Thursday, 26 May 2011

Guilt written by Scott Alan Goddard and directed by Gary Russell

What’s it about: 'That is our world out there. A chemical soup for a sky above and a scarred, radioactive wasteland below. It is purgatory. But we must make it paradise!' The Kaled city is now ravaged, and life has become one of fear, protected by a vast transparent dome that covers what remains of the City. The Thals undertake a desperate mission to take Davros away from his laboratories, and the Supremo must send a crack squad over enemy lines to retrieve his chief scientist. Led by the young, enthusiastic and morally bankrupt Lieutenant Nyder, Davros is successfully rescued. But he has been changed by the experience, and where once he stood for knowledge, he now espouses the utter extermination of the Thal people. To this end, Davros will stop at nothing and will sacrifice anybody to see his legacy continue. Here's to the future…

Scarred Scientist: Scarred, not corrupted. Davros laughs off the suggestion that he is a Muto. I love how Davros can pull of a pathetic Beep the Meep style ‘please don’t shoot poor little harmless me’ when trapped under the rubble of the latest Thal terrorist explosion. Thanks to Thal espionage all the weapons that Davros has created for the war can be found in their armouries – to capture him for the sake of more munitions is pointless when the best hope he can offer them is their genetic future. A biological superiority that would see his race as the masters of the planet. The scene between Davros and Nyder sees a twisted friendship develop. He tells Nyder that he has gone above and beyond his duties to rescue him and that he is in his debt. Davros doesn’t need to drink but sometimes he likes to indulge anyway. It’s haunting to hear Davros say something as friendly as ‘pleasant dreams.’ By placing Nyder in charge of the security services and having a hold over him Davros finally gets his ultimate wish – the chance to continue his research the way he sees fit with no interference from the civilian population. He is an old man but something inside is telling him that his life is about to begin. The closest we have ever seen to Davros acting like a normal human being in this entire saga comes towards the end of this story as he coos and soothes the Dalek mutants like a loving mother.

Standout Performance: I was impressed to hear Peter Miles back playing Nyder, he’s a gifted actor and it is another gorgeous little touch that adds to this series’ authenticity. He’s such a fabulous toady and knows exactly what to say to slide into bed (metaphorically) with Davros.

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘It is purgatory but we must make it paradise!’
‘I am alive!’

Great Ideas: Imagine being told whilst you are on a mission that your family will be recompensed because of your death – literally knowing you have only seconds to live? Scientist Ral betrays Davros to the Thals because his science and morals disgust him. The Thals have spent years trying to get their hands on Davros and have lost a lot of people to that cause. I really felt for Nick Briggs’ character Barran who is Thal soldier infiltrating the Kaled lines…given what we have seen of this situation so far (and what we would go on to see in Genesis of the Daleks) it is simply the most terrifying thing imaginable to be under suspicion behind enemy lines. The Kaled gene pool is stagnant and on the verge of evaporating and asks for full control over Kaled offspring I was literally screaming at the council not to be so stupid! When Davros finally gets his way and people still resist the military are sent in to beat up the parents and steal the children. If they protest they will be promised a look at the nursery (what a term!) and murdered before they reach it.

Audio Landscape: Life support system, gas mask, the poisonous surface of Skaro, another ear tearing explosion, Thal intercom system, there is an awesome raid on the Thal camp to rescue Davros that is made perfectly clear what is happening without any explanation, the icky noises of the Dalek mutants,

Musical Cues: Steve Foxon’s music has been unusually discreet throughout this saga which is a nice touch for the sometimes deafeningly loud scores for the main range Big Finish audios. He knows when to pull right back and let the actors do their stuff and brilliantly ramps up the tension during the psychologically striking moments rather than the action set pieces. The thought of Davros’ regime of terror being kick started with such an uplifting fanfare is really chilling – the marching band suggests that the future will be bright when everybody will dead on the planet in the near future.

Standout Scene: Given what we know of his character in Genesis of the Daleks we know that Davros will not accept a refusal of any of his proposals but not even I thought he would go as far as to place micro explosives into the bloodstream of the Council members. He secreted them into their systems by engineering a special kind of anti radiation drug. Only Davros would use a toxic deterrent as a bargaining chip and feel proud of his achievement. Refuse his proposal to have unrestricted access to all of the children on Skaro or the entire council will suffer arterial aneurysms. He screams ‘exterminate!’ as he slaughters the lot of them. It’s a dangerously powerful moment when Davros finally seizes power.

Notes: Interesting to hear Davros say ‘Rels’, clearly it is a Skarosian measurement of time but I always thought it was unique to the Daleks. ‘A nearby cave is crawling with many failed experiments’ and Harry Sullivan has the honour of almost ending up as ones dinner.

Result: Whilst it doesn’t go down as my favourite spin off series (that would still go to Jago & Litefoot) I, Davros is regardless a remarkably strong and nuanced drama which brilliantly locks into place with Genesis of the Daleks. Because it has only one direction to go Guilt is not quite as strong as purity but Scott Alan Goddard’s script still manages some great surprises up its sleeve and an unnerving atmosphere as Davros’ perverse schemes finally come into fruition. Terry Molloy deserves a great deal of credit for guiding this series so effortlessly, his interpretation as Davros is the definitive one for me and he manages to capture all of the insanity and brilliance of the Doctor’s greatest villain. Kudos to Big Finish for pulling off this mini series with such skill, once again Gary Russell has assembled an awesome cast and the writers have all been pulling in the same direction. If it weren’t for the uninspiring second part I, Davros would be practically faultless in what it has set out to achieve. I’m off to watch Genesis of the Daleks now: 9/10

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