cast: Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Rodney Bewes, Mark Strickson, and Rula Lenska
director: Matthew Robinson
100 minutes (PG) 1984
BBC DVD Region 2 + 4 retail
reviewed by Christopher Geary
“Kill him!” shouts the leader of enemy soldiers.
“Wait. At least question me first!” begs the Doctor’s ‘assistant’ Toulough (Mark Strickson) when he’s caught. A sidekick will say anything to save himself from instant death.
It’s them again… the screeching mad warmongers that are Who fans’ favourite recurring villains – and this time they’ve got a time corridor, which enables their latest extermination plot. After a space battle in which the daleks manage to free their creator, the imprisoned Davros (Terry Molloy), the scene changes to modern day London, where sinister policemen are shooting unarmed people in the back. British soldiers are infected with mind-control and, arriving in Shad Thames, the Doctor and tactless Tegan (Janet Fielding, making her final appearance in the series) investigate, and uncover a dalek conspiracy involving Stein (Rodney Bewes), yet another traitor to humanity. Meanwhile, in the future the daleks have thawed Davros, who is to paranoid homicidal hysteria what Buddha is to meditation, and partly because he’s suffered “90 years of mind-numbing boredom”
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locked away in his cryogenic prison, he’s not in a charitable mood.
Rula Lenska guest stars as helpful space medic Styles, but she makes less of an impression here than the hulking Lytton (Maurice Colbourne), malevolent leader of the daleks’ mercenary stormtroopers. Tegan gets a concussion during a dalek attack on docklands’ rundown warehousing, but she is soon up and about again, skipping around in high heels and miniskirt, and escapes from the enemy troops without much trouble. Anxiously trying to psyche-out his foe in the distinctly unexciting finale, the Doctor (as played by the ever-uptight Peter Davison) chides, breathlessly “Without the threat of death, you’re quite powerless, aren’t you?” Although he’s a time lord, and has learnt many lessons from history, the Doctor still makes the near-fatal mistake of questioning the megalomaniac… The daleks, busy with their own conflict, both ideological and military, happily blow each other to bits.
Unlike the usual Doctor Who format, this adventure comprises two 45-minute episodes. The limited edition DVD release comes in a black vinyl slipcase, and the DVD extras include extended and deleted scenes (seven minutes). There’s also an interesting new interview On Location with director Robinson, producer John Nathan-Turner (who died six weeks after this was recorded) and writer Eric Saward. Plus: Breakfast Time TV items feature this story’s music (composed by Malcom Clarke) and a chat with Fielding about Tegan, an isolated music score, photo gallery, informative production subtitles, mono or Dolby digital 5.1 sound options, commentary track (with stars Davison, Fielding and director Robinson), Tardis cam model shot number four, and a trailer for the first episode.