Due to the fact we can’t physically watch and review every classic Doctor Who story before the 50th Anniversary, we have decided to check out two episodes in each Doctor’s era every week until the 50th. This week is the Sixth Doctor’s week, featuring Vengeance on Varos and Caves of Androzani. For those looking for another good episode to understand the Sixth Doctor, also look at The Resurrection of the Daleks.
Revelation of the Daleks is the sixth and final serial of the 22nd season of Doctor Who. It was the final serial to be broadcast in 45-minute episodes until the new series in 2005.
The Sixth Doctor’s era was not a happy era for Doctor Who. The stories seemed to reflect the times, and most of them were quite poorly written. As a result, there aren’t many great stories. That being said, Revelation of the Daleks is not bad. Although complicated, and a little dragged out and ruined by slightly over-the-top acting, the serial itself is not atrocious like some others during this era of Doctor Who. Although slow and confusing, everything gets tied up neatly in the end of the serial, and it even ends on a rather kitschy note, with the Doctor saying “I’ll take you to-” before the credits cut him off. It is also the first episode in which Daleks are shown to fly, although it is quite understated and doesn’t get fully explored until Remembrance of the Daleks.
There are actually several plots going on in Revelation of the Daleks. The first is the Doctor and Peri’s journey to Necros, and their attempt to discover what is wrong with the eerily named Tranquil Repose, a place where terminally ill rich and powerful people are placed into cryogenic freezing to await a cure in the future. Meanwhile, there is an intrigue amongst the workers of Tranquil Repose, with everyone working for a the mysterious ‘Great Healer’, who not only is the one who is charge of the catacombs and maintaining Tranquil Repose, but has assisted in ending famine throughout the colonised galaxy.
Unfortunately for humankind, the Great Healer is in fact Davros, who has been turning the cryogenically frozen bodies into a new race of Daleks, and turning the leftovers to be turned into a protein produce. Aside from these stories, the leader of the factory, a woman who is both cunning and flattering in equal measure, hires an assassin, a member of the Order of Oberon called Orcini, to kill Davros. Whilst she pretends it is for the good of Necros, she intends to simply use Davros’ death to further her own political ambitions. Other side stories include a pair of body snatchers, who are trying to retrieve one of their fathers; the antics of a rather annoying DJ who serves as a narrator for the serial; and a rather sad story of a rather plain young woman who is madly in love (for reasons that are unknown and unknowable) with the head of Tranquil Repose. Despite having this many plots going on at once, the story manages to remain fairly coherent, which is impressive in its own right. And it isn’t bad; it can be a little confusing trying to follow what is happening at times though.
The characters are quite developed in this story. Similar to The Caves of Androzani, which as an aside was directed by the same man, there is a lack of simple ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’, although whereas in The Caves of Androzani the characters are all villainous in some fashion, Revelation of the Daleks has characters that are from a broader moral spectrum, from conniving politicians, to honourable assassins; from sleazy coroners to misguided medical students. The Sixth Doctor is much more subdued from his earlier behaviour – something which is reflected in his change of outfit, donning a dark blue coat over his multi-coloured jacket. He is much more considerate of Peri, looking after her when she recovers from killing a mutant, and simply being a little annoyed when she destroys his pocket watch, when earlier in the series he would have exploded into a rage. Peri is not too bad in this episode either. She doesn’t take a bar of the sleazy coroner, and actually sees a Dalek, although she has no idea what they are. And her accent is no longer the most annoying one in the serial – the DJ’s really bad American accent takes the cake in this one.
In conclusion, although it isn’t the greatest Doctor Who story ever written, it certainly isn’t bad. With a more subdued Doctor, the relationship between Peri and the Doctor starts to become much more affectionate. Unlike in other Sixth Doctor stories, the 45 minute episode actually is beneficial in Revelation of the Daleks as it allows for a much slower and complex story to develop without having to worry about extended breaks in the audience’s memory. The story itself, while complex, is dark and quite engaging, with a plethora of several minor stories going on in the background. In conclusion, despite its slightly exaggerated acting and occasional slowness, Revelation of the Daleks is quite enjoyable. For those that wish to watch dark Doctor Who, then watch this story. The lack of the Sixth Doctor’s coat probably helps with this too!
The Doctor and Peri land on Necros, location of a funeral home called Tranquil Repose. The place functions as a futuristic cryogenics lab – rich and/or powerful people go there when they have incurable diseases, and hopefully exit when a cure is discovered.
The funeral home is disguising the real problem: Davros is secretly taking money from Kara (who is the owner of a food company) to fund his turning-frozen-humans-into-Daleks scheme and turning the leftover humans into food. When Kara hires Orcini, an assassin from the Order of Oberon, to kill Davros, things really get kicking. On top of that, a pair of “body snatchers”, Natasha and Grigory, stumble upon Davros’ secret plans when they attempt to steal back her father’s body.
Revelation of the Daleks was not my thing.
It seems that I’m not a big fan of the Sixth Doctor’s era. I despised most of the characters (the ones that were actually fleshed out). There’s Jobel, a sleazy coroner, his irritatingly subservient, whimpering assistant Tasembeker, and a “DJ” with the most annoying fake American accent I’ve ever heard in my entire life. SPOILER: he dies and I was incredibly happy when this happened. However, the Doctor is a little less abrasive than he is in the earlier episode, Vengeance on Varos, which is nice. On top of that, Peri is still a good companion (even if her accent is a little grating).
In fact, the best part of the episode is the screaming human/Dalek.
Unfortunately, while I enjoyed the ribbing between the Doctor and Peri (mostly about the Doctor’s chubbiness), the story felt a little flimsy. In particular, the cliffhanger at the end of the first episode was horribly weak. I won’t spoil it, but it was pretty bad.
Poor old Colin Baker.