Friday, December 19, 2014

Destiny of the Daleks part 2 - the actual episodes

I said before, we're back with Tom Baker. Despite Baker generally being regarded as the best of the old Doctors, I can't quite get behind it. But more immediately, it's bloody weird jumping from mid Pertwee to late Baker, a very big difference in style. Not just in that the TARDIS is working again, but the Doctor and Romana are very different to the Doctor and Jo, in fact the roles are almost reversed.

We already covered the Regeneration and how she stands in Doctor Who. It's that last part I mentioned, the 'she's his equal' that really comes into play for the rest of the episode.

Oh, the episode. It's alright, I guess. Pretty sub-standard Dalek affair.


An alien planet is a welcome return too. The Doctor turning up somewhere and not having a damn clue as to what's going on is a return to what the Doctor should be. Although I'm not so sure about the fact they've built a randomizer onto the TARDIS control system. It is just a throwaway line here, and I'll need to go backwards to see its implementation properly, it just feels like forcing the ability to turn up in random places.

However, after spending a rather large amount of time with Pertwee, this feels a lot more like Doctor Who. It's also the second K9 era show I've watched and he's written out again. I'm starting to spot a trend here.

There is a nice evocation of the original Daleks serial in parts of it though. One thing about 'Genesis' vs 'The Daleks' that struck me was that different Skaro was between them. It almost feels like two different planets. 'Destiny', set long after either of them, helps bridge that gap.

But what 'Destiny' really does is bring back Davros. Created to explain the creation of the Daleks, someone somewhere obviously decided he was too good of a bad guy for just one serial. Unfortunately, when we last saw him he was buried in the destruction of the only Skaro city left, with the Daleks having already turned on him. That doesn't leave a lot of room for a return. So “Destiny” goes balls to the wall here, and decides that he was put into a sort of hibernation, and faced with an enemy the Daleks can't defeat with their logic, they return to their human-esque creator for an injection of chaos. It's a great concept.

It's a shame then that the other side, the Movellans, are massively undersold. We're just told their androids. They pull out a super weapon at one point, but it gets disarmed before use. Finally when the Doctor manages to get a Thal uprising going, the Movellans fall faster than the Daleks. It's a total waste.

Yet it is Davros that might come off the worst though.  He just sounds wrong. He lacks any of the pathos and sounding deranged that we saw back in 'Genesis', and will see again in 'Resurrection'.  His voice patterns and speech is meant to mimic the Daleks. Going higher and louder as he gets more and more annoyed or angry he isn’t being obeyed. But the tone here is just too normal.

His movement are just ridiculous too. He looks like a man shuffling about on an office chair. Admittedly old Daleks have always looked like that, but Davros is more noticeable because he basically is a man on an office chair. At least previous (and future) directors had the sense to not have Davros move much. Here we have the unfortunate sight of Davros 'pacing', which combined with the lacklustre performance, just negates him.

With every long running franchise that gets through a ridiculous amount of stories like Doctor Who or Star Trek, there's always a whole range of concepts. Some are good, some are crap, some are just ok. Sometimes the craps ones can be executed well and it's far better than you expect. Other times they're executed as badly as they deserve and you get some of the most awful episodes in the entire saga ('Threshold' in Star Trek: Voyager for example). More often than not with franchises that produce so much content on a tight schedule, the okay concepts are mediocrity executed and you get the average bumph that so much of the runs are occupied by. Very occasionally you get a genius concept matched with fantastic execution and you get some of the best episodes you could hope for, like 'Blink'.

'Destiny of the Daleks' is unfortunate. It's a brilliant concept. The Daleks are striving for logic perfection, but they've come up against a foe that is more of an example of that perfection than they are. So they return to their creator, something they threw off almost straight away because they were already beyond what he offered. And they return to him for his imperfections.

But everything in the execution of 'Destiny' ends up with it being simply mediocre.

Though the Doctor's line of "I'm a very dangerous man when I don't know what I'm doing." is brilliant.

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