Destiny of the Daleks
Lords of the Storm
Resurrection of the Daleks
45 minutes each
|Dates||Feb. 8, 1984 -
Feb. 15, 1984
With Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson.
Written and script-edited by Eric Saward.
Directed by Matthew Robinson. Produced by John Nathan-Turner.
|Synopsis: The Daleks return with a trap that ensnares the Doctor, and leads him to again confront Davros.|
Rock-'em Sock-'em Daleks by Phil Arnold 17/3/98
When I bought Resurection of the Daleks on video, I had the notion that it would mean Revamping of the Daleks. That meaning, I thought the Daleks would get a bit of a face-lift and a bit of an attitude adjustment. This however, was not the case. We see, in this episode, the same Daleks that were possibly in The Chase! The Daleks showed signs on multiple paint jobs (one looked like the gold dalek painted over) they had nicks and scratches, the same malevolence and catch-phrase, "Exterminate!". So what better to do to these antiquated Daleks, than to blow them up?! John Nathhan Turner probably wanted to make new, improved Daleks and used this episode as an excuse to do this. The result however is fast-paced Doctor Who fun with a lot of bad, inconsistant and confusing moments.
About the episode in general: Davison's Doctor is still uncharted waters for me, keep in mind I have only seen two episodes prior to this Warriors of the Deep (bad) and Snakedance (OK). I found Davison a bit dull and wimpy in those episodes. But in Resurection of the Daleks I found him to be a great "good-old" Doctor. He had all the right Doctor mannerisms present in this episode, he dealt with the characters superbly, showed great acting abilities and displayed more heroic attributes.
Turlough, is on the other hand is one of my favorite companions. He has a bit of an enigma which he showed this in this episode. Turlough also responded to the situations around him in good form. "I am from Earth," he once said, I didn't buy it and I don't think you are supposed to. In contrast however, Tegan has to be one of my least favorite companions. This was Tegan's last episode and she spent half of it sleeping. She added very little to the overall story, and her departing preformance was on the whole, rather blunt. "That's it, I'm outta here" was the basic feeling of the final scene and did not evoke a sence of ggreat emotions like the farewell scene in The Dalek Invasion on Earth.
Let me put it like this regarding the secondary characters: "Lambs to the slaughter."
This episode is not really bad; it has great action and adventure in it, good characters to an extent, good locations, great sets, good special effects except for the diseased finale. But the episode was not organized too well, making the plot a bit confusing. Scenes jump from one place to the other, characters getting killed everywhere, Daleks beeing blown up, thrown out windows. The virus infecting the Daleks in the final episode, however, is rather silly and looks like shaving cream jutting out of their plastic casses.
On the whole this episode was enjoyable to some extent. It has a lot to offer but it needed a lot more organization to make sence of the confusion. Even the presentation of it needs more organization. It is worth a look, but I am sure, your feelings about it will be mixed, as was mine. But Resurrection is great fun! 7.75/10
Wasted Potential by Ari Lipsey 21/5/98
Resurrection of the Daleks starts of with one of the most interesting scenes in Doctor Who. About twenty people in anachronistic clothing escape from a warehouse and are gunned down by bobbies carrying machine guns. After they are killed, their leader (later revealed as Lytton) takes out a yellow hand-held dial and transports the bodies and himself off the planet. The bobbies hide their guns and walk down the street as if nothing has happened. How could anyone not love that?
Eventually, however, Resurrection turns out to be more of a collection of great ideas than an actual great story. I once saw Eric Saward comment he would have liked another episode for Resurrection, but I got the feeling that Saward had too much time on his hands. Mercer spends most of his time walking around the space station, while the Doctor spends most of his time fighting a Dalek mutant (gee, exciting). The Doctor himself is more or less superfluous to the plot, accept during the scene when he is duplicated and when he tries to kill Davros. This may have worked with other Doctors, but Davison is far to calm and laid-back to have him inspecting a warehouse for twenty minutes. Davros himself spends a lot of time shoving things in peoples necks, to try to get them to join him. Most of the interesting scenes are done with Lytton, but the show is called Doctor Who, not "Commander Lytton, Everyone's Favorite Mercenary".
Episode one (for North Americans) is the best, almost perfect in fact. The policeman and the invasion of the space station are all well done, and when the guy starts to decay in front of Osborn, that's just creepy. The Daleks themselves, are no longer the all-powerful galactic conquerors, but weak shadows of their former selves. That idea is interesting.
But in the location contemporary London, the Daleks don't even venture outside the warehouse. All we get is a shouting Davros (they should have kept him frozen), something about Daleks invading Gallifrey, which seems like it was written five minutes before they shot the scene, and duplicates that seem to stand around and look pretty. There's no music, no intrigue, no excitement. The best thing after episode one are the scenes with those Bobbies (Tegan's escape, Archer's death etc.), who with the exception of Lytton are the most interesting characters, and they don't say a bloody thing. I'm glad they were used again in Attack of the Cybermen.
The end is quite witty (though I'm not sure it was intended to be). The Dalek Supreme tells the Doctor that duplicates have been placed in strategic positions around the Earth. If Saward was commenting that no one would notice the differences between a politician and his crazy duplicate, there's another great idea. But that's all we really have here. Ideas and padding to hold them together.
A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 30/9/99
One of the better Davison tales, despite its reputation of style over substance. The plot basically is difficult to follow and convoluted and doesn`t offer a great deal that is new (the Daleks need Davros -- as in Destiny Of The Daleks -- in order to rid themselves of the Movellan virus. Cue lots of double-crossing and back stabbing, a trademark of writer Eric Saward.) What actually makes the story interesting are the characters particularly Stien and Lytton both excellently portrayed by Rodney Bewes and Maurice Colbourne respectively. Similairly Peter Davison`s Doctor is also elevated to something more than just an observer, as he attempts to deal with Davros permanantly. Although both Turlough and Tegan are wasted, as is Rula Lenska (in a somewhat cliched characterisation) and Chloe Ashcroft. There are some plus points however notably in the effectiveness of the two policemen, Tegan`s rushed departure, the visual effects and in the location work. Not a great offender then, but it could have been better than it eventually turned out to be.
An Lost Opportunity by Mike Morris 3/10/99
First of all, a disclaimer. I don't hate Eric Saward. Yes, he was a bit to gone on the mercenary stories, yes, he made our lovely show a bit overly violent. But he wasn't the worst writer in the world, and he did preside over three reasonably good years (and two crap ones). Revelation of the Daleks is pretty good.
But I have to say this. Resurrection of the Daleks is terrible. It's unstructured, it doesn't make any sense, it's self-contradictory, it's violent, it's a classic example of how not to tell a story. It doesn't seem like that the first time you watch it, though... Daleks! And they're all glossy and expensive! And look at that modelwork! And there's, like, explosions and stuff! Cor blimey!
But, beyond the gloss, this really is awful. The plot revolves around... er... well, the Daleks rescue Davros, and they want to kill the Doctor, and drain his mind of all knowledge, and you see there's this virus that's killing them and they've hidden the canisters of it on present-day Earth (Why? Oh, just because). They want to invade present-day Earth (Did I mention they've a time-corridor thingummy as well? Well they have), and they're using duplicates as soldiers, and they want to assassinate members of the High Council as well, and they want to kill Davros, and they've hired a guy called Lytton who isn't a duplicate, but tells all the others what to do. Despite being in suspended animation for ninety years Davros has managed to make this mind-control thing (although he's completely forgotten what happened in Destiny of the Daleks), and he's turning all the Daleks onto his side, and he wants to make a new race of Daleks which will be even more deadly (i.e. he's going to paint them white and gold. How pretty). Then there's a guy played by one of the Likely Lads, who's on the Dalek's side, but he isn't really, and he's a duplicate but he's a real person too.
I CAN'T STAND THE CONFUSION IN MY MIND!!!!
The annoying thing is, there's enough here to provide a good story. The opening scene is great; but, symptomatic of the whole story, we never find out who the escaping prisoners are. In fact, the whole of the first episode is pretty good. The Dalek attack on the Space Station is well done, and the scenes of character's faces dissolving are genuinely horrific. The cliffhanger - a Dalek shouting exterminate into the theme music, as we see a close-up of the Doctor's face - is excellent.
There's more. As far as the regulars go, this is superb. We see a real examination of the Doctor's character - he is far more violent than usual, determined to stop the Daleks at all costs, and even to commit murder. At the end, Tegan's departure shows him that he is wrong - and, as a result of his actions, he has alienated one of his closest friends. The scene where the Doctor tries to kill Davros is marvellous - we know from the start that he won't be able to go through with it, and it's this "weak" aspect of Davison's Doctor that is so appealing. In the end the Doctor wins, but he also loses. It's this thread that is the real shining beacon amid the nonsense that is the plot, and almost compensates for the story's negative points.
Parallel to this is Tegan's departure. It's magnificent in its abruptness. For the whole story Tegan is confronted with death after death, and her disgust at all the killing is beautifully handled. The scene where the two policeman shoot an innocent bystander, and her reaction, is fantastic. Rather than the Doctor, it's Tegan who acts as the moral voice, bringing home the horror of needless death - and, at the end, she can't take any more and wanders off into the world, alone and with nothing. This is another great character examination, and it nearly justifies the mass slaughter and gratuitous violence.
Turlough doesn't get a great deal to do, but Mark Strickson does it well.
But... but, but, but. Why did Saward decide to complicate the storyline, when what it really needed was simplification? A story taking place in two time zones is complex enough, and to throw in added continuity links was just silly. Daleks invading Gallifrey... it's mentioned once, then doesn't feature in the plot at all. It's as if no-one could think of a reason for the Daleks not to exterminate the Doctor right away, so they came up with this. All the stuff about the Daleks invading Earth was pretty damn silly as well... either that or the "Movellan Virus" storyline had to go. But no, they're both here, and neither of them make any sense whatsoever.
The story's implications are big - the Dalek Factions storyline starts here, and it's an inventive piece of continuity. But then there's all the "soldiers wandering around a space station" rubbish - it's as if the production team wanted a few more people to kill, in their quest to break the Doctor Who All-Time Body Count Record. Quite simply, far too many people die in this story. We're supposed to be watching Doctor Who, not Rambo, and it's not acceptable to create a few characters then kill them, just to provide us with another action sequence. And all that horribly macho dialogue... ugh. Some of the scenes are simply sickening, not least when Mercer dies. And there's no excuse for it at all.
Resurrection of the Daleks is a pivotal story as far as Dalek continuity goes, and it examines the regulars in a hugely intelligent way. In fact, it's probably one of the most important entries in the Doctor Who canon.
It's just a shame that it's so bloody awful.
The Universe Is at War, Doctor by Rob Matthews Updated: 2/8/01
As self-proclaimed Saward's Champion (just call me the Ka Faraq Git), I've taken it upon myself to step in and defend this story. I agree that Resurrection is a bit of a mish-mash, but can't help but wonder if that is not partly the point. When fans talk about Genesis of the Daleks or The Caves of Androzani, one of the things they often mention is the sense of urgency, the need of the protagonists to survive rather than to win. I always enjoy it when the show evokes this feeling because it makes it seem more real, more convincing. I can see why some fans might not like it , however, because when chaos really asserts itself the Doctor can end up looking helpless. That's certainly the case in this story, with the Doctor virtually relegated to the sidelines while the Daleks practically foil their own plans. I suppose you could say he has a positive influence on things in as much as he influences Stein to rediscover his (cloned) humanity, and ultimately turn against the Daleks, but that happens more by accident than through the design. This is a story where the Doctor turns up, gets captured, escapes, faffs about a bit and leaves. Easy to see this as a failing. The Doctor should be the hero, right?
Well, no. The Doctor should fail sometimes. It shows that he's... er, human. Or at any rate, that he's like us. If the Doctor can be shown as fallible now and again, it helps the series as a whole.
So, there's a big 'war is hell' theme in Resurrection, illustrated from the very beginning by the surreal warehouse massacre, and in quick succession by the deformed victims of the Dalek's lethal gas, the horrible shooting of the army scientist and that old tramp down by the river, and of course the presence of the Movellan virus.
Speaking of which, I think the production team should actually be commended on developing the Movellan war plotline - especially since Destiny of the Daleks itself was so poor and there was really no need ever to mention it again. What is achieved here is closer to what we saw in Genesis - a long-running war that has laid waste to the resources and sanity of its protagonists. The Daleks in Resurrection have become as desperate as the Kaleds in Genesis, who manned their trenches with propped-up dead bodies. In a wonderfully ironic twist, the Daleks have found themselves in almost the exact same position as the beings that created them. The Daleks are beings born of war, and no story (other than Genesis itself) illustrates this better. If the Doctor has to fail once in a while, then it's entirely appropriate that it should be in a story involving what we were always led to think of as his worst enemies. The story re-establishes the Daleks as a threat, as a lethal abomination. By all accounts, Saward wasn't too impressed with them per se, but that's a good thing because it means he's not satisfied to sit back and leave it to the viewer's memories of old stories to do all the work. He works to show them as intelligent and plotting, something they hadn't been since the Troughton years.
When the Daleks first appeared they were monsters in dodgem cars who couldn't even traverse past their own front door. When they invaded Earth, they needed big Woks on their backs and men with coal scuttles on their heads to help them out. Here, Saward brings them in line with Who mythology as it had developed up to that point. They have advanced technology which enables them to travel through time and space without a craft (down a kind of torch-beam presumably). They can clone humans. And they've got Gallifrey in their sights. Now, once again, they are a significant presence in the Whoniverse. We're not expected to be convinced of their villainy by past achievments.
Some reviewers have complained (like Davros!) that the Daleks shouldn't need human troops. My only answer to this would be that I'd much rather see a scene which deals with the interaction of a human and a Dalek than the usual 'Do this'-'I obey' stuff. So I'm also going to blaspheme by saying that I prefer the Dalek stories which feature Davros. He represents the missing link between them and us, in a very literal, visual way. I prefer the Michael Wisher version, but the Molloy Sugden Davros remains interesting in spite of his campy ranting. The Daleks might have been better without Davros in their heyday in the sixties, but they looked tired and dull throughout the Pertwee era. Davros was invented out of necessity, to make them interesting once more.
Anyway, to the chaotic nature of the story. Well, it all seems appropriate to me. I don't see Resurrection as a straightforward beginning-middle-end narrative in itself. It's more a part of a saga, it's 'A Day in the Life of the Daleks', illustrating how numerous are the pies that these tin fascists have their fingers (or plungers) in. And it's about self-interest, from Davros wishing to impose his will on the entire universe to Lytton managing to dodge his way out of death, by an uneasy alliance with the Daleks and, later, by playing dead. Or from the space station's doctor deciding to take herself out with dignity by self-destructing the station to Turlough, anxiously hunting for the time corridor to save his own skin.
And I can't emphasise enough how much I think the themes of the story follow on from Genesis of the Daleks. Which isn't to say that it's ensconced in too much continuity from that story, because it's not. In Genesis, Davros said that the Daleks would ensure their survival by becoming the dominant creature. We saw there, and even more so here, that at some point the will to survive becomes the will to control, and from that point on, the battle becomes irrational, and the protagonist paranoid. So in Resurrection we see the discrepancy of the Daleks dying of a virus and desperately seeking out their creator for help, while at the same time developing human clones and planning an invasion of Gallifrey. I don't think that's a script glitch, or rather, if it is, I don't care. Because, by serendipity, we see the sheer arrogance of the Daleks, their utter belief in their right to rule, even while they're dying out. Why, they think, should they stop messing around with their little duplicate plan just because they're dying of a virus that attacks their very structure? The Daleks aren't E.M. Forster, there's no notion of "Only connect" in their minds. If they let their handling of one issue start affecting their handling of another, well, pretty soon they'll be democrats. So, like a lot of human idiots, they're as asinine as they are dedicated.
And, as Lytton says, 'They'll kill anybody, even if they need them' - almost on a whim, they decide to destroy Davros because he cannot be trusted - even though he hasn't completed the work they sought him out for. They were initially too self-interested to realise that he would simply pursue his own agenda, and when his own self-interest reveals itself, they have to get rid of him. Davros refers to the Daleks as 'like an errant child'. Later, the Doctor repeats the idea, referring to Davros as 'like a deranged child'. That's the key to this story. The Daleks decide to kill Davros and Lytton because they're Daleks. Like fascists and children, they would sooner destroy than understand or accommodate. It's like starting a jigsaw puzzle, getting vexed and smashing it to pieces. That's why the story collapses into chaos. The selfishness of each party conflicts with the selfishness of the other, and everyone ends up killing each other.
And the Doctor's not immune. In an impulsive moment which horrifies Tegan, he takes it upon himself to go and murder Davros. And it's really this confrontation which makes the story for me. More so than when he acted in self-defence against the Cyberleader in Earthshock (a kind of cousin to this story), this scene challenges the Doctor's anti-violence stance. This time he's going on the offensive, and in a story as dark as this we can have no idea what the outcome will be. The scene looks back to the one in Genesis where the Doctor had his first battle of wills with Davros, and is a direct sequel to that famous moment when he held those two wires in his hands. Davison's acting is superb in this scene. He virtually withers away as, even with a gun pointed at his head, Davros seems to show the greater strength of character.
'The universe is at war, Doctor,' Davros says, and it says an awful lot about the time in which the show was made. This was the era of Reagan, Thatcher and Gorbachev. A time when nuclear apocalypse felt horribly imminent. And dare I say it, the Movellan virus can be seen as a kind of AIDS for Daleks.
But the scene is interrupted and ends unresolved, the Doctor cursing himself as an imbecile. A cop-out? Possibly so. I do think that while Saward likes to challenge the Doctor, he doesn't necessarily know how to resolve these dilemmas. Predictably and reassuringly, with the Doctor coming to his senses? Or tragically and disturbingly, with the Doctor succumbing to the madness around him? In a way, either would be disappointing.
Nevertheless, it's one of the single most important scenes in the show's run. It impacts on the next story, when the Doctor becomes guilty of the Master's death* simply by virtue of doing nothing to save him. It alienates Tegan and creates maybe the most moving departure scene for any companion, adding to the Doctor's feeling of failure and heightening the drama of his terminal rescue of Peri in Caves of Androzani. The Doctor's struggle against violence in himself virtually defined the sixth Doctor's character, and the scene did in a way have a highly-belated ending in Remembrance of the Daleks, when the Doctor killed not only Davros, but his whole army of Daleks and Skaro's stellar system too. So much for mending his ways!
(* - for the Master did die in Planet of Fire, even if they'd forgotten that a year later)
I also like that the Daleks seem here to exist on a broader canvas than the story itself. It doesn't make for tight narrative - the Supreme Dalek, for example, mentions having a plan that will force Davros to leave the space station of his own free will, a plan we never see unfold -, but it presents a more convincing world. I actually like Revelation of the Daleks better, but Resurrection begged for a follow-up story that was never made.
The one resounding clanger in this story is Davros' mind-control thing. If he could construct something like that, I doubt he'd have forgotten about it by the next story. In fact, if he could construct something like that, he'd be able to gradually impose his will on the universe without any need for Daleks. Silly, very silly.
Oh! The other thing - how does Davros know that all Time Lords are soft? Easy! He learned about Time Lords and the powers they possess when he interrogated the Doctor in Genesis of the Daleks. He knows what powers they have and sees they do not use them for conquest and domination. Therefore - in his mind - they are soft!
So in conclusion, Resurrection of the Daleks has needless deaths, senseless violence and a lot of inexplicable things going on. Hey, so does King Lear. And so, for that matter, does our own little planet Earth.
A Review in four parts by Peter Jermey 31/5/00
Your bile would be better directed against the enemy
Part 1 begins with a wonderful dark mysterious air that continues until the third companion of the fifth Doctor - ludicrous alien costumes - turn up. It is a shame that the "specimens" look so much like extras from a pantomime, since the other characters' costumes - despite there being a competition between the humans and the Dalek agents to look most like the Tracy brothers - do not detract attention from the plot. Tegan does a wonderful whine about being thrown around the console room and then being dumped near a forest of disused warehouses.
On board the Prison we see a doctor that is more concerned about her job than her comrades - How refreshing after the heroics of Star Trek! And a [marijuana?] smoking [2nd?] female officer who is much less a fashion accessory than her equivalant [Uhura] and more a fully functional member of the crew.
The army appear to have a member of nerds anomynous as their tea lady-cum-nurse.
The human prison officers would be more effective against the Daleks and their agents if they used real weapons instead of using torches as pretend lazer guns. Why has the Supreme Dalek got pink bumps? He appears to have stepped [or rolled] off the set of "Carry on Exterminating"
These aside the episode builds up beautifully to a climax, culminating in that wonderfully horrific moment where a crew member's face melts. The Daleks -- as ever post-season four Daleks do -- in fact bring an anti-climax to an episode which is trying to be dark and sinister with a dash of horror and only just misses.
Anyone want some tea?
At the beginning of the episode Tegan manages to fall [on her back!], knock herself out and cut her forehead by standing too close to a Dalek! She spends most of this episode in Geek Girl's survival sleeping bag [which is obviously standard equipment for any bomb disposal squad!] Turlough helps to pad the episode out by doing his usual trick of running behind enemy lines and managing to get caught.
The serial started off gritty and dark; with the arrival of the Daleks comes a pointless episode. They remark that they have no future without Davros, but seem to have no future. Apart for the last three minutes this entire episode could be removed from the equation and no one would notice.
The Colonel, having previously seen what damage the Daleks can do and how ineffective human weaponry is chooses to run in front of them firing instead of doing the sensible thing - hiding behind the ever-so handy pillar! My advice to him: Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
There is now a gorgeously gory blown in half Dalek, and Davros makes a very interesting gurgling noise, but apart from that the episode is pure nonsense.
We are just about to press the fast forward button, when - oh wow! The Doctor's wielding a Dalek gun-stick [nevermind that the fifth Doctor is meant to be the most moral non-violent] and shock/horror Stien is a Dalek agent!
Exterminate the Doctor!
The Daleks gaggle around the Doctor like school girls until they are stopped from their skipping chant by Lytton. We see nice realistic sarcasm from the [other] doctor.
We are asked again if we would like any tea? But this time there is more of a point to it - but where does Geek Girl get her sleeping potion from?
Why have the Daleks got a bed made from bubble-wrap on their ship? With no hands this must be the most infuriating substance to them in the galaxy!
Meanwhile Davros is building up quite a motley crew: a technician, three guards, a scientist, two Daleks and a partridge in a pear tree! The competition to be in Thunderbirds seems to have changed to a compo to be in Scooby Doo. Geek Girl looks just like the fat one with glasses and when she screams we can almost here her screaming: "Scooby Doo Where are you?".
The Daleks seem to be picking fights with everyone: The Movellans, the humans, their own replicas [for unspecified reason [training practise?]], the Doctor, the Humans, Davros and now the High Council!
The remaining humans in the destruction chamber build a ludicrous barricade with bits of wall covering and other bits and bobs that wouldn't stop a six week pregnant lollipop lady! It would be like Anna Rider-Richardson holding off the US Army with a 'throw' and a couple of cleverly positioned cushions.
Tegan, after promising to be quick, spends half the episode exploring the warehouse and when she finally realises that doors are the best way to get out of buildings manages to get a lone metal hunter killed. And finally after her friend gets shot is back at square one. With friends like these...
Meanwhile we see yet another Davison meets old enemies and we are forced to see yet another flash-back sequence [Earthshock].
The episode has more of a point to it that P2, but still lacks for anything resembling a sensible storyline, again the best bit is at the end where Davros links to the credits with a lovely bit of ranting.
It's stopped being fun, Doctor.
The first person we see after Davros saying: "Supreme Being" is Tegan bathed in a cloud of pink cloud! Loveable, arrogant mouth on legs -- YES, Supreme being -- NO WAY.
There is a great TARDIS scene where most of the plot is explained for those of us who did not keep up.
Davros wants the TARDIS so the Doctor goes off to kill, yes kill him. More gunstick action! What have they done with the real compassionate anti-violent Doctor? He preaches to Davros against killing, revenge and destruction whilst holding a gun to his head! Due to trouble with Stien [the Dalek conditioning appears to be in the form of air trapped in Stein's intestines], he is unable to accomplish this and so blows up a few Daleks for his kicks. Why should there be an escape hatch in a human lab? Why is there a lab in a prison? Why have such a big prison for one prisoner? Why? Why? Why?, Delila!
Stein says that he can't stand the confusion in his mind -- neither can we! The episode contains a foam-bath where it seems it is every man [or monster] for himself, which cleverly kills off all remaining non-semi-regulars and most of the loose ends.
When the Dalek calls the TARDIS he appears to be in heaven. Which begs the question where do Daleks go when they die?
Stein's death is ludicrous - after being shot by three Daleks, he manages to launch himself towards his attackers and onto the destruction switch.
The story's over and everybody's dead, but wait Lytton and his evil policemen are still at large - excellent!
I'll miss you Doctor
Tegan gets a lovely leaving scene with beautiful melancholic backing music. We'll miss you too kido!
A lovely moody story exterminated by the Daleks and their old woman of a creator. This story would work much better by being two episodes shorter and with Lytton being the only enemy. It is the Mona-Lisa with a black and pink line painted across it
A Review by Graeme Burk 30/6/00
The Daleks are the really great thing about this story. Unlike Earthshock, which everyone seems to think this story is like (it couldn't be more different), the Daleks are actually well characterised this time around. They aren't the oafish chanting robots of Destiny, they aren't the sidekicks of Genesis and Revelation, but a force to be reckoned with in their own right. They're unrelenting, they're mean, they're manipulative, they're double dealing and they're downright devious. In short, they're everything the Daleks should be, but haven't been since David Whitaker stopped writing for them.
Not bad for an alien race which is recovering from a massive defeat. In some ways, Resurrection is a metaphor for how the Daleks are viewed in the series, by this point, a bit of a recurring joke on the outs that are busting their way back in.
And because of that, I forgive this story a multitude of sins. The Saward-machismo which some have chided works here. It is, unapologetically, a story full of amoral mercenaries who only have last names, if any. But unlike a lot of stories (read: the Colin Baker era) they work against a backdrop with the Daleks. The Daleks thrive in settings where the characters as nasty as them are trying to play them (Power, Evil, Masterplan...) and this story is no exception. There's violence, meyhem, surly macho characters by the boat load and somehow with the Daleks as a real threat, they make some sort of sense. Do this story with, say, the Ice Warriors, and it wouldn't work nearly so well.
I'm amazed at how many reviews chide the story for a complex plot or at least a plot with tacked on plots (the assassination of the Gallifreyan High Council thread being one of them), and maybe they're right, but again, it makes sense with the Daleks. These things are the conquerors of galaxies. They may be dwindling, but they're still surviving and planning to do more than that. Why wouldn't they have several plans in motion? Get Davros to cure the Movellan virus. Subjugate and use humans as shock troops. Experiment with human genetics and create clones to infiltrate and use as shock troops. Dump the virus somewhere in time where there are no Daleks. Find the Doctor, clone him and invade Gallifrey using stealth to get control of better time technology. These pepperpots are downright ruthless when their backs are against the wall.
Part of the fun is watching everyone manipulate the other: Davros manipulates Lytton, the Daleks manipulate Davros, Davros manipulates the Daleks, the Daleks manipulate the Doctor through Stein, Lytton and the Daleks manipulate each other to their own ends and on and on.
The fact that the story has high production values helps -- Resurrection boasts (with Frontios) probably the best sets of season 21. The Daleks seem less clunky than in previous stories, too (and has anyone commented on the modification to their voices, both by using non-Roy Skelton artistes but by the modulation used? Creepy.)
And there's great acting from the humans which make all of it work even better. Maurice Colbourne does a great job as Lytton (far better than in Attack of the Cybermen), and Rula Lenska plays Styles -- a stock cynical Saward character if there ever was one -- with just the right blend of sneering and smouldering. But it's Rodney Bewes as Stein that really grabbed me this viewing. The ending of episode two where he suddenly slips out of his scared little man persona and into a cold killer is really nicely done.
I do take issue with a number of things as televised. Terry Molloy was way over the top much of the time as Davros (I defy anyone to not scream at the TV screen at the end of episode 3, "It's time to switch to decaf!") and the lengthy padding of episode 4 where the Doctor goes to execute Davros adds nothing to the story. Davison acquits himself well with all the violence (the way he holds Archer's revolver when not having to use it in episode two is brilliant in its subtlety) elsewhere, but here, while the Doctor does get a great speech where he implicitly rejects the tendencies in humanity that the Daleks represent, the Doctor is made to look ineffective and his view silly. It's a danger of dancing with so many mercenaries I suppose. That the confrontation doesn't have a decent conclusion also hurts it immensely.
The ending however is great. Tegan's departure is totally appropriate in its rushed messiness. But it's the Doctor's reactions to it that are astounding. His plea of "Don't leave, not like this!" is heartbreaking, but it's his speech to Turlough afterward that's a revelation, as he babbles about his reasons for leaving Gallifrey and making amends. The sight of the Doctor so vulnerable and fragile is one of the most powerful forty-five seconds in the history of the programme, and one of the best demonstrations of how Davison was probably the best actor to play the role.
Resurrection is a very bleak and unrelenting Doctor Who story -- no one save the Doctor, the companions and Lytton survive -- but the Daleks are a bleak and unrelenting race. It's great that for just once we got to see what it would be like if the Daleks were as bleak and unrelenting as their reputation.
A Review by Mark Irvin 15/10/01
After reading the many negative reviews concerning Resurrection of the Daleks, I must say I am somewhat stunned. I have always considered it to be an excellent story. Especially so, when you take into account the amount of decidedly suspicious fare that was often churned out during this era. I'd rank right up there with the two other Davison classics - Earthshock and The Caves of Androzani. All three are very similar in the respect that they're slightly more adult in nature, atmospheric and all have a wonderful sense of urgency.
Eric Saward's plot is outstanding, although being fairly complicated explains itself satisfactorily. It's definitely easy enough to follow, unlike Ghostlight or The Curse of Fenric (although I do greatly respect Fenric) which fall into the slight trap of brushing over vitally important details far too quickly. The use of three different locations works effectively and doesn't confuse the proceedings.
The first episode is a classic in itself, containing a most impressive opening scene, building the suspense right from the word go. The tension aboard the Prison ship is built up superbly, climaxing with the boarding of the Daleks via the airlock. This is also a great scene, perhaps one of my personal all-time favourites. The Daleks look truly fearful, and the accompanying music only adds a terrific feel of tension to the situation. Though admittedly, I think it would have worked even better if the prison officers had decent effects for their guns - maybe similar to the Earth-trooper rifles seen in Earthshock.
True the Doctor is held out of the action for much of the early part, but is this necessarily a bad thing? I think it's interesting for a change to have him saved for the conclusion. However I will confess it was a bit of a cop-out when he didn't shoot Davros - I mean come on, as if he would walk out and leave Davros unattended even for a second. (But I suppose we all know he wouldn't really shoot him anyway)
The Daleks are very nearly at their peak here. For once they're actually given some decent dialogue, opposed to the boring banter that had been associated with them in the past. I think the inclusion of the Dalek troopers was a terrific idea, also helping to break up the previously monotonous Dalek talk. Lytton as the Trooper's leader, works extremely well alongside the Daleks. Resurrection also marks the beginning of the Davros/Supreme Dalek faction plot, an interesting idea that would keep the Daleks entertaining in their following adventures.
Concerns aimed at the violence really irritate me, who cares if a few people get killed for once? We are talking about a story that involves the Daleks after all - It's realistic. And the notion that the Prison Officer's attempt to set the self destruct mechanism was superfluous - is completely unfair. I honestly thought that this sub-plot only added to the story. If anything you could probably say that the Supreme Dalek invading earth with his clones un-called for, even a bit stupid.
Additionally on the downside, the Earth Army officers are absolutely terrible. They almost appear to be included past episode 2 to give equally irritating Tegan something to do.
In summary, I would thoroughly recommend Resurrection of the Daleks to any fan who wants to see a more serious Dr Who serial. Without the comic genius of Tom Baker, a more adult based style of story on occasions would have been a good move for the series. If all of Davison's stories were like Resurrection, Earthshock and Caves of Androzani I think he could have gave even Baker a bit of a run for his money. As it stands his tenure could only be classed as mediocre at best, with a few stunning highlights.
A Review by Daniel Spelner 4/12/01
The fifth Doctor finally gets to encounter his arch enemies in this eighties spectacular. This first-class action adventure never lets up chiefly due to Matthew Robinson's astonishing direction. By creating the nonstop tempo (the makers employing tight editing) and the masterful execution of the scenes, the production has an almost feature film quality - a feeling increased by the glossy production values.
The action orientated script from Eric Saward is a large-scale one, however he does make the error of having too many elements as it does get complicated. The story also marks the break up of the the Davison era, as Janet Fielding leaves the show. The feisty, aggresive Tegan was always a considerable presence aboard the TARDIS and was greatly missed. Even Saward claimed of all the assistants he was concerned with, Tegan was the best. Premium stuff!
A Review by Gareth McG 4/2/02
Perhaps I've become spoiled over the years because aside from having The Five Doctors on video the only Who I've seen in recent times are the BBC repeats (Spearhead, Silurians, Daemons, Genesis, Pyramids, Caves, Revelation and Battlefield). All are classic stories. I bought Resurrection of the Daleks on video assuming that I couldn^Òt go wrong with my favourite Doctor up against his most legendary foe, the Daleks. However I was wrong and disliked it immensely. As usual Davison is excellent but it's telling that he's the only one providing any light relief whatsoever during the story (when he provokes the Daleks). For Doctor Who the story seems unusually tasteless with so many fatalities. Indeed it's for this precise reason that Tegan chooses to make her emotional farewell at the conclusion and one can completely empathise with her decision. The Doctor's thoughtful remark "It seems I must mend my ways" is completely fitting after this gory battle.
I found the script cluttered with far too many ideas and far too many characters. Saward seems to assume that the viewer has watched Destiny of the Daleks and is aware of the background to the current war. That was certainly not true in my case and I had no idea who the Movellans were, why Davros was being held in cryogenic suspension on a prison ship and why the Daleks were now in conflict with their creator. It also becomes confusing as to which Daleks/ Dalek troopers are fighting for whom. Add to this the duplication sub-plot and the story becomes completely bewildering. I had to watch it four times and do a bit of background reading before fully grasping the whole concept - and this is supposed to be predominantly a children's programme!
The Daleks themselves were disappointing and perhaps even superfluous to this story. They reminded me of a load of spoiled children in the school ground and the way in which they die with shaving foam discharging from their casings looks absolutely ridiculous, making a mockery of such deadly villains. Again Davros salvages them putting in a typically chilling performance. The Dalek troopers work well also and should have been used independently of the Daleks as an updated, more capable and therefore more horrific race. While the duplicates confused the plot somewhat there were some good ideas behind them too. For example, Stein's vain attempts to overcome his possessed mind are brilliant. Eventually he realises that the only way to completely overcome this exorcist is to take his own life. But so many bad ones override these good points. We have the lame excuse of a time tunnel to get the Daleks from their spaceship to Earth and the unlikely event of having loads of deserted streets just a couple of hundred yards from Tower Bridge in London. Tegan's all style and no substance, Turlough too has become boring now that he's completely free of the clutches of the Black Guardian, the prison officers are lousy actors and how could you possibly take Dirty Den seriously as a Dalek trooper! While not the very worst of Dalek stories (see Planet of the Daleks) this is far from the best either and if you want to see a classic story with the old enemy then look no further than the Baker boys in Genesis and Revelation.
A Review by Benjamin Mann 24/4/02
Resurrection of the Daleks is usually regarded as being successful in its most superficial elements. But its plot is of course notoriously hard to follow. Whereas many, though admittedly not all of the commonly mentioned plot holes can be filled quite easily, this accusation is essentially valid. It would be a pretty damning criticism too, if you were actually supposed to follow the plot. I don't think you are though. Like a lot of 80's Who, it is the themes, and to a certain extent the characters, which are far more important than the plot. Indeed in this case the plot, or rather the absence of clear explanations for certain things is used as part of the illustration of the themes.
But I'm getting ahead of myself here. The most obviously meaningful scene in Resurrection is the scene in which the Doctor doesn't shoot Davros. It's rather similar to a more famous scene in Genesis of the Daleks. In both, the Doctor must essentially decide whether to destroy a single entity (in Genesis a species, in Resurrection a person) by action, or destroy many such entities by inaction. (All the species that the Daleks will presumably wipe out during their existence, and the people who die in subsequent Davros stories because of Davros.) Of course, it's never as simple as that, and both scenes point this out, but it's not far off. And finally, in both scenes the Doctor doesn't really actually makes the decision.
The principal difference is their surroundings. The Genesis scene is in something of a vacuum, in that there aren't any other notable scenes in the era, (at least none that I can think of), which question the Doctor's "traditionally heroic" nature, in these cases by pointing out a situation in which there is no clear heroic path. (From a certain perspective this does put it ahead of its time of course.) The Resurrection scene however is surrounded by them. Of particular note is the way it's followed up. Only minutes after not killing Davros, the Doctor quite happily kills a load of Daleks with the Movellan virus. He doesn't have the same qualms as with Davros simply because they are Daleks, whereas Davros reminds him of Gallifreyans or Humans. And of course, killing things with a virus is somewhat less direct than killing them with a gun, not that this actually makes any real difference. Is this attitude racist? Well maybe, it certainly isn't right. But someone who is absolutely impeccable is a bit of a boring character really. And it certainly isn't unDoctorish. Just compare for example the way the third Doctor treats Daleks to the way he treats the Master. There simply hadn't been a story before which had both attitudes being displayed right next to each other. Resurrection is brave enough to point it out.
Far more fundamental is the departure of Tegan. Not only is it an exceptionally powerful and moving scene, not only does it underline all that I've mentioned so far, but it also marks a fundamental turning point in the nature of the entire show. The early days of Doctor Who are essentially about the Doctor travelling about the universe having fun. He goes to places because he thinks they're interesting or by accident, finds some problem there, solves it and ends up with a feeling of satisfaction at having done the right thing. On the other hand, after this time Doctor Who became more about the Doctor's campaign against certain bad things, more about duty. The purpose of travelling to places became to sort out problems, frequently ones for which the solution involved picking up a lot of guilt, and so weren't fun. In this sort of environment you need companions who are there to help you do things, and not just to see the universe and enjoy themselves. When Tegan says goodbye to the Doctor because it's stopped being fun, she's also saying goodbye to the relative innocence of early Who. The comments "brave heart" and "I'll miss you" take on a double meaning.
Actually, there's another difference between the Genesis and Resurrection decision scenes. In Genesis, the Doctor is very much in control of the debate. Not so in Resurrection. Instead we have Davros' certainty in his position overwhelming the Doctor's indecision. At this point, the Doctor has not yet adapted to the harsher Saward universe, and he doesn't really know what his approach to it is. He is just starting to realise what the only way of dealing with it sometimes is, he tries to suppress his concerns about this method, but when he's about to use it they inevitably make themselves felt. Even so, with his new way of dealing with this new world which first becomes obvious here he manages to alienate Tegan, which leads to him in the next story trying to "mend his ways" by pretending the new universe doesn't exist and picking up a new "fun-seeking" companion. Whom he gets killed. (Ignoring Trial 14.)
Well, maybe that's slightly unfair. But still, Resurrection is a pivotal story about a somewhat flawed hero. And it's much the greater for it.
(He finally gets his new approach working in Remembrance, where he acknowledges he can't be a simple hero, and thinks about his big decision before he takes it. And makes sure his companions can help him in his mission.)
Actually, there's a far broader theme to Resurrection, in which the Doctor's behaviour is just a part. It's a theme of replacing sci-fi or storytelling cliches with a kind of "war-based realism." This is perhaps most obvious in the part of the story concerning the group of people trying to cause the ship to self-destruct. It is a noble act of self-sacrifice, which will save the day. The rules of sci-fi storytelling insist that they should be allowed to succeed. But in what to me manages to be one of the most surprising and shocking scenes in Doctor Who, they get massacred instead. No opportunity to be heroic at all. But there are numerous other examples of this. You have the way they take time out from the plot to show you the death of someone with a metal detector, and the many other seemingly pointless deaths. You have the almost irrelevant detail of things on the ship not working properly. You have the horrific nature of the gas used. (In no way gratuitous, it's there for a very good reason.) And yes, you have the lack of decent plot explanation. When was the last time you found out all the details of what was happening in a war whilst actually fighting it? It simply lacks someone popping up to explain the Dalek's plan for no apparent reason. Which to me seems like a good thing.
You also have the Doctor's role in the story. Yes, this show is called Doctor Who, so it should be about the Doctor. And Resurrection is. Everything in the story builds to the aforementioned Doctor-Davros scene. It just eschews the cliche of being about the Doctor in a rather superficial way by having the Doctor solve everyone's problems. Instead, it's about the character of the Doctor, and the way he relates to the world, and what happens when he gets shut out of the action. As can sometimes happen in war.
Of course, you can't be a good story purely on the strength of your themes. So it's a good thing Resurrection has plenty more going for it. I've already mentioned three great scenes, but there are many others, in particular the scene where the "smell" turns out to be the soldier's face melting, (the already high initial impact being heightened by his companion recoiling from him and shooting him, and heightened still further by the sound of the shot bringing the Dalek troopers running,) the marvellous shot, just before the metal detector man gets killed, of the colourful Tegan running towards the camera against the backdrop of the drab, derelict buildings, and any scene involving the policemen.
There's also the amazingly dark tone to the whole thing, which is done extremely well and is the sort of thing I'm a fan of anyway. Even the most humourous bit has a black lining to it; one of the frightened soldiers there could so easily have just assumed the lump was the Dalek creature. It would fit the "innocents suffering" theme too. And of course Lytton is absolutely fantastic, as is the role given to Tegan.
A note about the guns the Humans use. The effects used for them have been criticised in some quarters as rather pathetic. Why? If I were looking for a futuristic gun, I would want something that didn't make loud noises and emit bright beams when used, as that would tend to give away my position to the enemy. As a special effect, a dazzlingly bright beam from a gun is rather gratuitous. I prefer the Doctor Who approach of going for a good story rather than random bright flashing lights myself.
I only have a few complaints about the story. Firstly there's the standard complaint about all post 60's Dalek stories, about the word "exterminate." When the Dalek appears at the end/middle of part 1 (depending which version you're watching) in a perfect firing position, but by the time it's stopped saying "exterminate" everyone's in cover, it tends to undermine their threat somewhat. Other than that, and the poor special effects for the action of the virus they are very well done, as earlier reviews have already commented. Davros is much too ranty, and some plot holes do exist, though this isn't terribly important.
Resurrection of the Daleks is perhaps the ultimate Saward-era story, and if you watch Doctor Who purely for the plots and the Doctor saving the day, then there's no way you're going to like it. But find the right perspective, and you have a story which is not only pivotal to the most important change which has (so far) happened to Doctor Who, but is a great Doctor Who story in its own right.
The Other Clone Wars by Andrew Wixon 15/6/02
Playing the 'what might have been' game is a bad habit we've all fallen prey to at some time or other, but when looking at Resurrection of the Daleks it has its uses - specifically, what might things have been like had this story been made for season 20 as originally planned? Well - not enormously different, I suppose. Peter Grimwade's direction might have marginally improved on that of Matthew Robinson, Michael Wisher would certainly have been a better Davros than Terry Molloy, and Tegan wouldn't have left, but the main difference would have been one of perception. Following only a year after Earthshock, it would have been much clearer that this story is an attempt to do for the Daleks what that story did for the Cybermen.
Resurrection sees Eric Saward's writing style starting to crystalise a bit. As well as a quick retread of Earthshock (TARDIS crew befriend soldiers and scientist investigating a mystery) all the standard elements appear: the hardbitten soldier/mercenary at the heart of the story, the pointless grim subplots where minor characters try to achieve something for an episode or two before being slaughtered out of hand (Resurrection actually has two, concerning Styles' and (the rather sigh-worthy) Osborne's attempts to kill Davros/blow up the ship), machine pistols... and a sort of lack of narrative focus. Now I'm not so bothered about the fact that the supposedly-on-the-back-foot Daleks are trying to do about eight things at the same time - they're Daleks, arrogant self-belief is part of their schtick - but the fact that most of these seem to be chucked in without much forethought. The Daleks want to assassinate the High Council - mainly so the Doctor can be strapped to a table for the obligatory flashback sequence. The Daleks have put duplicates in place in Earth's government - and this one I really can't begin to understand, it has no bearing on the story proper, and the manner it's revealed in (the Dalek Supreme's hijacking of the TARDIS monitor) is just corny, deus ex machina storytelling. I'm also not terribly impressed by the final episode, which unravels into not much more than a bloodbath, albeit sans the blood, as virtually the entire cast dies an unpleasant death on camera. (Why do the Daleks free Davros and then decide to kill him about an hour later? What happened to the Supreme's plan to keep him in check?)
Lytton's survival is telling and hardly a surprise as he is clearly Saward's kind of guy (and Maurice Colbourne gives an excellent performance). But he is part of one of the main elements of the story - the undermining not only of the Doctor, but also the Daleks. Not for the first time, the Doctor doesn't actually do very much in Resurrection of the Daleks. He spends the first half of the story in the warehouse when the action is all taking place on the space station, then he's strapped to a slab for episode three. Only in the final installment does he start trying to actively resolve the situation. And this itself is a one-two punch to the Doctor's status as a heroic character. First of all, he chooses to resort to Dalek-level tactics to sort it all out, in this case cold-blooded murder. But then, when shove comes to push, he actually chickens out and loses his opportunity. So he's not just morally compromised, he's a morally compromised milquetoast who'll happily release lethal viruses but can't bear to look his enemy in the face while he pulls the trigger. The Daleks get off slightly better, although Saward makes it very clear that they're dependent on Lytton to succeed rather than vice versa. Is Lytton ever actually wrong in this story? I can't think of a moment where he is. And the fact that such a ruthless killer is allowed to wander free at the end tells you a lot about the moral message of this story.
The more I think about Resurrection the more it just seems to me to be a mess both in terms of narrative and morality. This isn't an attempt by Saward to recast the series in a darker, more realistic mould - it's simply a bad, confused, contrived script (Tegan leaves because the climactic slaughter suddenly makes her realise this isn't a fun lifestyle? What about the end of Warriors of the Deep? What about the Cybermassacre in Five Doctors, or the death of her friend in Earthshock? And so on). Resurrection of the Daleks is solidly designed and performed, for the most part, and has one of the best ever opening sequences in Doctor Who. But it lacks imagination, focus, and any kind of moral perspective, and doesn't do justice to the Doctor or the Daleks.
Resurrection of the Earthshock by Mike Jenkins 17/6/02
Well, as I'm sure someone at some point in the many reviews for this story has pointed out that, being written by Eric Saward, this story will always seem unoriginal because Eric is quite obviously attempting to create a Dalek counterpart for Earthshock. One of Earthshock's few positive attributes was that it was a triumphant visual return for a Doctor Who arch enemy whom had been let down on the production front, with reguard to their laughable physical prescence. The Daleks, like the Cybermen, were in dire need of remodeling but in the case of the Daleks, it is a sour comeback. Because the story is mostly about visualization and less about substance, Saward cannot afford to leave the Daleks in the background and yet he does. At least the Cybermen were put in the forefront. At least they had the nerve to KILL Adric (Davison had an uncanny knack for accquiring companions who really deserved to snuff it). What's that you say? Just because the two stories have a stylistic similarity they aren't necessarily identical. Well, they're not identical. Earthshock is certainly not my favorite Doctor Who story, yet it achieves its purpose. This story quite frankly does not. But first the similarities...
Both involve the take over of frieghters and hard working innocent crew members (a theme in both Revenge of the Cybermen and Earthshock), both have apocolyptic themes (In this case a virus instead of a bomb). Both involve needless sadism in order to present that grossily overdone JNT style production. Both have a great deal of action, deceptions, double dealings, and uncessarily abrubt, yet very welcome goodbye's. Both involve a plot by menacing machines to use Earth to further their own interests in a war (Instead of the so-called 'war against the cyber race' it's the Dalek/Movellan war).
However, I digress, one of the few differences might be that Resurrection of the Daleks is twice as muddled as Earthshock and about half as interesting (Earthshock was not exactly spell-binding to begin with). Any possibly unique plots twists, developments, or action scences are lost in the sea of craziness. A disappointing turn for the Doctor's most signature enemy.
Eric Saward In "Pointlessly Violent And Entirely Confusing" Shock by Matthew Harris 20/8/02
Episode two in my series of "Things We Know About Eric".
It's not that bad, you know. Push comes to shove, it's well made, and entertaining, in the same way that the Rambo films are entertaining (to some people): plot be damned, let's just go shooty bang-bang for 90 minutes.
Except that Rambo wasn't pretending to be trying to tell a story. Resurrection, on the other hand, is. It's about some Daleks trying to cure a virus that the Movellans invented, and invade Gallifrey, and invade Earth, and probably get some shopping in at some point. Apparently. I said in the prequel to this review (that were Earthshock, that were) that Eric wasn't Mr Plot. But at least in that story the Cybermen have a reason for poncing about on a freighter like great Nancies. God knows what's going on in this one. For example? What the hell is the Movellan Virus doing in a dank and innately dispiriting warehouse in London in 1984 anyway? Who left it here? The Daleks? The Movellans? Oops, couldn't have been the Movellans, since they don't exist and were made up by the Daleks to fool Davros for some reason. Something tells me John Peel (who was great at novelising other people's stories in the late 80s) learnt a lot about storytelling from this little gem.
And then there's all this duplicate malarkey. Which is so half-arsed I can't be bothered talking about it anymore. By the way, I think... I think the escaping prisoners are duplicates from the future, like Stein is (sorry, Stien - Eric is clearly not Mr Spelling either). All we are told, however (by Lytton), is that they are some "valuable specimens". Which could mean anything, from sophisticated human replicants to one of those Sea Monkey farms.
But. The main bone of contention is the fact that, bar Lytton, and his policemen (who might not even be human) absolutely everyone (including Davros, if you like) bar the regulars die, generally in horrific and painful ways. Rula Lenska, for example. Can anyone tell me what she does, except nearly blow the station up? She spends most of episode three (of the kosher, non-Olympics version) faffing around with that, then she's exterminated. Up to then, she wanders around being angry in a tight white outfit. And the scientist, who I can't for the life of me remember the name of, but was played by Carol Ashcroft of Play School. And Eric shot her. Bastard. No-one insults or shoots anyone from Play School and gets away with it. Hear me? No-one.
What really annoys me is the death of Mercer. Now, he's a decent character, but exactly what was gained by killing him toward the end, and in the most casual and brutal fashion to boot? There's no fanfare, no special direction, nothing. Just "zap" and he's dead. I mean, "yay" the horror of random death (and at least it does feel random, unlike that of Oscar Botcherby) but there's a thin line between "random" and "gratuitous" , you know (which The Two Doctors crossed as well). It's not right. What's it for? What could possibly be worth all this?
Sorry, wrong era. I'll tell you what it's for: it's Eric's Patented Sense Of Realism And Moral Depth. Yes, I'm referring to the Tegan Leaving Scene, or TLS - the best thing about Resurrection, by miles and miles and miles, and some more miles. And a yard. And probably a furlong or two as well. It's just as well that it was put off so many times until it arrived here, really, as I'm not sure it would have been much different gratuitous violence-wise, but the TLS gives it redemption, if slightly contrived and obvious redemption, in the end. It's one of the best scenes of the 1980s. Remember, Tegan had been there since Logopolis. For staying power, she's up there with Jamie, Sarah Jane and Jo. And in thirty seconds, out of the blue, she's gone. Like a passing thought (no, wrong era again).
What does this have to do with the Sense Of Realism And Moral Depth? The Visitation dealt with not a race of people but a single alien - and criminal to boot - hatching a plan to take over the world. He was real. Not just some lunatic, or Monster Of The Week, but a desperate, wanted, er, bloke in a rubber suit, whose own people don't want him, so he figures he'll have ours instead. Realism. In Earthshock, the Doctor's held ransom by the fact that he cares about his friends. Realism andMoral Depth. In Resurrection, we have absolutely everyone being killed, and a heart's-in-the-right-place-but-it's-still-not-great copy of the Do I Have That Right scene from Genesis. Either Eric's trying too hard, or he's not trying hard enough. It's hard to tell. It is interesting that the Doctor can't kill Davros, but he can wipe out almost the entire Dalek race, nowadays, from a distance. This seems to me to be evidence that he was trying to say something, but that he was beginning to get jaded, embittered and angry and so substituted intelligent storytelling and solid characterisation (he is so not Mr Characters now it's unreal) for blood, death, and people's faces being churned to offal by an unnamed gas.
And yet he stayed for two more seasons.
This is mindlessly entertaining, but dangerously so - think about it for too long, and you'll be appalled. Don't think about it at all, and there's a danger you may become desensitized. In that sense it could be seen to be contributing to the eventual bloody downfall of civilisation as we know it that the Daily Mail and the Bible Belt have been predicting for so long. Well, probably not. Still, I wouldn't like to see anyone watch this and not be revolted at the carnage.
Oh, and another thing: if you want to see how not to do a Dalek-story death scene, watch the duplicate soldiers in the middle of episode four (of the kosher version, natch). Pay close attention to the one in the middle. You can't miss him: He's going "BBLL! BBLL! BBBBLLL!" and waving his arms like some horrific genetic experiment to cross a conductor with a Weeble. Actually, that sounds like a good idea for an EDA. Hmm...
Anyway, there are some much better examples in the Sixth Doctor's meeting with them.... Revelation of the Daleks.
A Desperate Venture by Tim Roll-Pickering 12/5/03
This is a story about desperation which sees several familiar characters adopt extreme stances throughout the course of the action. The Daleks have suffered so serious a defeat that they turned to recruiting human soldiers to reinforce them. Davros is so tired of being used and abused by the Daleks that he now seeks to ensure that they are either loyal to him or destroyed and plots to create a new race of Daleks that will be the 'supreme beings of the universe'. Lytton serves the Daleks but knows his time is limited and is even prepared to kill his own troops to ensure his own survival. And the Doctor realises the level of danger and actually takes up arms, fully intending to shoot Davros dead in cold blood. This whole adventure is a far cry from the cosiness of earlier years of the series. It is set in a universe where the stakes are higher, the morals are far more blurred and the prospects of survival are slimmer than before. This story shows the darkness and how things have 'stopped being fun'. Whilst Tegan has seen much death already in her travels with the Doctor, here she is forced to witness a rapidly soaring body count where people such as Professor Laird and the man with the metal detector are killed merely because she sought their help. This makes her departure at the end of the story all the more stark and shocking and brings home to the Doctor just what has happened to him. It is a strong climax for a tough character who has finally been broken by the nightmare around her and it shows.
Eric Saward's script has been accused of being over packed with plot, but it is another sign of the desperate levels that the Daleks are plotting to rescue Davros to cure the Movellan Virus, send duplicates to Gallifrey to assassinate the High Council and place duplicates around Earth to disrupt it all at once. They have no time to execute these plans one by one because they are fighting for their very existence. The script is packed with incident and character and at no point does it ever feel as though time is being wasted for the sake of padding. Instead we are dragged towards the story's conclusion as death after death occurs and virtually every single character is wiped out. Unlike the earlier Warriors of the Deep many of the characters are properly established, if only by a few scenes in some cases, and so there is a proper sense of loss when they die. Additionally the world around them is well crafted. The Daleks may have a fully functioning spaceship but they themselves are in a poor condition and forced to rely upon unstable technology such as the duplication process and conditioning. The prison space station is a run down outpost where very little functions properly, the crew are lax and morale is low. The warehouses in London are out of the way of the hustle and bustle of the city and so there are few signs of hope.
Matthew Robinson's direction is strong and tough and heavily aided by some excellent sets by John Anderson. At no time does either the warehouse or the prison space station feel in anyway like an enjoyable environment and this adds no end to the sense of despair in the story. Aiding this strongly is Malcolm Clarke's score which never lets up.
The cast for the story is exceptionally strong, with Maurice Coldbourne (Lytton) and Rodney Bewes (Stien) competing to give the strongest performance. Terry Molloy gives a performance as Davros that shows clear signs of insanity setting in with several scenes where the character rants almost incoherently but this only adds to the performance. Even Chloe Ashcroft (Professor Laird) gives a reasonable performance and makes the character seem useful so that when she dies there is a clear loss. The Daleks themselves are also on form in this story. For the first time since The Daleks' Master Plan they make full appearances some time before the end of the first episode (whether in the twenty-five or forty-five minute version) and their presence throughout the story is strong and threatening, despite the limitations they have suffered. The Dalek Supreme makes a welcome return and fortunately the character is not overused so the story progresses without getting bogged down in direct confrontations between the Daleks' leader and their creator.
The result of all of this is a very strongly crafted script that manages to decide upon the nature of its setting and not only sticks to it but also manages to get the production to follow suit. Resurrection of the Daleks was originally intended to be the final story of Season 20 and it would have made a triumphant climax for the season, but its impact is none the less for its delay. This story easily restores the Daleks to their previous level of greatness. 10/10
A Review by Terrence Keenan 29/7/03
It's taken me a long time to get around to reviewing Resurrection of the Daleks. I've now watched it about eight times in a six month span, and I think I finally have a handle on it, through looking at what writer Eric Saward was thinking.
So, let's deal with the pepperpots themselves. There's an interesting idea, presented by Eric Saward, that the Daleks would still be arrogant to consider themselves a universal power, despite the depletion in their ranks to the point where they're using human troopers to assist them. They still want to conquer Earth, take out Gallifrey and defeat the Movellans, who sent them on the run with a virus. They are long term planners in Resurrection, something not seen since the two Troughton Dalek stories. Saward managed to give the Daleks more character besides screeching Exterminate every five seconds, and deserves much praise for this.
Then there's Davros. I think Saward was still coming to grips with the character. There are hints of the brilliant version which would appear in Revelation here. But there are dodgy moments and ideas (the cliche rant at the end of episode three, the mind control device) that work against the character. His best moment is the story is the inevitable confrontation with the Doctor. He calls the Doctor a coward and stops his own death by sheer force of will. Exceptional.
What's happening with the Doctor ties into Warriors of the Deep's questioning of his methods. It's far more brutal here. The Doctor decides to kill Davros, but chickens out at the moment of truth. What is more telling is what happens afterward. The Doctor destroys the Daleks in the warehouse with the Movellan Virus, but not in a heroic way. Instead, he's skulking around the warehouse and making pithy comments that are out of character. It's a coward's way of handling the situation, giving Davros's accusation more weight. And the result of his actions costs him a companion by the end. Tegan is disgusted by The Doctor's actions and leaves abruptly. The Doctor, shocked, promises to amend his ways, but his tone suggests he doesn't know what that will entail yet, nor that he has much belief that he can change his ways.
A few words about Stein. It took me several viewings to buy into his being a Dalek agent, and his subsequent rejection of the process. He comes across as someone more innocent than Davison's Doctor, until his transformation in the cliffhanger to episode two. His ruthless side appears, but it's no more believable than the Doctor's mission to kill Davros. Stein forshadows the Doctor's character arc in the story, although Stein is redeemed in the end by performing a heroic act in a heroic fashion. That it's Stein that sacrifices himself to blow up the Dalek ship acts as a sly comment to the Doctor's actions.
Tegan and Turlough get sidelined in terms of character development, except for Tegan's leaving scene, which is more like a comment on the Doctor's character than Tegan's. Another hint for things to come in Revelation, where The Doctor and Peri seem almost an afterthought for most fo the story. It works for Resurrection, if only because Saward wants to have more time for the other arcs.
And we finally come to Lytton. He's an atypical Saward mercenary who doesn't have a noble side (That would appear in Attack of the Cybermen), unlike Orcini in Revelation and therefore manages to survive. Lytton is one step ahead of everyone: Davros, the Daleks, The Doctor. And because of this, he gets out alive. It's important to note that his plans have the most effect -- in boarding the space station, in taking out the survivng crew trying to access the self-destruct, in survivng the final battle in the warehouse.
Performances vary in Resurrection. The plot has some holes. That doesn't matter though. Where Resurrection of the Daleks succeeds is in its character ideas and execuction. This is what elevates Resurrection beyond its mercenary/space opera settings and into something you can sink your teeth in.
One for the kids by Antony Tomlinson 22/1/04
I had the good luck to see this story when I was seven years old. This happened to be very fortuitous. Because, for a seven-year old, Resurrection of the Daleks is the ultimate Doctor Who experience.
Most seven year olds have less emotional capacity than a Dalek mutant, so I wasn't really interested in the day to day lives of the characters. All I had to know is: who is Dalek-gun fodder?; who is grumpy and scary?; who is the Doctor? The answers to the first two questions were established within minutes of the start of the programme (the last question was harder to figure out, since Tom Baker appeared to have gone on holiday)
As a child, I have to admit to disliking strong plotlines in Doctor Who. The problem is that if you base a programme around a plot, then there will be all kinds of boring scenes that have no action, violence or horror, and yet which are vital to the story (all those Morgus office scenes in Caves of Androzani are a good example). Why not forget all this plot nonsense (I thought) and use each scene as a showcase of Dalek terror.
In fact, as a child, I saw Doctor Who as little more than a study into alien life-forms (especially nasty ones), beings that I would later be able to draw with my colouring pencils in a very scientific manner (usually blasting the hell out of dinosaurs). Resurrection of the Daleks was the ultimate study of this form. "I want to see what they look like inside" I screamed at the telly, as a Dalek trundled onto screen. An episode later, I got my wish as a horrible green thing tried to eat someone's neck. Needless to say I was nearly sick. I almost decided to miss the following week's episode out of sheer terror. Fortunately, my childish need for adrenaline sent me trembling back onto the sofa.
Then there was Davros. He looked like the British Prime Minister at that time, and was very good at shouting, which is important. He seemed to live in a big sauna. He was the boss of the Daleks. I thought he was cool. I wanted to be him. (I assumed that he rode around in the chair for fun).
Confusingly there was another Dalek leader with attractive white spots, and his Daleks seemed to be having a fight with some other Daleks. This was all good, particularly as they were having fights in both futuristic and modern settings, which was doubly exciting. Even better, there were spacemen wearing black, who looked like they were in Star Wars. They were fighting spacemen in rubbish clothes. The black-clothed spacemen were nasty, and were being controlled by Davros - like the ones in Dalek Invasion Earth: 2150 (I'd seen that film, but most people at school hadn't).
In the future, however, there was a terrible disease which made people's faces fall off. It also made the Daleks shoot white stuff all over the place. I spent most of the story scared that the Doctor would get the disease. I thought the Daleks might give it to him as they tied him to a table. At that point I became rather scared of illness, and have been ever since.
Besides that, however, Resurrection of the Daleks was pretty much perfect. It also taught me an important lesson about life. In the first few minutes of the story I discovered that it is OK for harmless bystanders to die (particularly if they look common and smoke). That lesson has stuck with me ever since.
"Aim for the eyestalk!" by Joe Ford 18/4/04
There is so much that is positive about Resurrection that it is a shame that ultimately it fails. Watch any five minute segment of the story and I have no doubt that you will be absorbed by the quality direction, the above average effects, the generally good performances and the quicker than your heartbeat pace. The action is relentless and impossible to predict. In all these respects this is a quality piece of work.
Eric Saward was the script editor of a programme that was controlled by John Nathan-Turner. That means that ultimately JNT is responsible for what reached the screen. I have heard stories of JNT excising scenes from scripts, confronting awkward performers and causing a lot of fuss with some of Saward's work. Good, this was his baby and he was the boss. If he did not feel Saward was living up to his job he would duly chastise him and I get the impression that Saward did not like that very much. Well who does enjoy being told their work isn't up to scratch?
Resurrection of the Daleks was Eric Saward giving JNT exactly what he wanted and it highlights many of the strengths and flaws of the era. "Give me continuity!" he barks... so we have Daleks backs to haunt our dreams. "Give me gloss!" he screams... so we have scenes of the Tegan running along Canary Wharf chased by armed Policemen, lots of gunfights and explosions. "Give me 'real drama', no more silliness!"... so the death count is astonishingly high. This is action Doctor Who 80's style; you will get a lot of fun whilst you are watching it but when you turn it off can you honestly remember its finer points?
There is a mammoth plot here with loads of dead ends that refuse to gel into coherence and proves that the best kind of Doctor Who keeps the show simple. So many intruging elements crop up -- the duplicates, the Gallifrey invasion, the Movellan virus -- but the story is far too concerned with Cowboys and Indians in space to give any of them the appropriate time to deal with them.
A shame because the plot starts of very promisingly, the official episode one (45 minutes long of course!) is one the best of the year. It is an ideal scene setter, atmospheric, suspenseful and best of all interesting. The warehouse proves to be a terrific grimy setting, both inside and out and the first, gripping scene with the men in futuristic garb running in desperation from policemen with guns who gun them all down and disappear proves to be an excellent starting point. You just can't ask for more in an opening scene! The Doctor and co arrive in search of the time corridor that has ensnared the TARDIS and with the aid of the military subdue the Dalek that appears in the shadows of the warehouse. It's almost a 'best off' collection of scenes... the military presence, the Dalek, the enclose setting...
But better still are all the scenes on the prison ship. I have been extremely rude about Eric Saward's inability to give his characters names and personality, especially his one-scene wonders, just there to inform us of some plot development. That is the only error with these early scenes as the ship is attacked by an unknown ship. The scenes are blessed with great direction; there is an urgency to events that grips you to the screen. It's almost like Star Wars... ships firing, docking tubes, defence shields... the crew of the ship cower behind the machinery as the blast shield is, well, blasted by none other than... the Daleks! Coo-el! Surely their best introduction in years and years!
But wait there is more, in a twist of superb magnitude and proof that Saward (and the pie eater Levine) knew exactly what they were doing continuity wise (which makes it so odd to think that would cock it up on so many other occasions), the Daleks' henchman Lytton rush to the room that the token black woman (hmm, I forget her name) has been trying to reach to kill 'the Prisoner'. They kill her in horrible fashion and lift the shield to reveal... Davros! Okay so it isn't the best moment in Doctor Who ever (as suggested by Matthew Robinson in his recent DVD commentary) but it does pack quite a punch and opens out the story considerably. Why do the Daleks want Davros? Has he been in suspended animation all these years?
What a revelation Davros turns out to be, instigator of some truly powerful scenes the like of which we haven't seen since the early Tom Baker years. The early scenes between Lytton and Davros reveal how embittered and psychotic the Daleks' creator is, he cleverly asserts himself to a position of power realising that the Daleks need him and that that gives him power. His fear for his creations is a superb reminder of Genesis ("I am very difficult to kill! You should already know that!") and his slow confidence as he builds himself his own army of slaves (both Daleks and humans) proves he has not lost his touch. What's more his scientific curiosity and disturbing reactions to events since his imprisonment prove he is as intelligent and emotional as ever. There are some scenes where Davros rants and raves just as we expect him to but there are also some gentler moments that show his true potential as a villain (later used more effectively in Revelation), namely his condemnation of the fifth Doctor for failing to kill him. Terry Molloy was quite a find, someone who could handle the baggage that came with the character (especially riding on Michael Wisher's success) and tried to make the role his own. He wasn't always successful in Resurrection but he had a damn good try and his creepier scenes (injecting Kiston as he bends down to replace a panel on his life support unit) and his potential to return and capatilise on this appearance justify his use.
What helps this story immeasurably in my book is its blatant use of sickening violence to get a response. For some reason it just doesn't bother me here whereas horror movies that deploy the same tactic have a habit of disgusting me (although this is hardly on the some level as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Evil Dead). There are some gloriously sick moments in Resurrection that seem too much for a cosy show like Doctor Who and push the boundaries rather well. I love it when there is that zoom in on the guy whose face has been eaten away, further used when token black girl's friend is also melted down but with the added shock effect of her reaction and his desperate pleas for help. The Dalek mutant clings vampirically from a soldier's neck, Chloe Anlett is shot in the back and a tramp and a gold-seeking fool are both killed despite having no relevance on the proceedings whatsoever. Push further into the story and there is a bloodbath, corpses strewn around the warehouse as events come to a head. However (and you may think my priorities are a little weird here) I find the scene of the two Daleks oozing foam and talking in slurred nonsense most frightening of all, there is something frighteningly alien about the death and their helplessness. This violence, heavily criticized in the past is all very welcome as far as I'm concerned and not because it makes the show more adult (far from it) but because it has the adverse effect of making things more action packed and exciting and we all like our telly like that, don't we?
I haven't even mentioned the TARDIS team yet and there is a very good reason for that... they barely have any impact on the story at all. Saward was never really a Doctor Who writer at heart and the fact that two of his four scripts push the main man to the sidelines. He is much more interested in the baddies and appropriately gives more screen time to the Daleks, Davros and Lytton. Tegan and Turlough were hardly the most effective of teams at the best of times but here they are practically redundant. They could be any companions plucked from any era as far as I'm concerned, all Turlough has to do is walk around a spaceship with his hankie and befriend some bland rebels and Tegan doesn't even get that, she runs about a bit and gets hit by a sink plunger but as far as the plot is concerned neither of them have the slightest effect on it. No wonder Janet Fielding had had enough. When your characters are so generic that you are mere window dressing it is time to say goodbye. Not surprising that Strickson only left a story later.
The Doctor is quite another matter and his contribution to this story is quite controversial. He is responsible for the two best scenes in the show and Davison quite brilliantly steals the limelight in both. Is the Doctor a moral coward? Rob Matthews certainly thinks so and I have to agree. In the most powerful moment for his Doctor yet, Davison brings a whole variety of emotions to his attempted assassination of Davros. When it comes down to it this is the most evil man in the universe and his survival will ensure the deaths of millions. And yet the Doctor cannot kill him. He cannot commit cold-blooded murder whatever the cause. This is riveting drama and no mistake, the potential of the fifth Doctor genuinely explored here. The rights and the wrongs of the matter do not apply; there is a moral ambiguity to the situation that Saward brings to his stories. If the Doctor kills Davros to save others isn't he just as bad as the Daleks himself? And given this is the least violent Doctor of them all this a powerful dilemma and it is all there on Davison face. Watch as he swallows his pride when Davros damns him with the criticism "You are soft, like all Time Lords." And "Action requires courage, something you lack."
But even better is Tegan's departure which leaves a huge question mark over the violence of the serial long after we thought Saward did not care that he was murdering without thought. What a slap in the face to see Tegan becoming the conscience of the tale, her scorching dialogue ("A lot of good people have died today, and I'm sick of it") leaving little room of doubt that the writer is aware of his bloodlust. The Doctor's stunned reaction to her decision and his attempts to justify events ("You think I wanted it this way?") shows how thoughtful his character can be. Davison is spot on here, when he runs after her ("No don't leave, not like this!") it almost brings a tear to the eye, a sure sign of the quality of the writing and performances. I feel that it is at this point Davison was finally coming to terms with his character and delivering moments as strong as his predecessors. Shame he would not be around much longer.
So it is a pity to report that during all these dramatic moments there is a plot that is getting more and more mangled with too many characters with too many ambitions. The Daleks are on a high of deviousness, they want to sent duplicates to Gallifrey to invade, and Earth and destroy the Movellans. There is Stein and his Daleks conditioning. Mercer and Styles and their attempts to destroy the prison ship. Lytton double-crossing everyone to save his skin. Davros trying to build a new army. Like Attack of the Cybermen episode two it all gets very cluttered and complicated and the only way to wrap them up is still kill everybody off as there is little time to give them the conclusions they deserved. There is little in the way of satisfactory character closure here, we are never close enough to them to care anyway but before any of them threaten to become interesting they are dead. And the story ends with two major plots entirely unresolved, Davros and the duplicates, one of which we get a throwaway line ("It won't work the duplicates aren't stable!") and the other isn't followed up followed up for another year. It is the Beltempest syndrome all over again, too much going on and not enough time to deal with it. The story as a whole becomes a flabby mess, bloated with ideas and characters but never dealing with them adequately.
Still, individual moments are to be savoured. I love the Canary Wharf sequences, gritty and rainy and down to earth. Daleks fighting Daleks is a long dreamed sequence (drudging up memories of Evil of the Daleks) and the one here is pretty spectacular. The gorgeous shot of the army guy staring at the gun after saying "It's dead". The genuinely shivery warehouse sequences with the mutant. Pushing the Dalek from the top floor. The final climatic explosion. It is a style over substance story true but this of the few incidents in Doctor Who's history where the direction and action is enough to pull you through never doubting the entertainment value despite plot issues.
I really like this story, I am the first person to point at its faults but on the whole I have enjoyed it over and again. It won't win any awards for originality or acting or anything but it is never boring, often exciting and has some unexpectedly powerful moments. Of all the stories in the twenty-first year this is the most underrated and one of the most watchable in the entire Davison era.
Go read Rob Matthews' review of the story, he gives much more (and better) reasons to watch the story.
A Review by Adrian Sherlock 11/6/04
This is one of my favourite stories of all time, probably due to the fact that it was the first new Dalek story other than the rather dissapointing Destiny, since Genesis of the Daleks and the one and only encounter for Peter Davison, arriving just before the end of his tenure which I had thoroughly enjoyed.
So, Davison and Daleks is an automatically winning combination for me, and the fact that Eric Saward, who wrote my all-time favourite story Earthshock, wrote the script is another massive plus in my book.
Saward, like Robert Holmes before him, likes to borrow rather heavily from the classics, and this story has a very Orwellian England in 1984, with dark, decaying, rain-swept streets and sinister police who kill their futuristic victims with the same ruthlessness as the Thought Police. We are thrust immediately into a paranoid world straight out of Quatermass or Invasion of the Body Snatchers where the police and soldiers are replaced by alien duplicates in a plan to cause the collapse of society. And a Quatermass and the Pit allusion is added as the army bomb disposal squad investigates alien objects mistaken for unexploded bombs.
The Doctor is dragged into this scary situation by a time corridor and discovers that a Dalek has been sent to capture him. With a little help, he shoves it out a window and sets off to find Turlough who has mysteriously vanished. He's unaware that he's left Tegan with cold blooded alien killers... scary!
Meanwhile in the future, the Daleks are trying to rescue Davros from his space prison. This is really dark. The Doctor fails to get there to help and the whole crew get wiped out. The Doctor is handed over to the Daleks by a malfunctioning clone called Stein, who reveals the reason for the Dalek plot to capture him. They want to clone the Doctor so they can get at his planet too! This is great conspiracy theory stuff, because the Daleks are out to conquer a lot of planets, but its in the form of infiltration and subversion by impostors, rather than just an all out take-over of the Universe like in the older, more comic-strip style Dalek stories.
Meanwhile, Davros plots and schemes to over throw his rival, the Dalek Supreme. With the aid of Stein, the Doctor stymies the clone plot by destroying his brain recordings and confronts Davros. With Earth and Gallifrey under threat, the Doctor considers executing Davros. But the more Davros tries to justify the sickening horror and violence of his creations, the more the Doctor's moral sense is enraged. This is a brilliant moment. He cannot kill Davros because he is not like Davros, no matter how much the twisted scientist may deserve it.
The Doctor reaches Earth after Davros slips through his fingers, but Davros gets his just deserts all the same. He releases the virus from the alien canisters, which destroys the Daleks, but this rebounds upon him, too, ironically showing that he and his creatures are essentially the same. What's more, the Dalek Supreme wipes out his followers, justice is something Davros brings upon himself and not administered at the point of a gun after all. A prison is a great place to set a story about questions of justice and punishment for the evils of characters like Davros. Ultimately, the Doctor's words to Stein are more effective than any weapons or bombs, he helps Stein uncover his repressed humanity and it is Stein who saves the day, giving his life to destroy the Daleks. But a final kick in the teeth awaits the Doctor, as Tegan walks out in disgust over the violence and horror which seems to surround the Time Lord. This gives the whole story a dark and emotionally potent quality that lingers long after it is over.
Overall, this is one of the most gripping and memorable of all Dr. Who stories and it has become sadly and undeservedly criticised by many fans who simply fail to take the time to see the real story behind the action and set pieces. Visual allusion to other stories gives a feel of recapturing the stories of old, but there is no actual continuity reference to any story other than the last Dalek story, Destiny, which this follows on from.
It is also nothing like Earthshock, which was much more straight forward and simple than this. I think Resurrection of the Daleks deserves much greater praise and recognition, because it is basically one of the most exciting and powerful stories of all time. Ten out of ten.
A Review by Andrew McCaffrey 18/10/04
Poor production values, a convoluted plot, dismal dialog and a complete lack of tension -- these are not a few of my favorite things. It was my memory that put me off watching Resurrection of the Daleks again. But eventually I got around to the DVD, basically to revisit my impressions of this serial.
Unfortunately, the memory did not cheat.
The opening is fairly decent and atmospheric. The scene of the refugees being gunned down works well as a standard action sequence. But everything following this just looks silly. You see, that first scene works and the following don't because of basic production values. The first thing to do if attempting a cinema-styled action-adventure on a television budget is to hide the fact that there's no money.
I watched Earthshock recently enough that I could do a comparison. While Earthshock occasionally suffers minor flaws because of budget, Resurrection looks far cheaper (and I can't imagine the actual per episode money was much different). None of the futuristic military equipment looks like it weighs more than an ounce. The doors look light, the walls look light, the guns look light, the debris looks light. They try to get away with describing the space station as "run-down", but "run-down" doesn't mean "made out of cardboard". One wonders why people bother taking cover behind this stuff; it looks like a good sneeze could blast through it.
That first sequence worked because there was nothing distracting from what the director was trying to achieve. You see the policemen with machine-guns and you don't stare at them thinking, "Gee, what a fake looking prop. Couldn't they build something more credible?" You just notice what you're supposed to. This is rarely achieved again. It's hard to blame the actors. It's difficult to look like a hard-ass when you're hoisting around a featherweight prop gun and wearing a hat that's goofier than all get out.
It really goes downhill once the Daleks appear early in episode one and the story switches from gritty realistic battle sequences to cheaply produced sci-fi fights. And the Daleks themselves are one of the story's bad points. I generally like the Daleks, but I don't like them enough to care about Dalek politics. Too much time is spent on Dalek politics; it even makes up one of the cliffhangers. The problem here is the same one that Finn Clark insightfully mocks in his review of War of the Daleks. Will Davros or the Dalek Supreme rule the Dalek race? Who cares? We're never given any reason to invest any time worrying about the outcome. What difference would it make if Davros is successful in his coup? The script never bothers to tell us why this is supposed to be interesting.
And that brings us to another problem. This is not a case of production values ruining a well-written script. This is a script with problems, both big and small. First of all, the plot. Just what on Earth is going on here? The Daleks have about half a dozen schemes going, which would be impressive if a) the plans had anything to do with each other and b) the individual schemes had any real impact. Take the "assassinate the High Council" plot point. It's brought up out of nowhere, dominates a few minutes of screen-time, and then is promptly dropped, never to be mentioned again. None of this stuff builds on anything; there's no momentum. It's just a series of shock moments with no structure or reason.
Small problems abound too. There are cameras supposedly everywhere on this space station, which only seem to be working whenever the plot requires them to work. The Doctor's coercing of Stein is similarly convoluted. It's bad enough that the two Dalek sentries leave the room for no good reason, but they also order the troopers to leave the Doctor and Stein alone.
The two companions have very little to do in this one. Turlough spends most of his time wandering around the space station being threatened by soldiers. Tegan is on injured reserved, having suffered a small cut on the forehead. These would be, perhaps, forgivable sins if not for the fact that this is Tegan's swansong. Tegan deserved a better departure than this; she deserved a send off that wasn't so abrupt. Nicely acted though.
As for the other characters, the serial is populated by the usual Sawardian suspects. That is, people with no first names barking macho dialog. I liked the practical Earth scientist. Unfortunately, she's one of the characters that Saward doesn't know what to do with, so kills off abruptly. Like the plot twists that have no future, characters who no longer have a point just disappear -- usually with a goofy looking special effect.
I didn't like the serial, but must admit that the DVD extras are quite good. The commentary track is amusing, though I got a little tired of hearing director Matthew Robinson refer to everything under the sun as "famous". Can someone who edits episodes of Eastenders really be considered famous? The production text option is worthy, although it oftentimes lapses into a dry listing of other shows and movies that the actor on the screen appeared in. The "On Location" mini-documentary is well done.
Resurrection of the Daleks desires a triumph of style over substance, but unfortunately it lacks both. It looks cheap, flimsy and shallow. I didn't like it then; I don't like it now. The only part of my opinion to change was that I appreciated the incidental music. But everything else was just a mess.
Review extras (things that will probably amuse only me):