Phil Collins creates the Daleks so that he can exterminate the New Romantics who are ruining music.
A nutter invents nutjob killing machines because he is nuts.
The problem with this story is that it is considered one of the best stories of the original run of Doctor Who. It is highly regarded by a lot of Whovians. Which is all very well but it does make writing about it a bit of a no-brainer. What can be said that hasn’t already been said. Added to this is the fact that I prefer stories like Horror of Fang Rock over Genesis of the Daleks. The latter may have Davros, the creation of the Daleks and Sarah Jane falling to her death (spoilers: she survives) but the former has Louise Jameson in a woolly jumper. See how Horror of Fang Rock is better? I will try my best to unreview this story. To make it original, I will barely mention the Daleks.
The Doctor is dispatched by the Time Lords to Skaro (along with Harry and Sarah Jane) with the hope of preventing or hindering the development of the Daleks. I don’t think I need to tell you how all that will pan out.
Skaro is being destroyed bit by bit in a war between the Kaleds and the Thals. In other serials that the Thals and the Kaleds (hey, isn’t that an anagram of…?) appear in, they are written as black-and-white. The Thals are good and the Kaleds/Daleks are bad. Simple as. Not so here though. They are written in different shades of grey. Both races are humanoids capable of goodness and evil. This is easily Terry Nation’s most grown-up script for Doctor Who.
One of the few true blue villains is Davros. A wheelchair-bound genius fruitcake. This being Doctor Who, his pimped out wheelchair resembles the bottom half of a Dalek chassis complete with the dodgem car bumpers. Inside this is the shrivelled husk that is Davros, blind but with an artificial eye implanted into his forehead.
Michael Wisher as Davros is great. He rants but never makes this inhuman creature anything less than human. Does that make sense?
Unlike most of the mad scientists that have appeared on the show, Davros dresses like he has just come back from a S & M party. Can you imagine that? Good, let me soil your mind further… Imagine Nyder, naked except for a skimpy pair of metal-studded leather panties, on the end of a leash held by Davros. You may, at this point, want to apply some mental bleach to your poor imagination.
Talking of which. Nyder. Dear sweet Nyder, Davros’ whipping boy. Peter Miles. With the majority of Miles’ characters, Nyder is a sarcastic, slimy son of a bitch. This isn’t to say he is typecast though but Peter Miles does play bastards quite frequently. This is a good thing because he is excellent at those type of roles. You may wish to read what I say about his role as Doctor Lawrence in Doctor Who and the Silurians. If so, the unreview can be found on this very blog (Plug! Plug!). Miles’ sarcasm is underplayed to a fine art here. When he is quiet and still, he feels more of a threat. The difference between this performance and his role as Lawrence is that here he is calm and deadly still while in …and the Silurians, he has twisted the knobs off his sarcasm abilities.
Imagine Nyder playing air guitar to The Strokes’ Last Night (a great song which y’all should listen to on Youtube). That would have been a much better mental image than the gimp one. Sorry, guys.
Not too much can be said about the performances of Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen or Ian Marter. They all turn in polished performances. They are all acting their socks off. Bless ’em!
Baker has a nice speech which has rightly be praised. Sladen has that moment when she falls from a great height at one of the cliffhangers, this is very effective and more horrifying than I can make it sound. I loved it.
There is a lot of World War One and Two imagery in this adventure. Some of it subtle. Some of it not so much. Nyder’s Iron Cross being one of the more obvious references. The production team took the Nazi medal off him thankfully. Bit too near the knuckle apparently.
At the very beginning of the story, we see a bunch of soldiers in brightly coloured gasmasks. I only mention this because I thought that was noteworthy, cool and unusual. I love those gasmasks. I would like a gasmask like that.
One query though. Why the hell does Davros have a button on his mobility scooter that will kill him? No, really, why? What if he accidentally pressed it instead of pressing the button that made espresso coffee? This is as sensible as Apple putting a ‘destroy phone’ button next to the button that turns the phone on. Madness!
“Hello, my name is Davros. This button moves me forward and back, this one moves me sideways, this one summons Nyder, this one connects to the wifi, this one kills me suddenly, this one… What? The death button? Oh, that is for when I need to die and nobody is around to stove in my head with a half-brick. As you do. Now tell me, do you think I am damn unpretty?”
Genesis of the Daleks is a great story that ironically isn’t really about the Daleks at all. No, this is Davros’ story, and also the story of the Thals and the Kaleds.
Yeah, so pull your trousers on and watch this adventure. You might enjoy it.