One of the unfortunate side-effects of the recent glossy new DOCTOR WHO series has been that it makes watching even the very best episodes of the old show a bit uncomfortable. It? not their fault, of course ?they?e products of their time and should be viewed as such. It? just that DOCTOR WHO 2005 was such a slick, modern affair it? made the classic series look like a slow, lumbering dinosaur. Even some of the greats look a bit cheesy these days ?so imagine how stuff like ?evelation of the Daleks?fares in the cold light of the post-Eccleston era? Oh dear?n
It? 1985 and the BBC has fallen out of love with its time-travelling golden boy. BBC1 Controller Michael Grade had recently taken the (in retrospect) wise decision to sideline the planned next season to allow the production team time to get their house in order and pull up their socks (which they never did) amongst a mounting tide of criticism about the show? ugly violence. So what do we get to end the 22nd season? A grim, unrelenting story about bodysnatchers, physical mutation, guns, death and blood. Nice. It? the last gasp of a tired and desperate show which would ultimately make the fatal mistake of sacrificing its dramatic credentials for the sake of some bloodless whimsy and viewed now, twenty years after the event, it? hard to see ?evelation?as anything other than thoroughly dislikable. Colin Baker, a decent actor lumbered with a spectacularly-appalling costume, never really stood a chance. Characterised as a cosmic bully he spends his time sniping at his comely companion Peri (Bryant) and he never comes across as the sort of person you want ?no, need ?to spend time with. The story itself is populated by creeps and weirdos and losers ?there? no-one even remotely likable here and with the Daleks and Davros casually appearing in the first few minutes (the Dalek voices are particularly dreadful) there doesn? seem a lot of point in watching the tiresome story unfold once you?e seen all it has to offer.
For what it? worth, the story sees the Doctor and Peri arrive on the snowy wastes of the planet Necros, a funeral planet where the dead are kept in cryo-suspension until the ills that ?illed?them can be cured. But Necros holds a horrible ?if slightly boring ?secret. The Great Healer who runs the place is actually ?gasp ?Davros, now a head in a machine (or is he?) who is planning to harvest the dead humans to create a new race of his rebel Daleks. The Doctor and Peri are sidelined for most of the first episode ?they haven? even made their way into funeral home Tranquil Repose by the time the inane cliffhangar rolls around ?and we?e left in the company of a couple of dreary bodysnatchers, Mr Jobel the mortician and his misfit associates Lilt, Takis and Tasembeker (played with the subtlety of an ox by the hapless Jenny Tomasin). Then there? a tired old merecenary Orcini played by William Gaunt and his smelly sidekick Bostock (Ogwen). The problem is that writer Eric Saward is clearly trying to write to the template of the marvellous Robert Holmes who could perhaps have created real characters out of these cyphers; Saward has simply crafted a parade of uninteresting grotesques whose motivations are unclear and whose actions are terminally tedious. The story? often touted as a ?lack comedy?and while it? undoubtedly black ?it? about death and the dead, after all – it? never remotely funny. Douglas Adams this ain?. Only occasionally entertaining, ?evelation of the Daleks?isn? a good disc to put out in the immediate aftermath of the new series and it? a story to view only if you want to remind yourself how bad DOCTOR WHO had become in the mid-1980s.
THE DISC: Once again it? down to the extras to salvage a poor release. The 45 minute ?evelation Exhumed?(clumsy title) is the usual talking-heads and clips documentary which becomes irritating when you realise everyone interviewed actually seems to think ?evelation?was a classy bit of work (although archive interview footage of Alexei Sayle is disarmingly frank at times), there? a selection of watch-once studio footage, a few deleted/extended scenes, the option of watching some snazzy new CGI effects to replace the corny old video effects, trivia track and a cast and crew commentary which has its moments. Ultimately not worth bothering with unless you?e a completist.