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On First View: Revelation of the Daleks

Guest contributor Antti Björklund continues the series offering a first time view on a Classic story.

revelation-of-the-daleks-dvd-art

In Doctor Who Magazine’s The Mighty 200 poll in 2009, Revelation of the Daleks was voted as the 46th most liked story, one place higher than The Time Warrior and two places lower than The Dalek Invasion of Earth. In the 2014 poll it was voted 70th.

In case there are readers for whom this is the first article of this series they read, here is a reminder about what this series is about: in this series, I will try and evaluate exactly how good the episodes I have not seen before, or have seen only a couple of times, are from the viewpoint of someone watching the episodes for the first time. I will try and make note what are the episode’s strengths and weaknesses.

Revelation of the Daleks is the season finale of Season 22. After this story the show was put on an 18-month hiatus. The following season would be the swansong of Colin Baker as the Doctor, although this wasn’t known at the time.

The Characters

At the time of the broadcast of this story, Colin Baker had been appearing in the role of the Doctor for a little over a season, having made his first (albeit brief) appearance in the previous season’s penultimate story The Caves of Androzani; after which he appeared in that season’s final story.

Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown accompanies Baker’s Sixth Doctor. She is an American College student portrayed by Nicola Bryant, and was also a companion to the Fifth Doctor from Planet of Fire until the Doctor’s regeneration in The Caves of Androzani.

The Doctor

colin-baker-revelationThe Doctor is a double-edged sword, so to speak. At times he can be quite strict or even mean, but at other times he can crack a joke. An example of the latter is in part one of the story, when the Doctor jokes to Peri that “America doesn’t have a monopoly on bad taste”, referring to the name of the place they are going to visit, Tranquil Repose.

Colin Baker’s Doctor isn’t, to me, as bad as his reputation among the fans seems to suggest. Sure, he brandishes a gun in Revelation of the Daleks’ final moments, but he is also kind and caring. The differences shown in the story of this incarnation’s differences from his previous incarnation may be down to his rather delirious regeneration.

The Companion

peri-revelationPeri in Revelation of the Daleks is rather different from what she was in The Caves of Androzani. Whereas in the earlier story Peri was a screamer and a standard “damsel in distress” type, in Revelation of the Daleks she shows a whole different side to herself. Peri in this story is compassionate and kind, which is evident in the scenes where she clearly is worried about the Doctor and whether he survives. Her backstory of being an American student of botany is referenced a couple of times, but takes no major part in the story.

The Monsters and Villains

davros-revelationThe villain of the story is Davros, creator of the Daleks, and the monsters of the story are therefore the Daleks.

Based on part one alone, Davros doesn’t seem to be doing anything else other than plotting in the shadows and begging for more money to conduct his experiments. He seems to be a shadow of his Genesis self, which in part is attributable to him being only a head on a life-supporting machine. However, it is revealed that his experimentations are done to expand the Dalek power by creating Daleks out of other, non-Kaled, beings.

However, being Davros, this turns out to be a ruse in part two. In this part the full horrors of Davros’ experimentations come to light, as it is discovered that he has used the bodies of the people at Tranquil Repose to not only create new Daleks, but also to create a source of food that could be sold to provide funds for his experimentations. He also can be seen as having gained a sense of humor. This is especially clear in a scene where he is asked if people knew what they had been eating and he replies with a line along the lines of “of course not, that would cause what I believe to be known as… consumer resistance.

The Daleks in this story seem, at least at first, to be only as servants to Davros. However, this too turns out to be a ruse as one faction turns against Davros and appear to start a Dalek Civil War.

The Overall Story

Revelation-of-the-DaleksSeason 22 is, I’ve come to understand, not very liked among the fandom. But if you look at it from a non-linear, non-subjective point of view, it’s more like a big ball of moderny-woderny story-wory type of season. The stories are 45 minutes in length, as opposed to the standard 25 minutes of other seasons, the stories were two or three parts in length and the season was 13 episodes long. All of these aspects are familiar to viewers familiar with the post-2005 Doctor Who, which in my opinion makes this season easy to introduce to a first-time viewer.

Apart from the production similarities in the story, there are multiple other points in the story that also make this story easy to introduce to a first-time viewer. The first of these is the character of Mr. Jobel. He is played by Clive Swift, who to New Who viewers is more familiar as Mr. Copper the historian from Voyage of the Damned. The second is the fact that in this story Davros loses his other hand, and as can be seen in the Series four two-part finale, Davros has procured a metal artificial hand instead. Graeme Harper, who has also directed many post-2005 episodes of the show, directs the story. It features Trevor Cooper, who was announced a while back to be appearing in Mark Gatiss’ episode in Series 8.

As for the story itself, it is a slow starter. Practically all of the main action happens in part two. This, however, isn’t necessarily all that bad, as it does give some room for character moments, especially between Peri and the Doctor. However, if a slow starter isn’t your thing, this story might be a hard view for you.

There are some, shall we say, weird things in Revelation of the Daleks. The biggest one, for me, is the part of the DJ on Tranquil Repose. Although his role in the facility is somewhat explained in the story, the acting from the person cast in the role seemed rather weird to me. When he first appeared, my reaction was something along the lines of “what the…”

The scene at the end of part one, in which the Doctor contemplates his own death and arriving at a place at a point in time after his own demise, strongly resembles similar musings made by the Doctor in The Name of the Doctor.

The story has clearly taken some ideas from the works of Shakespeare, as is evident by the high amount of people dead at the end and also from some of the character names, such as Oberon and Orcini, although to be fair the first of these isn’t really a character but the name of a Order that is mentioned in the story.

All in all, Revelation of the Daleks has some sets that are quite close to the show’s post-2005 sets in quality. The acting, especially from the main two, is quite good – except for some minor bits in some scenes, when the acting seems more like over-acting. The story starts slowly, but reaches a satisfying conclusion. The monsters and villains may seem to be bland, but by the end of the story they have really delivered.

Next time: Battlefield

Step back in time...

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38 comments
Type40Charlie
Type40Charlie

I think Capaldi's intro should be a darker blue version of series 7 part b theme.

RomseyKeith
RomseyKeith

I remember going to walk on cold autumn morning at a new site and thinking 'this place looks familiar'. It wasn't until I watched Revelation of the Daleks for the umpteenth time that I realised why. I was working at Tranquil Repose. IBM, North Harbour in Portsmouth was the site used for the external shots (where the Imperial Dalek glides past Peri as she's walking down a ramp, etc.)

I really enjoyed this episode. It had a macabre sense of humour to it. The Great Healer is was a great monicre for Davros who is curing world hunger. I also like Clive Swift's womaniser Jobel. Alexei Sayle was superbly over-the-top and cras as the DJ (at the time he'd already done 2 seasons of The Young Ones).

TheOncomingStorm
TheOncomingStorm

Interesting article. (It's viewpoint, not point of view by the way.)

Thewarrioroftime
Thewarrioroftime

ummmmmmm i hate the sixth doctor  but i will watch this only because of the daleks 

MeglosProductions
MeglosProductions

Another great review. I agree that Revelation starts off a bit slow and episode 1 was unspectacular as a result. But it didn't matter because episode 2 was just MASTERFUL. Perfection. 8/10. As for Season 22, it was a bit unspectacular but it also had some good stories like Revelation and Vengeance On Varos (Colin's best story, even if the first part was a bit slow) and The Two Doctors was........OK, I guess. Mark Of The Rani was also not THAT bad. However, we also had some TERRIBLE stories like The Twin Dilemma and Timelash (Which is the worst story of all time in my opinion)

IanOTimelord
IanOTimelord

Revelation is one of my favorite stories and Dalek stories. Elenor Bron was superb as Kara. I remember watching it when it was first broadcast and the shock I got when the Skaro Daleks turned up. The 6th Doctor and Davros were a good match for each other, a shame those tow never got more scenes together on TV, at least Big Finish has made up for this.

As for season 22, I enjoyed it, though the thing that annoyed me was the Doctor and Peri bickering all the time.

CraigBull
CraigBull

Love Revelation of the Daleks! Quite creepy....and I really like Colin Baker, too  :)

Liana21
Liana21

Actually, I like Revelation.

it's one of those stories that of pure bizarreness finish being beautiful. The story has his ineresting point, the face off between Daleks who are loyals to Davros and Daleks who aren't is a concept that I'd like to see on the new series.

I like the DJ, he's a funny guy (Am I the only one who's noticed that he greets Peri with the same song that Jack dances with Rose in The Empty Child?)

The Doctor and Peri have a great connection in this serial, the first scene on the lake is so funny.

I give him an 7.50-8/10

And Antti, I love that you're going in order. Looking forward Battlefield, I watch it couple days ago.

KingoftheOod4450
KingoftheOod4450

Thing with this - as with most of Colin Baker's (and in my opinion, Davison's) era, is that it's filled with brilliant ideas. There's the standard Doctor Who tropes with added zest. Here, Daleks have been split into factions and behind a very mysterious facility - a massive change from the repetitive The Daleks/Planet of the Daleks/Death to the Daleks format which was a dull use of the machines. The problem is that a great scene/sequence will be followed by a poor one.


For example, the Doctor's death monument is a great idea, but doesn't really service the plot (and looks flimsy when it tries to crush him). The DJ is a great idea, but the execution is really poor. Dalek's don't believe Davros when he points out the Doctor just because he looks different? Come on.


But for me, Season 22 was an experimental success. Though 23 had some highlights, 22 was better overall, and certainly better than 24. If the strangling thing had never happened and Michael Grade wasn't a plonker, Colin Baker may well have had his desired 7 years in the role, because he's superb, especially here. It's just a shame that around him, a lot of the acting is inconsistent. That being said, this is a very dark serial that covers plenty of serious material, which might have left a few of the actors out of depth.


Still, a highlight of the Colin Baker era, no doubt. You can't watch this without getting goosebumps as "The Great Healer" gets teased in Part One.

SonicTheHedgehogRules
SonicTheHedgehogRules

Ah, Revelation of the Daleks, my personal favourite story for my absolute favourite Doctor.

This story has really dark under tones, and I absolutely love that kind of stuff. Humans getting turned into a new breed of Daleks is a new form of twisted evil from Davros. Davros, of course, is at his best here in the entire show. Also my favourite villan, Davros interacts best with this specific incarnation, which is made even better with the Big Finish audio Davros. 2 men of science with equal intelect, but with different moral compasses leads to a great story. The development of the Dalek Civil War also continues off here really well, with the introduction of the Necros Daleks, or proto Imperials if you prefer. Loyal to Davros from creation, it gives a much more interesting dynamic than having Daleks going around as one sole species, sticking 2 factions into the story really mixes well, and changes the formula. Also, the cheesey radio DJ steals the show. He's hilarious! Quick note, I ADORE the music in this story, it's dark and atmospheric, just like the story is! Good thing it's on Youtube, it's a brilliant soundtrack.

All in all, 9/10 from me. Pure excellence, start to finish.

TheSoundofDrums
TheSoundofDrums

Great article by the way Antti. Keep up the fantastic work :)

TheSoundofDrums
TheSoundofDrums

Revelation of the Daleks has been one of my favourite Dalek stories, if not my favourite, since I was a young kid. It just has such a dark and gothic vibe to it and it comes across as totally sinister. The idea of humans being used in experimentation and horrifically mutated to become monsters of mass destruction is just disturbing and really came across to show off the tone of the plot at hand. Davros had truly become an insane mad-man, a fallen shadow of his former Kaled self as seen within Genesis of the Daleks. He was insane back then but now he deemed himself a king of his own little world with ambitions of becoming the master of the universe. His dialogue to Tasambeker always gives me the chills, an example of how dark he had become. The start of the Dalek civil war was always my favourite part of the story and SPOILER ALERT Davros's capture at the end is just groundbreaking and such a memorable scene in the shows history. The darkest part of the story is that Davros had the Sixth Doctor where he wanted him and nearly defeated the Time Lord once and for all. Those brief scenes where the two characters interacted showed a clear sign of respect and how much one despised the other, a true indication of how far their dark relationship had developed over time. Overall it's just a masterpiece in my eyes and a true example of a great Dalek story and how brilliant Colin Baker was at the role.

The Mind Probe
The Mind Probe

There are few people who would disagree that this is the best Colin Baker story, and I'd put it in the top 5 of the 80s.

Salyavin
Salyavin

Alexei Sayle, typically bonkers and way over the top, he was always quite nuts with all his characters during the eighties, just check him out in The Young One's for another example. Great Article  :)













The Genie
The Genie

Revelation remains my favourite Colin Baker story... not least because it epitomises everything that defines his era (in all the best ways).  Grotesque experimentation, thought-provoking social concepts, blurred lines between life/death, genetics, the Doctor pretending to be grumpy about things (bless) and startling contrasts between cheesy interstellar DJs and Daleks... the most evil creatures the universe has ever produced.


Revelation really is Who at its best... or at the least, Who at its very darkest. 

Ivegotnewkidneys on the 23rd
Ivegotnewkidneys on the 23rd

Judging from what I've heard this now top of my list of classic stories I need to see also is the first part of this story a doctor lite?

Antee991166
Antee991166

This story has grown on me over time, to the point that it is probably my favourite 6th Doctor story. By the end of his 1st season he had definitely calmed down into a far more loveable Doctor. The writing, directing and characters are very stylized giving the story many memorable moments. The glass Dalek scene is one of my favourite DW scenes ever! I believe the DJ was played by a comedian at the time called Alexei Sayle, so he wasn't meant to be entirely serious, although in hindsight maybe his character could have been better thought out. Great review again, looking forward to the Seventh Era!

TheBiPunishment
TheBiPunishment

Great analysis, but I find this episode to feel a little lacking in places. Davros in the classic series just got worse as he went along, becoming more of a gibbering idiot and less of the subtle mastermind he once was. The DJ is awful, as is Tassambeker. But Six and Peri are good, if not brilliant, and Orcini is an interesting villain. There are some pleasantly dark concepts, but sometimes the execution falls flat. 7/10


Muxerman
Muxerman

 Revelation of the Daleks is easily one of the best Dalek stories I've ever watched. It's a shame its so underrated and overlooked.

Moxx
Moxx

Great analysis, Antti - Revelation certainly isn't for the faint-hearted! The reveal of Stengos's head was particularly horrifying. Would they allow that sort of terror these days? I'm not sure if the fear of New Who is quite in the same league.

Oddly enough, I happen to be listening to Calvin Harris's Acceptable In The 80s right now... Which seems remarkably appropriate!

MaraBackman
MaraBackman

"But if you look at it from a non-linear, non-subjective point of view, it’s more like a big ball of moderny-woderny story-wory type of season."

x'D Smashing!

supermoff
supermoff

Great article ;) Always loved how dark this one was. 

IanOTimelord
IanOTimelord

@KingoftheOod4450 Actually when the Daleks don't recognisethe Doctor I thought that was brilliant. Take Power of the Daleks, the Dalek know who the 2nd Doctor is, how? And in the Day of the Daleks they use the mind probe to identify him.

floppy_who
floppy_who

"Revolutionary biscuits of Italy, rise up out of your box, you have nothing to lose but your wafers, yum yum yum yum yum."

The Young Ones and Doctor Who have other things in common ( other than Alexei Sayle)

- a lot of location work for the Young Ones was filmed in Bristol

- Christopher Ryan (Kiv in the 6th Doctor Story "MindWarp" and General Staal)

- Damaris Hayman ("Do you dig graves?")

Who doesn't have any biscuits named after Italian revolutionaries, but it has Jammie Dodgers.

Antee991166
Antee991166

@The Genie  It is definitely one of the darkest stories, but it doesn't go completely over the top with it like Vengeance on Varos for example (still a good story).

The Finn
The Finn

@Ivegotkidneys To a certain extent yes, I'd say the first part is Doc-lite, with the story more focusing on events inside Tranquile Repose.

Antee991166
Antee991166

@Ivegotkidneys  The Doctor and Peri do appear in the first part, but they don't directly interact with any of the other characters.

The Finn
The Finn

@TheBiPunishment Agreed, at least on the DJ. Were the writers smoking Rakweed or what when they came up with that character? XD

TheBiPunishment
TheBiPunishment

*Character, not villain. Damn you Livefyre and your lack of a proper edit feature!

Liana21
Liana21

I suppose it's about the TV movie

The Finn
The Finn

@Liana21 No, I'm stopping with the Seventh Doctor. The TVM is about the Eighth Doctor.