Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Tom Baker and Lalla Ward try to run away
from a heavily rewritten script....

"Dead?  I do not die.  Mark this moment, Doctor.  In the history of the universe, this moment is unique.  Davros lives!"
"Yes, well I can see your long rest hasn't done anything to cure your meglomania.  Have a jelly baby."

1)  And here we begin Lalla Ward's two and a half season tenure as Romana....and we begin it in typical Graham Williams/Douglas Adams fashion with a comedy sequence which shows Romana being very cavilier in her usage of her regenerations to convince the Doctor she should just mimick Princess Astra's form.  It's a tiresome scene that takes up too much time in the first episode of this serial, and it's a definite harbinger of the the way the Williams era will spiral out of control.

2) That being said, I rather like the visual appearance of Romana in this story.  With the long white scarf and the pink suit, she serves as a sort of female mirror image of the Doctor while also retaining her own identity.

3) This is the first of the Dalek stories that begins the devaluation of the characters as villains, primarily because they are subservient to Davros.  As of this moment, they're pepperpot-shaped henchmen to a man in a bad mask.

4) You know, after the series spends a chunk of the last serial devoted to setting up the new status quo of The Randomizer shifting the Tardis, ummmm, randomly with the Doctor having control of where they will end up....they pretty much crap on that by having them show up on Skaro, a place The Doctor has shown up on several times before.
It's the invasion of the cosplaying rasta fashion models!

5) The problem with the Movellans is simply that outside of being another race of robots, they've got nothing going for them.  They're just robots who are pure-d-evil, and that's that.  There's nothing that makes them interesting or scary or even notable, which means the tension the story is counting on never develops.  It doesn't help that those mopheads make them look like a bunch of people going trick-or-treating as a rasta disco band.  

6) This is the beginning of the year where the highly overrated Douglas Adams takes over as script editor (who heavily rewrote the script)...which means that Graham Williams' tendency to treat the show as a comedy runs rampant.  The forced humor begins with that regeneration sequence at the top of the story and continues throughout, the low point being the Doctor mocking a Dalek for not being able to climb up a steep incline--which absolutely invalidates the Daleks (already becoming a bit naff due to their subservience to Davros) as scary threats.

7) You know, while there is a legitimate germ of a good idea as to why the Daleks are seeking Davros out....the moment Davros shows up, that germ is discarded save for some stray mentions in dialogue and that endless 'rock/paper/scissors' scene that is supposed to explain why the Daleks need what Davros is supposed to provide them so much.  For that matter....

"I am ready for my close-up, Mr. DeVille...."
8) Is it just me, or does the whole plot disappear thoroughly around the end of episode three?  The second we get the introduction of that atmosphere-burning bomb, the whole thing just degenerates into a lot of silliness with Daleks running around with bombs strapped to their bodies and these two dull alien races getting caught in the crossfire.

9) I think I understand the decision to raid the BBC Wardrobe of all the old Who costumes to kit out the Dalek slave force....but seeing all these recognizable and obviously tatty outfits--some of which are very ill-fitting--only emphasizes the cheapness of this production.  I really have to wonder if the slave force would have been better served by showing up in simple, nondescript outfits because....

10) ...when all is said and done, the slave force and Tim Barlow's Tysson are just there to muddy the waters.  There's so little done with them that they come off as a whole big bunch o' filler....which is sad, because Barlow is generally really good, and plays off of The Doctor well.

Overall...the beginning of one of the darkest era of the series, where canonical elements are treated with contempt by Adams and Williams.  While it may not be the worst Dalek story ever (Russell T. Davies saw to that), it is amongst the worst.  Avoid.

(And speaking of avoid...wait until we get to the next story...)

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