Revelation of the Daleks Episode One
For once we don’t open with a lengthy TARDIS scene, which is actually a nice change and the TARDIS just arrives on a planet and the story begins. It actually takes quite a while for the Doctor to actually get involved in the story proper and, in this first episode, all the Doctor and Peri do is get to the place where they wanted to be, but the story happily trundles along without them.
The Daleks are present from the very beginning of the story but don’t really do a great deal in this episode except trundle about. Davros is also present despite seemingly being blown up in his previous appearance but now appears to be for some reason stuck in a cylindrical column which he spins around in.
He also seems to be known as the Great Healer and is also seemingly responsible for ridding worlds of poverty by providing them with a never ending supply of protein, which is very disconcerting as this is Davros we are talking about and it would seem highly unlikely that he would do anything so noble as this.
He also seems to be in control of a funeral parlour called Tranquil Repose which is also a bit of a strange thing for him to be up to, but when you realise what he is actually doing with the bodies of people whose loved ones had tranquil repose lots and lots of money to either keep in cryogenic suspension until a cure for their illness had been created or gave them a fitting send off depending on their situation then it become something that you would of expected him to do, and it is very dark indeed.
In fact the whole atmosphere of the story is rather dark and dismal and grim for early Saturday evening entertainment but is just simply excellent television. Yes the Doctor and Peri do absolutely bugger all apart from bicker with each other which have been a constant in their relationship. Indeed if the Doctor and Peri and Davros and the Daleks were not there, it could have been a totally different programme, and it still would have been riveting viewing.
This is the best directed episode of Doctor Who since Attack of the Cybermen part 2 and, as a result, the episode was always interesting to watch and the episode was chock full of excellent performances from Clive Swift as the vain, obtuse, Jobel; Jenny Tomasin as the meek and loving Tasambeker; William Gaunt as the grand knight Orcini. Even Alexei Sayle was quite good in this episode and he didn’t seem out of his place at all and wasn’t just stunt casting on the part of the producer.
I also loved the music in this episode from the great Roger Limb, which really set the scene along with the sublime direction of Graeme Harper. The writing in this episode was also amongst the best writing in the series of that year and you can tell that Eric Saward really enjoyed writing it as his enthusiasm for the script and the characters shone through.
It almost seems unnecessary to feature the Doctor as he does so very little and perhaps that is how Saward was feeling at the time, but if that was the case, we got a bleeding good story out if it, despite the Doctor being a secondary character in his own show.
Out of all of the sixth Doctor stories this is the only one the presence of the Doctor doesn’t actually improve the story and wouldn’t lose anything if he wasn’t there!