Doctor Who – Revelation of the Daleks Review (or “You Can’t Recapture The Magic, Eric”)

I’ve not been particularly positive in my Doctor Who reviews of late.

But who can blame me? This season has been garbage. Indeed, there hasn’t been a story even approaching good since Caves of Androzani.

And you’ll know that of the many reasons for the show being poor, the most consistent one I’ve given is the 45 minute format, which has managed to not only reduce the urgency of the episodes, but also has seen almost every story peter out long before it finishes.

One poster on a forum said to me “Sorry for your suffering, at least you have Revelation up next…”

So maybe things will improve.

Maybe Revelation of the Daleks will be better…

Doctor Who – Revelation of the Daleks Review: What’s This One About?

I’m not exactly sure what revelations this story contains.

Or Daleks, come to think of it.

What it’s mainly about is Davros has taken over a funeral parlour and has been set upon by a headhunter.

Thoughts – Let’s Redo Caves of Androzani

So as I said above, the last good story was Caves of Androzani; I think that’s fairly obvious.

This woman is unsettlingly ugly. You can't look at her without recoiling

This woman is unsettlingly ugly. You can’t look at her without recoiling

But what’s happened here is they’ve tried to recreate it.

Rather than realise that Caves of Androzani might have been a one off – a case of lightning in a bottle – it appears as though Eric Saward thinks he can recapture its brilliance by recycling much of the same things that made the story as good as it was.

So he’s brought back the same director, he’s decided to use almost exactly the same incidental music (at the very least he’s brought the same composer – Roger Limb – back) and has used the same type of themes like the evils of capitalism in the form of ruthless plant owners and also having the Doctor play very little part in events.

The last one might not have been intended, but that’s how it panned out.

Indeed, in episode one, the Doctor and Peri have absolutely nothing to do with the story, and when they do finally arrive at Tranquil Repose, their involvement is minor at best.

Compare the Doctor’s involvement in Caves of Androzani to this.

In the earlier story, simply by being there, the Doctor set off a domino effect that ultimately led to everyone dying, including him.

In this story, the Doctor may as well not even be in it.

The person aiming to stop Davros is Orcini, while the faction that actually manages to stop him are the Renegade Daleks summoned to the planet by Takis.

The Doctor has nothing to do with anything that happens – directly or indirectly – nor is he ever in the slightest bit of danger. Therefore as a Doctor Who story, I think this suffers.

I appreciate what Eric Saward was trying to do, but it didn’t work for me.

The Daleks Reach A New Low

I think it was the Destiny of the Daleks where I said the Daleks were at their worst.

Why does Davros have human guards as well as Daleks? That's what I call inappropriate use of business funds

Why does Davros have human guards as well as Daleks? That’s what I call inappropriate use of business funds

I was wrong.

They are at their worst here.

First of all there’s the voices. Gone are the good ones from Resurrection of the Daleks and in their place once again is Roy Skelton doing Zippy.

What’s worse is that in some scenes he doesn’t even appear to be using a ring modulator for his voice, so it’s just Zippy as Zippy.

It’s not just the voices though, it’s their contribution to the story.

The Daleks here may as well be armed guards. They add nothing to it other than to occasionally answer Davros’s questions in his laboratory.

I actually had a look at the script online to see how many lines they have, and it’s alarmingly low. What’s more, almost every time they do speak it’s to exposit information to Davros.

Really, they are pathetic by this point, which is surprising considering how good Resurrection of the Daleks was written by the same bloke.

More Roads To Nowhere

Since it’s an Eric Saward script, there’s plenty of padding and storylines that go nowhere.

I don’t get why we had to watch the most unsettling romance storyline in television history – between Richard off Keeping Up Appearances and a woman so ugly that you find yourself looking away from the screen – only for it to conclude the way it did.

Jobel kept resisting her advances, Davros goaded her into killing him because he apparently rejected his advances (which to the best of my knowledge weren’t romantic, but you never know) and then the Daleks kill Tasambeker anyway.

What was the point?

Considering the reason Jobel pissed off Davros happened before the story started, why do we care about this revenge kill? And where’s the payoff in having her kill him only for her to be killed immediately afterwards?

And it’s not just that part of the story that went nowhere.

Other wastes of time include the bit with the Mutant, Peri breaking the Doctor’s watch, the Styrofoam Statue (which exists purely to provide a rather naff cliffhanger), the DJ and the storyline with the two characters looking for the woman’s father.

Surely, surely there was a less time-consuming and wasteful way to get to the punchline – i.e. that Davros has been using the bodies to turn into Daleks – than that?

And how come he can now fly and shoot lightning bolts from him fingers? I remember when he was just a deformed scientist

And how come he can now fly and shoot lightning bolts from him fingers? I remember when he was just a deformed scientist

Actually, while I’m at it, here’s one more thing; why bother wasting time talking about The Great Healer when it’s known from the off that it’s Davros?

When you strip away all the crap from Revelation of the Daleks, the only thing left of value is the three-way relationship between Davros, Kara and Orcini.

Nothing else matters.

And like every other story in this season, with such little to go on it could have been done far better in one episode.

To Be Fair…

To be fair to Revelation of the Daleks, I’ll give it credit for being a better looking and better acted production than most of what we’ve seen in Season 22.

By a country mile, the best thing about it are the characters of Orcini and Bostok (William Gaunt and John Ogwen) and credit must also go to the likes of Eleanor Bron, Terry Molloy and Clive Swift.

I mean, you know you’re watching something of a higher standard to Timelash, Mark of the Rani and the Two Doctors in almost every conceivable way.

But that doesn’t mean it’s good.

And I really don’t think it is.

The Colin Baker Cliffhanger Close-Up Count

Here we have a closeup of Baker offering to take Peri to “Bu” and also a one of a Styrofoam Colin Baker head falling.

So the score is now

The Doctor 9-4 Peri

Random Observations

  • The resolution of having everything turn out fine because the people of Necros can harvest flowers instead is quick-fix story-telling at its worst.

    Take her to where Colin? WHERE?!?!

    Take her to where Colin? WHERE?!?!

  • And what’s the deal with Lilt and Takis suddenly going from brutal SS style enforcers to happy-go-lucky farmers at the end there?
  • Also, calling a planet that has a large funeral home “Necros” is Terry Nation level stuff.
  • What’s the point of having Davros set up a head in a tube to talk through for the entire story only for him to really be in his normal chair in the next room? That’s two stories in a row where the main villain has been killed only for him to come back again moments later with a crappy excuse.
  • You’ll notice the Davros head in the tube is wearing a white t-shirt.
  • Why do the orderlies have a uniform that requires them to finish the company logo on their head in the form of paint? Why not have the entire logo on the hat?
  • What’s the point of the DJ? Not just within the story, but in a world where dead people sleep but really don’t because they dump all the bodies? I can accept them advertising a DJ to prospective clients, but why actually employ him? And knowing what’s going on, why would the DJ want to stay in the job anyway?
  • Hey look, Bostok is the first hard-nut since the famous Kristas to survive Dalek gunfire.
  • Looking for good screencaps, I notice that Davros actually does have human guards. Why? He has Daleks!
  • How come Davros is all of a sudden able to float and fire electricity bolts out of his finger? Do you think Saward wants to turn him into The Emperor from Star Wars?
  • Watch the scene where he does shoot Orcini with the electricity bolts and listen to Roy Skelton’s horrific Dalek voice acting. He should have been told to get serious there and then, if not fired on the spot.
  • William Gaunt is only 47 years old here. Think about that. He must have had a tough paper round as a boy.
  • It’s the last story to feature the best Doctor Who theme of them all. A sad moment.
  • DWM Mighty 200 Ranking: #46. I think the phrase “Away yer arse” comes to mind.

Doctor Who – Revelation of the Daleks Review: Final Thoughts

So it’s the same old same old.

A Sixth Doctor story that suffers from padding and the slow nature of the 45 minute format.

It’s yet another one that could have been a lot better told in half the time.

The two big problems are the Daleks and the writing.

It’s a lesser writer trying to recreate the vibe of a story that increasingly looks like it was an accident.

Rated at #46, a lot of people like it.

While I would say it’s of a generally higher standard to many of the stories around it, I still wouldn’t consider myself one of those people.

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7 Responses to Doctor Who – Revelation of the Daleks Review (or “You Can’t Recapture The Magic, Eric”)

  1. NickR says:

    Hi Stuart, so, as you reach the end of your quest, do you reckon you will enjoy another story of the show’s original run?

  2. Slavin Ivanov says:

    Hmm, I don’t think there has been a season where you haven’t liked at least one of the stories. Even in Season 15 you liked Horror of Fang Rock ( and that was it, kind of).
    I suppose you enjoy McCoy’s final stories, don’t you?

  3. sgmilne says:

    There’s a good chance there’s a handful of positive reviews still to come.

  4. Professor Thascales says:

    I have to agree with all your comments on Revelation. (sigh) It has some creativity going for it, but many flaws, and as nasty as the rest of the season.

  5. The ring modulator WAS used but Graeme Harper elected to tone the modulation frequency down (for some reason – perhaps to make them sound more human, since the Daleks were made from humans? I don’t know). As a result, the voices sound nasally. They are worse, in a way, in the 5.1 mix on the DVD because they had to re-record some of Skelton’s lines to patch up missing raw dialogue and the modulation rate is a lot higher. As a result, they sound more like old Daleks and they stick out more.
    I adore Howell’s theme, but personally, I don’t think you can top the magical quality of the original Ron Grainer/Delia Derbyshire version.

  6. Rob says:

    I agree about Roy Skelton in this story. I thought he was good in the 1970’s, but his voice acting here was beyond horrific.

  7. Mouse says:

    The point of the Davros head was to shock the viewers into thinking that he barely survived the Movellan virus and it also gave a creepy effect akin to the chills of seeing Morbius’ brain in the tank back in the Tom Baker era.

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