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Recap / Doctor Who S22 E6 "Revelation of the Daleks"

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"Once I have destroyed the Doctor, and his preposterous coat, I will be unstoppable! The universe will fall to the supreme might of the Daleks!"

The Doctor: But did you bother to tell anyone that they might be eating their own relatives?
Davros: Certainly not! That would have created what I believe is termed... "consumer resistance".
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The one where Davros starts taking notes from Emperor Palpatine, and the Doctor gets cut off mid-sentence by the end credits. Followed by a hiatus thanks to also being the one where a certain sod drew the line.

Written by Eric Saward. This two-episode serial first aired from March 23—30, 1985.


The TARDIS lands this week on the rather snow-covered planet of Necros, literally a graveyard planet for the universe, to pay respect to the late agronomist Arthur Stengos. The Doctor is wearing a blue overcoat, which looks quite neat and not eye-killing bad. It's also apparently the local colour of mourning, if only because nobody anywhere in the universe would think his usual technicolour nightmare suitable for that purpose. He makes Peri wear a blue overcoat as well. While the Doctor and Peri bumble around outside for the vast majority of the first episode, we are introduced to a plethora of characters running the main offices of Necros — a place called Tranquil Repose. Here, the dead are buried and the near-dead are placed into suspended animation. They're entertained by a radio DJ with a fake American accent who randomly dresses up as musicians in the eras between the 1950s and 1980s.

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The Doctor and Peri continue to meander through the snow, and Peri finds some neat-looking flowers that the Doctor compares to a soybean... and then the Doctor is savagely attacked by a completely random mutant, who he defeats in seconds. As it turns out, the radio DJ is watching them in a life-and-death struggle and broadcasts to the citizens of Tranquil Repose. In fact, for some reason, white Daleks are trundling around the resort for the dead, serving the severed head of Davros! So, of course, Davros takes this pretty well and demands that... people deal with the intruders who just invaded the lower catacombs of the building.

And then those intruders, Natasha and Grigory, come across the remains of the Natasha's father, Arthur Stengos, who is being rebuilt into a Dalek, with a clear casing for once. This explains where those white Daleks who are apparently loyal to Davros come from. Natasha had suspected something strange when Arthur, uncharacteristically, requested to have himself placed in suspended animation. The intruders then blow him up to put him out of his misery.

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In any case, the mutant tells the Doctor and Peri about this guy known as "the Great Healer", who apparently made him this way. Then he dies. So now the Doctor and Peri are going to go see this Great Healer and talk to him... if they can actually find the place. They do find a lovely statuary, filled with memorial statues for every person who's been laid to rest there... including the Doctor? As the Doctor nears the statue, it topples over, falling onto him.

As it turns out, the Doctor was not crushed by the falling stack of polystyrene. Finally breaking into the building known as Tranquil Repose, Peri and the Doctor quickly find themselves stuck in the middle of about 5 running plot threads — involving not just Davros, but also the mercenary Orcini note , a group of grey Daleks, the fact that Davros is making Soylent Green, and a romantic subplot that ends with an asshole being killed by the woman who pined for him. Needless to say, the Doctor and poor Peri are quickly captured and are still royally confused while Davros exposits about how awesome he is. Luckily, Peri escapes and stumbles across the DJ, who is currently fighting off Daleks with a gun that fires compressed rock and roll. And then the DJ dies.

So, the Doctor and Orcini escape from Davros — blowing off Davros' hand in the process. Peri meets up with the pair, but not before Orcini decides to stay behind and blow up the entire Soylent Green factory and Dalek-making facilities instead. The remaining surviving orderlies of Tranquil Repose wind up escaping the resulting explosion, Davros is captured by the traditional gray Daleks who then take him off to a trial where he will most certainly be exterminated, and the Doctor suggests that the people make Soylent Green out of those flowers that Peri found earlier rather than people.

Peri whines that this wasn't exactly a restful location to be, and objects to a few ideas from the Doctor. So, the Doctor smiles at Peri and offers to take her to—

WOOOOOOOOOSH!


We never really got to find out where the Doctor was going to take Peri onscreen, actually. It was supposed to be Blackpool, and the Doctor finishing his sentence would've opened up the next serial, but instead their very next adventure was into an 18-month long break that nearly cancelled the series. The fans, and the production team, had a royal fuss over the whole ordeal, to the point where record producer Ian Levine (who previously contributed to the recovery of a great number of missing episodes) gathered together members of the show's cast to record the charity single "Doctor in Distress".

The originally planned story, "The Nightmare Fair", would have seen the return of the Celestial Toymaker, who this time would've developed a fondness for video games. Some of the lost stories were put into storage by their writers, while others, not more than sketches or ideas, were completely lost. However, three of the lost stories were turned into novelisations courtesy of Target Books (The Nightmare Fair, Mission to Magnus and The Ultimate Evil). Big Finish have also adapted these, along with a number of proposals that were considered for the lost 1986 season (and some for the 1985 season), as full-cast audio adventures (they also delight in making snarky references to Blackpool at every opportunity).

This story marked the final appearance of Peter Howell's arrangement of the Doctor Who theme which had been in use for the past five seasons since "The Leisure Hive". When the show returned from its hiatus, it would be with a new arrangement of the theme by Dominic Glynn.

This was also the final serial in the 45-minute episode format of the classic Doctor Who series. This format wouldn't return to the series until the revival in 2005, with the first episode. The show came back in its original 25-minute format, treading lightly in the wake of a controller who thought the show wasn't up to par anymore. There would be no more no more cinematic outdoor filming, the whole series would be now fully videotaped both in-studio and on-location, and BBC reduced the episode count by season to just 14 episodes.

When Doctor Who finally returned in 1986, the show and the Doctor would be on trial... in more ways than one...


Tropes:

  • An Arm and a Leg: Bostock shoots off Davros's one good hand in an attempt to deprive him of his newfound ability to shoot lightning from it. While it's very painful for Davros, he's still able to zap people with his third eye.
  • Anti-Hero: Pretty much everyone who isn't a villain.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: The Doctor shoots a Dalek with a machine gun.
  • Black Comedy: One of the most famous examples in Doctor Who, being set in a funeral home and featuring a number of quips about death, decay, and cannibalism.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: This is one of the bloodiest serials of the Sixth Doctor's era, which says a lot.
  • Brainwashed: Professor Stengos is partway through this when his daughter happens across him. When he starts ranting like a Dalek, he begs to be put out of his misery.
  • Body Horror: The Daleks made from human remains. Also gets a memorable and very disturbing cross with a Funny Momentinvoked in Davros' "consumer resistance" line.
  • Brain in a Jar: What Davros has apparently been reduced to. As it turns out however, it's just a decoy for the very much intact Davros.
  • Canon Immigrant: The Glass Dalek, which first appeared as the leader of the Daleks in the novelization of the original "The Daleks".
  • Character Development: Although the Doctor and Peri still bicker throughout this serial, it's clear that the Doctor is beginning to show his soft side to her. In a tender moment after he rescues her from a Dalek, the Doctor asks Peri if she's alright and then sincerely apologizes about the DJ's death. He also has an earnest conversation with Orcini as he dies, and makes sure Tranquil Repose will be put to good use before he and Peri depart.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The weed flower that Peri finds turns out to be the solution to the protein problem.
  • Crapsack World: Necros is a not-very-nice place populated mostly by not-very-nice people. It kind of says something that Davros — as in, 'creator of the Daleks' Davros — isn't even the most unlikeable person there.
  • Cryonics Failure: Albeit mainly because Davros plundered the vaults for material to be used either to make Daleks or food.
  • The Corpse Stops Here: Hey, it's a giant graveyard planet.
  • Darker and Edgier: Even by the normal standards of the Eric Saward era, this serial is particularly nasty and violent, with characters dying brutally, and cannibalism and corpses being used for experiment being a central point of the plot. The fact that the Doctor spends most of the plot simply walking around the planet doing absolutely nothing does not help.
  • Dodgy Toupee: Mr. Jobel, the sleazy head embalmer of a funeral home planet. As he dies, he falls onto his back and his toupee falls open like a clam shell.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Despite knowing that it would likely lead to his own death, Bostock attempts to kill Davros, but only manages to shoot off his hand, after which he was quickly exterminated by a nearby Dalek. This would eventually force Davros to get a prosthetic replacement, seen onscreen for the first time in "The Stolen Earth".
  • Electric Torture: Davros uses it on Orcini.
  • End of an Era: This story, the last for 18 months, marked the end of some long-running (and not-so-long-running) aspects of Doctor Who:
    • This was the last story to shoot on Video Inside, Film Outside, which Doctor Who had been doing ever since its first ever location filming in "The Reign of Terror". Almost every story with location filming since had shot its outdoor scenes on film, but from the following story onwards all outside filming would be done on Outside Broadcast Video instead.note 
    • This story was the last to use the Peter Howell arrangement of the Doctor Who theme which had been in used since "The Leisure Hive", spanning five seasons: Tom Baker's last season, the entire Peter Davison era and Colin Baker's first season. After this story, it would be replaced by a new arrangement by Dominic Glynn, although no visual change was made to the opening and closing credits.
    • This was the last story in the classic era to consist of 45-minute episodes. This format had only been used on a permanent basis as the start of the season, having previously been used out of necessity for "Resurrection of the Daleks" the previous season. Who would revert to 25-minute episodes from Season 23 for the remainder of the Classic era, although 45-minutes would once again become the norm in New Who.
  • Evil Is Petty: Played With. It's indicated that Davros despises the DJ simply for his goofy performances. However, Davros does tolerate him, only punishing him after he assists the Doctor and Peri.
  • Expy:
    • Orcini and Bostock are clearly based on Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. They are, however, much more badass and less delusional.
    • Jobel and Tasembeker are Expies of Joyboy and Aimée from the film version of The Loved One.
    • Kara is heavily based on Servalan from Blake's 7.
    • Davros becomes an imitation of Emperor Palpatine from Return of the Jedi, being a prune-faced and hammy megalomaniac who speaks in a high pitched, scratchy voice, commands white-clad "imperial" minions, and shoots lightning out of his hand. While Davros' looks, voice, megalomania, and existence definitely predate the Star Wars franchise by a good while, his portrayal in this specific story owes a lot to Palpatine; the original trilogy was still fresh in public memory at the time (the most recent film back then— the aforementioned Return of the Jedi— hadn't even turned two yet) and was the measuring stick by which incumbent BBC controller Michael Grade was cynically analyzing Doctor Who.
  • Falsely Reformed Villain: Davros takes to calling himself the Great Healer and offering a solution to galactic famine. Thanks to this, Davros can truly call himself humanitarian. (Somewhat subverted in that Davros somehow thinks that he can remain anonymous, despite his unique appearance. The story itself does not address this.)
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Jobel and Kara are graphically stabbed.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: We get various views of hideously disfigured victims of Davros's experiments, Jobel is stabbed in the chest with a huge hypodermic syringe, and Davros' non-paralysed hand is graphically shot to pieces.
  • Fauxreigner: The DJ broadcasts an American-style radio show with an American accent, but really speaks with a British one in private conversations with Peri and when making snide comments.
  • Fingore: Davros' remaining hand gets shot off by Bostock. His severed fingers are then seen on the floor in the next scene when the Doctor kicks Bostock's gun to Orcini.
  • Foreshadowing: Many fans were obviously impressed by how much better the Doctor looked in blue in this: the Expanded Universe ended up replacing his colour-clash outfit with a much more tasteful version in various shades of blue.
  • Freeze-Frame Ending: The serial closes with the Doctor and Peri deciding to go somewhere more lighthearted after their trip to Tranquil Repose turned out to be anything but. The Doctor comes up with an idea and tells Peri that "I'll take you to—" before getting cut off by a freeze-frame into the credits. This was meant to lead into the next season's opener, "The Nightmare Fair", where he would've finished the sentence with "Blackpool," but a BBC-imposed 18-month hiatus led to the entire season being rewritten. The footage of the complete line was consequently thrown out.
  • Handicapped Badass: Orcini, who has a prosthetic leg, and Davros, who's still the same wheelchair-bound, one-armed Mad Scientist as ever, but Davros takes the cake when he gets to shoot lightning bolts from his hands and third eye.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Orcini
  • Heroic BSoD: The Doctor encounters his own grave marker in the Garden of Fond Memories and, knowing that you can't just let anyone put a memorial slab up there without express permission, briefly goes numb at the thought of permanently dying less than halfway through his regenerative cycle. It takes the slab falling on him to snap him out of it.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Orcini decides to stay behind to make Stuff Blow Up in order to destroy the factory and Davros. Unfortunately, Davros escapes just in time.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Orcini is one of the greatest assassins of the age... who would Never Hurt an Innocent and gives all the money he earns from his jobs to charities.
  • Homage: This is Eric Saward doing his absolute best to pastiche Robert Holmes, who he by this time practically hero-worshipped. Also has a great deal in common with Blake's 7, in general tone and in particular in terms of Kara being a blatant Servalan-Expy. The actual plot, about a dysfunctional mortuary, was taken from an Evelyn Waugh novel.
  • Human Popsicle: Played with. The Tranquil Repose facility contains a cryonics centre designed for the very wealthy to be frozen until the things that killed them can be reversed. Of course, Davros ends up using them either for food or for Dalek material. And even beyond that, it's very heavily implied that most of them have just been abandoned to begin with, as when the DJ sends one of the inhabitants a birthday greeting which mentions that his wife is working tirelessly to find a cure for the disease which killed him, only to cynically note to himself that they actually found a cure for his particular disease forty years previously :
    DJ: Still, it’d be interesting to know what she’s really doing with all the money..
  • Human Resources: Davros pilfers bodies from Tranquil Repose and converts them into either Daleks or a bitter foodstuff, depending on whether or not his belief in eugenics favors them; the ones he considers favorable become Daleks, to the extent where he openly offers people he likes the chance to become Daleks.
  • Hypno Pendulum: The Sixth Doctor uses a silver medallion on his fob chain to calm a Technically Living Zombie trying to kill Peri.
  • Hypocritical Humour: Hearing Kara banter with her secretary, Orcini comments to Bostrock "they're like a double act, aren’t they?".
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Grigory says, "I'm a doctor, not a magician".
  • Jerkass: Jobel — a smug, rude, pompous, arrogant, self-important, cruel, womanising creep. You know you're an asshole when even Davros wants you dead.
  • Kick the Dog: The Doctor does this, calling Peri fat and ignorant. She later retaliates by calling him "Porky".
  • Kill 'Em All: To be expected whenever the Daleks are involved. Really, the only people with any relevance to the plot who survive are the Doctor and Peri (who, if we're honest, are only peripherally relevant here), Davros and Takis and Lilt.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Kara, a self-serving corporate tycoon who only wants Davros dead because of his stranglehold on her business and immediately attempts to betray the assassins she hired when Davros realizes her involvement and brings her to him.
  • Mercy Kill: Arthur Stagnos begs Natasha to kill him to spare him the torment of becoming a Dalek.
  • Noble Demon: Orcini is a ex-member of an order of knights kicked out for nebulous reasons who, although he now ekes out a living as a ruthless mercenary, tries his hardest to keep living up to his old order's ideals of nobility and honour. It sets him up not only over most of the characters in the story but many of the similar 'hardened mercenary' characters who appeared quite a lot throughout Saward-era Doctor Who.
  • One Last Job: Orcini sees Davros as the one great kill and therefore his last.
  • Pet the Dog: The Doctor gets a touching moment where he nurses a dying mutant early in the first part. He's also the only one other than Peri who seems to care about that poor DJ
  • The Pig-Pen: Bostock.
    Orcini: [Bostock] tries to do as little as possible about his personal hygiene; for all that, he is a good squire.
  • Pinball Protagonist: Eric Saward had a habit of shoving the Sixth Doctor off to the sidelines out of personal distaste towards Colin Baker's casting, and it shows. It takes over half the story for the Doctor to even meet anyone involved in the main plot and, believe it or not, the Daleks save the day by swooping in and carrying Davros off as a prisoner. Orcini completes the job by blowing up Davros' new Dalek army, something he could have done without the Doctor's assistance, and the Doctor's sole contribution is to prevent collateral damage by helping evacuate the area first. In fact, one might even argue that the whole plot of the story would have happened the same way even without the Doctor.
  • The Power of Rock: The DJ turns his rock albums into an intense sonic beam that he blasts Daleks with.
  • Prematurely Marked Grave: The Doctor encounters a memorial in his likeness in the Garden of Fond Memories, a place honoring the dead that holds strong restrictions over putting effigies up willy-nilly, and briefly has a Heroic BSoD upon coming to the conclusion that he will permanently die in his current incarnation.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: Invoked with the DJ, who, despite being a resident of Necros, deliberately models his stage persona after American disc jockeys from the '50s and '60s out of reverence for their work.
  • Red Herring: Though Davros appears to be a mostly defenceless head in a jar for much of the story (with the viewer being expected to assume that the Movellan virus reduced him to that), Orcini realizes just a little too late that he wouldn't leave himself so vulnerable. Sure enough, the real and very much intact (well, as intact as he was last time we saw him) Davros shows up seconds later.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: "Revelation of the Daleks" was one of the last serials to be released on video because of the time it took to secure the rights to the music. The story featured a significant guest character who was a Fan of the Past, leading to the use of a number of classic songs from the '50s and '60s. Because the music is so integral to the plot and often featured characters talking over the top of it, it could not easily be replaced. Ultimately, the only track the BBC could not secure the rights to was Jimi Hendrix's "Fire" (which plays during the DJ's fight against the Daleks). This track had to be carefully digitally excised and replaced without losing the dialogue occurring over the top of it; it's still present in syndicated reruns, though.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Davros' Dalek bodyguard promptly abandons him when the regular Daleks enter the room.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies: Davros is running a funeral business which also places the near-dead in suspended animation. In reality he turns some into Daleks and the rest into protein, as the Galaxy is facing starvation and he can sell the protein to fund turning more people into Daleks. Which leads to these words when he meets the Doctor:
    The Doctor: But did you bother to tell anyone that they might be eating their own relatives?
    Davros: Certainly not! That would have created what I believe is termed... "consumer resistance".
  • Sequel Episode: To "Resurrection of the Daleks", mainly when it comes to Davros.
  • Shout-Out: The DJ is a fan of music from '50s and '60s America and Britain, and consequently plays songs from these regions and eras in his booth. Over the course of the serial, one can hear him play "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum, "Blue Suede Shoes" by Elvis Presley, an unspecified rendition of "In the Mood" (published in 1939 but subject to more than one charting Cover Version in the '50s), and "Fire" (mistitled "Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire" in the subtitles) by Jimi Hendrix.
  • Smash Cut: The story ends with the Doctor telling Peri where he'll take her for some peace and tranquility. "I'll take you to—" (closing credits).
  • Special Effect Failure: Occurs in-universe to resolve part one's cliffhanger. The Doctor appears to be fatally crushed by his own grave marker, and when he does emerge from it he's covered in blood, but both he and Jobel reveal that the very obviously polystyrene stone and very obviously fake blood were indeed a polystyrene stone and fake blood, which were simply meant to psych him out.
  • Those Two Guys: Quite a few double acts in the story — the Doctor and Peri, Orcini and Bostock, Kara and Vogel, Takis and Lilt and Grigory and Natasha. Orcini and Bostock even poke fun at Kara and Vogel's double-act when the two pairs first meet.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Davros finally regains a good chunk of the menace and cunning he had in "Genesis of the Daleks". He can now fly and shoot lightning bolts.
  • Tuckerization: Arthur Stengos was taken from the cosmetician Aimée Thanatogenos by way of a ferry boat owner whom Eric Saward met in Rhodes.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Initially this seems to be averted, as Davros's initial Brain in a Jar appearance suggests that his head was all that was left of his body after the Movellan virus infected him. However, we later find out that not only is he perfectly intact, he can now fly and shoot lightning bolts as well.
  • Verbal Salt in the Wound: Davros, his one remaining hand having just been shot off, is not mollified by the Doctor's cheery "No 'arm in trying."
  • Video Inside, Film Outside: The final serial to use this, owed to a mix of budget cuts during the subsequent hiatus and problems with the location filming for "The Two Doctors". Starting with the next season, the series would be shot entirely on video, using BBC Outside Broadcast tape for location shooting.
  • Villainous Breakdown: As Davros is taken away for trial on Skaro:
    Davros: I created you! I am your master!
    Dalek: We serve only the Supreme Dalek.
    Davros: That upstart! I could make you all Supreme Daleks! I have the power! You must obey MEEEEEEEEEE!!!
  • Villainous Rescue: The Doctor is saved from Davros... by the Daleks arriving to seize Davros. It helps that these Daleks don't recognize this incarnation of the Doctor, since the last time they met him, he looked like Peter Davison.
  • We Will Meet Again:
    Davros: You have not heard the last of me. I shall return!
    Doctor: And I shall be waiting for you.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Many references to Evelyn Waugh's novella The Loved One, especially the twisted relationship between Jobel ("Joyboy" in the Waugh story) and Tasembeker.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Orcini stabs and kills Kara after he finds out she's almost as bad as Davros and had simply hired him because Davros was a threat to her business, not because Davros is A Nazi by Any Other Name.
  • The X of Y: As with the other two 1980s Dalek stories, the story's title is a biblical reference, namely to the Book of Revelation.
  • You Are Fat:
    • The Doctor accuses Peri of eating too much. She later retaliates by calling him "Porky".
    • Tasembeker calls Jobel this right before she kills him.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Davros's Daleks pull this on Tasambeker after she kills Jobel. Also doubles up as You Have Failed Me, seeing how she went against Davros's orders and tried to warn Jobel that his life was in danger.

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