Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Corruption written by Lance Parkin and directed by Gary Russell

What’s it about: 'Logically, the war ends with one form of life in utter control of the world. All other life forms gone. That is the goal that is the only true victory!'Now established within the Science Elite, Davros and his team are pushing the boundaries of Kaled experimentation further and further forward. Access to Thal DNA spearheads an entirely new field of research for Davros, and as he becomes more and more intrigued by genetic mutations, others around him begin to fear him, his drive and his obsessive need for power. Meanwhile he must learn to cope with betrayal and political manoeuvrings that will leave him changed forever.

Scarred Scientist: Davros once said he was no good with politics but this turned out to be a lie because he soon learnt that by playing one side against another in their nasty little war true power could be his. The Thal strategic computers have computed that Davros is the greatest threat to their race and send a squad of troops to have him executed. The highest praise a young woman can expect from Davros is that she has a good mind. Frighteningly when his mother dies before him he can only comfort her with the fact that her mutation is what they will all suffer eventually. There is a scientific detachment in his acceptance of her fate that sees an ever emerging opportunist who can place his feelings to one side and can revel in the science in every cruel deed. In a scene that echoes I, Claudius Davros experiences his life flashing before his eyes after he is struck by the Thal warhead – Calcula and Shan taunt him as he struggles to stay alive. His flesh will be stripped away by he never had any need for it. His mind will be as powerful as ever. Davros was offered the chance to commit suicide after he wakes up when nobody else has the guts to do it.

Standout Performance: Lance Parkin gives Terry Molloy some material that really allows him to own the role as the human Davros and the quiet way he talks his mother to her death and deliberately infects a pregnant woman are made all the more frightening thanks to Molloy’s gently purring voice. As Davros finally turns on Shan it is great to hear Molloy starting to adopt his Hitleresque robotic chanting.

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘We need women who can give birth to good strong Kaled babies!’
‘Politicians will prolong the war, scientists will end it!’
‘Evolution is a constant struggle. A war of a thousand millions years against the universe.’
‘Take your rightful place…’ says Calcula and Davros replies with ‘We will survive, we will grown stronger…’ – the Dalek creed is slowly being assembled.
‘We were there at the genesis of a species, Shan! How many people can say that?’

Great Ideas: Ugh gross! The Thal trooper is pulled towards the magnetic core of the planet with a concrete floor in the way turning her into a puddle of muck! Calcula as usual has absolutely no sense of realism. Here they are in the middle of godawful warfare and there is an assassination attempt on her son’s life and rather than fear another she is delighted that her son is the most important man on the planet! Dramacan Lake which made such an impression on Davros in Purity has been renamed the Lake of Mutations which Ian and Barbara would get to visit in the very first Dalek story. I love how this series is starting to slide into Doctor Who continuity so seamlessly. Any talk of scientific research that isn’t to do with the war effort is considered treason. Councillor Calcula is building up an impressive army that are loyal to her in the military youth – sounds awfully like a certain Fuhrer from the history books. She is slowly executing her fellow politicians that threaten to hamper her son’s work. To a politician the future means next week but to a scientist it means looking forward generations. Davros wants to engineer a lifeform to survive in whatever environment Skaro’s biosphere becomes even if it isn’t aesthetically pleasing. Real meat has become a scarcity in the Kaled City. A weapon that has the power of an electric bolt – what would eventually become a Dalek gun stick. Calcula is truly a sick individual; she wants to be able to show the children of the military youth and hour of warfare footage, of Thal’s being slaughtered, a day. Creatures that are devoted to survival, freed of the things that effect their rationality. Fascinating to see that Calcula’s death gives Davros the political advantage over the Supremo and he has the choice of either making the scientific elite an autonomous unit or Davros will turn her follows on him. New laboratories are to be built underground with no political interference in the scientific research.

Audio Landscape: Helicopters, opening bay doors, soldiers unloading, explosions, whistling wind, siren, a screeching rat, a fountain rushing, guns rattling with fire and people screaming as they die, crowd scenes of Kaleds cheering as the Thals are destroyed, destroying the communications equipment, skin melting, I might have been imagining it but there was a door chime that sounded identical the ones in Star Trek TNG, the mutated baby gurgling as it is born is terrifying, riots after the news of Calcula’s death leaks out, the Thal warhead that strikes Davros’ underground research centre.

Musical Cues: Subtle piano stings play underneath some very disturbing moments.

Standout Scene: When I first heard Davros’ new weapon fire and the Dalek firepower noise spat out goosebumps walked all down my back. Calcula gets a death scene that is truly worthy of her, one that sees her sacrifice herself to ensure that her (utterly brilliant) son’s work continues and that stabs the Supremo in the back as if she had killed him herself. I can’t say that I enjoyed the scene where Davros tricks a pregnant woman into having her baby injected with a poison that will mutate it in her womb but it was certainly a startlingly written moment of obscenity.

Notes: I think it’s wonderful that they were able to rope in Lance Parkin to write an instalment of this saga since he provided the definitive character study of the Skarosian psychopath. Even better he includes more scenes with Shan the Kaled scientist who made such an impression in the audio Davros and her appearance here adds weight to the previous story and depth to this one. The way he slips in a scene that was so vital in Davros is inspired, you would never be able to tell it wasn’t an original scene from this story.

It is fitting that this was Gary Russell’s final project before he left Big Finish because it exemplifies everything he brings as a producer. I, Davros plugs continuity effortlessly in a way that Russell loves doing but it also mixes politics and science fiction (which he proved adept at in the Gallifrey series) but it also features an arsenal of acting talent behind it of the sort that only Russell at his strongest could assemble. I am very pleased to see him go out on such a high.

Result: Extraordinarily good, Corruption drags this series kicking and screaming back on track and we march towards the terrifying inevitability that is the Daleks. This was precisely what I was after when I came into this series; fascinating insight into Doctor Who’s most vivid madman, a plot full of twists and turns, characters that bring the story alive with the strength of their convictions and subtle moments of continuity laced into the narrative. Lance Parkin has long been one of my favourite Doctor Who authors and he has once again excelled himself here. Corruption is packed full of memorable incidents, political manoeuvring, outstanding character drama and an ending that will leave you gagging for more. If you haven’t listened to the Doctor Who audio Davros it doesn’t really matter because this story is more than strong enough to support itself but combining the two stories together paints a fulsome and gripping picture of this stage of Davros’ life and add much depth to both stories. I cannot praise this highly enough and am thoroughly pissed that it is nearly 2 o’clock in the morning and my bed is calling because I really want to listen to the final instalment: 10/10

No comments: