THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
TV STORY "FRONTIOS"
AND THE NOVEL "LORDS
OF THE STORM."
THE RETURN &
'REVISITATIONS 2' DVD
BOX SET (BBCDVD2956)
RELEASED IN MARCH
the TARDIS IS TRAPPED
IN a Time Corridor,
FORCING THE DOCTOR,
TEGAN AND TURLOUGH
TO MATERIALISE IN AN
ABANDONED PART OF
LONDON IN 1984.
THE CORRIDOR LINKS
EARTH WITH A BATTLE
CRUISER IN THE FUTURE
THAT CONTAINS THE
DOCTOR'S OLDEST ENEMY
- THE DALEKS. HAVING
LOST THE WAR WITH THE
MOVELLANS, ONLY ONE
PERSON CAN NOW HELP
THE EVIL RACE. IT IS
TIME FOR THE DALEKS
TO RESURRECT THEIR
of the Daleks
8th february 1984 - 15th february 1984
(2 45-MINUTE EPISODES)
I was rather surprised when, a few years ago, the Resurrection of the Daleks DVD appeared in the otherwise-lush Davros box set just as it had been released in late 2002, less its distinctive rubber packaging. Like the original Remembrance of the Daleks release, which the Davros box set would eventually embroider, Resurrection contained only a very limited array of special features which didn’t feel equal to the significance of the story. However, now the serial has been given the same luxuriant treatment as its 1980s’ siblings, and the result is nothing short of sensational.
Originally conceived as a four-part adventure, BBC coverage of the 1984 Winter Olympics prompted the decision to hastily re-edit Resurrection into two extended episodes, which aired on consecutive Wednesdays. However, much to many fans’ chagrin, this version of the story was never made available commercially – its many VHS releases and even the 2002 DVD all contained the “originally-prepared” four-parter. This revisitation, however, keeps everybody happy, boasting both versions, each subtly enhanced by a 5.1 sound mix.
Above: The final word from John Nathan-Turner On Location
Each edition of the serial comes with its own commentary. Most viewers will probably opt for the four-parter’s lively track, which sees fifth Doctor Peter Davison and Tegan actress Janet Fielding discuss everything from Davison’s dentistry to Rodney Bewes’ lisp and Fielding’s legs, while director Matthew Robinson quietly laments the fact that the complaints about the serial’s vivid violence and high body count were dwarfed by those criticising the depiction of a single character smoking. The recently-recorded commentary for the two-part version is a little more stoic, but no less edifying, as Dalek operator Nick Pegg moderates the musings of former script editor Eric Saward, Davros actor Terry Molloy and visual effects supervisor Peter Wragg.
The original release’s principal bonus offering, On Location, is preserved here. This feature sees Michael Robinson revisit Shad Thames, where the serial’s external sequences were shot, and features interviews with Eric Saward and then-producer John Nathan-Turner, who passed away shortly after recording his contribution. Whilst disappointingly short, this feature does offer exceptional insight into the production of the story, and particularly the tumultuous working relationship between Robinson, Saward and Nathan-Turner.
Above: Toby Hadoke interviews Leslie Grantham for Casting Far and Wide
This feature is then complemented by Casting Far and Wide, which looks at Resurrection of the Daleks from the perspective of several actors who appeared in it. I was surprised by how much I liked this programme, as usually the documentaries that I prefer are those that chart the evolution of a story from script to screen. The actors that Toby Hadoke interviews here range from ex-cons turned EastEnders superstars to more jobbing actors and even those who’ve enjoyed success, yet can’t see it. Each of the performers interviewed speaks with real candour, offering viewers a window into one of the world’s most brutal businesses.
The Resurrection-themed features are completed by an interesting collection of extended and deleted scenes; a couple of excerpts from the BBC’s Breakfast Time show featuring Janet Fielding and John Nathan-Turner; the original trailer for Part 1; and the usual photo gallery, but the precession doesn’t stop there. The special edition release also includes a number of more tenuously-related titbits, such as The Last Dalek film (originally released on the 2003 Seeds of Death DVD), which offers modern fans a slanted glimpse of the lost Evil of the Daleks’ fiery climax, complete with commentary from the visual effects designers who worked on the show; the fifth Doctor’s instalment of Tomorrow’s Times, which subjects viewers to the exasperating opinions of contemporary columnists; a TARDIS-Cam; and a Walrus. The latter skit is scarcely a minute long, and so I was hesitant to make a disproportionate lengthy comment about it, but I can’t resist saying that it is one of 2|entertain’s most outlandish offerings to date. Listening to a Dalek that doesn’t sound like Nick Briggs is remarkable enough these days, but having it take it upon itself to eradicate Welsh inflections from wives in mine shifts really is something else.
Above: Come in Number Five... or number Ten?
Most impressively of all though, the set’s second disc boasts a feature-length extravaganza that lovingly looks back over the whole of the fifth Doctor’s era. Presented by erstwhile Time Lord David Tennant, Come in Number Five is as flash as it is comprehensive, delving into every production from Davison’s debut in Four to Doomsday all the way up to his emotional death throes in The Caves of Androzani and his poignant return in Time Crash, and doing so with enormous panache. If I were asked to reel off a list of the range’s most impressive achievements to date, then this programme would be up there along with the likes of The Beginning, Davros Connections, Trials and Tribulations, Endgame and The Seven-Year Itch. It’s worth the box set’s purchase price just to see the tenth Doctor dressed up as the fifth; it’s almost as incongruous an idea as a Dalek obsessed with elocution.
And all this is secondary to the serial itself, which remains to this day a personal favourite of mine. Writer Eric Saward doesn’t seem to be all that enamoured with it, looking back, but I think that it stands up very well today. Resurrection of the Daleks sees Saward portray the Daleks and their creator with same earnestness that he did the Cybermen in Earthshock – here they are just not dilapidated pepper pots or Davros’s feeble playthings, but cunning, deadly monsters who so very nearly win.
The serial’s plot is its weakest element, as it is predicated upon the exact same premise as the preceding Dalek story: the Daleks need Davros to get them out of a fix, and so they break him out of whatever prison he happens to be in this time, only for him to attempt to seize control of them again. What makes this story so superior to Destiny of the Daleks though is its execution - whereas much about Destiny felt recycled and trite, everything about Resurrection is pioneering and edgy. Whereas Destiny’s supporting characters were, almost literally, faceless robots, Resurrection’s are an alluring assemblage of brainwashed troopers and impenetrable mercenaries. Even Davros is freed from the one-dimensional madness of David Gooderson’s Michael Wisher impersonation, as Terry Molloy unwittingly sinks his teeth into the role for which he’ll forever be remembered - at least by us.
The Doctor, likewise, is unchained from the usual constraints of his character, the weight of events forcing him to pick up a firearm not once, but twice. Once, he had the chance to avert the creation of the Daleks, but failed to seize it, and here he finds himself with the opportunity to ensure their destruction by murdering their creator and saviour. Davison’s performance is staggering as he visibly weighs his conscience against the greater good, his incarnation’s shortcomings being revealed once more as, again, he fails to find “another way” to save the day. One can almost see the spectre of Old Sixy looming behind him, rubbing his pragmatic hands together with glee.
The script’s sophistication is perhaps best exemplified by its abrupt, but nonetheless stirring, end. As hastily as Adric departed in Earthshock, Saward’s script sees Tegan turn and run at the last minute, sickened by what’s she’s seen. The hastiness of her exit only serves to make it that much more affecting, not to mention that much more convincing, and Malcolm Clarke’s crescendoing leitmotif, buoyed by one last “Braveheart…” from the demonstrably defeated Doctor, make the moment almost unbearable.
Finally, Resurrection boasts one of the 1980s’ most impressive casts, and not a single one of the star-studded ensemble disappoints. This adventure sees former Likely Lad Rodney Bewes play a brainwashed Dalek trooper; Maurice Colbourne the delectably duplicitous Lytton; Rula Lenska a tormented prison medic; and ‘Dirty Den’ himself, Leslie Grantham, take on the role of Davros’s eventual, unlikely ally. Each gives an inspirational performance, particularly Colbourne, whose cool charisma would earn his character a further, and even more impressive, appearance in the following season’s Cyber opener.
It’s often said that this story’s success saw the series adopt the forty-five minute format for the next season, and whilst that’s not the case, I think it’s evident that Resurrection’s grit and grime played a major part in establishing the tone for Colin Baker’s first full season. Whether that’s a good thing or not is, of course, in the eye of beholder, but in my view Resurrection of the Daleks was an outstanding adventure in every respect – and, now, at last, I can say the same of its DVD.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006, 2011
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