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DVD Review: Doctor Who: Resurrection of the Daleks – Special Edition

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One of the great things that happens with a long-running series, be it a comedy or science fiction or a drama, is that recurring characters can be created and evolve over time, earning larger, longer stories than they might otherwise.  We don’t even need to see them terribly often to know who they are, what they are, and what they bring to the table.  Doctor Who has created a sizable number of recurring villains through the years—the Cybermen, the Daleks, the Silurians, and the Master to name a few—but perhaps my favorite recurring villain is Davros.

Originally portrayed by Michael Wisher in “Genesis of the Daleks,” (a 1975 story with Tom Baker playing the Doctor), Davros is the mad scientist who transforms the Kaled into the Daleks.  It is Davros’ endgame (mostly) to use the Daleks to subjugate the rest of the universe so that Davros can control everyone and everything.  Typical bad guy stuff, if you will.

Clearly it isn’t this typical evil ambition which separates Davros from your average recurring baddie, it’s his place as the creator of the Dalek race.  Here are the Daleks, the ultimate evil force in the universe, the baddest baddie that there is, and not only did Davros create them, but he’s happy about it.  When the Daleks fail to win, it is a blow which Davros takes personally.  It is one thing to invent something horrible and be remorseful about it, it’s quite another to applaud your creation, and that’s who Davros is – unrelentingly evil and horrifically ugly to boot.

Davros’ appearance in the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) story “Resurrection of the Daleks” is, I believe, his third appearance in the classic series, and it is one which clearly builds off the first two.  One need not have seen “Genesis of the Daleks” or “Destiny of the Daleks” to watch “Resurrection,” but it can’t hurt, especially as it is the war which takes place in the second appearance, “Destiny,” which leads to the crisis faced by Davros in the third (although the specifics of said crisis have their beginnings off camera between “Destiny” and “Resurrection”).

Davison may not have been the Doctor for very long (a mere three seasons plus the odd special… and “Time Crash” is an odd special), but his appearance here with Davros is exceptionally notable.  It isn’t just that the end of the episode features (this would kind of be a spoiler, but we are talking about an episode of a television series from 1984) the departure of a companion.  No, “Resurrection of the Daleks” shows us the start of a major fight between groups of Daleks.  Plus, if I can say this without sounding too much like an Anglophile, it’s a cracking good storyline.

“Resurrection”  features the unfreezing of Davros by the Daleks and humans working with them in order to stop a virus plaguing Davros’ creation.  Naturally, the Doctor is drawn into the goings-on and attempts to sort everything out but nearly loses his life in the attempt.

If that makes it sound relatively typical, I’ve done the two episodes which make up the story a disservice – it is a tense affair with, perhaps unusually for Doctor Who, a lot of gunplay and death (there is a debate in the special features about whether it is overly violent).  Davison is in top form though as a relatively upset/worried/angry Doctor despite his seemingly relaxed cricket outfit.  It is great from start to finish and well worth seeing for any fan of the series.

The new “Special Edition” release of “Resurrection” contains the usual set of extensive features of Doctor Who DVD releases.  There are behind the scenes pieces, bits of talk shows, audio commentaries, revisiting of filming locations, a talk with actors who played roles in the story, and extended/deleted scenes just to give an idea.  For my money though, the top two things included are an alternate four-part version of the storyline (it was originally filmed as a four-parter but due to broadcast schedules became two longer episodes rather than four standard ones) and a nearly hour-long piece narrated by David Tennant about Davison’s time as the Doctor.  This featurette not only discusses Davison in and leaving the role, but also what was taking place in and around the entire production at the time.  It is terribly informative and well done.  All in all, the features are extensive, interesting, and worth one’s time.

Fans of Doctor Who all of their own favorite characters (be they good or evil), stories, and moments in the series.  For me though, it doesn’t get much better than Davros and “Resurrection of the Daleks” features the evil mastermind in top form.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.