‘GENESIS OF THE DALEKS’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
How It All Started On Skaro
Now we come to what many consider to be the highlight of Season 12 of ‘Doctor Who’. We come to a classic Dalek adventure that has won the hearts of many ‘Doctor Who’ fans. And rightly so, as I personally have fond memories of watching this tale when I first saw it on a 2-disc DVD back in 2006.
‘Genesis of the Daleks’ is one of the best and well-loved ‘Doctor Who’ stories from the Tom Baker era! I treasure this story very much! It was my first encounter with Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor and it also features the very first TV appearance of Davros, who is the creator of the Daleks! Exciting stuff!
I originally had ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ on a 2-disc DVD as a present for Christmas, December 2006. My parents gave it to me for Christmas when I was getting into the ‘Doctor Who’ series as a newcomer. As my first Tom Baker ‘Doctor Who’ story and a Dalek adventure, I could not be happier!
I’ve had the DVD cover of ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ signed by Peter Miles who played Nyder in the ‘Doctor Who’ story at the ‘Regenerations 2016’ convention in Swansea, September 2016. It was nice to meet Peter and I enjoyed chatting to him about ‘Doctor Who’ and his appearance in ‘TravelWise’. 😀
This six-part story is by Terry Nation, the originator of the Daleks. He was commissioned by the production team of producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks to write the story. It was then passed onto the production team of producer Phillip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes.
The story has the Doctor being summoned by the Time Lords. They foresee a time where the Daleks will have destroyed all life-forms in the universe. They send the Doctor on a mission…to stop the creation and the development of the Daleks on the planet Skaro. The Doctor willingly agrees to do it.
Arriving in the war-torn battlefields of Skaro, the Doctor and his companions, Sarah Jane and Harry, eventually find themselves in an underground bunker where war is raged between the Kaleds and the Thals. They soon confront Davros, the Kaled scientist who is responsible for creating the Daleks.
I found this a gripping and exciting tale to watch. It’s a very gritty, dark tale that tells the story of how the Daleks came to be created. It’s a good strong story full of themes of fascism, racism and moral dilemmas. The production team did a fantastic job in making this story a solid piece of drama.
The setting and the environment of Skaro is very bleak as one would expect. Terry Nation’s depiction of Skaro is like World War II and Nazi Germany with the Thal soldiers wearing gas masks (“Are you my mummy?”) and the Kaleds looking like the Nazis and doing their Hitler salute when we see them.
The story looks into the atrocities of warfare and how Davros can be pretty callous and manipulative in getting what he wants with developing the Daleks. The deliberate implementation of no feelings and no pity into the Daleks by Davros is incredibly shocking, hitting you in the gut when you watch it.
I was astonished and horrified that there was no recognition of good and evil in the two sides fighting in the war on Skaro. The Thals are just as ruthless as the Kaleds. The Thals aren’t the nice, peace-loving people the Doctor met in the earlier tales as there’s no mercy on both sides in the fight.
Davros is the highlight of this story. This was the first time I saw Davros and he’s such a loathsome, brilliant character. Davros switches from being reasonable to ranting and raving, as he’s on his way to becoming a Dalek. He is someone you really want to hate since he’s full of racist and fascist views.
Michael Wisher delivers a brilliant performance as Davros in this story. The mask he wears is so horrid and hideous to look at, yet Michael manages to deliver his lines superbly and let out such raw emotions of rage and fury. At the same time, he’s pretty good in delivering the lines when he’s quiet.
I liked how Davros interacts with the Doctor as this is the first time they meet. Their relationship is interesting. They discuss things from a scientific point of view as well as from a moral one. The Doctor asks Davros if he would use a virus to wipe out all life. Davros says “Yes!” which is so horrible.
The Daleks don’t have a massive part to play in this story as they’re only just starting. We learn that Davros created the Daleks from the embryos of Kaled mutants, kept inside the incubation chamber. Coincidentally, Kaled is an anagram of Dalek since it is spelt backward which was interesting to learn.
Davros places the mutant creatures inside the Dalek casings, but he doesn’t give them self-control as they are erratic. In the end, the Daleks are merely servitors following Davros’ instructions. They are ordered to exterminate the Thals after the Kaled dome gets destroyed by the Thals to win their war.
The guest cast are as follows. There’s Peter Miles as Nyder, Davros’ right-hand man. Nyder is a nasty-piece of work and he looks like a Goebbels character in the story. Peter Miles delivers a brilliant performance as Nyder. The moment when he betrays Gharman was a very defining moment for him.
There is also Dennis Chinnery as Gharman, who works for Davros’ scientific division within the Kaled bunker. Gharman is appalled by Davros’ ‘improvements’ on the Daleks by removing all sense of pity in them. He leads a movement with the scientific elite to stop Davros and his horrid Dalek creations.
James Garbutt guest stars as Ronson, a scientist who interrogates the Doctor and Harry when they are brought into the Kaled bunker. Ronson is also unhappy with Davros’ experiments. He helps the Doctor and Harry escape, but is exterminated by the Daleks when they utilise the death rays on him.
Guy Siner guest stars as Ravon. Guy is well-known for starring in the BBC sitcom series, ‘Allo, ‘Allo’. Ravon is a general in charge of the Kaled army. The Doctor and Harry first meet him in the bunker. It turns out that Ravon is helping the Doctor and Harry as one of the Kaled committee to stop Davros.
The star of the show of course is Tom Baker. Beforehand, I’d seen Tom in other TV productions like the BBC version of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair’ where he played Puddleglum as well as the remake of ‘Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)’. This was the first time where I saw Tom’s Doctor!
Tom delivers a superb performance as the Doctor in this story from his first season. I really like Tom’s eccentric nature and that wide toothy grin he makes when he revels in danger. Tom’s Doctor gets to be the moral speaker, condemning the Daleks for what they are and on Davros’ fascist views.
There is a scene where Tom’s Doctor is forced to give information to Davros about the Daleks in their future. Davros threatens Sarah Jane and Harry’s lives in order to make him talk. Tom’s tormented reluctance and Davros’ persistent rants make the scene very memorable and very gripping to watch.
There’s also a moral dilemma that the Doctor faces when he makes the decision to destroy the Daleks in the incubation chamber. Despite Sarah Jane encouraging him to destroy the Daleks, the Doctor asks the question “Do I have the right?” since if he kills the Daleks, he will become like them.
Elisabeth Sladen is wonderful as Sarah Jane Smith. Beforehand, I’d seen Sarah Jane in the Tenth Doctor episode, ‘School Reunion’. This was the first time I saw Sarah Jane in a proper story where she was travelling with the Doctor in the TARDIS back in the day during the 1970s. It was so amazing!
I found Sarah Jane got herself into trouble when she was running lost in the wastelands of Skaro and when she gets captured and taken prisoner by the Thals. The scene where she and the prisoners are trying to escape from the Thals was pretty gripping and that cliff-hanger to ‘Part Two’ was nail-biting.
Ian Marter is also very good as Harry Sullivan. This was the first time I’d seen Harry and I quickly liked him. Harry is a decent, good bloke who is loyal to the Doctor and keeps him company when they’re down below in the Kaled bunker. He does get his ‘foot in it’ at times, but he’s a good chap all around.
The story ends with the Daleks taking over, killing all the scientists and Nyder. Davros is shocked and horrified by what the Daleks are doing and he demands that they obey him. He pleads for the Daleks to have pity, but they will not give it. Davros is then shot at point-blank range and seems to be killed.
The original DVD special features were as follows. There was the info-text commentary option to enjoy; a stereo sound audio mix option for the story and a DVD audio commentary with Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Peter Miles and director David Maloney. Incidentally, credit goes to director David Maloney who deserves high praise for this story.
There was the special making-of documentary called ‘Genesis of a Classic’, featuring cast and crew interviews. There was also another special documentary called ‘The Dalek Tapes’, telling the story of the Daleks in ‘Doctor Who’. I’d like that documentary to be updated with new series stories. There was a BBC continuity compilation featuring trailers and continuity announcements of the story from its original broadcast and its repeats. There was also a ‘Blue Peter’ item with the ‘Blue Peter’ team including John Noakes, Peter Purves and Lesley Judd who look at an impressive collection of ‘Doctor Who’ models made by 16-year-old viewer. There was also a photo gallery of the story; the ‘Doctor Who Annual 1976’ PDF and the ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story.
On Disc 4 of the ‘Doctor Who – The Collection – Season 12’ Blu-ray, the ‘Genesis of a Classic’ making-of documentary; the ‘Blue Peter’ item; the BBC continuity compilation; the stereo sound audio mix option for the story; the DVD audio commentary and the ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF can also be found on there. The photo gallery and the info-text commentary option for ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ has been updated for 2018 on the Blu-ray.
The new special features on Blu-ray include the ‘Behind the Sofa’ feature on ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ with Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor); Sadie Miller, Elisabeth Sladen’s daughter and producer Philip Hinchcliffe as well as Louise Jameson (Leela); Janet Fielding (Tegan) and Sarah Sutton (Nyssa). There’s also the ‘Live From The TVC Canteen’ audio item and a brand-new 5.1 surround sound audio mix option for the story to enjoy.
On the PDF front, as well as the ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story, there are also production documents and scripts for the story. You need a special Blu-ray computer drive for that. The ‘Doctor Who Annual 1976’ PDF is included on Disc 6 of the Season 12 Blu-ray box set. Sadly ‘The Dalek Tapes’ documentary isn’t included on the ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ disc for the Season 12 Blu-ray. Why?! I liked that documentary!
On Disc 6 of the ‘Doctor Who – The Collection – Season 12’ Blu-ray, there is the ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ omnibus edition which couldn’t be included on Disc 4 of the box set. This is due to the available space not being provided on Disc 4. 😀
‘Genesis of the Daleks’ is a true classic of a ‘Doctor Who’ story! I have fond memories of it when I first watched it back in December 2006 for Christmas. I was so pleased to watch it again when I first reviewed it, remembering my initial impressions of the story during that particular Christmas period.
Tom Baker is brilliant as the Doctor as well as Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane and Ian Marter as Harry. Davros is a superb villain and it’s a great story to feature the evil Daleks’ origins. I’m glad Terry Nation took on the title and the idea when Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks suggested it to him long ago.
For your enjoyment, here is the climactic scene where the Daleks exterminate Davros. Listen out for the Daleks’ final words of the story and how they intend to continue…
‘Genesis of the Daleks’ rating – 10/10
‘BEHIND THE SOFA: ‘GENESIS OF THE DALEKS’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
I greatly enjoyed the ‘Behind the Sofa’ feature on ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ with Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor); Sadie Miller, Elisabeth Sladen’s daughter and producer Philip Hinchcliffe as well as Louise Jameson (Leela); Janet Fielding (Tegan) and Sarah Sutton (Nyssa). It was superb and fun to watch! 😀
I enjoyed the reactions to this classic ‘Doctor Who’ story. The highlight was the reactions to Guy Siner as Ravon before he did ‘Allo, ‘Allo’. I knew Sarah liked ‘Allo, ‘Allo’. It was fun to chat to her about it at the ‘Film & Comic Con Glasgow 2019’. Richard Gibson and Kim Hartman were there too. 🙂
Interestingly, I’ve written a story called ‘Psychic Image’ in the ‘Genesis of Terror’ anthology by the Divergent Wordsmiths. It has the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Billy in an alternative ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ scenario. It was surreal to see Sarah’s reactions to ‘Genesis’ with Janet and Louise from that.
I enjoyed it when Janet reacted to Davros’ ranting during ‘Genesis’. It was also nice to hear anecdotes shared by Sadie who talks about being introduced to the Daleks by her mother at a convention. Tom also shares memories of working with Michael Wisher and other actors in the tale.
I like how Philip Hinchcliffe shared his insight into making the story with Tom and Sadie. I did think it was getting a little dodgy when Louise made a Brexit joke during the viewing. 😀 At the end, Louise, Janet and Sarah held their hands together and, as Sarah put it, ‘hold onto the Time Ring and spin’. 😀
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