Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Davros Mission written and directed by Nicholas Briggs

What’s it about: After his capture on Necros, Davros, is destined to face the justice of the Daleks. He sits alone, isolated in his cell. His creations will no longer listen to him. But out of the darkness comes a voice... Davros is no longer alone in his torment. Before he faces trial on the planet Skaro, he must go through an ordeal that will force him to the very limits of his sanity. But where do his true loyalties lie? How will he face the future?

Scarred Scientist: After having his hand blown away by Bostock on Necros Davros has a robotic hand surgically added by the Daleks. He’s becoming more and more like them every day. He can’t believe that the Daleks could be so stupid as to let their arch enemy slip through their fingers simply because of a case of mistaken identity! The Daleks think that Davros is delusional when he starts ranting that he will take his place as the supreme rule of the Daleks but the truth is that Davros cannot wait to stand trial because it gives his ungrateful creations the chance to hear the wisdom of his words. This man really does have a God complex but then he has been stroking it for the past couple of centuries so that is understandable. Davros believes that Daleks have no need of inferior species even as slaves. He wonders if he has gone so mad that he has created a voice in his head to explain away all the bad things he has done. Lareen wasn’t sure what to expect when she met Davros and she found him…ugly. There was so much hatred so she figures there must be fear otherwise he is just completely insane. He has so much more to teach the Daleks and they would know that if they weren’t blinded by their arrogance. Surely if these children are arrogant then that is something they inherited from their ‘father?’ He finds the idea that Lareen is there to save him absolutely hysterical (but in that special brand of insane Davros hilarity!). The worst punishment Davros can imagine is to lose his intelligence…it’s the one thing that he has clung on to after all these years of pain and defeat. He finds his ego is the reasons for his survival rather than his downfall but Lareen sees a very different picture. His ego has led him to his downfall at the hands of the creatures that are the very embodiment of his faults. His ego was transplanted into the Daleks and that is why he cannot be allowed to survive. His ego is what ultimately will kill him. Lareen genuinely thinks there is a possibility of salvation for Davros if he lets go of all the bitterness and fear from the terrible war on Skaro and hardwired into the first Dalek brain, if he could let go of all the feelings of insecurity from the accident that crippled him what would be left? A fantastic intellect that could be a force for good in the universe! What a fascinating idea…but those are some frightening obstacles to overcome. The Molloy Davros gets a Genesis moment of his own (‘the tiny pressure of my thumb…) when Lareen offers him the chance to wipe out the Daleks on Skaro and be hailed as the saviour of the universe. His future is with the Daleks, he has saved them all and now demands their obedience. Is Davros beyond redemption? It would certainly appear so but Lareen knows there was one moment when he was tempted to break open the virus capsule and exterminate the Daleks forever. Even he can’t deny the fact.

Standout Performance: Terry Molloy seems like such a gentle, unassuming man when you hear him speaking in interviews and yet when he dons the Davros mask (figuratively speaking) he becomes the living embodiment of absolute madness. Whilst I enjoyed his stints on the telly (especially Revelation where he truly takes the spotlight in intriguing ways) it is his work on audio that has cemented him as my favourite incarnation of the Dalek’s creator. He’s starred in a good handful of main range adventures (Davros, Terror Firma and The Curse of Davros are all absolutely superb), his own range and now an intriguing extra on a DVD box set and throughout he has maintained real integrity in the part. Taking the character from emotion highs and chilling lows, exploring his past and delving into the depths of Davros’ madness – it has been a hell of a ride. He deserves much praise for his flawless portrayal of lunacy.

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘This is the justice of the Daleks!’
‘I could have destroyed you all…’

Great Ideas: Its interesting that this is the first time that we ever got experience a conversation between Davros and Thal after his near extermination of their people. That’s a conversation that has a lot to live up to. For a moment this episode reminded me of the DS9 episode Waltz where Gul Dukat is haunted by all the voices in his head feeding off his paranoia and madness – in some ways I think that might have made a more interesting story - all the doubters, critics and enemies coming back to haunt him. The suggestion that Davros cannot be put on trial by the Daleks because he has done no wrong to them whereas the Thals should have the opportunity because of his crimes against their people is a fascinating one. I hadn’t realised that Miranda Raison had taken part in this story and when I turned it on and recognised her voice that excited me. She’s a fantastic dramatic actress and really gives her all to the tense, trial scenes in Davros’ cell. The Daleks try and reduce Davros to a vegetative state until they can get him to trial. Lareen could be his executioner, his enlightenment or his freedom. The Thals have turned their genius to genocide to remove a cancer from the universe; they are now using the Movellan virus and could use it to destroy the entire Dalek central nervous system on Skaro. Lareen is described as one of those ‘Davros loving weirdoes’, which seems to suggest there is a mad cult of worshippers out there! The deaths of the Grallians was a supreme punch the air moment!

Audio Landscape: It opens on a bally big explosion, Dalek heartbeat, sucking noises, dripping chemicals, scraping metal restraints, the delicious sounds of the Dalek city from The Daleks and the ‘outer space’ planet soundscape, Dalek alarms.

Musical Cues: David Darlington enjoys laying on the striking vocals that reminded me strongly of Murray Gold’s music for the creatures in the new series.

Isn’t it Odd: I love the character that mentions that usually when there is an intrusive object approach from a distance the Daleks are usually screaming and shouting about it! But on the whole the Grallians are pretty annoying – mollusc style creatures with lisps that stop this from being a truly menacing Dalek story by taking the piss out of everything! When they start laughing their heads off as Davros is screaming for help I was really confused as to their function aside from proving utterly disposable. By the time you have listened to fifteen minutes or so of their inane dribble you are glad that the Daleks have gotten them addicted to a poisonous substance. I couldn’t believe the potential of this story was slipping away as the story spends more and more time with these creatures, even to the detriment of exploring Davros! When Lareen the Thal turns up I thought things get interesting and then we have to endure a five minute scene as she tries to convince Gus and Raz not to hand her in! I would have cut this back 25 minutes and removed them from the story altogether.

Standout Scene: Davros had the chance to truly reform his character and do something good but instead turns his back on such a notion and betrays Lareen to his creations. He gave the Daleks life once and instead of using the Movellan virus on them he chooses to give them life again.

Notes: There’s no doubt when this story is set – it is deliberately plugging a gap between Revelation and Remembrance of the Daleks. For once this isn’t a Gary Russell polyfiller dream liberally filling every singe gap in the shows history so there is no place for it to breathe any ambiguity, no it’s a point in Davros’ life that was never adequately explained and its screaming with dramatic potential. He goes from being the prisoner of the Renegade Daleks to the Emperor of the Imperials off screen and I for one can’t wait to see what has happened…

Result: A tale of two halves for sure but ultimately The Davros Mission isn’t what I thought it would be. Anybody expecting an examination of Davros akin to I, Davros or Dalek Empire style psychology will be extremely disappointed not because that style of material is absent (because it isn’t) but because this story spends so much time dawdling before getting to all the juicy stuff. Any of the scenes featuring Gus and Raz the Grallians are nothing but filler as irritating as pubic louse and I kept waiting for the story to get on with Davros’ trial at the hands of his greatest enemies. On the flip side Terry Molloy and Miranda Raison are both excellent and any of their two-hander scenes works a treat. Molloy automatically raises the quality of this mini adventure – I honestly think I could listen to Davros shopping for spares when played by this actor and by thoroughly gripped! The best scene comes when Lareen implores Davros to let go of his insecurities and become a force for good in the universe and for a moment you genuinely wonder if he is tempted by the idea. In the last half an hour the story really comes into its own with lots of intriguing possibilities (Davros wiping out his own creations in a parody of the Doctor’s dilemma in Genesis of the Daleks) and it comes to a dramatic conclusion to remember. The Davros Mission feels like it needs a few more drafts to sift out some of the nonsense but it still contains much that is worth listening to: 7/10

 Artwork by Simon Hodges @

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