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Doctor Who XXI.4: Resurrection of the Daleks

July 25th, 2008 (12:35 am)

This is almost a taut piece of action television. Unfortunately there are very, very many problems with it. There is too much dialogue at times: it's not an original observation, but lots of Resurrection of the Daleks could work just as well, if not better, on radio. Eric Saward's characters have a tendency to be verbose about their strengths and failings, as if in talking about themselves they were compensating for something. This is a valid device but it's a little overused.

The story isn't all that interested in two of the regulars. Tegan is sidelined for much of her leaving story, concussed while wearing decorative clothes; though not quite as extremely as departing companions were marginalised when Innes Lloyd was producer in 1966/67. Turlough is banished to the Dalek ship early on, and wanders around corridors. As calliope85 observed, he's good at sneaking; and PlayerKing theorised that it must be his tie that enables him to hide in plain sight so well. [This of course points up the absurdity of Turlough clinging to his school uniform, when he so hated the school.] Tegan and Turlough spend most of their time as witnesses to events, and are left to become more passive than was normal; like a lot in the series around this time, there's a sense of misremembered folk memory of the first Doctor's era, the idea that the Doctor and friends were observers of events, which was never really true in the way that happens here.

It's a story of ill-fitting headpieces. The green hats worn by the space station staff seem most fitting to a tacky Robin Hood themed restaurant. The upper sections of several of the Daleks have been adjusted - probably so they could be opened - and no longer join on to the grilles properly. The Dalek skirt-based helmets worn by Lytton (generally regarded as the character Eric Saward is most interested by, and with good reason) and his men don't look threatening or dignified. A mention, though, for the Supreme Dalek, who has a witty line in bureaucratic dialogue: everything is 'in due course' or 'when the opportunity presents itself'.

The Doctor's influence in this story involves reawakening the human personality buried under the programming of a Dalek duplicate (their conversations about duplication kept calling to mind the idea of Daleks operating photocopiers) and then recanting what is presented as a lost opportunity to destroy the Daleks at birth back in Genesis of the Daleks. The Doctor seems determined to kill Davros, but lets Davros talk a lot beforehand and is then distracted by conflict outside, allowing a door to seal and close the opportunity off. This comes across as a rehash of the Genesis "Do I have the right?" scene, but seems to send a less optimistic message. Nonetheless, I'm reluctant to jump on the bandwagon that dismisses Eric Saward as a glorifier of violence; it's just that, as people have been saying since 1984, Stein stands for a good deal of the audience when he cries "I can't stand the confusion in my mind!" Yet the body count will have pleased those boys whose idea of a good computer game is one where their army slaughters another army on the first level, and then is slaughtered itself by automatic weaponry on the second level.


Posted by: Altariel (altariel)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 06:25 pm (UTC)

Glad to see someone paying close attention to hats ;-)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 06:28 pm (UTC)

Yes! I'd forgotten that until I revisited this piece. I'd decided that interesting headwear was a secret clause in Fiona Cumming's contract to direct Doctor Who stories ("No monsters, John! But lots of hats!") but evidently Matthew Robinson was in on the act as well.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC)

Definitely some anticipation of 'Castrovalva' there. (Surely the disappearance of Tanith Lee from the roster of commissioned Doctor Who writers in 1982/3 deprived us of another Lee/Cumming hatfest.)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 07:01 pm (UTC)

Ye gods. *hits the adrenalin and soma*

Posted by: Altariel (altariel)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
Servalan dazzled

"If you were the girl next door, Servalan, I'd move."
"Where would you move to, Tarrant?"

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 07:08 pm (UTC)

I do remember that exchange...

Posted by: Altariel (altariel)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 07:47 pm (UTC)

It's a hard one to forget.