Do you remember the Zygon gambit with the Loch Ness Monster? Or the Yeti in the Underground? Your species has an amazing capacity for self-deception.
The Seventh Doctor
The Doctor and Ace are back in 1963, where the Daleks are on the hunt for some Time Lord technology that the Doctor left on Earth which would allow them to perfect their ability to time travel.
Remembrance of the Daleks stands out as one of the best examples of late 1980s Doctor Who, and one of the best Dalek stories in the show’s history. I think this really should have been the show’s 25th-anniversary special, rather than Silver Nemesis and in my head, it really is. After all, it does go back to where the show started, albeit with an infamous mistake on that blue door to the scrapyard. Remembrance wraps up a kind of informal 1980s trilogy and is symbolic of a kind of swagger reminiscent of moments in the Tom Baker era and is one of the stories that I would regard as almost being like a comfort blanket.
Those who have read my Time and the Rani review will not be surprised to hear me compliment the work of the director, Andrew Morgan, who returns here with a much stronger story to back him up. Morgan really makes the Daleks feel threatening again, right from their first action in the story, with the sole Dalek in the scrapyard. The gleaming Daleks feel at their most powerful in a long time, especially the gleaming white and gold Imperial Daleks. The direction really helps scenes like the cliffhanger at the end of episode one, with the Dalek flying up the stairs towards the trapped Doctor, which really stand out and make this story memorable. There are other examples, like the scene in which Ace attacks a Dalek in the classroom and the final scenes of the Daleks battling each other in the streets of Shoreditch which are really nicely directed. Even elements like the girl being used by the Daleks, which could and have not worked well in the past work well here, with the girl being really quite creepy.
Every great decision creates ripples, like a huge boulder dropped in a lake. The ripples merge, rebound off the banks in unforeseeable ways. The heavier the decision, the larger the waves, the more uncertain the consequences.
The Seventh Doctor
Ben Aaronovitch’s story is also top-notch. His writing seems so effortlessly good that, despite this being his debut story, it feels like he is a veteran of writing for Doctor Who. Maybe this is why the story seems to have recovered some of the feeling of unassailable swagger that it had in the early years of the John Nathan-Turner years. It cannot be easy to write a story like this, bringing in the Doctor’s most famous adversaries and their creator, while weaving in nods to the show’s history but it is done so well here. The story has the confidence to save the reveal of Davros until the very end, which is really the mark of a show that has a strong belief that it has a long and bright future, when in hindsight, we know that the reality was that the sharks were circling in the light of reducing viewing figures and increasingly waining faith in the show by the high ups at the BBC. That isn’t the impression this story gives especially when, in the closing moments, we see Davros escaping, clearly to fight the Doctor once again. A show resigned to its fate would likely give us a final end for either one of them, but this is something different. It could be labelled as the show being in denial, but I can imagine that this story gave fans cause for optimism. The story also seamlessly drops in contextual elements like racism and fascism and deals with these succinctly too.
The whole cast give a fantastic account of them too, and it is doing her no disservice to say that Ace rules this episode. From her scenes of beating up a Dalek with a baseball bat to her reaction when it is revealed that Mike is a traitor, Aldred pitches it perfectly and cements Ace as a fantastic companion. McCoy gives his best performance to date as the Doctor, especially in the scene in the café and when Terry Molloy’s Davros finally unveils himself to the Doctor on the screen. Meanwhile, the guest cast that we spend the most time with are likeable enough and it is clear to see why Big Finish would see the potential for a spin-off with these characters.
Verdict: I think it’s pretty clear I adore this story. 10/10
Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Simon Williams (Gilmour), Dursley McLinden (Mike), Pamela Salem (Rachel), Karen Gledhill (Allison), George Sewell (Ratcliffe), Michael Sheard (Headmaster), Harry Fowler (Harry), Jasmine Breaks (The Girl), Peter Hamilton Dyer (Embery), Hugh Spight, John Scott Martin, Tony Starr & Cy Town (Dalek Operators), Roy Skelton, John Leeson, Royce Mills & Brian Miller (Voices), Peter Halliday (Vicar), Joseph Marcell (John), William Thomas (Martin), Derek Keller (Kaufman), Terry Molloy (Davros) and Hugh Spight (Black Dalek Operator)
Writer: Ben Aaronovitch
Director: Andrew Morgan
Behind the Scenes
- This is a story of several firsts. It is the first time we see the skeleton effect used when someone is shot with Dalek weaponry, and famously the first time we see a Dalek fly up the stairs. Daleks had previously been seen to fly in Revelation of the Daleks and levitate in The Chase.
- This is the first story of the 25th anniversary series of Doctor Who, and the first to show the Seventh Doctor as more of a Machiavellian schemer, a trait which would remain until the end of his era.
- There are hints of the Doctor’s secret past on Gallifrey which would continue to be delved into in the later seasons of the Classic era.
- The final appearance of the Daleks and Davros in the original television series. The Daleks would reappear in Dalek and Davros in The Stolen Earth in the revived television series.
- The end of the serial shows the destruction of the Dalek’s home planet of Skaro. However, Skaro would be seen in the TV Movie, Asylum of the Daleks, The Magician’s Apprentice, The Witch’s Familiar and the adventure game City of the Daleks. John Peel proposed a story called War of the Daleks, which saw Skaro saved from destruction, which was adapted into an Eighth Doctor Adventures novel, showing that Antalin was used as a decoy and accordingly, destroyed instead of Skaro.
- Russell T Davies stated that he considered the destruction of Skaro, along with the events of Genesis of the Daleks to be the origins of the Time War.
- The story marks the final appearances of Michael Sheard and Peter Halliday.
- The Counter Measures group would be picked for a spin-off produced by Big Finish Productions.
- William Thomas would go on to be the first actor to play a role in the original run and the revived run of Doctor Who, appearing in Boom Town. He would then play Gwen’s father, Geraint, in Torchwood.
This is one of my favourite stories of the classic era, so there are too many to count. I think it is probably a draw between the scene with Ace destroying the Dalek with her baseball bat and the cliffhanger at the end of part one.
Although I do enjoy the brief moment where the Doctor picks up the Hand of Omega in funeral directors and the ‘coffin’ levitates out after him.
The Daleks shall become Lords of Time. We shall become all…
Powerful. Crush the lesser races. Conquer the galaxy. Unimaginable power. Unlimited rice pudding, et cetera, et cetera.
Davros and the Seventh Doctor