Saturday, August 22, 2015

Resurrection of the Daleks - "I can't stand the confusion in my mind!"

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Resurrection of the Daleks - Details

Season 21, Story 4 (Overall Series Story #134) | Previous - Next | Index

Made of Explodium
It's the fifth Doctor's Dalek story and the one where Tegan actually, finally, leaves. I guess we can also call it the first Lytton story, but, like Sabalom Glitz and Sil later, he's a recurring (non-companion) character that I think the producers thought we liked more than we did. That these minor baddies were deemed worthy of returns is, unfortunately, more an indication of how having any sort of how easy it was to seem remarkable in the context of how much of the time the show had become tedious. There's a little something to each of those recurring characters ... just not as much we probably thought at the time.

So, look, about Tegan ... Janet Fielding is lovely, but she was playing a character who was designed to be a complainer, and a source of conflict in the TARDIS. Was the desire to introduce some conflict understandable? Sure, but there was already Adric, andTurlough, so we really had quite enough difficult-to-like characters; Tegan worked with Nyssa, but not with any of the other companions.

Tegan's departing comments, as is frequently remarked, are rather too easy to hear as the voice of the fans. "It's stopped being fun, Doctor. Goodbye." It's worth asking, who is the show fun for, at this point, and going forward. Who's meant to enjoy it? And who actually does?  There are certain moments, some new ideas, the occasional performance by Colin or Sylvester in this scene or that, which give us something to cling to, to say, yes, maybe this can be "my Doctor Who" again. But that feeling never lasts, not for me. It's battered by abysmal writing and shoddy production. Or, put another way: questionable ends, and usually the wrong means to achieve any end.

It's several weeks since I watched this one. This has happened a few times in the course of this blogging project: I've watched a ton of stories in the space of a couple days, then, work and family life get busy, it's hard to motivate myself to spend the little time I have writing about a story I'm not particularly inclined to make a case for, but don't want merely rant against either, so it gets back-burnered. Something else catches my eye and when I've got a few hours, I find myself trying to catch up on another show -- Mr. Robot, this time -- and before you know it a month's passed, and the DVD that came from Netflix is fucking "Timelash."

But, we're doing this. Can mix in some of the older stories still not written about, and jump ahead to nu-Who so it's not an unrelenting slog through the stories of seasons 22 to 26 that I haven't covered yet.


  • One way to make a game of this one is to tally the onscreen deaths. Just don't try to make a drinking game out of it. You'll be wrecked.
  • Was the world really crying out for a Dalek story that picked up the thread from "Destiny of the Daleks"?
  • There are times it's really hard to tell if we're watching action set aboard a spaceship or in someone's home office they furnished with desks and chairs picked up on the cheap from various scratch-and-dent sales.
  • Rodney Bewes as Stien is ... a puzzle. Is that a stutter he's attempting? Still, he delivers the line of the story, for better or worse.
  • The opening sequence is actually rather professionally done. If the rest of thing had lived up to it, we might remember this one more fondly.
  • For what it's worth, there's at least some diversity in the casting. It's always good to see evidence that we shouldn't have to expect, as a baseline, that all humanoids that aren't some day-glo color will be white by default. 

Additional Resources:

Wikipedia transcript
Sandifer post
Saward is writing a critique of violent storytelling, but he has a very muddy sense of where the line is. To constantly push the line as setup to a big about face and moral point requires a meticulous sense of what that line is. And Saward doesn’t have it. He enjoys giggling like a schoolboy at the violence of it all too much. The dead giveaway is the opening, with its “evil cops” routine that’s a blatant homage to the Terror of the Autons scene with the Auton police officers that proved controversial. He’s got a critique of violence going here, but he can’t keep from, in places, engaging in exactly what he’s trying to critique. 
Still, it’s easy to like this story - considerably easier than people would have you believe, in fact. In context it’s far from, as Miles would have it, cheap and lightweight. It’s an attempt at a great story, and while it falls short, that’s worth something. In an era where the program has had trouble when striving for mediocrity at times, in fact, it’s worth a great deal.
Shabogan Graffiti
Resurrection of the Daleks
A gauche, gallumphing orgy of wrongness. Painful, wannabe-butch (i.e. camp) dialogue. Several different plots fight each other mindlessly for supremacy, slaughtering each other's protagonists... until nothing is left but a mess, with fragments of aborted narratives and the torn bits and pieces of lots of cardboard characters littering the floor.
Sue: I like the Dalek hats. It’s a good way for the Daleks to maintain strong brand awareness when they are out conquering the universe.
AV Club review
... I have a kinder opinion of “Resurrection Of The Daleks” than Saward himself does: He once called it “the worst Doctor Who story ever written.” To my mind, it’s not even the second-worst of its season, considering that it shared the year with “Warriors Of The Deep” and “The Twin Dilemma,” two terrible stories that each did real damage to the viability of Doctor Who as an ongoing series. The flaws here are not so mortal, not that it makes it any easier to watch.
TV Tropes page
The Locations Guide

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