Monday, 16 September 2013

Review: Doctor Who Classic: Genesis of the Daleks (Revisited)

See here for my previous look at this story.
On the plus side, Harry stops being a twit this week.
Doctor Who - Season 12, Story Four - Genesis of the Daleks
Written 17/5/13

It's odd that so many of the stories so often declared the best of all time are often quite bleak in nature. Androzani is blatantly depressing, the Talons of Weing-Chang harks back to a time of institutionalised racism, and Genesis of the Daleks features World War Two parallels that often fall a little close to home. And it's not exactly as if Doctor Who has ever really followed the Angst is Art ideals that the rest of Television seems to - it's a family show, one that can convey adult topics and themes to kids without feeling preachy. However you look at it though, Genesis does have that Classic sheen to it from the moment it begins.
     The story's main thematic elements rely heavily on the state of 20th Century warfare, using the "technological attrition" aspect of the plot to mix things up a little. On one hand we have the Cold War parallels, with two opposing sides locked in nuclear war, both in a constant sense of tension with the other. The superior themes are from Terry Nation's own childhood, and his original thoughts when created the Daleks in the 60's, showcasing the appearance and plot of a 1940s War Drama. The Nazi-based inspiration for the Kaleds, what with their genocidal racism and camp little salutes, is particularly blatant and yet that doesn't rob it of any of its power.
     Michael Wisher's Davros has the potential, as his later appearances would show, of becoming something of a one-note villain. Perhaps Genesis' greatest triumph is the way in which it avoids this, making use of the admittedly padded six-episode format in order to explore every facet of Davros' character, from his megalomaniacal admission of his desire to destroy every non-Kaled life form in the Universe to his sly manipulation of the Thals in order to wipe out both them and his own people in favour of freeing the world for the Daleks.
     If the story does have some downsides, it is probably in the many padding subplots that, despite being integral in developing the world to such a fabulous extent, often feel like too much a wayside from the main action. The banding about in the Thal Dome reveals some of the less amicable qualities in the other side of the war, but is often a tad boring, and leads to a series of cliffhangers that don't really go anywhere. There's also some fumbling about near the end where The Doctor for some reason manages to drop the Time-Ring and they have to go and get it back again. Silly.
Davros in his best, original incarnation.
     Ultimately Genesis stands out due to its incredibly detailed and comprehensive worldbuilding, the tremendous writing and acting from its main villains and its insight into the origin of the Daleks (at least in the new continuity that it creates.) Its bleak and depressing demeanour robs it of that enjoyment factor that would usually make a good Who story so rewatchable, but that doesn't stop it from being a Classically good story. Just not a personal favourite in the grand scheme of things.


NEXT WEEK: The Cybermen return after six years away only to stay gone afterwards for another six... it's Revenge of the Cybermen.

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