Sunday, December 02, 2007

Doctor Who - Destiny of the Daleks

As per usual, here is my old review from the Doctor Who Ratings Guide of this month's DVD release, Destiny of the Daleks:

Not wearing well?

The introduction of the Randomiser was supposed to ensure that the Black Guardian couldn't find the Doctor, yet the very next place the TARDIS lands is Skaro! This does make a slight mockery of the Doctor's attempts to avoid him, even though this is in fact only the second landing there the TARDIS has actually made. With the next story, City of Death, taking the Doctor to twentieth Century Earth questions must asked about just how random the device is! However this criticism should be levelled at the wider series rather than an individual story.

Right from the start there are many signs that the series is being deliberately sent up and often this story feels extremely tired and worn out. This feeling extends throughout much of the production and the result is a story where most of the elements are working in tandem with one another but only serve to enhance the story's weaker features.

Terry Nation's final contribution to the series has a strong premise and it is refreshing to see a story that seeks to tackle the Daleks' weaknesses and how they seek to overcome them. However the story is very poorly worked out, with the Daleks proving extremely weak and subject to manipulation at times, whilst the Movellans are far too easily disabled and make such a minimal impact that it is hard to believe that they have reached a centuries long stalemate with the Daleks. Of the other characters, Tyson shows a strong degree of ingenuity but is poorly defined, whilst Davros is resurrected all too easily and is afflicted by some weak lines and all too easily shows his readiness to challenge the Supreme Dalek's right to lead. Much of the story is further weakened by the excess use of humour that at times sends up the situation far too much, most obviously the scene where the Doctor taunts a Dalek about its inability to follow him up a shaft.

Lalla Ward returns to the series as the new incarnation of Romana and makes a strong impact from the start, but the regeneration sequence is played for laughs and gets the story off to an all too poor beginning. There's no explanation at all of how Romana is able to chose between different forms or even test out several in succession and the result is a scene that is clearly nothing more than a parody. Tom Baker's performance is even more dominant and wisecracking than before, whilst virtually none of the rest of the cast make any severe impact. David Gooderson now takes on the role of Davros but his performance is completely flat and fails to give much impression of emotion in many scenes.

The entire first episode suffers from not actually featuring the Daleks, even though the title has clearly given away their presence, and the result is a dreary wander around the surface of Skaro. Elements such as the radiation pills are introduced and then completely forgotten for the rest of the story, whilst the sets are poor and at times not one but several sets of studio lights can be clearly seen in shot. The whole production has a very cheap feeling to it, reflected in the sets which completely fail to convince the viewer that Skaro has been deserted for 'centuries' if not millennia whilst the direction is extremely pedestrian and fails to build up much exciting. All in all Destiny of the Daleks has the feel of a series and a concept that is starting to get extremely tired and is desperate need of a renewing force. This is a very poor start to a season. 3/10
Destiny of the Daleks can be purchased from here.

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