Revelation of the Daleks
Doctor Who - Revelation of the Daleks
|Back cover blurb: Tranquil Repose on the planet Necros is a mortuary with a different - for it is here that the galaxy's rich and famous cheat death by being placed in suspended animation. But the bodies are going missing... The Doctor and Peri arrive on Necros to pay their last respects to the Doctor's old friend Arthur Stengos, but the Time Lord suspects that something is not quite right. His doubts are shared by Stengos' daughter, Natasha, who soon discovers the awful truth behind her father's fate. As the Doctor investigates, he not only discovers that the head of Tranquil Repose is none other than his old enemy Davros - who has genetically engineered a new breed of Daleks - but also uncovers a far more shocking and sinister revelation...|
Tranquil Repose by Andrew Feryok 22/5/11
"You've turned them into food?" the Doctor frowned. Davros chuckled. "A scheme which has earned me great acclaim." "But did you bother to tell anyone that they might be eating their own relatives?" "Certainly not," exploded Davros. His voice calmed again. "That would have created what I believe is termed "consumer resistance."
- The Doctor confronts Davros, Chapter 8, Revelation of the Daleks
If you think about it, Revelation of the Daleks for many years was virtually a "lost" episode to Doctor Who fans. It had no Target novel release, no audio release, and its first VHS release was in 2001. Until then, fans had to pretty much either have taped it years ago or watched it as a repeat. As a result, conversations about Revelation of the Daleks were pretty scarce until fairly recently. Fans remembered the glass Dalek, Davros' head in a jar, the violence, the gravestone falling on the Doctor but, as for the overall story, it drew much of a blank. Most fans dismissed it as "That one that didn't feature the Doctor or the Daleks all that much." But, since its VHS release, opinion on this story has radically changed. The story has been more widely viewed and appreciated by fans, and it is now cited as one of the few classics in the post-Androzani era before the show's death. Personally, I always liked this story even at a time in my youth when I didn't like Colin Baker.
So now I am launching into reading the novelization of Revelation of the Daleks. But wait! There is no novelization of Revelation of the Daleks! Well, thanks to some dedicated fans in New Zealand and the pen of Jon Preddle, an unofficial novelization was finally made available to fans through TSV in 1992. I previously reviewed their adaptations of The Pirate Planet and Shada, so my expectations were really high. Granted, Revelation is a completely different type and style of story from the Williams' era gems I had just read, but my expectations as far as authorial style and recreation of the original story were very high.
I am happy to say that Jon Preddle's unofficial adaptation lives up to those expectations. It is definitely one of the shorter adaptations at only eight short chapters. It probably would have been published as one of the shorter Terrance Dicks novelizations back in the day. Preddle sticks very close to the original story and faithfully recreates all the dialogue and scenes that were in the original. I could easily imagine this being published around the same time as Terrance Dicks' Arc of Infinity novelization. While Preddle doesn't meddle with the original story as much as Paul Scoones and David Bishop did with their TSV novelizations, Preddle wasn't above including some additional material in order to flesh out the story and fill in the plot holes. One of my favorites is when Natasha recalls the time when the Doctor and Stengos first met. The account of their drunken orgy mixed with scientific study is absolutely hilarious and shows a lighter side to the Sixth Doctor. I also like how Preddle attempts to explain what happened to Davros in the years between Resurrection and Revelation of the Daleks, and how he became the Great Healer. He also rearranges the order of some scenes, especially in episode 1 so that not only does the story flow better, but it also spreads out the scenes with the Doctor and Peri so that they feel more included in the story than they do on screen.
One of the great strengths of Revelation of the Daleks is its characters. Most Doctor Who stories tend to be populated by stereotypes with only maybe one or two characters standing when played by a guest actor. But this is a rare story where virtually every character has a distinct personality, motivation, and rapport with other characters. It's the type of story where you actually remember the names of the characters long after the story. There's the lecherous Jobel, the fawning Tasembeker, the sadistic Takis and Lilt, the annoying but sweet DJ, the noble knights Orcini and Bostock, the completely-out-of-his-little-mind Davros, and the backstabbing Kara and Vogel. Only the Peri, Natasha, Grigory and the Daleks don't seem to have much deep characterization. But at least in the end the Daleks get the whole civil war plot, which at makes them a bit interesting.
Jon Preddle preserves all these wonderful characters and even expands on those who don't. Peri is still the lust object that she is on TV, but Natasha and Grigory are much more well-rounded. We find out about how much Natasha cares about her father, her happy memories of his carousing with the Doctor, and her joining a freedom fighter group determined to uncover the truth about Tranquil Repose. Grigory turns out to be a brilliant surgeon who made a terrible mistake on the operating table on his first day and as a result his life has gone downhill until then until he finally fell in with Natasha's group. But he isn't exactly thrilled about coming on the mission to Tranquil Repose. The Doctor and Peri are both captured well, and it's nice that Preddle recognizes that there is an underlying subtext to the Doctor and Peri's arguing. By this point in their relationship, their bickering is more out of affection for each other. They both have egos and are trying to take each other down a peg at every opportunity. But they still respect each other and care about each other's fate. Peri nearly runs out into Dalek gunfire when she hears the Doctor is in peril, only held back by the DJ. And the Doctor remains tense around Davros until he is finally assured Peri is safe.
On the whole, this is a great novelization. TSV was lucky that the stories they had to novelize where such good stories. While it may not be as hilarious as the Tom Baker stories they novelized, this wasn't supposed to be a hilarious story. Its a horror story, and a darkly comic story. The fun comes not from jokes, but from characer interaction and irony. It's a story that can be watched or read again and again, and definitely a standout story for Colin Baker even though his Doctor may take more of a back seat in it. This is a story which could have so easily been fumbled or done badly, but '80s Doctor Who rose to the occasion and so did Jon Preddle. Great novelization! I can't wait to read City of Death and Resurrection of the Daleks now! 10/10