Season 22 has been released on Blu-ray so of course it’s time to review a random serial from the set! I decided to go with Revelation of the Daleks as while it’s not the one I haven’t rewatched in the longest time like I normally do with these things I have an idea that hopefully time will allow next year involving multi-Doctor stories, so… Yeah. Revelation has some unique ideas, some good bodyshock horror and the usual Season 22 unexpected violence aspect. So in other words: it’s quite fun! Let’s take a look…
The basic rundown is that The Doctor (Colin Baker) and Peri (Nicola Bryant) arrive on the planet Necros to visit the “Tranquil Ropose” facility, where the rich and famous can have their bodies frozen with the hope to be thawed when a cure for whatever was about to kill them is found. As per usual for the Sixth Doctor they’re here to visit an old friend of The Doctors that we’ve never heard of, in this case Professor Arthur Strengos, but The Doctor is confused that his old friend would do such a thing and not accept death naturally.
The Doctor strains to see if he’s actually part of the plot yet.
We actually spend most of the first 45 minute part with the cast of characters from Tranquil Rose, specifically a pair of rebels called Natasha (Bridget Lynch-Blosse) and Grigory (Stephan Flynn) who believe the bodies are being stolen instead of preserved, Kara (Eleanor Bron) the rich politician who is using Tranquil Rose’s mysterious new owner known as The Great Healer to help stave off starvation in the local system but has now grown tired of his insistence for more money so she’s hired Orcini (William Gaunt), an assassin and former “Senior Knight of the Grand Order of Oberon” along with his squire Bostock (John Ogwen), to get rid of him. Then there’s Mr. Jobel (Clive Swift), the chief embalmer with his extremely dark sense of humour and his arrogant mistreatment of those underneath him, especially Tasambeker (Jenny Tomasin), a female colleague who unfortunately for her is in love with him despite how badly he treats her. All the while we cut back and forth to an intentionally obnoxious DJ (played by Alexei Sayle, oddly enough!) who is playing songs and dedications to the sleeping bodies. *sigh*! That’s a lot of extras!
Of course on top of all this is “The Great Healer” himself, who turns out to be Davros (Terry Molloy), who is seemingly now a head in a jar. He happily lured The Doctor to the planet in order to kill him, first by arranging a large statue of The Doctor himself falling on him in the “Garden of Fond Memories”, then your more standard capture via Daleks and then gloat method.
Everyone’s favourite Hitler-a-like!
There’s a lot to like in the guest cast, I especially like Orcini and Bostock, playing the killer with a code of honour perfectly, seeing Davros as a great “final hunt” and the fear hearing that he was a former knight of Oberon instils in people is good fun, even if we don’t actually know what that means. Obviously the most iconic part of this story is in Part 1 when Natasha and Grigory stumble upon a glass Dalek case and inside it is the remains of the former’s father, who begins to plead for his daughter to kill him before he becomes a Dalek and loses his free will, which she does with a tear in her eye. Good effects, little bit gruesome and generally a great scene. I will say though that while entertaining in their own way I find Jobel and Tasambeker far too OTT in their performance, often to the point where it’s kind of annoying. The same goes for the nameless DJ, even if scenes where he’s talking normally in his standard Alexei Sayle voice shows he was putting on the cheesy American radio voice for his own entertainment and those scenes were quite sweet, especially since he ends up talking with an *ahem*, actual American in Peri…
The finale has some good action and a bit more gruesome violence (more details in the spoiler section!) and generally brings the story home well. It’s a really fun two hours, truth be told, and another example of why I rate Season 22 higher than most of my fellow fans seem to…
“You’re after that annoying DJ as well I assume? He’s down that corridor…”
Obviously I’m not going to list all the Dalek and Davros stories, but I will say that dialogue implies this is the first time The Doctor and Davros have met since the previous Fifth Doctor TV story “Resurrection of the Daleks”, but that doesn’t explain how Davros has the Sixth Doctor’s face carved into a statue so Big Finish, as they do, created the audio simply known as “Davros” which saw the Sixth Doctor and Davros having to work together in a story set before this one. In that story we also hear Davros find out about the food shortages in this part of the galaxy…
The idea of using humans to create Daleks instead of Kaleds (and the idea of other Daleks seeing these creations as impure) will go on to be reused several times, including in the Eighth Doctor audio story “Blood of the Daleks” and the Ninth Doctor TV finale “Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways”. This is also the first story that shows Daleks levitating off the ground, even if they don’t use that ability to go up stairs like they do in the infamous “Remembrance of the Daleks” scene during the Seventh Doctor’s run.
The story ends with The Doctor saying he’s about to take Peri to somewhere before the screen gets freeze-framed, this is due to the fact the show’s future was up in the air so they decided not to have him say “Blackpool”, which was supposed to lead into the Season 23 story “The Nightmare Fair” but obviously that ended up not being the case. The story is available as an audio drama though!
Well, I obviously couldn’t pass up a picture of the infamous “Glass Dalek”!
Revelation of the Daleks is good fun. It has some humour (though not all of it lands…) and some darker elements alongside some good practical effects and some fun ideas. It could be said that the first half is rather slow if all you want is The Doctor and Peri… well, doing things to do with the central plot, but I feel the pay-off in the end is worth it. (and yes, as per usual, the blu-ray looks great, especially for an 80s BBC TV production!)
The big thing is Orcini and Bostock assaulting Davros and melting his head only for it to be revealed as a decoy, the real Davros arriving in his classic chair complete with upper torso and arms. This Davros gloats in front of the downed Orcini and Bostock as well as Kara, who he correctly assumed hired the ex-knight in the first place (and who is then brutally stabbed by Orcini…) then he gloats in front of the captured Doctor and Peri as well, only to get his right hand literally blown off by a carefully placed shot from Bostock, complete with green blood and Davros’ fingers rolling on the floor in a later shot. It’s that rare Season 22 violence at its best! Eventually white and gold “Imperial Daleks” loyal to the Dalek Emperor arrive, destroy the impure “Renegade Daleks” and then place Davros under arrest, presumably to be executed on Skaro given capitol punishment isn’t really a Dalek thing…
Well, I obviously could’ve easily passed of putting a picture of the DJ up, but when else am I going to get a chance to post a picture of Alexei Sayle on this blog?
Orcini stays behind and explodes a bomb to take out any remaining Daleks and if your’e wondering, after finally being insulted for the last time (and under the influence of Davros) Tasambeker stabs Jobel to death with a syringe before being killed by Daleks, Natasha and Grigory last until near the end of the story but are also killed by Daleks, and the DJ manages to fight off Daleks with a sound gun only to stand up and celebrate too early and get killed by a Dalek. So pretty much any new character with any kind of role in the story is dead by the end of it. Oh well! The Doctor and Peri are fine, so it’s a good ending…?