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29 October 2014

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 667: Revelation of the Daleks, Episode Two

Dear diary,

I'm not entirely sure what the point of this one was. The Doctor and Peri have come to Necros to pay their last respects to an old friend. But then it transpires that people in Tranquil Repose aren't actually dead, but rather in suspended animation (or are there dead people there, too? I sort of lost track of this bit…). It also turns out that the Doctor was summoned to pay these respects as a lure by Davros, to bring his old foe to the planet he's been hiding on since escaping from the Daleks last season. But… Um… why? Davros doesn't have any real trap laid out for the Doctor once he gets there, just the opportunity to stand around and say 'aha! It's me! Bet you didn't see that coming!' Indeed, once the Doctor has fallen for Davros' ruse and come to the planet, he doesn't actually do anything! He spends that entire first episode walking to the location, then spends most of today just standing around! He blew up a Dalek eyestalk at one point, but that's it! Very odd.

I also can't let today's episode pass without mentioning my least favourite thing about this story - Jenny Tomasin's performance as Tasambeker. I've never really been able to get my head around what she's doing here, and I think today I've simply realised that it's terrible acting! There's a way of over-acting which can work very well for Doctor Who (and, indeed, there's examples of it in this story), but Tomasin is going so over-the-top that it simply becomes a parody, and what could be quite a nice little character study goes completely out the window, because it's taken over by such a ridiculous performance. Thanks to having the subtitles on now, I at least know that her line when killing Jobel is 'to earn his favour, I have to kill you' - because in the past, I've thought she was working for someone called 'Earnest Baber', and that confused me no end!

The other characters in the story work much better for me with the actors playing them. Several of them are, as I've mentioned, somewhat larger-than-life, but I think that helps to give the story its own somewhat unique flavour. Orcini is great fun, and I really enjoy the way that he and the Doctor communicate largely through simple looks and tiny nods throughout much of the confrontation with Davros. Speaking of whom, this is Terry Molloy's second outing as the Dalek creator, and it's perhaps more… ranty than he was last time. Much of this episode requires Molloy to play the part as though he's a complete raving lunatic, but I think it works well enough, and he really gets in to it! It has to be said that while Davros is being shown to us as simply a head in a jar, he's actually quite scary - especially when the head suddenly turns round at a great speed to confront another character!

It's also time for another part in the build up to the Time War, I think. That makes it twice in one season! Davros is here developing an entirely new race of Daleks using human tissue. Could it be that besides wiping out the original Daleks who aren't faithful to him any more, he's starting to prepare for the oncoming war? It's always struck me that you'd have to branch out like this at some point - there's only so many Kaled Mutants left after the war on Skaro, so at some stage, you'd need to start looking for an alternative source of flesh. The next time that the Doctor comes face-to-face with the Daleks, it's going to be completely a part of the Time War, without any need for fudging events a little bit - we're really heading towards it now!

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