tirsdag den 7. april 2009

Who Review #79 - Genesis of the Daleks

What is the most popular story in Doctor Who history? There seems to be but one answer - Genesis....It has won out in fan polls. Obviously, it isn't every fans absolute favourite but I really doubt it is missing from anyone's shortlist of top 10 stories.

I have been writing scene by scene summaries of the stories so far but I noticed all that donkey work has in fact been done! There is a magnificent Doctor Who Reference Guide on the internet. So, being a lazy sausage, I shall merely post a link to the particular story from now on.

Genesis of the Daleks - episode by episode, scene by scene.

Simply one of the best stories in my opinion and certainly Terry Nation's best Dalek script. According to my sister, I was petrified of the Daleks. I distinctly remember the end of episode five, when Tom rushes out with a Dalek embryo around his neck, throttling him; I also thought there was something horrific about how people turned photonegative upon being exterminated.

The sets are excellent. The Kaled bunker and dome are rather sterile, cold, metallic looking places which work so very well; any colour would seem totally out of place in this dictatorial, war torn society. The only real colour in the entire story is Tom's costume. The Kaled special forces are dressed in black and sieg heil, so one is in no doubt what they are. Interestingly, our old friends the Thals, who are just as ruthless as the Kaleds in this one, have green costumes and a soft pastel cream decor in their dome.

Dudley Simpson's incidental music rocks in this one! It has a very ominous quality to it, which fits nicely with the dark atmosphere of the entire story. One particular genial segment of the music is the revelation of Davros at the end of episode one - there is a quiet prelude, as Sarah looks up, before a loud "fanfare" greats our first look at Davros.

One of the things I like about the early T.Baker stories is a sort of varied, electronic howling sound accompanying scenes on a planet's surface; it is a soft background noise but sufficient to add a mysterious and creepy atmosphere to the proceedings. The stock BBC quarry was made to look sufficiently alien - you really do feel like you are on Skaro and not somewhere in Southern England.

The supporting cast was inspired. Guy Siner makes a nice appearance as a Kaled General (he was Lt.Gruber in BBC sitcom Allo Allo; apropos which, Gen. von Klinkerhoffen - Hilary Minster - has a small part as a Thal guard). James Garbutt is a concerned Ronson (he was Mr.Seaton in "When the Boat Comes In" - a series that should be repeated!!!). Stephan Yardley (most known for "Howards' Way") is the sympatico muto Sevrin. Peter Miles, a Who regular, is a really nasty Nyder.

Without a doubt, though, Who regular Michael Wisher, as Davros, is awesome. The face mask was a great piece of make-up; he had to rely on his voice because with that, his Dalek wheelchair and that he only had one free arm, there was little he could do to give Davros character. But he pulls it off so well. Every scene is a delight as he schemes, and plots and is generally nasty - Wisher would talk softly and then burst into a rant and those rants are when he sounds so close to a Dalek proper. As some reviewers point out, his experience as a Dalek voice could do nothing but help. His scenes with Tom rank as Who Moments. The scene where the Doctor asks Davros if he would use a deadly contagion, a gedanken experiment, emphasises Davros's fanatical zeal for the Dalek project. (Another admission - I don't need a special microphone; I can actually do a Dalek immitation!)

The story is not without its weaknesses though. The domes are very close to each other, we must assume. Why does Davros have a button that can shut off his life support system and in easy reach? The clam monsters in the tunnel to the wasteland should have been dispensed with; they are just too embarrassing. After all the "can't change history" - the Doctor to Barbara in the Aztecs - and the trial in the War Games, why the time lord plan to destroy the Daleks forever? It is easy to forget those things though because of the many memorable scenes and Wisher's Davros.

Perhaps Genesis will be threaded into the Time War backdrop to New Who? It is about time the Time War story was resolved - how did it start, why did the Time Lords lose, are there really no other Time Lords, etc?

There is a large dose of violence in this story. Danger and death run throughout it: corpses used to defend trenches; people machine gunned in a blink of an eye; the Daleks exterminating all....It is dark and quite adult in places.

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