The Doctor and Romana arrive on Skaro and discover that the
Daleks are using a group of humanoid slave workers to search
for their creator, Davros. A stalemate has arisen in an interplanetary
war that the Daleks are waging against the robotic Movellans,
and their hope is that Davros will be able to give them the
a large group of reasonably sane Doctor Who fans were
to participate in a poll for the best Dalek story ever produced
in the history of the show, you could safely bet your house
and your entire TARDIS-shaped bubble bath collection, that
Destiny Of The Daleks would be languishing somewhere
near the very, very bottom.
certainly doesnt compare favourably with Genesis
Of The Daleks, Tom Bakers earlier encounter
with the deadly inhabitants of Skaro. The brutal, claustrophobic
and relentlessly grim atmosphere of that classic is replaced
here with shouty catchphrase Daleks, a bunch of rival aliens
who look like theyve just got back from the disco, and
enough cheap silver foil to cover an entire planet.
story kicks off with a deeply unpromising start in the form
of a comedy regeneration scene for Romana, which introduces
Lalla Ward as the new incarnation of the Doctors assistant.
This seems a rather abrupt and silly way to deal with the
sudden between-season departure of Mary Tamm as the original
Romana, especially as Tamm now claims she would have been
willing to come back and film a proper regeneration scene
had somebody bothered to ask her.
we see the character cycle through a series of wacky bodies
before settling on her final form. The whole concept of regeneration,
usually depicted as a costly struggle for life renewal, is
played for laughs here, as if Romana has simply decided to
go shopping for a new outfit. Im a lover of well-crafted
humour in Doctor Who, but not when it goes against
the grain of the entire show.
this sets the tone for the rest of the story, as the comic
influence of new script editor Douglas Adams brings a much-loved
British institution perilously close to sending itself up,
with nobody at production level keeping much of a grip on
the reins. Im sure there was an honourable intention
to gently poke a bit of fun at the show, but often the self-mocking
goes about three steps too far.
example is the infamous scene in which the Doctor climbs into
a ceiling duct and taunts the Daleks below by pointing out
that the supposed superior race of the universe are unable
to just climb up and get him.
also learn that the best way to defeat these world-dominating
creatures is to simply put your hat on its eyestalk,
which will make it go bonkers.
seems quite criminal to belittle the shows most popular
and menacing villains in this way, and completely removes
any sense of threat or credibility the story may have had.
Not so much a gentle poke, more a severe kick
in the groin.
of The Daleks heralds
the first return of Davros, and this in itself is a bit of
a shame. The story of the Dalek creator seemed so brilliantly
complete in Genesis, with a suitably fitting end in
which he is exterminated by his own ruthless creations, and
it seems largely pointless to bring him back from the dead
just for the sake of it.
gets worse too, as Michael Wisher was unavailable to reprise
the role that he played to sinister perfection in Genesis.
David Gooderson steps into the wheelchair, hampered with an
ill-fitting mask and no voice modulation, and spends much
of the story being wheeled around against his will by the
Doctor, resulting in a rather watered-down and feeble portrayal
of the evil genius.
not all bad news. For a start, there are three wonderful cliff-hangers.
The first appearance of the Daleks as they come crashing through
a glass wall at the climax to the first episode is a stunning
and iconic moment. And whilst I have my reservations about
the needless return of Davros, I have to admit that the underground
discovery of his cobwebbed corpse at the end of the second
episode is quite chilling, especially when the hand starts
to twitch, and the artificial eye flickers into life...
first episode is easily the best of the four, carried almost
entirely by Tom Baker and Lalla Ward exploring the desolate
surface of Skaro, and in fact its all hugely reminiscent
of the very first Dalek episode back in 1963, even down to
the same atmospheric sound effects that were used in that
original classic serial.
such welcome and knowing nods to continuity, it seems ridiculous
that basic glaring errors were made in the rest of the story,
and Destiny often contradicts itself within the same
episode, as the production team sometimes seem to forget that
the Daleks are living creatures rather than robots. This proves
to be particularly troublesome, as much of the plot resolution
unfortunately hangs on this unforgivable lapse of memory.
partnership of Graham Williams and Douglas Adams would often
see the show strike a rich balance between cracking comedy
and thrilling adventure (as in the following story City
of Death) but theyve simply got the balance
all wrong here. There are occasional thrills and spills, but
not enough to save it from very probably deserving the tag
of Worst Dalek Story Ever.
disc does feature some terrific special features though, including
an opportunity to view the story with seventeen brand new
CGI effects. I imagined these would look completely out of
place here, but they remain remarkably faithful to the original
feel of the story, and whilst they may not enhance the ropey
script, its certainly refreshing to view a clunky old
production with modern effects.
is provided by Lalla Ward, David Gooderson and director Ken
Grieve, the latter of whom also appears in a revealing interview
in which he sheds new light on his working relationship with
Graham Williams and, in particular, his good friend Douglas
get a 30-minute documentary which examines the career of Dalek
creator Terry Nation, with contributions and insight from
the likes of Terrance Dicks, Barry Letts, Philip Hinchcliffe
and 60s director Richard Martin. Its interesting
stuff, if a little too celebratory. I would have liked to
have seen it delve a little deeper into some of the more controversial
aspects of Nations involvement with the show - such
as his constant obsession to extract every possible penny
out of his pepperpot creations, or his decision to take them
out of Doctor Who altogether in a failed bid to launch
a Dalek series in America, a decision which could very easily
have destroyed Doctor Who as early as 1967. Most of
this is gently glossed over, and we instead learn that Nation
was an incredibly charming man who enjoying drinking expensive
champagne and dining at the Ritz.
special features also include the full run of marvellous Prime
Computer adverts made for Australian television which
feature Tom Baker and Lalla Ward in deliciously playful mode,
as well as the lengthy trailer for the 1979 Doctor Who
season - a specially-shot sequence which sees a mysterious
voice waking up The Doctor from his summer hibernation to
warn him of the impending return of the Daleks. Ive
been waiting years to get the chance to see this, and its
a little bit of magic when gems like this finally surface
should lap up this special material then, but extreme caution
is advised to the more selective fan - its not always
fun to see a much-loved show slapping itself in the face.