The Daleks too continue to grow in menace, and work well, for once, without the focus being on Davros, and is a nice hark-back to pre-Genesis days. The grey/black, cream/gold look is very striking and the new Special Weapons Dalek is chilling in its ferocity. The edition of John Leeson and Brian Miller to the Dalek voices is also welcome, as is the return of the ring modulator. The reveal of Davros inside the Emperor at the climax is, indeed, a punch-the-air moment. Terry Molloy managed to instill in a head all the bonkers genius and desperation of Davros in those few short scenes brilliantly.
The supporting cast is universally superb, with Pamela Salem making a wonderful faux Barbara Wright-cum-Liz Shaw and Simon Willians is fabulous as Brigadier-in-waiting Group Captain Chunky Gilmore. Add to that a great cameo by Who stalwart Michael Sheard and this story has just about everything.
Being set on location helps too. The school is an effective back drop, and the few sets needed designed are straight forward enough. Being a historical neither lighting or costume can mess it up, and both do a good job.
It’s directed by Andrew Morgan like an action adventure, and the quick edits work well, and so do some of the OTT explosions!
it isn’t perfect – the Daleks wobble a bit, there’s a shot of some very modern looking flats in one scene, the sign on the door of the scrapyard is the wrong spelling, the Time Controller is a plasma lamp (they shoulda just used a lava lamp!) and again the story relies on Time Lords and a back story. You can see why RTD decided to do a way with that particular thread. It isn’t, either, the end of the rot – The Happiness Patrol and Silver Nemesis follow directly on from this – but it is a great indication of what is possible. A great story.
The Special Edition is packed wit features – including two lengthy docs about the making of and some great interviews with all the movers and shakers, all of whom seem very pleased to be associated with this tale. The commentary too as always with Sylv and Sophie funny, bubbly and easy to listen to.
This SE comes with a bonus disc about the history and evolution of Davros. It’s a wonderful documentary, and pulls in everyone from the world of TV, Big Finish and the written word to complete a “definitive” biography of the creator of the Daleks. However, this is where it let’s itself down – filmed in 2007, it desperately needs updating to including Journey’s End, and seems to suggest that, as BF’s Terra Firma does, Davros becomes the Dalek Emperor. We now know that isn’t the case, and it taints what is a wonderful journey through his life.