesis of the Daleks, the Time Lords predicted that one day the Daleks would destroy all life in the universe and this had never been fully resolved, so the Doctor's actions were pretty necessitated even if they were pre-emptive. But, unlike with his thuggish predecessor, the Doctor's moral code stays intact in that he will not destroy Skaro himself, but will trick his enemy into pressing the button instead, thereby proving once and for all that Davros couldn't be redeemed and that the Doctor was doing the right thing.

In the New Series the Doctor seems to often have to make some macho point about how no aliens can mess with him with pretentious lines like "on the blood of your species". But this Doctor is above needing to make pretentious 'big man' threats that at times make him sound like a juvenile delinquent, and show up how the writers are trying too hard to make the Doctor sound cool, and like one of the kids. This is a Doctor who is more omnipotently, spiritually vengeful, more like an angry, missionary God than a common thug. You really could imagine him as Shiva, the God of destruction, as he spends the story juggling such matters as free will, temptation and the nature of the scorpion.

Most of what I've written is based around my own understanding of how Tat Wood would judge this story, given that he did highlight Season 25 as the point where the John Nathan Turner era seemed to finally get it right. It's a nice return to the cheap but cheerful charm of Season 17. It also has the nice retro feel that the 1980's audience so lauded, whether that retro be Black Adder, Indiana Jones or Dirty Dancing (although this shows the 1960's as a quite grimy decade of domestic tedium and mean-spirited fascists and little in the way of glamour; it really is a proper return to classic working class Britain). And it nicely dodges the tendency for tedious explanations that take all magic and subtlety out of the show. Case in point being how the Doctor explains away his talents for rewiring the transmit that he smashed to bits by nodding to his virtue of 900 years experience (a nice nod to how the show often suggested the Doctor's intelligence without always needing to prove it).

Indeed, it is so much a change of beats after what has preceded it that it is tempting to think of this as belonging to a dream parallel universe where the TV series ended in 1984 with Caves of Androzani, but audience demand had been high enough to consider it worthwhile doing a feature film as an even bigger sendoff, and what better time than the 25th anniversary year? It feels like a script that could have made a big feature film (the novelisation even moreso) and, like the Star Trek movies, it seems to have an accessibility, pacing and humour that sets it for a more populist cinema-going audience than the stuffy fan-niche TV series.

So, final verdict on Remembrance: it's not my personal top ten kind of story and I do still wonder on some level what all the fuss is about, but I still enjoy watching it, partly to relive my youth but also to appreciate its place in the grand Doctor Who lore. True, it could have been much better, but we Doctor Who fans have often treasured the heart and soul of a story's potential more when it has limitations to contend with or takes the odd wrong turn. Most McCoy era stories worked or sunk regardless of their limitations. Greatest Show in the Galaxy is impossible to imagine suiting a bigger budget. Much of Season 24 is disastrous, but not because of the cheapness of production but because of the lobotomised scripts and the incompetence of most people involved. Remembrance of the Daleks, however, seemed like it could have been much bigger than what it had to settle for.

Of its time... Fantastic! by Nathan Mullins 22/9/09

I was born in the 1990s, so I never got the chance to view Doctor Who from behind the sofa in those days. My older brothers collected lots of Doctor Who merchandise during the time they grew up and amoung the items they bought, was Remembrance of the Daleks, a video amoungst many others that I watched regularly.

I recently viewed this episode and found it to be what I always thought of it: Doctor Who at its very best. I enjoy this episode immensly because its got lots of things going for it. For example, the Doctor and his new companion Ace, who on her first adventure proves to be one hell of a companion. She was action packed which was probably the reason I liked her hen I was a little younger but after watching several of her other videos, I found that her stories were a mixed bag. They were adventurous but gave her a backstory why she never wanted to return home to Perivale and why she and her Doctor got on so well. Sylvester McCoy plays the Doctor as a mystery, a dark and unknown entity. Now, I do know that some fans detest the way he played the role but that's not many of you. I thought he played the part brilliantly and in a manner like none other. Sophie Aldred, like Sylvester, is fantastic and plays the part of Ace like a typical teenager, not yet matured but learning to in the Doctor's company. It was said that she and Sylvester got on really well, and it shows throughout, as it did in her first story, Dragonfire.

The episode is a solid one. The audience is gripped at the very beginning as we return to Coal Hill School. The school Susan once went to and harkens back to the very first episode, An Unearthly Child. Of course, the episode is set in the 1960s, with Martin Luther King's voice being heard at the very start of the episode and a Dalek ship heading towards Earth. There are some excellent scenes throughout and especially at the very beginning with the Dalek and Gilmore's troops shooting at one another. Now, from what you can guess from the title, the episode itself does feature the Daleks but not just one set. There are two sets of Daleks, the renegade Daleks who obey the Supreme Dalek and the Imperial Daleks who obey their emperor, Davros, creator of the Daleks.

We also get a glimpse of a Dalek that can hover up a flight of stairs, not previously done before. The end product is that, whilst the Dalek hovers up the staircase after the Doctor shouting "You will be ex-ter-min-ated!", we get a brilliant cliffhanger that in those days would have seen the audience having to wait another week to see the Doctors fate at the hands of the Daleks. Though the best is yet to come: Ace runs into a spot of bother taking on a Dalek assault squad single handedly; then, finally, when the shuttle arrives to capture the Hand of Omega and retrieve it back to their home planet Skaro from the suckers of the renegade Daleks.

Also, though, something I've failed to mention is that the whole story revolves around the Hand of Omega, a Time Lord device the Daleks want so they can travel through time, using its power. The Doctor wishes only to hand over the 'Hand' to the Imperial Daleks and then make his escape without the army getting directly involved.

Group captain Gilmore makes a great substitute for the Brigadier and there are underlying themes such as a racial context that I'm glad to see Ace takes to heart: whilst she enjoyed Mike Smith's company before she found out about him, a little further into their relationship, she told him she wanted nothing to do with him. Also, the scenes featuiring the Daleks are some of the best of their day. This episode is one of my true favroutes, among such others such as Terror of the Zygons, Robot, Battlefield and Curse of Fenric.

This was to be the last Dalek story and so they went all out and for once it didn't turn out to be a complete cop-out. It was, in my opinion, one of the best McCoy episodes by far!

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