Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Ressurection of the Daleks written by Eric Saward and directed by Matthew Robinson
This story in a nutshell: ‘So they have returned to their creator…like an errant child.’
Over the Shoulder: Never has that description been more appropriate. Look at Turlough in the background of every scene rolling his eyes suspiciously and watching his back. Anyone would think that he was the Dalek agent. Turlough does eventually catch up with the action but he spends the majority of the first half of the story wandering corridors and failing to interact with anybody. He trips over corpses, suffers a beating and is sent on a suicide mission - you could make an argument that Saward might not like the character. One moment that is skipped over but shows how ruthless Turlough can be despite the fact that he is living under the pretense of a happy go lucky adventurer is when Mercer asks ‘What about the guards?’ and Turlough replies ‘We kill them…’ Thanks goodness Tegan didn't hear that. Near the end of the story Turlough says ‘best news all day’ about going back to Earth. He’s changed his tune.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘The creatures of Earth have no stomach for judicial murder. They prefer to leave you to rot and die. They call it being humane.’
‘They’ll kill anybody…even if they need them.’
‘Why do they take themselves so seriously?’
‘You’re like a deranged child always talking of killing, revenge and destruction!’
The Bad Stuff: What is it about designers being asked to bring the fashion of the future alive? The Thunderbird style hats are up there with the spray on uniforms from The Ice Warriors and the nappy trousers from The Seeds of Death. Check out the scene where the Daleks storm the bridge - the crew is made up of actors that have already been exterminated elsewhere (it is almost edited together quickly enough that you wont notice). There are some very funny deaths that resemble the Tarantella. The soldiers from the warehouse are duplicated very quickly. The cliffhanger is both ridiculously melodramatic and makes no sense. If Stein was a Dalek agent why was he acting so terrified of the other troopers earlier in the episode when there was nobody to act up to? There were plenty of other moments that would have made a better cliffhanger (the Daleks approaching on the Doctor a few seconds later for example). The Daleks seem to be juggling 101 plans at once in this story (saving Davros, duplicates on Earth, curing the Movellan virus, etc) and assassinating the High Council is perhaps a thread too far. Although it provides another nice stepping stone on the path to the Time War after Genesis of the Daleks. Why does Chloe Ashcroft grab her head as though she is being deafened? What is that all about? ‘I CAN’T STAND THE CONFUSION IN MY MIND!’ – Bewes has never been the most sophisticated of performers but when handed a Saward script that asks him to contradict himself from one scene to the next he is completely at sea. The killing gets out of hand in the last episode when Saward can think of no other way to deal with his spaghetti junction of plot threads but to cut them all dead. Literally dead. An absolute bloodbath (minus blood). Some of the exterminations are pure panto. The Supreme Dalek popping up at the end should have been excised because it is another unnecessary complication. What happened to the duplicates that he activated? Big Finish?
The Shallow Bit: Tegan has never look more like a hooker. The soldier who stops for a fag is gorgeous.
Result: Yes it is too violent, yes it is too nasty and yes it is too complicated but I still find it ridiculously entertaining. For once the Daleks feel like a terrifyingly violent force that cannot be opposed and Davros makes a very welcome return with Saward setting up some interesting tension between him and his creations. Saward himself called this the worst Doctor Who script ever written and whilst it does require a script editor to untangle it a little and find a more interesting way to tie everything up besides massacring everybody, it does have an impressive number of set pieces and an understanding of how to set up a dramatic scenario with plenty of atmosphere. Certainly there have been worse Doctor Who scripts written. Matthew Robinson’s direction must be praised because he never keeps the camera still and is constantly finding ways of making the action dynamic and looking like the budget was ten times its size. The realisation of the show during this period was generally quite slack when in the hands of theatrical directors such as Peter Moffatt, Ron Jones and Pennant Roberts but every now and again a Grimwade, Robinson or Harper would emerge to shake things up a bit. Peter Davison gives another impressive last season performance and the Doctor is pushed further over to the edge than ever before. It makes you wonder how much longer this placid incarnation can make a difference in such an ugly universe. He needs to regenerate into someone tougher and more violent in order to face these horrors head on. Resurrection of the Daleks is a terrific Cowboys vs Indians life or death struggle in space and one classic Who’s most effective action stories. Just don’t think about it too much: 8/10