Friday, 13 September 2013

Destiny of the Daleks

New Season, new Romana.
Terry Nation is back with his final contribution to Doctor Who in ‘Destiny of the Daleks’, a rather dull story that opens up the 17th season where the 16th had finished in some ways – dull. In other ways, changes were afoot. Mary Tamm sadly decided to leave the show, and so they decided Romana would regenerate. She ends up regenerating into Lalla Ward in one of the all-time strangest scenes in Doctor Who where Romana keeps presenting new ‘bodies’ to the Doctor. (no, no they were all fully clothed! Goodness me).

Romana II weeps and cries when interrogated. 

Lalla Ward would go on, I am told, to make the role her own but her Romana is very hard to like in this story. In ‘The Armageddon Factor’, Romana is tortured by the Shadow and stands brave and resolute throughout. Here she suffers the same fate but thanks to the Daleks, and she cries and screams like she does for much of the first half of this story. There are some better moments in the last half, the scenes where she plays rock-paper-scissors with the Doctor is a little reminded that she is a Time Lord, but I think that new script-editor Douglas Adams needed to work these scripts over a lot more than he did.
Tom Baker and David Gooderson as Davros.
David Gooderson has apparently copped a bit of flak for his portrayal of Davros. Michael Wisher was fantastic in ‘Genesis of the Daleks’, and now it’s Davros the Daleks have come to find to help fight the Movellans, another robot-race who are locked in a war with the Daleks. Davros is, after hundreds of years if not thousands is still alive somehow. Not only that, he’s been waiting for someone to find him in the same position he was shot covered in cobwebs. Ridiculous much? I don’t mind the portrayal of Davros here though, he is quieter, calculating and still sinister without the crazy over the top rants. Let’s be honest – over the top rants are the realm of atypical villains for the most part.
Quarry anyone?

The Daleks are willing to do whatever he says. They can’t believe the Doctor would sacrifice himself to kill Davros, then Davros asks them to sacrifice themselves to destroy the Movellan  space ship. Doesn’t make a lot of sense. As usual though some good ideas behind the Nation plot – two battle computers that can’t out-think each other. The characters are all thin at best though, with the exception of Davros who wasn’t new. The Movellans are all robots, Daleks are Daleks and the slaves the Daleks are using to clear away down to Davros (he loves shots of people lifting rocks it seems) have a sort of leader (Tyssan played by Tim Barlow) who is completely functional in the story.
Rock-Paper-Scissors explains all!
Then mix in Ken Grieve’s rather uninspired paceless direction, add a complete lack of soundtrack (Dudley Simpson is credited but there’s hardly a bar of music, especially in the final episode) and it’s a hard story to enjoy on any level. There seriously hasn’t been as little incidental music since ‘The Sontaran Experiment’, and that was a two-parter! The Director usually would tell the composer where he wanted music, and the composer would go away and sort it out. So I have no idea why the story is so under-scored, unless that’s just the way Ken Grieve liked it. Personally I think it could have done with a lot more music, especially to heighten the last episode and add a degree of excitement which was completely lacking.
The more I write the more I realise how little I liked about this one. Better stop now and give a score.


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